Housing Advice

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boogiehead
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Housing Advice

Post by boogiehead » Fri Dec 27, 2019 11:30 pm

Hi all - Looking for some advice as I am hoping to buy a house next year. I currently live in a condo which I realized its not for me anymore as having to deal with so many neighbors has become a nuisance. In terms of housing can someone give me some pointers on what to look for besides the basics such as location, school district, etc... I am not a DIYer so should I avoid older homes including ones that have been "upgraded"/"remodeled"? Thanks!

Monsterflockster
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by Monsterflockster » Fri Dec 27, 2019 11:51 pm

One mistake we made buying our first house is we took what we could get in a hot market. It wasn’t a place we wanted to live long term and something we just considered a starter home. A couple years later when the 2009 housing bubble burst we and kids came along it was a problem.

My advice: look for a home that you can live in long term and weather a downturn if needed. Consider your future needs not just the present.

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Cubicle
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by Cubicle » Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:26 am

OP: Are you looking for a "long term" house?

If you are not a DIYer, I would avoid all around "old" homes. But if the structure is old, but with a newer roof, plumbing, electical, etc... then I would not avoid. Basically if wear items are newer-ish then the build date wouldn't scare me. My structure was put up in the 1940s. I re-did all the wear items in the past 2 years except: the 2012 roof; about half the electric wiring which is still very safe & functional; the steam heat pipes because there is no rust/rot on any of the pipes & radiators.

Any house, new or old, will present expenses. New construction may be a "safer" bet, but not always, & there is a cost premium built in.
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boogiehead
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by boogiehead » Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:35 am

Monsterflockster wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 11:51 pm
One mistake we made buying our first house is we took what we could get in a hot market. It wasn’t a place we wanted to live long term and something we just considered a starter home. A couple years later when the 2009 housing bubble burst we and kids came along it was a problem.

My advice: look for a home that you can live in long term and weather a downturn if needed. Consider your future needs not just the present.
Thanks I'll keep that in mind.... my SO and I aren't planning to have kids so I think we are a bit more flexible although we've been wanting to get a dog, but the majority of the newer homes here don't have backyards since living in SoCal real estate is at a premium so almost every newer property I've seen within out budget basically have at most a small patio area.

Topic Author
boogiehead
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by boogiehead » Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:43 am

Cubicle wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:26 am
OP: Are you looking for a "long term" house?

If you are not a DIYer, I would avoid all around "old" homes. But if the structure is old, but with a newer roof, plumbing, electical, etc... then I would not avoid. Basically if wear items are newer-ish then the build date wouldn't scare me. My structure was put up in the 1940s. I re-did all the wear items in the past 2 years except: the 2012 roof; about half the electric wiring which is still very safe & functional; the steam heat pipes because there is no rust/rot on any of the pipes & radiators.

Any house, new or old, will present expenses. New construction may be a "safer" bet, but not always, & there is a cost premium built in.
Correct, I plan on living there "long term" unless something drastic change (i.e. having to move for a different job, etc...). The one thing is the newer constructions I've noticed are just being built vertically here in SoCal to minimize space which I don't particularly like... I now understand why a good friend of mine moved his family to Charlotte last year when both his wife and him got an opportunity to transfer to the area.

desiderium
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by desiderium » Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:55 am

There is a lot to home build quality that transcends chronological age. Find a good home inspector and consult them as you look. Have them look at homes you are considering buying, and of course do a thorough home inspection before consummating as purchase. They will help you get a reasonable sense of the maintenance cycle over the next 5-10 years. I think this will be well worth the effort and expense

Beyond that, location as they say, proximity to good schools, transit, retail amenities, especially those that are walkable. Look up police crime stats for the area.

Good luck.

Goal33
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by Goal33 » Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:57 am

Monsterflockster wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 11:51 pm
One mistake we made buying our first house is we took what we could get in a hot market. It wasn’t a place we wanted to live long term and something we just considered a starter home. A couple years later when the 2009 housing bubble burst we and kids came along it was a problem.

My advice: look for a home that you can live in long term and weather a downturn if needed. Consider your future needs not just the present.
+1. Good advice.
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Speckles
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by Speckles » Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:06 am

If you live in an area that is subject to natural disasters (flooding, earthquakes, tidal waves), understand if the home is in a relatively “safe” or “most susceptible” part of town.

Check the actual flood plain maps or earthquake maps. Possessions can be replaced by insurance, but not loved ones.

Happy house hunting and good luck!
Specs

campy2010
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by campy2010 » Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:33 am

I know people around here don't like to talk about market timing. But I disagree and say pay attention to where your market is going, especially if you have a flexible timeline. Right now, my HCOL housing market is cooling off and I've heard similar things are happening in CA. Watch the inventory and evaluate comparable houses when making an offer to ensure that you're not overpaying. Don't rely solely on your real estate agent to do this. S/he wants the deal closed and cares less that you get the best price.

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celia
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by celia » Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:46 am

The "mistake" we made in buying our first house is not checking out the neighborhood. We didn't know we were moving into a house next to "problem" neighbors. We learned to check out the neighborhood at different times of day on work days and weekends for noise, traffic, parking. Get out and talk to the neighbors and ask if all the neighbors get along pretty well, if any retired people are home during the day, if anyone has loud parties frequently, if the city/police are responsive when you need something, if there is any crime or concerns of the neighbors.

livesoft
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by livesoft » Sat Dec 28, 2019 5:53 am

My list:
livesoft wrote:A list from a previous thread ….
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 24#p818024
livesoft wrote:When we started looking to buy, we went to library and checked out the books. It was pretty straightforward. I would not buy a book unless it was in the $1 rack at the used book store.

And the idea of "evaluating windows" is kind of silly. Here's my criteria when I was looking for a home.

1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning.
2. Good schools.
3. Within 3 miles of my office.
4. Short walk from a water features like a pond or lake.
5. No tile countertops.
6. No bathroom doors visible from a seated position in any public room like den, kitchen, living room, game room, study, etc.
7. 4 bedrooms, at least 3 bathrooms.
8. Brick exterior, not stucco, not wood.
9. No major street within 2 blocks. (i.e. Interior cul-de-sac).
10. No chance of flooding, so must be on a ridge or high ground with good drainage even during a hurricane.

Surprisingly, these criteria eliminate about 98% of homes, so if the realtor is doing their job, you won't have to look at more than 1 or 2 homes. Notice that except for the countertop thing, there is nothing special about windows, insulation, appliances, etc. Those are small things that you can change. You can't change location and add a large pond or good schools where none exist.
In addition, (some are redundant):

11. Not on a corner (same as #1).
12. If street has street lights, at the street light (free security lighting).
13. 3 ways out of the neighborhood (in case fallen trees block the roads).
14. Cannot hear any highway noise nor noise of major traffic arteries.
15. Nice walking possibilities for the dog; nice running/biking loops in several directions for you.
16. Consider site plan: Deciduous trees on south side to shield from sun in summer, open views on north side.
17. No nuisances (no electric wires, power lines. No visible water towers, cell phone towers, billboards, sewage treatment plants.)
18. Walk to schools (see #2).
19. Walk/bike to nearby grocery store, restaurants, drugstores, doctors, dentists (but not so close that one gets any noise or traffic in the neighborhood).
20. Home is offset from next door homes, so that windows do not face neighbors' windows, patios do not directly face neighors' patios.

And I agree with awval999, price-per-sq-ft is a good criteria, but once narrowed to a neighborhood the list I presented might help.
I'll add two more criteria from recent bogleheads threads:

N1. Water heaters should be located very near (such as above) critical bathroom showers and kitchens, so that one does not have to wait for hot water. Two heaters are better than one for redundancy.

N2. Washer/dryer in the laundry room should be located conveniently on the same floor as the master bedroom, but not so close as to allow noise in the bedroom. A good location is between the kitchen or mud room and the dining room. That way the dining room can be used for dumping/folding clothes from the dryer. Of course, one of the hot water heaters should be above the laundry room.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by JoeRetire » Sat Dec 28, 2019 7:26 am

boogiehead wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 11:30 pm
Hi all - Looking for some advice as I am hoping to buy a house next year. I currently live in a condo which I realized its not for me anymore as having to deal with so many neighbors has become a nuisance. In terms of housing can someone give me some pointers on what to look for besides the basics such as location, school district, etc... I am not a DIYer so should I avoid older homes including ones that have been "upgraded"/"remodeled"? Thanks!
So
- not a condo
- not so many neighbors
- not DIY

That still leaves open billions of possibilities.

Talk to a good real estate agent. Explain that you don't really know what you want. They will help you come to some conclusion.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.

Topic Author
boogiehead
Posts: 165
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:45 pm

Re: Housing Advice

Post by boogiehead » Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:23 am

Thanks one of my friend mentioned this to me as well today.... I'll definitely keep this in mind :D
celia wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:46 am
The "mistake" we made in buying our first house is not checking out the neighborhood. We didn't know we were moving into a house next to "problem" neighbors. We learned to check out the neighborhood at different times of day on work days and weekends for noise, traffic, parking. Get out and talk to the neighbors and ask if all the neighbors get along pretty well, if any retired people are home during the day, if anyone has loud parties frequently, if the city/police are responsive when you need something, if there is any crime or concerns of the neighbors.

Topic Author
boogiehead
Posts: 165
Joined: Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:45 pm

Re: Housing Advice

Post by boogiehead » Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:30 am

Thanks this list is very handy.... I went to an open house today and noticed that the laundry room was on the first floor and the bedrooms were on the second floor and reminded me of the list :happy .... I'm really amazed at the lack of thought that goes into so many of the houses I've seen so far......
livesoft wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 5:53 am
My list:
livesoft wrote:A list from a previous thread ….
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 24#p818024
livesoft wrote:When we started looking to buy, we went to library and checked out the books. It was pretty straightforward. I would not buy a book unless it was in the $1 rack at the used book store.

And the idea of "evaluating windows" is kind of silly. Here's my criteria when I was looking for a home.

1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning.
2. Good schools.
3. Within 3 miles of my office.
4. Short walk from a water features like a pond or lake.
5. No tile countertops.
6. No bathroom doors visible from a seated position in any public room like den, kitchen, living room, game room, study, etc.
7. 4 bedrooms, at least 3 bathrooms.
8. Brick exterior, not stucco, not wood.
9. No major street within 2 blocks. (i.e. Interior cul-de-sac).
10. No chance of flooding, so must be on a ridge or high ground with good drainage even during a hurricane.

Surprisingly, these criteria eliminate about 98% of homes, so if the realtor is doing their job, you won't have to look at more than 1 or 2 homes. Notice that except for the countertop thing, there is nothing special about windows, insulation, appliances, etc. Those are small things that you can change. You can't change location and add a large pond or good schools where none exist.
In addition, (some are redundant):

11. Not on a corner (same as #1).
12. If street has street lights, at the street light (free security lighting).
13. 3 ways out of the neighborhood (in case fallen trees block the roads).
14. Cannot hear any highway noise nor noise of major traffic arteries.
15. Nice walking possibilities for the dog; nice running/biking loops in several directions for you.
16. Consider site plan: Deciduous trees on south side to shield from sun in summer, open views on north side.
17. No nuisances (no electric wires, power lines. No visible water towers, cell phone towers, billboards, sewage treatment plants.)
18. Walk to schools (see #2).
19. Walk/bike to nearby grocery store, restaurants, drugstores, doctors, dentists (but not so close that one gets any noise or traffic in the neighborhood).
20. Home is offset from next door homes, so that windows do not face neighbors' windows, patios do not directly face neighors' patios.

And I agree with awval999, price-per-sq-ft is a good criteria, but once narrowed to a neighborhood the list I presented might help.
I'll add two more criteria from recent bogleheads threads:

N1. Water heaters should be located very near (such as above) critical bathroom showers and kitchens, so that one does not have to wait for hot water. Two heaters are better than one for redundancy.

N2. Washer/dryer in the laundry room should be located conveniently on the same floor as the master bedroom, but not so close as to allow noise in the bedroom. A good location is between the kitchen or mud room and the dining room. That way the dining room can be used for dumping/folding clothes from the dryer. Of course, one of the hot water heaters should be above the laundry room.

bampf
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Re: Housing Advice

Post by bampf » Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:35 am

If you live where it snows, don't get a north facing house. South, east or west. No north. Evaluate light sources for the master bedroom. If there is a streetlight facing your MB window, you will be sad.

If internet is a thing for you (isn't it for everyone?) make sure you can get decent service.

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