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My house hunt is still an ongoing, neverending, frustrating ordeal. I think my problem is my tastes far exceed my means :(

Anyway. I found a house that really struck me as "wow... this might work!" today. I had driven by it a while back and was so unimpressed by the outside I didn't want to see it. Today I decided this would be the last house I looked at and if I didn't like it, I was giving up for a few months because I couldn't take the disappointment anymore.

It was built in 1964. Brick. Its on 1.5 acres. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, eat in kitchen, formal living room, den, dining room, sunroom. About 1400-1500 square feet (stupid listings never give an exact number, just a range).

Roof was replaced in early 2000 as was the A/C unit.

My issues with the house:

The outside is lacking major curb appeal - but I honestly don't care since I will not be sitting on my front lawn and staring at the house. In time I will work on the outside, but the inside is what matters to me.

The back yard is chain link fenced, but to get to it you have to go down the deck and walk a few feet to open the gate. So I can't just open a door and let Brody into the yard. I plan on putting up a 6 foot wood privacy fence. But its such a big yard that it would be expensive and probably time consuming... my plan would be to start with the corner at the deck, then gradually build up the fence a few feet outside of the chain link so that the yard is still fenced in, then once I'm finally done with it I can take down the chain link.

There is a garage but it is detached. A garage is way up on my list of "musts" in a home. Its got electricity, a one car sized garage door and is huge, plus has a 2 or 3 car wide carport at the front.

While 2 bathrooms are another must, I really prefer a typical master bedroom with its own bathroom apart from the house. This house has two bathrooms that are just open to the house. They're good sized though... I just like the idea of having my own "private" bathroom then one for company, you know?

Anyway - the rest of the house is great. Some is carpet, two bedrooms have wood floors, as does the formal living room. I think the original wood is under the carpet. My goal is to have all wood floors - be it tear up carpet and finish existing or completely replace with new wood, which I think I'd have to do because I really like the lighter woods and these are dark.

I like the lay out, love having a sun room and love the amount of space.

As for repairs:

The kitchen itself is in good shape. The cabinets are older but not original... maybe paint them white for a nice bright and fresh feel but not go so far as replacing them. The floor is ok, but tiles are missing in the pantry. Again, no big deal but would probably replace at some point.

My biggest issue is with wood work. The door frames are all slightly warped so that there is a gap around all the doors. Some of them don't even look very secure. So I know at least all of the doors to the outside of the house (3-4) would need to be completely replaced. Windows will probably all need replacing at some point, but its not an immediate concern as they are something I could live with until I can get around to replacing them.
The sunroom is a great room to have. I love the idea of them. But its ugly. I think the floors are tiled and in good shape... but the walls all have three or four tall skinny windows and since they need replacing I was thinking of trying to get just one huge or two large windows on each wall to let in more light.
The deck will also have to be replaced. Its not very big, maybe 8x8 or 10x10. The wood is all sagging towards the middle. BUT its still something I could live with until I got around to replacing it.

Now... my big concerns. I've never had much experience with older houses in the country. Brick seems to hold up really well, so structurally I think its pretty good. I just don't know how reasonable it is to expect to be able to do these repairs easily and for hopefully not an insane amount of money. I also wonder as far as investment. I know homes tend to go up in value but it seems like older homes just get older and older... you know? Its literally 30 seconds to the main highway, right across the street from a post office, yet there's not really any development going on around it. A quiet street with maybe 8-10 other houses like it. And its got a nice size chunk of land.

Price wise... its perfect. $105,000. Down from $115,000. All the other houses in this price ranger are either forclosures that need a TON of major work or super tiny houses with no yards. I'm going to take a second, much closer look at it maybe Tuesday. Make detailed notes of everything that needs to be done, count the doors and windows, things like that. That'll give me a better estimate of how much money I would have to put into fixing it up. I'll still have $5000 in savings and was looking to use the $8000 first time home buyer tax money for repairs.

Does it seem reasonable or am I in over my head??

Also - I mentioned to my mom (who went with me to see it) that next time I'd like to bring my camera so I can easily remember details that I've already forgotten. Like exactly where the bedrooms are in relation to the bathrooms, which door goes to what, etc. She said you're not supposed to take pictures of the inside of houses? I'm sure its one of those things people don't like you to do... but if I'm seriously interested in buying this house I would think I'd be able to take some pictures to fully explore the possibilities. Is it one of those things you're really not allowed to do? :oops:
 

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It sounded to me like you had your house until you got to the part about the doors and windows. Doors and windows are a major, major expense. I think it would be good to decide whether or not you can live with those doors and windows for a while. You're going to have plenty of "must do now" projects the first year; you don't want something big like that right away. The only exception to that is if you have the money on hand to do it right up front. A couple years ago you might have been able to get a loan in excess of the selling price, but with the recent economic problems I don't know if they're doing that any more.

Unless you've got some handyman friends who can do the work for you, you're looking at probably $300 - $600 per interior door (installed) and $750 and up for an exterior door; up to $1000 for a plain door and you can easily blow several grand on a fancy door with sidelights. When you price doors and windows, just figure on doubling the cost for installation. Sounds like you might have to replace the doorframes, too? Double it again.

I actually prefer detached garages because the slush doesn't melt in the winter. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Updating with pictures from the listings.

The house itself. Not very eye catching, but like I said its the least of my worries at the moment.



Garage/carport. You can see the deck to the left. That corner is what I need to fence in to get better back yard access.



Backyard. Its got land, but its all very cleard out and while there are trees and shade, its very open which I love.



Deck. This door leads into what is now the dining room. Just off to the left is the entrance into the laundry room/kitchen. Probably my main entrance.



Which leads us to the laundry room and entrance into the kitchen. Its tiny... there's a washer, dryer and water heater in there. But the other houses I've looked at don't have actual laundry rooms, just have them in a closet off the kitchen or hallway.



Kitchen. That door is what goes into the laundry room. It doesn't actually latch shut so you have to use the dead bolt to keep it from opening. Scary! To the left are some more cabinets and the refridgerator.



From the other view, the eat in portion of the kitchen. Just out of picture to the right is a pantry, and straight ahead goes into the formal living room.



The formal living room. While its a very nice and cozy room, I think with the layout I would not use it much. I'd rather make it a dining room or leave it as kind of open extra space or maybe some small sitting area. Once you go through this room you get to the sunroom. I think its the door pictured but can't remember which way its facing... it might go to the kitchen.



The sunroom. Now that I think about it, the room might have funky carpet. I really dislike the windows... the room in general needs a good work over. But I love the idea of sunrooms! Since its not heated/cooled my plan for it was to use it as a kitty room. Lots of windows and views, plop down a big cat tree and litter box. Install a kitty door. Maybe put a chair out there to sit and read when the weather is nice?



Now the back of the house. From the kitchen again, you go straight into the den and dining room. Its really one big room. Honestly, I'd just assume use the whole thing as living space. Maybe a living room as pictured and a nice lounge in front of the window where the dining room is that looks out into the back yard. The fireplace is just to the left of the tv unit (this is viewed from the dining room)



The dining room as viewed from the den. Also the fireplace. I think its big and ugly. But apparently heats up the entire house in a matter of minutes if the heat goes out. I don't use fireplaces... but I think getting a nice grate to put in front of it would be nice.



Now the bedrooms and bathrooms I have a hard time placing in the house. I want to say one bathroom door goes into that front living room and the other goes into the den area. Both are in the middle of the house. One bedroom is behind the white tv unit in the den and the other others are on the other side of the room. All three bedrooms open up into the den.

Bedroom 1 and 2 are a little bit smaller (I think) and have wood floors. I think I'd keep one as a guest room and use the other as a computer room/office type area.





The other bedroom would probably be my master bedroom. It seems to be the biggest anyway.



I'm pretty sure this bathroom is in the main living area of the house. It has a shower/tub combo. I really don't take baths much but hate having showers without the tub...



This bathroom I think goes with the formal living room up front. It actually has a round corner shower. Kinda cute :)


My biggest problem is while the bathrooms are an ok size there's really no storage type space. I like counter space with sinks and would probably end up installing a newer sink/cabinet type thing in both. Or at least have to get one of those over the toilet cabinets.

Now... another thing I forgot to mention is that while its a very large house, I have NO furniture!! My mom has promised me our living room set (couch and two chairs) that I love. Black leather. I have my bed, dresser and two book cases. But that's it. I've got to furnish a whole house!!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Tim!

The doors would be the first thing to do. Just because they don't look safe to me and I wouldn't feel completely comfortable in the house until I had them replaced. The windows I'm not worried about immediately. They're solid, just in need or replacing at some point.

I really know nothing about houses, repairs, etc. But I'd imagine full replacement of the door frames along with the doors.

I have a very close friend who is going to be my hero whenever I buy a house. Her family is one that has lived here forever, built their house, has lots of land and even more toys needed to fix things. Mowers, trailers, chainsaws, wood mulchers, drills, power tools, etc. You name it they've got it. She already told me she wouldn't let me pay someone to put up a fence. They'd help me with anything that needs to be done. Her dad knows how to do most anything. And they're the type of people that are happy to help - insist on helping even :) He loves having projects to do.

Even having his knowledge on HOW to go about fixing something is a great deal of help.

But your advice is exactly what I'm looking for. I knew doors and windows would be a major expense, just wasn't sure exactly how much.

And I'm pretty much looking to use the $8000 for repairs. Ideally I don't want to blow through all of it... but as long as I have a good amount in savings to fall back on I'm ok using it all... not all at once though, but maybe over the first year or two.
 

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So it's not the "ideal house". I think you should go for it! Overall, it seems very nice. :luv
But, look in the attic to make sure there's no mold on the underside of the roof decking. That would indicate problems with the roof, a dealbreaker in my book.
 

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Doors, windows, you're probably talking $15-20K depending on how many doors and windows there are. A 12 x 12 deck will be about $2500. Fence depends on what you pick and how large the area is but could easily be $5-10K. Re-finish or replace wood floors...a couple grand to many thousands depending on what you do. I was at a friends house on Monday and she was talking about replacing windows, she has 2 big picture windows (solid glass in the middle, standard double hungs on each end, about 72-84" wide) and said replacements would be $5K each, so if you want to replace those sunroom windows with a big one, that's about what you're looking at for just one window. And you'll need the whole thing re-framed to accommodate the new window.

What I suggest you do is make a list of the repairs you think are needed. Do some general measurements and go to Home Depot or Lowes and start pricing things. How much is section of fencing? How many do you need? How much is a 36" window with installation? Pick out a door...how much with installation? Unless you're willing to furnish in thrift shop or Craigslist stuff, start pricing furniture and things like TVs. What will the basics for outfitting a kitchen cost? A bathroom? Basically make a list of everything you're going to need to do and start pricing it. Also keep in mind that you will have general move in costs; truck rental to move, fees and deposits for turning on utilities, will you need window shades and curtain rods?

I also wouldn't count on free labor, while friends are willing to help out in the beginning they aren't going to spend every weekend for months working on your house (even with breaks in between).

Have you factored closing costs into your finances? That will be a few grand.

osnobunnieo said:
I also wonder as far as investment. I know homes tend to go up in value but it seems like older homes just get older and older... you know?
This happens because the owner's don't spend (by choice or because they don't have it) the money to keep it in good repair and updated with the latest trends.
 

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I know a thing or 2 about older homes and I'll tell ya right now the 'to do' list only gets bigger.

Mine was built in 1929 and virtually nothing had been done to it in the last half century before I bought it. But for me, I had a 'feeling' about the place and dove in head first. :oops:

so far..
all plumbing and fixtures replaced
all wiring replaced, save for some thats not accessable. It was original knob and tube.
Completely replaced the porch and deck, and roof myself ( I'll never do that again)
Rebulit fireplace and chimney
Just ordered vented glass block windows yesterday.

next will be a new furnace, windows and siding.

I know about the curb appeal thing, mine is the crappiest looking house on the block but I've had dozens of neighbors comment on how great the place looks, and that makes me feel good. Just a little TLC and landscaping goes a long way.

I would get the "investment" part out of your head unless you plan to be a landlord or flipper, especially in todays market. If you think its a fair price for you, go for it. I bought mine for a place to live.

As far as the things you know need done, multiply that by 10 for things you haven't found yet. :wink:

I say go for it and good luck. :mrgreen:
 

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I am in the throws of buying an older house too...this one is a bit older, 1870's ;)

I am not sure if it is the same in the USA as in the UK? When you buy a house over here, before you can get the mortgage, the company does a survey to see if it's worth the money (which I have to pay for of course :roll: ) but it does tell you if anything urgent needs doing.

The things wrong with my potential house are:

Damp, there is rising damp on the ground floor which isn't acute yet but needs to be done..the roof tiles are coming to the end of their life and will need replacing soon...other than that I have been quite lucky and the house is in a 'generally good state for its age'.

There are minor bits and bobs of course but was expecting that.

Good luck..and I do like the house and the land, it looks like a little haven :)
 

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yes, it is similar over here Xanti. At least one appraisal and sometimes more are required. Seller will have it appraised before going on the market, buyer will have it appraised usually by request of the bank and often a third is done to check the results of the other two.

Many terms can be negotiated in the offer as to who pays for what. In my offer I asked for the seller to pay closing costs and leave all appliances and pay for the termite inspection. That saved me about 10K.

Home inspections are optional but sometimes required by the bank or at the request of the buyer.
 

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Ahh right, was thinking it might be similar...so I guess any appraisal would bring to light things that someone with no experience (like myself) would have missed :)
 

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My two cents: get a home inspection! The person will be able to tell you the really important things like is the foundation good, is the wiring safe, etc.

Things that we have found is that everything costs much more to do than you thought it would, especially when dealing with an older house. You will wind up doing most of the work, even with friends helping- they have their own lives and houses.

Good luck to you!!
 

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another thing to consider in older homes is energy costs. What type of heat does it have? Central air? I realize SC climate is downright tropical compared to Ohio but with 2 fireplaces you will lose a lot of energy up the chimney unless you have an airtight dampner system in place or seal them off altogether if you don't plan to use them. I burn wood but not as a primary heat source. A gas insert is an option as well if you have NG piped to the house.

my heating costs went down dramatically once I had my fireplace overhauled.

I :luv fireplaces. You just don't see real fireplaces in newer homes very much.
 

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I think this house has some great features! Please don't paint the wooden cabinets. :( I love wood, and hate to see it painted. PROMISE! I think the lot adds a lot of value to the house. It's beautiful! A deck? A sunroom? Heaven on earth! I would love to have a sunroom! I think the price is great. I use my fireplace all winter long, and with a heat exchanger, you will be nice and cozy. Many people would consider that a dream feature. I love mine.

My dad was a carpenter/contractor, and he always told me that one thing leads to another when you start remodeling, and you seldom get your money back. If the doors and windows are sound, don't replace them. He inspected every house we seriously considered buying, and advised us. I think an inspector is essential when considering buying a house.

I can't believe the price! You have a lot of features for the money. I love it, personally. I saw a lot of homes when we were house hunting, and that was years ago, and we never saw a home that compared for $135,000. I assume you don't have a basement, so that accounts for the lower price, I would imagine. It's a good time to buy; it's a buyer's market.

I'm so excited you'd think I was buying it! But please get it inspected and DON'T PAINT THE KITCHEN CABINETS! 8O You're allowed to refinish them, if they need it, though. :)
 

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catnip said:
another thing to consider in older homes is energy costs. What type of heat does it have? Central air? I realize SC climate is downright tropical compared to Ohio but with 2 fireplaces you will lose a lot of energy up the chimney unless you have an airtight dampner system in place or seal them off altogether if you don't plan to use them. I burn wood but not as a primary heat source. A gas insert is an option as well if you have NG piped to the house.

my heating costs went down dramatically once I had my fireplace overhauled.

I :luv fireplaces. You just don't see real fireplaces in newer homes very much.


Likewise, even when we are at our freinds old house in Malaga Spain, during the winter months
you can't beat It !!!. :)


http://www.moneysavingcashback.com./ Fave site of the moment..
 

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I like the house, and especially the lot. That's a lot of house and land for $105K. But.......I think you should plan on putting in about $35,000 PLUS a lot of elbow grease within the first three years to bring it up to first-class condition. And that doesn't include furnishings, which probably you ought to allow another $12 - $15K for. It sounds like a lot of money, but you'll find it disappearing by nickels and dimes faster than you'd believe possible. Then when you're done, if you can sit in it for about seven years, you might have a house that's in the $170K ballpark, which of course depends heavily on your local real estate market, and whether the economy comes back by then. Just pitching some wildly guessed numbers: 10% down, 6% interest, 30-year loan; 7 years, property taxes $2500/year, selling costs 8% ==> sell @ $170K netting $156K; expenses = $53K; interest paid = $40K; netting $63K; your equity = $21K; your net leveraged return = 330%. Break-even at that point is selling the house for around $150K.

To make the house really saleable, you'd want to tear down or add on to the garage. A two-car garage is pretty much the norm these days. Add what, another $15K for add-on?

What do you guys think of my numbers? Too high? Too low?
 

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It looks like you would be getting a lot of house for the money, and the lot size is a real plus. As others have said, DO get a home inspection. A good inspector can alert you to serious problems.
When replacing doors and windows you can save a lot of money by hiring someone you trust to do the installation and having them purchase the windows or doors. I work for a company that sells doors and windows and I know how much the installs are marked up.
 

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katlover13 said:
When replacing doors and windows you can save a lot of money by hiring someone you trust to do the installation and having them purchase the windows or doors. .
That's good advice and my estimates don't reflect that. :thumb
 

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My biggest issue is with wood work. The door frames are all slightly warped so that there is a gap around all the doors. Some of them don't even look very secure. So I know at least all of the doors to the outside of the house (3-4) would need to be completely replaced. Windows will probably all need replacing at some point, but its not an immediate concern as they are something I could live with until I can get around to replacing them.
When I read that I started to get nervous. If that is showing up you can only guess what else is going on to cause it. The house is a great price but once you calculate what it’s going to cost to fix obvious things... now double that figure. In an older home there are all sorts of things going on that you can’t see but will have to fork out money to fix. Once they are uncovered. Or discovered.

Will it need a new (efficient) furnace soon? Your utilities cant be good on that house without energy efficient windows. I would think long and hard about that house. In this market there is no hurry. The right house, at a great price, is waiting for you.
 

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Mitts & Tess said:
If that is showing up you can only guess what else is going on to cause it. ..... Will it need a new (efficient) furnace soon? ...
Also really top-notch advice. All the more reason for a really good home inspection. And don't use an inspector your realtor refers you to!!

Boy, I sure wish I'd asked for advice here before I went house-hunting. There's nothing like experience.

Though I can sure sympathize with that exhausted feeling. I went through three separate cycles of house-hunting, each lasting a whole season, before I finally found my house.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So much information my already spinning head is still spinning :)

A home inspection is very much a must. My goal in this post was to get a few ideas on whether I was already in over my head before I go so far as putting in an offer and getting it inspected.

And by investment... I don't have goals of being a "flipper" and thinking I'll make tons of money. I just don't want to get stuck in a money pit and wind up losing out when I do decide to sell. I'm not going anywhere any time soon... so have no plans on selling the home quickly. I just don't want to lose out on the deal, you know?

And technically its at least a two car garage... its just got the door for one car. But to be honest, I haven't actually seen the inside so I can't really offer much insight there.

It really is a great price. As far as the older homes I've seen listed... almost all of them (in my price range anyway) only come with one bathroom and no garage. Maybe a carpot if I'm lucky. And none of them had close to the amount of property with this one.

I'm curious about the flooring. The realtor mentioned the wood floors under the areas that are carpeted. But the bedroom wood is a very light color and the living room is very dark. I know its much cheaper to refinish them than it would be to replace...

I really don't know much about windows and what to look for. I just know its one of those things that my mother has commented on in almost every house I've looked at. To me, they seem ok and not something that would be high on the list of needed repairs. The doors however have to go. The entire deck is sagging toward the middle. The owner was apparently in the process of "reinforcing" it when we went but I'm not sure what that was supposed to mean. It seems very stable and solid though, and another thing that would have to be done but not immediately.

At this point, I think I've decided on going for a second look. Insisting that they have their dog somewhere else while we are shown the house so I can fully walk the property and yard and take a closer look at the garage. Go with a very big notebook (and camera?) and make a specific list. What needs work, exactly how bad it is, estimated time frame (does it need to be done immediately before I'll move in, can it wait 3-6 months, within a few years?) then from there, get a few estimates from home improvement stores on how hard the work is and how much I can expect to pay.

And Jeanie - I'll think about the cabinets but can't make any promises. I understand the appreciation for natural wood, and part of it may be that I'm so used to living in newer construction... but I really like the crispness of white wood work. Baseboards, trim, doors, cabinets are all white in my house and I like how bright everything looks. But... I'll think about it for a really long time before I commit to it :)
 
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