Should I stay or should I go - home buying edition
March 17, 2017 2:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm struggling with a home buying decision, and I can't even figure out how to evaluate whether I'm making a mistake or not. I love the house's uncommon layout, and like the location. Inspection followed up with survey by a structural engineer revealed some things that need to be fixed. The sellers made concessions on the price based on quotes we gathered for the fixes. So that's all good, right? Except I am incredibly anxious and can't figure out if my anxiety is based on reasonable red flags or just irrational brain weasels.

According to the structural engineer, the house needs 2 piers installed to stabilize the foundation and additional boards added in the attic where boards aren't properly seated on a beam. The inspector also recommended a moisture barrier in the crawlspace and some work on the large deck including cross bracings, flashing against the house, and fasteners.

The sellers reduced the agreed-upon offer by the estimated amount of these fixes. Talking with people (my agent [who is a nice person, but I also recognize wants to make a sale], the structural engineer [who is a longtime friend], the inspector, various professionals who have come out to make estimates) it sounds like these are all fixable problems and not necessarily a reason to run screaming from the house.

That said, I recognize that estimates are just that, and costs can exceed expected expenses, and you don't really know until work gets underway what might happen. I am also not really experienced with home repairs or working with tradespeople (my late husband handled that stuff), but I'm not working right now so I can be at the jobsite a bunch if needed. The house is inexpensive by any measure, and 100k under what I budgeted to spend. I'm paying cash, and can afford to make the repairs, even if they go over estimates. I don't want to put a lot of money into the house that I'll never be able to get out, though. I will put the house I currently live in on the market after I move, so while I would like to do that sooner rather than later, I don't have a hard deadline that I need to be in the new house.

Before the inspection, I had a high level of anxiety related to a bunch of dumb things (maybe I need to be in a more fashionable neighborhood, the schools here are good but maybe these other schools are better, the master bath has a nice walk-in shower but no bath and maybe I need a tub, etc., etc.). So I may just be high anxiety about this whole thing and need to chill out. I really want to move, but this is my first solo homebuying experience, and I'm moving from a big fancy newer house to a more reasonably-sized, modest, mid-century house.

I'm at the point in the process where I could still walk away, but would probably lose my earnest money. How do I figure out if this is really fine/manageable/reasonable or if things will go badly pear-shaped?
posted by jeoc to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Those sound like fairly minor things in comparison to what I see in my area, which makes me think you are overthinking. Get more than one estimate on each, take a Xanax, and go for it. Making huge decisions solo is super hard, but you've got this!
posted by metasarah at 2:15 PM on March 17 [3 favorites]

This is totally doable work. You could probably do the fastener work on the deck yourself. There's a little question on the piers, probably, but if the structural engineer says that's easy then I'd trust that assessment.

Everything else is way in the "should come in at or below estimates".

Figure out what your anxieties are really about, maybe you really do want to be in a more fashionable neighborhood, but the repair stuff shouldn't stress you.
posted by straw at 2:23 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]

Get the attic and the foundation stuff done first and, if they go way over budget, you can wait on the deck and do the moisture barrier in the crawlspace yourself. Unless you have house buying money just laying around, buying ANY house is going to be an anxiety ridden experience. You like the house, the items that need fixing are doable and the owner came down in price to accommodate the fixes. If it were me, I would be going for it.
posted by Foam Pants at 3:03 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]

That sounds totally doable, especially with the price!
posted by bq at 3:24 PM on March 17

Honestly, this sounds like displaced anxiety around a major (and probably emotionally fraught) life transition rather than appropriate anxiety about this specific house. I think it sounds like a great house for you.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:48 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]

These kinds of things wouldn't even make me blink, ESPECIALLY if the seller reduced the price by the amount of the estimates. Houses just require some work sometimes. I'm in the middle of my ninth real estate transaction right now, and I've dealt with way worse issues in the inspection period. I've only walked once, over a much more serious issue than what is described here. I agree with others' assessments about this being displaced anxiety.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:20 AM on March 18

Yep. These sound fine. I think the most pressing is probably the deck because people often build decks terribly and you don't want to find that out with a dozen of your closest friends at your first summer party.

Your structural engineer friend is trained in current codes and would like things to be nice and tidy - but their recommendation does not sound onerous to me but also not majorly urgent. If all your other wants are in alignment, go for it!
posted by amanda at 7:45 AM on March 18

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