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Old 08-13-2019, 06:25 AM
 
240 posts, read 93,941 times
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Excellent advice from Szug-bot! Many here will have better advice than I, but here are my thoughts.

Know the difference between deferred maintenance and structural deficiencies. There are lots of good houses that just haven't been properly maintained sometimes due to a lack of resources on the part of the owner, sometimes simply a lack of interest. These are items that can be negotiated and concessions made by the seller either by a preclosing repair or a credit at closing. Structural issues, many alluded to by Scuz-bot, are more serious and sometimes prohibitive to correct from a cost standpoint. For example, small step cracks are common in foundations, especially in clay soils, and are usually nothing to worry about. However, continuous vertical cracks are evidence of a more serious structural problem that would cost tens of thousands to repair, if reparable at all.

I suggest that you get a copy of the sales agreement and go line byline and understand every part of it. Your realtor may not like it, but almost any if it is negotiable. Pay close attention to the inspection period and extend it as long as possible to allow yourself time to retain whatever expert advice you need to feel confident you are not getting hosed. The home inspectors are fine but most of them have a background and expertise in one particular area and no depth of knowledge in others (e.g. your inspector may have a plumbing background with no special knowledge of structural issues). Interview them like they are applying for a job and know their background. Afterall you are paying them; they work for you. If you have structural concerns, bring in a structural engineer. But you will need more time if that's the case, so that longer inspection period comes into play.

Also, as a first time buyer, realize that no house is perfect. You'll have to make some compromises, but don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Good luck!
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:26 AM
 
50 posts, read 17,739 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noblerare View Post
Hi, I am a first-time homebuyer and I need some advice as to how to determine whether or not a house is a good house.

I look at listings on Redfin or Zillow and have a hard time differentiating between the average ones and the truly great ones.

I find myself getting caught up in things like wallpaper, counters, or whether or not this appliance exists or not.

I think I know to focus more on the foundation, condition of the basement, and roof but I don't know how to do that practically.

Is there any advice or resources that you all can point me to to increase my knowledge on figuring out if a home is worth looking at/buying?
Try reading some Bigger Pockets, it's a website for real estate investors. They publish real estate books, one you may find useful is The Book On Estimating Rehab Costs by J Scott. If you just poke around that site you can find a lot of information about rehabbing houses (mainly in the Flipping section).

Anyways, you'll see which items cost the most, and which ones are small potatoes. Knowing that wallpaper is relatively cheap, you'll find yourself concentrating on foundation/wall cracking, driveway concrete, roof condition, furnace, and other big ticket items as the other posters mentioned. Then you can do some basic analysis and see how much rehab costs you'll have, what the comps are in that area, and then you can get a better picture of what your purchase price could be.

The thing is, real estate listings probably aren't going to have pictures of cracks in the foundation or a garage that's falling in on itself. You'll want to narrow down your search (by neighborhoods, or distance from an X, or school districts, whatever), then go look at the properties you're most interested in.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:56 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
1,096 posts, read 937,700 times
Reputation: 752
it sounds like you need a real estate agent that knows property and is not just a "open the door for you" kind of agent. A good agent can help navigate and coach you through any issues with a potential home. Most any problem with a house can be fixed given enough time and money, you just need to know that the end result is worth the price being paid in the front. Quite honestly I believe a lot of the houses that show poorly are the best buys in the current market. I obviously am biased since I am an agent, do flips, own rentals, do my own repair work, etc.

An option to consider would be a renovation loan. Find a dated house that could be great with say 30-50k or so in updates. roll the cost of the project into the loan and have contractors renovate the kitchen, baths, etc. It almost always works out where you gain equity in the property and get to pick the design and finishes exactly how you want. Its a longer process and finding a good contractor is typically the toughest part, but I think its well worth the hassle.

A note on home inspections. remember that when you hire a home inspector, their job is to find every material defect of the property. they are not there to tell you to buy or not buy a house. I strongly suggest buyers be present for the home inspection because you get a better picture of the issues and how serious they are. If you just pick up an inspection report and read through it, you will probably be pretty scared off by just about any house.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:05 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
1,096 posts, read 937,700 times
Reputation: 752
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charley Barker View Post

I suggest that you get a copy of the sales agreement and go line byline and understand every part of it. Your realtor may not like it, but almost any if it is negotiable. Pay close attention to the inspection period and extend it as long as possible to allow yourself time to retain whatever expert advice you need to feel confident you are not getting hosed. The home inspectors are fine but most of them have a background and expertise in one particular area and no depth of knowledge in others (e.g. your inspector may have a plumbing background with no special knowledge of structural issues). Interview them like they are applying for a job and know their background. Afterall you are paying them; they work for you. If you have structural concerns, bring in a structural engineer. But you will need more time if that's the case, so that longer inspection period comes into play.
You will be hard pressed in todays market to get any seller to go longer than about 2 weeks for contingency period. its a sellers market and most houses are selling in short order. A lot of buyers have been waiving inspections to give themselves a competitive edge in multi offer situations. I can't ever recommend a buyer do so, but the reality is that if its a hot home, you are probably not getting it with a lengthy list of contingencies and and extended amount of time to get things done.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:15 AM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
37,274 posts, read 45,978,538 times
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Here in GA, the home inspection companies are on a rotation of some sort, so an agent can’t use the same one every time. Remember an inspector will not inspect anything that is covered up, such as mold inside a wall, or unexposed wiring, etc. They won’t look behind the appliances.

My advise is to use common sense. Read the disclosure carefully. Use your senses. If you smell dampness, it means trouble. If a floor is uneven...trouble. If there is evidence of leaks on the ceilings...trouble.

Even under the best of circumstances, there will probably be issues that need to be corrected, so keep some money in reserve to make repairs. For example, we bought a very well maintained house from a divorcée. Soon after we moved it, we saw that she had painted over some baseboards in the bathroom to cover evidence of a water leak that was beyond her DIY ability. She had also covered the grout in the shower with white caulking to hide mold. It was a simple fix for us, but totally hidden until we had lived with it for awhile.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:56 AM
 
240 posts, read 93,941 times
Reputation: 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by jea6321 View Post
You will be hard pressed in todays market to get any seller to go longer than about 2 weeks for contingency period. its a sellers market and most houses are selling in short order. A lot of buyers have been waiving inspections to give themselves a competitive edge in multi offer situations. I can't ever recommend a buyer do so, but the reality is that if its a hot home, you are probably not getting it with a lengthy list of contingencies and and extended amount of time to get things done.

A two week contingency period should be enough time. I know that in other states the standard time period is shorter, so this is good that 14 is the standard here. Yes, definitely be there for the inspection. I recall the first home I purchased I was not present, and when I got the 20+ page report I just about flipped. This was like 30 years ago and I think inspectors have streamlined their reports quite a bit nowadays. TALKING with the inspector will provide nuance that they either don't want to put in writing, or can't quite figure out how to document.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:27 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
1,096 posts, read 937,700 times
Reputation: 752
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charley Barker View Post
A two week contingency period should be enough time. I know that in other states the standard time period is shorter, so this is good that 14 is the standard here. Yes, definitely be there for the inspection. I recall the first home I purchased I was not present, and when I got the 20+ page report I just about flipped. This was like 30 years ago and I think inspectors have streamlined their reports quite a bit nowadays. TALKING with the inspector will provide nuance that they either don't want to put in writing, or can't quite figure out how to document.
standard is 10 days on the WPML forms. I typically suggest to a buyer that they ask for 14 days but sometimes it doesn't get accepted. Just depends on the situation. If one buyer has an offer with no inspections and another has one with a bunch of inspections for 14 days, most sellers will take the no inspections even for slightly less money.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:10 AM
 
2 posts, read 348 times
Reputation: 10
I thought this was a Pittsburgh related forum I must be mistaken.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:25 PM
 
2,537 posts, read 2,050,146 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by royaljoke View Post
I thought this was a Pittsburgh related forum I must be mistaken.
https://www.amazon.com/How-Win-Frien.../dp/0671027034
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:41 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
5,964 posts, read 7,094,453 times
Reputation: 8749
Wrong Carnegie.
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