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First Time Home Buyers Newby Questions

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by AJ Love, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. AJ Love

    AJ Love Friend of Leo's

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    After an entire adulthood of being Apartment Dwellers it looks like my wife & I will be able to purchase our first home

    I have a few questions:

    How do you find out a history of flooding in a particular place?. In the neighborhoods we are looking at, flooding in basements can be a problem several times a decade.

    Most of the neighborhoods we are looking at are pretty low-crime, but is there a way to find out specific crime statistics for the block we look at?

    Anything else we should be looking for beyond structural damage?

    How do we know if there is mold damage under a basement carpet, for instance? Or a problem with mice, etc?
     
  2. Boubou

    Boubou Doctor of Teleocity

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    I would contact an insurance company, I am sure they have all the flood and crime data
     
  3. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    You gotta treat that whole area down there as a big crawl space, or I would. You can store lawn furniture and nearly destructible things down there but don't you dare develop it. Price the house as though that space doesn't even exist.

    That carpeting would just come right out immediately. If there's been too much "work" done down there, you'll never come to terms with the seller probably so don't even bother. Plus, you're gonna pay property taxes on it being living space and that's basically a fraud by the taxing authority.

    The fact that the area floods tells me the basement is not a "walk out". If you're on a hillside and one side is open to the sunshine, that's often pleasant living space. Most other basements are mouldy dungeons. People pour money into fixing them up, then never ever go down there. I guess you could place an adult child down there to give them the message they need to get out there and find their own place. :twisted:
     
  4. telleutelleme

    telleutelleme Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Get a professional inspection done. Worth the money.

    You can contact the city engineer and get a flood control map if not already online. Note that they are redrawn all the time if in a particularly flood prone area. One year my house was out, the next year we were in on our side of the block.

    The city police department can provide you with crime statistics and those may be online as well.
     
  5. don71

    don71 Tele-Afflicted

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    You've got good questions AJ. What ever home you intend on buying should be inspected by some kind of licensed home inspector. The cost could be a few hundred bucks, and get everything in writing. This is optional in my area, so buyer beware.

    Termite inspections are required in my area, usually part of the sales agreement and on the owners dime I think.

    As far as crime goes, I think you'll need to research this on your time. Like your other concerns,(flooding) research everything local you can think of, and ask questions among the people you deal with in any of these interactions. Wouldn't hurt to see some topographical maps of the intended areas you are looking at, for sea level and drainage, sewer etc. Like, where is the treatment plant in terms of home location and other runoff? Anyone you could ask next door?

    As far as mold goes, Let your nose be the first to detect. If it smells dank, there is a reason. As far as basements goes, that just part of it. I mean, basements leak, but if they are drained properly no reason why you can't use and enjoy one.
     
  6. stratofortress

    stratofortress Tele-Afflicted

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    When you finally narrow down to one house, go and hang out in the neighborhood at different times during the week and you might want to go bang on a few doors of your soon to be neighbors and introduce yourself and ask questions. Basements are cool......
     
  7. bingy

    bingy Friend of Leo's

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    Mold under a basement carpet or mice are not problems that would change the price of a house or deter you from buying a property that you felt was right.

     
  8. 6942

    6942 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just drive around the neighborhood, to see how well the homes and properties are kept up.
    If they look like Crack Houses.....they probably are.
     
  9. Tommy B

    Tommy B Tele-Meister

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    Look the property up on trulia. At the bottom of the page is an interactive map that will show crimes, school ratings, shopping, etc.

    You can find flood plain data on the county's USGS web site or by calling an insurance agent.

    Mold may be obvious - look for tiny black spots or not if it is under carpet or in walls.

    When you walk the house look for damp blocks or bricks or damp spots in the basement floor.

    Definitely hire a home inspector once you're ready to make any offer. Make the offer contingent upon satisfactory inspection results so you don't lose your Ernest money.

    DON'T let the seller's agent be your buyer's agent. You need your own agent to protect your interests.
     
  10. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    There is some truth to that, but this doesn't mean the better looking neighborhoods are more safe. In fact, a lot of times they have more home break-ins. Thieves know that the places that look really great outside often have really great stuff worth stealing inside.

    My theft-deterrence strategy is to keep the outside looking ratty. Paint peeling off the porch, coupla rotted planks on the deck. At least that's the rationalization ;-)

    Seems to work, though. Around the corner there's a really nice block with at least two break ins a year, and an occasional car theft.
     
  11. AJ Love

    AJ Love Friend of Leo's

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    I appreciate the suggestions, everyone, thank you. All of this stuff is pretty new to me
     
  12. 6942

    6942 Poster Extraordinaire

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    DOGS are your friends

    Food for thought:

    We do have an occasional break-in, in our neighborhood.
    But not one single home that had a DOG inside, was ever targeted. :idea:
     
  13. Frontier9

    Frontier9 Friend of Leo's

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    Greetings from Sunny New Jersey
    Here's something to keep an eye out for - our new neighbor just learned this lesson the hard way:

    Look around at the trees in the yard, if any... If there are any tall ones that are dying or already dead, factor the cost of removal into the owner's asking price. Kinda hard to spot them in the winter, but ask some of the neighbors. My new neighbor spent somewhere around 3 grand to remove a dead 60' Oak. It was the middle of summer - it stuck out like a bashed thumb. He missed it, and his inspector did, too. Wish I had been in the back yard when he was walking through...
     
  14. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    AVOID: Any house that has an Electrical Breaker panel by ZINSCO or FEDERAL PACIFIC (Stab-Lock). It can cost upwards of $Thousands to replace. They lost their UL Listing for a very good reason - they are unsafe.

    Make sure every door and window open and close without any extra effort. The house can shift over time and that isn't good.

    Look at the Foundation around the outside of the house.
    Any settling, cracks, pieces falling off, has it been repaired already? This will become more evident when you open and close the doors and windows.

    Get a big-ass 6volt Lantern, look in the attic, has this roof ever leaked? Look for signs of bugs and rodents while you are up there.

    Be assertive and look under every sink in the house.
    Look good? Look ugly? Whats that smell?
    Take the Lid off the Tank of toilet(s), hows that look? Rust, Mineral Deposits, clean as can be?

    If you can see the Sewer pipes, are they Cast Iron, Plastic or, a combination of both where they have been repaired?
    Cast Iron Sewer Pipes that run to the street from the house are very prone to collapse and clogging from shifting in the earth and tree roots.
    What are your Supply Pipes made of? Copper? If the house was built before 1985, they were using Leaded Solder on your drinking water. After 1985, unleaded Solder. Ok.
    Galvanized Steel? Time Bomb.
    Gray Plastic "QUEST" tubing? RUN AWAY!
    White PVC? Bad.
    Yellowish CPVC. OK.
    Newer PEX (Red, White, or Blue). OK.

    Any LEAD in the Paint?
    Any ASBESTOS?

    Get written proof that the previous owner took care of it or you may end-up being liable to have it removed. That will not be cheap.
     
  15. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Several times a decade doesn't sound like a big deal. Our basement got flooded once from hydrostatic pressure when an astounding amount of water fell in a short period of time. Any other time it was my failure to keep a gutter clear.

    A home inspection is a must after you make an offer. These are all questions your realtor can assist you with.
     
  16. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Learn the roles and responsibilities of "buyer's agents" and "home inspectors" in your state. Some state legislatures have pretty well immunized home inspectors from any consequential damages as a result of their failure to see what they reasonably should have seen. Some states will certify virtually anyone as a home inspector - find out if the occupation is for real in your state or if it is window dressing.

    And figure out who a "buyer's agent" really answers to. In many states, he's in it for himself or what duties he owes still focus on the vendor and not you. Strange deal, and of course the real estate "professionals" will squeal in protest at any suggestion that they're not blood bound to you. In my experience, the extent to which they help you is based on their character as a great human being - otherwise they can just make things worse.

    The final truth is, you can get people to consult for you but YOU end up being the real decision maker on issues with the building, or with the seller. Ironically, the actors involved who are best aligned with you are the staff of and the closing lawyer chosen by your local bank where you borrowed the money. Their motivations and goals protect you better than anything else and that's why I'm kinda reluctant to buy for cash outright. Rather do a loan, then pay it off within a year if I can. In my view, the guys at the bank and at the closers chosen by the bank use the same brand of parachute as you and NONE of the others do.
     
  17. slippin slider

    slippin slider Tele-Afflicted

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    Ok ok your are righty rooo.
    Both are top drawer.


    And kraftwerk did the best computer pocket calculator songs.;)
     
  18. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Your Great Father who are in Washington has collected scads of information pertaining to floods, and there are maps used by insurance companies to assess risk. This is where the 20-year, 100-year, 500-year, etc. flood terminology ratings come from. Being a government website, it's a pain in the arse to find the information you want, but well worth it. You can narrow it down almost exactly to a specific lot, with a good street map, and one of the flood maps of the area.

    http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/?cid=Search_GoogleAdwords_FloodZones_c_g_b_federal%20flood%20zones

    Also, there is absolutely no substitute for a good home inspector. Find one who isn't beholden to real estate agents, so his job isn't to find all homes are "great", and thus does not kill deals.

    If the house is reasonably modern (1970's or newer), it won't have asbestos and likely won't have lead paint. Anyway, a good inspection should find and alert you to those issues, as well as numerous others.

    Oh, yeah, almost forgot, Uncle Sugar's FBI also publishes tons of crime statistics, http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats
    not sure they get as specific as zip codes, but any local police or sheriff's office will be happy to get you that data. They have to compile it and submit it to the FBI (to keep their federal funding), and usually have it in more detailed form than the published federal statistics.
     
  19. AJ Love

    AJ Love Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you!
     
  20. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    my experience: pay attention to trees, on your (future) property or on neighbor's property that hangs over your lot. if anything needs to be done, make the seller address it, either doing the work that needs doing or discounting the price. trees are beautiful but they can cause lots of trouble.

    signed,

    A Homeowner Who Is Looking At A Big Tree-Removal Fee
     
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