Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some good, some bad...

Okay, so the inspector found a minor termite problem, but it's so new that a basic sweep from an exterminator should take care of it. The water heater is okay; the furnace is okay. The roof needs some repairs, which we knew. Apparently, there is some minor damage from carpenter bees, but since we need to repair the roof anyway, that can be taken care of at the same time.

The, um, thingy? yes, the thingy behind the shower head in one of the bathrooms needs to be replaced, but it's not that urgent.

Then, there's the window issues. Okay, apparently all the windows need to be replaced. Some of them don't have storm windows, some of the window frames are rotting, none of them are ideal in terms of efficiently heating the house in the winter. But the biggest problem involves these two big, bay windows (which Joel and I happened to like very much.) They are collapsing. Like, the window panes are at a 70 degree angle, and the window seat/panes/frames need to be either removed completely, or removed and rebuilt. Apparently this is an issue of Impending Danger.

In addition to changing my future homeowner fantasy from curling up in the big bay window with my cats to imagining the bay windows collapsing Tom Hanks "Money Pit" Style when one of the cats meows in the window's general direction, this sounds expensive. Like crazy expensive.

We'll know more when a contractor goes out and gives us his estimate next week. The homeowners- who are very motivated to sell, as they've already had to move out of state and have dropped the price of this house significantly from when it first when on the market- stated that their counteroffer was "as is." That indicates they probably don't want to make any more concessions pricewise. On the other hand, the house hadn't had any serious offers on it since before the economy went BO-OI-OI-OING, so it hasn't been inspected in a while. The sellers may not know about their collapsing windows, so maybe they WOULD offer a further concession on the closing costs. Or something.

And around and around we go...


Michael said...

Owing a home is a big headache. I go round and round in my head whether the privilege of being able to do whatever I want to the house is worth the responsibility of doing everything that needs to be done.

The collapsing/rotting windows sound like a major red flag to me. To borrow from my workplace vernacular... "what is the root cause"? Why are they rotting? Did the owners never close the windows? Were they improperly sealed? Is there a fundamental design issue with the house? What assurance can you get from the contractor that once you spend $25k on this that the rot won't come back?

I bought my house in a rush of emotional attachment... isn't that front porch awesome, look at the boulevard, yadda yadda yadda. I feel fortunate that I wasn't burned more deeply by things that I didn't focus on like the bulging plaster or exposed knob-and-tube wiring.

I am not saying "don't buy", I am just saying to give your left brain its chance to have its full say or it will pout for the life of the mortgage. Houses aren't like "Joel-caliber husbands"... there really are other fish in sea.

Carl said...

The bay windows sound like a fun project. Of course, I know better than to exclaim "You can do it -- it's fun!" But with the proper tools and a carpentry book or two, you could do it without having to pay a lot of money to a contractor who may not do the job properly. Just sayin'.

Amanda said...

We have issues with our bay window. We had it repaired when we moved in but we'll have to replace it eventually. I don't think it's too exotic - just a result of the weight and the fact it's wood under there.

Few houses of this age are problem free, and even if you fix the problems, others will arise. Roofs go, windows too. It's the curse of home ownership and why Home Depot exists.

Since time is on your side, I'd get multiple estimates and really work the numbers. What has to be done right away? What can be patched over (window insulation kits and special drapes) to wait a year. Be realistic about what you can do and what you can afford.

You have a doozy of an adult situation here - lots of pros (buyer's market, low financing rates) and lots of cons (see above). Don't you wish you could tell your 9 year old self to quit bitchin' about being a kid and wanting to grow up, and to just enjoy herself?

michelle said...

I think, if nothing else, they need to offer you more money based on your window findings...if they refuse to adjust their offer and it stays "as is," then i say they can find someone else who will take it "as is" and see how much luck they have with that. You are in control of this situation, not them. Don't forget that.

Michael said...

Keep in mind that if you don't buy the house, they must divulge the results of your inspection to any future potential buyers. Their asses are turning coals into diamonds right now. (I speak from experience.)

Hopefully, they will be open to reasonable offers.

hefk said...

Wow. You are getting very good feedback from very wise folks in their comments. I think Michael is wise to think about root causes, but I also completely agree with your sister that there will always be a project to do on an older home. My humble addition is, if you do love many other things about the house that are on your "it must..." list, you'll be more likely to do the projects it needs for the love of your family home. Though improvements will always cause expense, if you decide you can realistically hack the expense over time, you might not feel _quite_ as much of a burden getting things done.
I operate from my heart, too. When we were house-hunting, I stood in the living room of 3805 and looked at the light coming through the bay window in the living room, I felt like I was back in Lanky at my family's first home. I was hooked. It's tough to shake that even when the inspector report lays the details plain before you. Poco a poco. Sending lots of good mojo your way.

Michael's also right about the "Joel-caliber husband" :)

cindy w said...

My 2 cents: if the sellers won't make some concessions based on your findings, you might need to rethink buying the place. At the very least, they need to include some sort of a "repair allowance" where they give you a check at closing to help offset the costs of the repairs. We had to do that with our house in Washington, because we knew the carpets would have to be replaced (quite a few cat pee accidents; you could never get the stains/smell 100% out of there).

Good luck. Hope to hear more about this subject, since we're in the same boat right now. :-)

Alissa said...

Just to play devil's advocate.... it's also possible that because the homeowners have already come down so drastically on the price, if they stick with their "as is" stance it still might be worth it to you to go with this house because the low price of it PLUS the repair costs you'll have to put in might still make it a better deal than going out and finding a house with fewer repair bills but a higher selling price. Does that make sense? Of course it depends on whether you want to invest the time and hassle of doing those repairs (even if you pay someone else to do them, it's still a hassle trying to find someone reputable, then having them in your house, etc). If you would rather pay more up front to have a house that doesn't need repairs, keep looking until you find that.

Cara said...

Many years ago, my now-ex and I were house-hunting, and found ourselves in a similar situation. We walked away from a house that was *awesome* because the owners were not willing to budge on the "as is" situation. Someone else bought the house, and wouldn't you know, found more problems. In a nutshell, multiple issues under one roof are a huge red flag that make me run away screaming.

Hey, time is on your side. Becoming a home owner is awesome, *but* waiting for a great house that is yours without headaches is even better, IMHO. We waited another few months and found a perfect house with 2 issues (as compared to multiple other issues elsewhere). We knew that as 2 busy professionals, we didn't have time to sink into household projects, and we also didn't have much extra cash to spare once we closed on the house. We counteroffered regarding the roof and siding and closed 8 weeks after. Fin. That is my happy house hunting story.