Home Purchase Advice

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Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:06 pm

I am buying my first home and just received the inspection report. The following items were listed as the most serious by the inspector. I have no idea how worried to be about some of them. My primary concerns are obviously liability and major repairs. The purchase price of the home is $452,500. Any suggestions on how much credit I should ask for and/or requests for repairs to be made would be greatly appreciated. Or are these so serious that I should back out of the deal?

3.2. There are yard walls installed against the adjacent
structure. Without provisions for adequate drainage these
planters hold moisture / soil close to the exterior wall, interior
framing, interior wall coverings and foundation. In the course
of time, this condition may contribute to interior wall framing
damage, mold, moisture penetration / damage to interior
flooring and in the long-term, possible differential settlement
of the foundation.
Page 9 Item: 8 Subsurface
Drainage
8.5. At the time of the inspection, there was much water
draining from the rear subsurface drainage system suggesting
that there may be overwatering or an underground leak of
some type.
Page 10 Item: 11 Block Wall 11.3. Fence height between this yard and the next door
pool/spa area was too low as per local building standards.
Fencing which leads to a yard which posses a swimming pool
must not be lower than 60 inches with no gaps less than 2
inches below the fence. In addition, when a yard wall
intersects against a pool barrier, the wall at that specific
location must remain 60 inches height.
11.4. There is a large tree adjacent to the block wall that
appears to have affected the block wall. Significant cracking
was noted as a result. We recommend the further review,
advice and services of a masonry contractor.
Fireplace A


Page 16 Item: 7 Glass Doors 7.1. There are no glass doors installed on the fireplace. This
fireplace may have been tested with doors in which case
doors would be required, in accordance to manufactures
standards. For this condition, we suggest a more in-depth
examination, including any potential repairs. We suggest
further assessment and advice by a qualified fireplace
specialist.
Structural
Page 19 Item: 5 Zero Lot 5.2. The buyer should be aware that the soil in his/her yard is
higher than the weep screed on the adjacent structure, next
door. The soil level is suggested to be at least 6 inches below
the weep screed so moisture does not enter into the dwelling.
Roof
Page 21 Item: 4 Concrete Tile
Flashings & Vent
Terminations
4.3. We observed pan flashing which was cut short at the rear
of the house and does not overhang the eave or fascia. Over
time, this condition may contribute tot he premature
deterioration of any wood-work below the flashings.
Main Service
Page 22 Item: 5 Water Pressure 5.2. As the static water pressure of the supply plumbing
system exceeds 80 pounds per square inch (psi). It would be
wise to (install) or adjust the pressure regulator. Otherwise,
the plumbing system may be prone to leaks in piping, fittings
or other equipment. The water pressure was taken from the
rear of the house at the nearest accessible hose bib.
Note: We cannot determine which hose bibs are regulated
and which are not regulated.
Electrical Service
Page 28 Item: 10 Equipotential
Bonding
10.1. We were unable to verify a bonding jumper at the main
gas meter or piping as per some local building standards. A
ground source that bonds the gas piping to eliminate the
potential for injury should the system become energized.
Heating System A
Page 32 Item: 10 Condensate 10.1. The primary condensate pipe may be blocked judging
by the water leaking from the secondary drain pipe. The
primary condensate line should be tested and if need be, the
coil should be serviced.
Air Conditioning A
Page 33 Item: 3 Air Conditioner
Condensing Coil
3.4. The condensing coil may be contaminated by dirt, lint
and debris.
Page 34 Item: 6 Air Conditioner
Differential
Temperature
Readings
6.1. The air-conditioning responded and cooled, however, the
unit achieved a low differential temperature split between the
air entering the system and that coming out. Our test of the
system is a basic test which we use to determine the
efficiency of the unit at the time of the inspection. The split
was low enough that we feel the system should be evaluated
and likely serviced.
Interior
Page 38 Item: 11 Smoke Detectors 11.1. There were non operational smoke detectors found at
the master and upper south bedrooms at the time of the
inspection. Current building standards require operational
detectors to be in each sleeping room, as well as, hallways.


Page 38 Item: 13 Stair Treads and
Risers
13.1. The treads and risers are not uniform and could prove
to be a trrip-hazard. The treads are those components on
which a person steps, and which, for safety reasons, should
be a minimum of 10 inches. R311.7.4.2 Tread depth. The
minimum tread depth shall be 10 inches (254 mm).
13.2. The nosing is short in accordance to building code.
R311.7.4.3 Profile. The radius of curvature at the nosing shall
be no greater than 9/16 inch (14 mm). A nosing not less than
3/4 inch (19 mm) but not more than 11/4 inches (32 mm) shall
be provided on stairways with solid risers. The greatest nosing
projection shall not exceed the smallest nosing projection by
more than 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) between two stories, including
the nosing at the level of floors and landings. Beveling of
nosings shall not exceed 1/2 inch (12.7 mm).
Garage
Page 46 Item: 4 Garage Separation
Wall and Ceiling
4.2. Sealant is recommended around pipes or other
penetrations within the separation wall in order to maintain the
integrity of the fire rated wall. This separation wall is
suggested to be complete and without any breach.
Page 46 Item: 8 Vehicle Door 8.2. The main garage vehicle door is damaged. The panels
on the garage door were bent and in need of repair or
replacement.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby Meaty » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:55 pm

Several items listed are pretty minor, and keep in mind that home inspectors write their findings in such a way to avoid liability -no one can see everything (without tearing walls apart).

That said, a lot of water/moisture related issues have been listed. Water problems are a huge pain. They cause mold, rot framing, crack concrete (in some situations) and are hard to find the root cause of. I don't know if 450k is high or mid price for your area, but this sounds like an older home that you should be ready to sink upper 5 figures into if you buy.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:05 pm

Thanks for the reply. The home is actually not too old -- built in 1999. In fact, one of the main reasons we bought is because we did not anticipate having to do much work. Our agent is not very helpful on the advice front either. You're right that the water issues are the most concerning. There's this:
"The buyer should be aware that the soil in his/her yard is higher than the weep screed on the adjacent structure, next door. The soil level is suggested to be at least 6 inches below the weep screed so moisture does not enter into the dwelling. There are yard walls installed against the adjacent structure. Without provisions for adequate drainage these planters hold moisture / soil close to the exterior wall, interior framing, interior wall coverings and foundation. In the course of time, this condition may contribute to interior wall framing damage, mold, moisture penetration damage to interior flooring and in the long-term, possible differential settlement of the foundation."
Agent is suggesting I ask for a credit and tear down the planters. Fair enough. But what if there is already damage to the neighbor's home that I am not aware of? How do I protect myself against that?

Also there is this:

"At the time of the inspection, there was much water draining from the rear subsurface drainage system suggesting that there may be overwatering or an underground leak of some type."


Is my only option here to hire another inspector to diagnose during escrow?
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby jbreittling » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:13 pm

I'd hire another inspector and a lawyer...will an inspector know, for example, what you may be liable for if there is already damage to the neighbors structure?

Or, keep shopping.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby Meaty » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:20 pm

As far as limiting your liability to your neighbor, if you can prove the cause of his loss occurred prior to you owning the home you'd be fine. Good luck on that one since he'll probably complain as soon as an issue arises and his contractor says its from your house. If that did happen, the comprehensive personal liability in your homeowners policy would likely cover you if you were sued and found liable but you'd have to check the exclusions carefully.

You do have other options. I'd suggest hiring a contractor/plumber/water remediation guy and ask him to diagnose the exact problem and cost to fix. Home inspectors know a little about everything. You want someone who knows a lot about remediating water problems. Think of it like a general practitioner versus a cardiac surgeon. The general practitioner can tell you there's a heart problem, the cardiac surgeon can do a transplant.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby rustymutt » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:29 pm

I'd move on to other homes. You don't want to buy someones headaches.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:12 pm

Depressing, but guess I'll have to move on. It'd be a shame if these issues are really nothing, but I can't take that risk. Thanks.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby LadyGeek » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:28 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues (home condition).

I'd be wary of the flashing that does not cover the rear overhang. My bet is that the wood is already rotted - this is probably a supporting wall.

Also, the garage firewall is not to code, that's a risk of obtaining homeowners insurance. My bet is they won't insure a home that's not up to code.

The water pressure is at 80 psi? My home is pressure regulated to 50 psi, something is not right.

Electrical is not up to code (equipotential bonding), this is a safety concern. Another risk that your homeowners insurance will not be happy about.

I'll stop here. This home is better presented as a "fixer-upper" - walking away is a good idea. The price for the home inspection was well worth it.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby curmudgeon » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:06 pm

Depending on where in CA we are talking about, I personally would probably only be very concerned about the excess water in the rear yard (which I would check by doing a couple of follow-up visits to see if there seemed to be a recognizable cause - overwatering would not be an issue; leaky sprinkler pipes are minor), and the potential A/C performance issues (which might just be a need for cleaning/service, or might be leaning towards replacement). The other items seemed mostly nits (still worth fixing) which inspectors seem to pile into their reports as a way of justifying their fees.

But the key here is that I grep up dealing with house issues. If I get an inspection, I don't place a lot of faith in it, but just use it as a supplement to my own personal inspection.

It's a lot more difficult if you don't have a good understanding of home construction, as it's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in an inspection report, and being too picky will make you lose out on the better deals. One of the big problems here in CA lately, is that there are a lot of flipped houses which look good on the surface, and maybe even in the inspection report, but where corners were cut in areas that will show up over time (crappy paint, pasted-over cracks, etc).

However you go, do remember you should have some reserves to deal with unforeseen issues.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:37 pm

Well, that cheers me up a bit, Curmudgeon. Yes, this is in California. Would you not be concerned about the possible damage to the neighbor's house due to the planters on the zero plot line?

This is not a flipped house, but it is a tenant-occupied home. I do not have much knowledge about home construction, which is why I'm so concerned.

If you were purchasing, what would you ask for in credits/repairs assuming we did find out the the leaking is due to overwatering?
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:53 pm

It is in Santa Clarita.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby curmudgeon » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:41 am

Santa Clarita probably gets about 8 inches of rain a year, so a lot of drainage issues that might be bigger problems in other parts of the country may be less of an issue in this case (especially if corrected by grading and managing drainage appropriately in future). Honestly, it's really hard to tell much without seeing it in person. I just hate to see you get too scared by issues that may in fact be trivial (and when you may find similar issues in any house in your price range). If you have a friend who is a knowledgeable homeowner (or maybe even who can recommend a decent contractor), you might walk through the place and go over the issues with them (your RE agent may have some perspective, but they are not a neutral advisor in this situation).

You can use the report as part of your negotiation, there's nothing wrong with that, but if you ask for too much credit, the sellers may just choose to go back on the market because they'll have doubts about you really closing in the end (obviously that depends on local RE market conditions). I might be inclined to ask for $10K credit, and settle for what I could get, but again, that's without seeing it.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:05 am

10 k is what I was thinking -- I may try that. You write that the seller might put it back on the market, but he can't rescind the sale in response to my repair/credit request, can he? He can either say no or come back with a lower amount. If I have that correct, what is the risk of high-balling the repair request? Thanks again.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby curmudgeon » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:45 am

MattInCali wrote:10 k is what I was thinking -- I may try that. You write that the seller might put it back on the market, but he can't rescind the sale in response to my repair/credit request, can he? He can either say no or come back with a lower amount. If I have that correct, what is the risk of high-balling the repair request? Thanks again.

Roughly, as long as you are still in your contingency period, you are still in contract. You can ask for revisions to the contract (your repair/credit request). Seller can agree, counter, or ignore. For your part, you want to make sure you've come to a satisfactory agreement *before* your contingency expiration, because that is your last chance to cleanly bail. You are perfectly within your rights to tell the seller "here's my inspection list of issues, fix all of them", and the seller is within his rights to reply "no way, take it as it is or forget it". It can actually be a bit tricky having the seller do the repairs on some of this stuff, because you don't want them doing sloppy work. Some $ credit is often easiest for both sides, but if you ask for too much, the seller may say "I'll do the work instead", which leaves you with some more uncertainty as to whether you'll be happy when he's done.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:51 am

Gotcha. That clarifies a lot for me -- thanks.

Do you think it would be valuable to hire a contractor with knowledge in drainage issues to more accurately diagnose the problems below? I don't know if that will be a waste of money.

"The buyer should be aware that the soil in his/her yard is higher than the weep screed on the adjacent structure, next door. The soil level is suggested to be at least 6 inches below the weep screed so moisture does not enter into the dwelling. There are yard walls installed against the adjacent structure. Without provisions for adequate drainage these planters hold moisture / soil close to the exterior wall, interior framing, interior wall coverings and foundation. In the course of time, this condition may contribute to interior wall framing damage, mold, moisture penetration damage to interior flooring and in the long-term, possible differential settlement of the foundation."
"At the time of the inspection, there was much water draining from the rear subsurface drainage system suggesting that there may be overwatering or an underground leak of some type."




Also, you don't think the equipotential bonding issue is a big concern, and should I ask the seller to remove the tree pushing on the wall? The latter seems like something that can't really be done in such a sloppy way.

Appreciate all your help.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby hand » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:57 am

A couple of thoughts:

1) Be sure you understand the roles and responsibilities of the players:
a) Realtor, tries to sell you house to earn commission, likely to minimize any issues found to get you to complete the sale
b) Inspector, works for you (unless referred by Realtor(!)), and likely to use wording that indicates how bad a problem "could" be.

Most of what I read could be minor and within the realm of normal wear and tear - do you care if wall between the house and neighbor's pool is too low if you don't have kids?

That being said, water issues can be downright scary, and I would be tempted to do additional research / inspections before committing.
Electrical can be scary / expensive too, but I would be surprised if a 1999 house in CA was not built to electrical code, but anything is possible. Inspector just says he couldn't verify.
No matter what the Inspector says, you should expect to replace some major appliances for a 1999 house.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:10 am

Thanks again to all who responded. My agent is suggesting that I ask for a $3500 credit. I'm inclined to ask for closer to $10,000, per "curmedugeon's" recommendation. I'd love to get some other opinions on how much to ask for.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby stan1 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:42 am

I have lived in Southern California all my life. I don't see any major red flags, but suggest you walk through very carefully. Look to see where the water is going to go if there is rain. Is there a gutter system and a drainage system? Are the drains functioning? Does the yard naturally slope in a way that keeps water away from your house/neighbors house?

Drainage: Is there a drainage system from the back of the house to the curb? This is common in CA as this keeps water from going to neighbors house, and it is common to see a trail of water coming out of the drainage pipe and running down the curb when the yard is overwatered. This may not be a big deal if the yard is in fact being overwatered (look for grass/soil that is very wet -- you essentially live in a desert, the ground should not be wet).

Planters next to house. In general it is not a good idea to have a raised planter or lawn area next to the house. Water from sprinklers can damage the house. Either put in concrete or a ground level planter with low water plants.

Asking for 10K seems very high unless I'm not visualizing this properly. My guess is that if you ask for $10K for everything the seller may counteroffer at $2-3K.

I think this sounds like a typical 15 year old house (some nitpicks, some minor code infractions due to owner mods, some code changes since the house was built, some deferred maintenance, possibly some wind damage (missing flashing)).
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby hand » Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:53 am

MattInCali wrote:Thanks again to all who responded. My agent is suggesting that I ask for a $3500 credit. I'm inclined to ask for closer to $10,000, per "curmedugeon's" recommendation. I'd love to get some other opinions on how much to ask for.


Assuming you don't *need* this particular house, I would assume the agent is now trying harder to close the deal than to protect your interests and ask for a larger credit than they "recommend".

I would also be sure to do a sales job on your agent - act really disappointed on the condition of the house and share that you are thinking of walking because if these are the problems that were found, who knows what issues are hidden. The only way you'll go through with the deal if you get a $XXX credit. This will help the agent advocate on your behalf with the seller rather than saying that you are asking for $3500, but will likely take less because you love the house.

Of course if the market has significantly increased since your offer was accepted you may not have much leverage.

Good Luck!
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:35 pm

Stan, do you know if I would be liable if there is already damage to the neighbor's structure from the watering of the planters?
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby stan1 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:47 pm

MattInCali wrote:Stan, do you know if I would be liable if there is already damage to the neighbor's structure from the watering of the planters?


The inspection report identified the potential issue, so if you proceed with the purchase you can't say you didn't know about it. Since it was identified you would have a very hard time suing the seller or the inspector. Inspections are as much about CYA for the seller and realtors as they are about transparency for the buyer. The inspector identifies every possible issue (real and theoretical) for his own CYA. If significant damage is ever detected you and your neighbor would both likely bring in your homeowners insurance companies to decide who pays. Read your policy to see what's covered.

The inspection report says you "should be aware" that the soil on your property is high and "suggests" a lower level. You would want to verify that there is no visible damage. You would want to take action to lower the soil level in the planter bed and make sure water is not pooling in the bed due to irrigation or rainfall. I'm assuming there are C&Rs in a zero lot line development. You could replace the planting material with rocks if the C&Rs allow which lets you take the irrigation water away but you would still want to make sure rainfall drains away. You would want to read the C&Rs to know what type of landscaping is allowed. The C&Rs might also define responsibility for the planters if they were installed by the builder. I'm assuming you are responsible for the planter, not a HOA.

It's not clear to me from the description whether this is a show stopper. Go out and look at it in person. Scrape away the soil to see if there is visible damage below. There is no way to make a home purchase zero risk.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:54 pm

Thanks, Stan. You seem very knowledgable about real estate, so I'm going to attempt to get away with one more question. This home sold for 420,000 in 2004 and I am purchasing it for 452,500. As I mentioned earlier, it is in a very nice area in Santa Clarita with excellent schools. It's 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, but only 1420 sq. ft. Do you think the odds are in my favor that I'll see an increase in value of the home after 8-10 years? Thanks again.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby stan1 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:29 pm

MattInCali wrote:Thanks, Stan. You seem very knowledgable about real estate, so I'm going to attempt to get away with one more question. This home sold for 420,000 in 2004 and I am purchasing it for 452,500. As I mentioned earlier, it is in a very nice area in Santa Clarita with excellent schools. It's 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, but only 1420 sq. ft. Do you think the odds are in my favor that I'll see an increase in value of the home after 8-10 years? Thanks again.


There is no way to know what the house will be worth in 8-10 years. You can buy in a good location, but over time the neighborhood can change. School boundaries can be changed. You have no control over tax laws, interest rates, or ups and downs of the economy. Buy the house because you need a place to live and because you will enjoy the lifestyle. If the house appreciates in value that's great too, but certainly no guarantee can be made.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby surfer1 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:58 pm

My two cents. If you really like the house, ask for at least $10k for repairs, and don't be afraid to walk if they balk. Your realtor is just trying to close the sale by telling you $3500. That is way too low. Cutting down a tree and grinding the stump, alone, is about $1000. That's not including the masonry repair to the wall, if it's even possible (if its structural damage to wall due to the tree, that's a bigger problem).

The electrical bonding on the gas main is nothing. They're just missing a copper wire going from the water pipe on one end of the gas meter to the pipe on the other. Normally, no charge is carried on this wire. It's for safety though, in case a short occurs at some point, it gets carried past the meter (which might not be electrically conductive and thus would prevent the current from continuing - hence leaving the pipe charged), back to the ground. You should have the same copper wire on the hot and cold water pipes of your water heater and also on the pipes to your water meter.

The wood sheathing is probably rotting on the edges of the roof, due to the short trim. You can't see this because the shingles cover it and it's probably not visible from the attic. It's a relatively easy fix to install new trim, if you're handy. If not, it can be expensive.

It would be nice to ask the seller to fix everything, but the truth is, they'll refuse to do it. Plus, they'll do the cheapest job possible. The water in the yard, leaking pipe, and grading issues would be my biggest concern. It's clear the owner was not taking care of the house, which would make me wary about buying it. Even if you walk away, consider the inspection an education and look for these issues on your next showing.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby SamB » Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:59 pm

Is the piping copper? If it is exposed in the basement, check the cold water runs for green crystal deposits. These may be pin whole leaks that are sealed for now. Also call the water department and talk to someone who knows about copper pipe corrosion. Ask if they treat the water for that type of failure, and whether or not it is prevalent in your neighborhood.

Get a new pressure regulator, and at the same time install an expansion tank, preferably on the supply side of the hot water tank. 80psi is way too high. Both of these items are probably less than $150 list price at Home Depot. They are easily installed by a plumber and will protect your piping system.

Does the existing piping system make groaning noises when you cycle the valves? This would indicate a bad regulator.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby DiscoBunny1979 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:25 pm

stan1 wrote:Planters next to house. In general it is not a good idea to have a raised planter or lawn area next to the house. Water from sprinklers can damage the house. Either put in concrete or a ground level planter with low water plants.


------------

This is not necessary true. I live in CA with a quite long raised planter made out of brick that's a permanent structure attached to the front of the house. The house was built in the 1970s and when I purchased it from the original owners and remodeled the room that has the planter and ripped out the walls, there was absolutely no water leakage or seepage. It has to do with how the planter box was constructed and it's intended use. For instance, the original owners had bulb plants in there that required watering on a regular basis; whereas I replaced those high water plants with barrel cactus. The cactus get watered once a week or so. Also, getting water on the side of the house is not bad depending upon the materials used, quality of paint, flashing and other constructions.

In my opinion some issues that might seem small might delay closing. In some locations, water heaters need to be strapped sufficiently to the house. Our gas line is protected from shocks with a grounding wire to the water tank. While this is not the #1 way of doing it, it is acceptable in my area. Also, the drainage pipe from the water heater is also a requirement to make it code and an acceptable house for resale. Smoke detectors also can be a requirement to have installed correctly especially for FHA or VA financing.

The OP might want to call an arborist to determine what's going on with the tree and the size of the root ball and root structure. Repairing a fence can be expensive if made of brick and therefore and estimate on teardown of tree and mason work should be obtained and put on the seller to do.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:45 pm

$10,000 it is! I will update everyone on what happens. Thanks so much.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:21 pm

It figures: Seller's agent says they have two backup offers at full price, so seller is unlikely to agree to many credits, if any at all. I'll hear back today. Of course, I'd think the seller might have some worries of his own. He will now have to disclose my inspection report, right? Also, my loan is already approved and I've agreed to remove all contingencies if he accepts my repair request. Home-buying is like poker....
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby surfer1 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:02 am

Or the seller's agent is lying to get you to drop the request. I would submit it anyway and see what happens. If they refuse to budge at all, then you're probably better off looking elsewhere.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby hand » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:49 am

surfer1 wrote:Or the seller's agent is lying to get you to drop the request. I would submit it anyway and see what happens. If they refuse to budge at all, then you're probably better off looking elsewhere.


Agreed, and best to position it to your agent that if you don't get the $10k you are asking for you are prepared to walk. If/when the seller counters, you can reconsider your decision.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:16 am

Well, he countered with $1,000. Having said that, he gave many explanations that were reassuring. It really does seem like most of the water issues have to do with overwatering. I also learned there are two counteroffers at full price, which gives me less leverage. I've gone back and asked for another $1,000. Hope I'm making the right decision.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:18 am

Is the seller's agent permitted to lie about backup offers (i.e., tell me there are 2 when in fact there are none)?
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby hand » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:34 am

MattInCali wrote:Is the seller's agent permitted to lie about backup offers (i.e., tell me there are 2 when in fact there are none)?


The seller's agent's duty is to the seller and most will convey whatever message the seller asks them to.
That being said, it is of course possible the backup offers are real.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby Random Poster » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:39 am

MattInCali wrote:Is the seller's agent permitted to lie about backup offers (i.e., tell me there are 2 when in fact there are none)?


Is there any "lying" in a negotiation?
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby hand » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:54 am

A couple of thoughts:

1) If the seller truly had better back up offers (all cash, no contingencies, better price, close immediately) they wouldn't have countered your ask
2) $10k and $1k are clearly "made up" numbers, if I was willing to walk away from the house for something less than $10k, I would consider going back to the seller with an itemized list of issues and cost to remediate rather than another made-up number
3) You are getting close to the range where the realtors can kick in some of their commission (about $27k assuming 6%) to close the deal.

In your shoes (assuming I was willing to walk), I would go back asking for around (not exactly) $7500k in itemized issues, hope for a counter offer, then tell your agent you're done - with all of the issues, the house isn't worth it to you without $5k in concessions. Let the agent squeeze the seller or the other agent to close the deal at a price you like.

Before you counter, I would also find another similar house listed online, and let your agent know you want to see ASAP as you have found something that might be a "better" fit.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby MattInCali » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:14 pm

Good point. Right, I don't think he would have countered my request if he had a no-contingency or all-cash offer. Clearly if he does have backup offers he still has to consider the fact that they are likely to ask for requests and he has to disclose my inspection report.

My agent is not very aggressive. However, he is from Redfin so I will be getting close to 2k back as a rebate -- this is better than nothing.

It all comes down to whether I trust the seller's answers on the water issues. He says the planter was put in by the original owner (sometime between 1999-2004), and he has never had any issues with the neighbor.
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby Meg77 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:35 pm

You should just call the inspector and talk it through! You are already paying for their service, and usually he or she will be happy to talk through any issues. I've bought 10 rentals over the years and have learned that inspectors specifically word reports to sound as scary and horrible as possible - even on a brand new house (which I bought straight from a developer several years back) you'd be surprised at the pages and pages of "potential issues" they will spout off. This helps you negotiate but also helps protect them from liability. I had the inspectors walk through with me and point out (or just highlight later) things they actually thought I might need to address - and usually they amounted to cheap fixes.

This home is not that old so I wouldn't be as concerned in this case, especially given the vague "over time this could..." type of clauses. Talk to the inspector directly and ask for them to elaborate. Ask if they see this kind of thing often, if it can be easily remedied, etc. Also if you want to look into it further they can often recommend experts in specific fields (foundation people, mold folks, etc) to take a deeper look.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin
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Re: Home Purchase Advice

Postby curmudgeon » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:46 pm

Stuff like this is common in the process of buying a house. Even if the seller has backup offers, there is distinct value for the seller in carrying on with one that is in process - the backup may fall apart over the same issues or have weaknesses of their own.

If you end up buying, I would still investigate the landscaping and grading/drainage, though it's not necessarily something that has to be dealt with right away. I would also look into the A/C unit. You can probably find some basic guidance online for things like making sure the exterior coils aren't clogged with leaves and replacing the air filter. See where that gets you, and if it's still not working well, look for a well-recommended local A/C service to check it out. A poorly operating A/C can really suck down power and run up your electric bill.
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