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Old 04-03-2015, 02:38 AM
 
19 posts, read 20,735 times
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Hi,

As first time home buyers, we are trying to look out for features to avoid. There are lots of information on the internet on what to "do" (or not to do), e.g. don’t overshoot your budget, remember closing costs, research neighbors and area potential, watch out for area foreclosures, don’t get swayed by a single home feature etc.

However, there are fewer amount information on what "features" to avoid. For example, this link warns about oil heating, old fireplaces, excess carpeting etc.

I was wondering if anyone has more advice here, especially advice that is specific to Westchester. I am sure there are home features that are more critical to look out for given the geography, weather and possibly economic outlook of an area. But general advice is welcome too.

We do trust our agent for the most part. But trying to become smart about this independently.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:31 AM
 
892 posts, read 880,908 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starlight79 View Post
Hi,

As first time home buyers, we are trying to look out for features to avoid. There are lots of information on the internet on what to "do" (or not to do), e.g. don’t overshoot your budget, remember closing costs, research neighbors and area potential, watch out for area foreclosures, don’t get swayed by a single home feature etc.

However, there are fewer amount information on what "features" to avoid. For example, this link warns about oil heating, old fireplaces, excess carpeting etc.

I was wondering if anyone has more advice here, especially advice that is specific to Westchester. I am sure there are home features that are more critical to look out for given the geography, weather and possibly economic outlook of an area. But general advice is welcome too.

We do trust our agent for the most part. But trying to become smart about this independently.

Thanks in advance!
While I certainly understand that many people may look to avoid oil heat for environmental or political reasons, cost should really not be a factor. The type of fuel has far less of an impact on heating costs than the heating system and insulation. If its an oil fueled system with a 35 year old boiler, then yes you are going to pay a great deal for the heat. If its an oil fueled system with a modern high efficiency boiler, your costs will be significantly lower than someone with an older natural gas system. I think most will tell you that wall hung modern gas fueled systems are currently the most economical (unless you can get solar and heat with your own produced electricity). But the costs of installing those is significant and can take almost 10 years to catch up on the cost of the existing system. Factor all these things in, but just because a house has oil heat should not take it off the list.

For me, the things to avoid are houses with tall trees around it that might hit it if they fall, houses with sump pumps installed and houses with poor insulation. The tree thing is my personal additional since we had trees fall in both Hurricanes Irena and Sandy. As for the sump pump, and water is something to run away from. It will wreck your lives. Its not just the house, its the saturated yards, replacement of driveways and so on. If its a wet area, run. Finally, don't buy a house unless you get an energy audit. The local electric company (Con Ed) will do them for next to nothing. You may be buying a house with a great low cost wall hung gas boiler, but the house is so poorly insulated that you are doubling your heating costs. If it is new construction, this is less of an issue. But in old homes, its going to be a problem in some.
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Old 04-03-2015, 07:14 AM
bg7
 
7,697 posts, read 8,852,093 times
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I avoid houses that don't have (1) old fireplaces and (2) proper mature trees (not spindly saplings).... Since those are two things I love about a real home and a garden.
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Old 04-03-2015, 08:59 AM
 
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Thanks dr.strangelove. Very helpful.

bg7, yes - I'd certainly love a house with old charms too. But as a first time home buyer, just trying to learn about the risks to look out for. Doesn't necessarily mean we are going to strictly avoid them - will just be more careful about them
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:20 AM
 
892 posts, read 880,908 times
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Originally Posted by starlight79 View Post
Thanks dr.strangelove. Very helpful.

bg7, yes - I'd certainly love a house with old charms too. But as a first time home buyer, just trying to learn about the risks to look out for. Doesn't necessarily mean we are going to strictly avoid them - will just be more careful about them
Good luck. There are many things to consider. Be sure to get a thorough home inspection before you are locked into a contract. Its worth the costs. I thought of a few other things. One problem that people with older homes often face is the electrical service. Check and see how much power is coming to the house and if the existing box can handle expansion. For very old home, be aware of whether the house is served via a breaker box or fuses. The later is becoming very rare, but they are out there. Older homes may also be served by 50 amp lines. Most modern homes are 200 amp lines. With modern TVs and Fridges drawing massive power, 50 Amps is not going to cut it. 100 Amps are a minimum and honestly, that is low. If it is a fuse based panel, you may have to replace it if you upgrade the power, and that can cost a lot to replace the box and service. Also, if it is fuses, look at the cables coming out of the box. A lot of the old boxes have cloth covered wires, and the cloth is a good way to see how much moisture is in the area. If its dry, you are probably good. If its moldy and peeling, there may be a moisture issue.

Obviously look for asbestos, especially in the insulation and service coverings (plumbing and electrical). If its solid, you are fine. But if it looks like it can be crushed, its a bad thing. Have your inspector look for it.

The usual things like look at the traffic at different times of the day, look at the yards surrounding your property and look at the location of fire hydrants. Its a fun process, and as long as you keep your wits, you should have a great home buying experience. All the best!
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:46 AM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,478 posts, read 5,733,206 times
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It's worth noting that NONE of these things is particular to Westchester. It's general and would apply anywhere.
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:08 PM
 
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kletter1mann, something VERY relevant to Westchester about the above comments is that most of the houses on the market (almost all) are at least 50 years old, many are 80-90 years old. At least that's what I have seen in the $650,000 to $900,000 range.
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Harrison
825 posts, read 2,111,969 times
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Don't buy a house at the bottom of a hill, no matter how small the hill. Flooding is a HUGE issue in Westchester. If you can, drive around after a rain storm.
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:28 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,478 posts, read 5,733,206 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starlight79 View Post
kletter1mann, something VERY relevant to Westchester about the above comments is that most of the houses on the market (almost all) are at least 50 years old, many are 80-90 years old. At least that's what I have seen in the $650,000 to $900,000 range.
I didn't say "not relevent." I said "not particular" to Wdestchester. Very different. Most of this stuff would apply virtually anywhere in the northeast.
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:35 PM
 
276 posts, read 493,426 times
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I avoid the things about a house that cant be changed, things having to do with the property and location. Honestly, everything else can be fixed or updated, and probably will require it anyway over the course of your life in the house.
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