Worst House on the best block?

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whereskyle
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Worst House on the best block?

Post by whereskyle »

Hello all,

DW and I are in the process of looking to buy our first home and in our price range (circa $300k in relatively HCOL area) we are forced to choose between nicer houses in undesirable partS of town and fixer uppers in desirable parts of town. So I just wanted to see if Bogleheads think the old advice that location matters most still rings true. Should we buy the worst house on the best block? The inverse? Find some middle ground?

Thanks, all!
"I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know." - Socrates. "Nobody knows nothing." - Jack Bogle
mega317
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by mega317 »

Absolutely yes as long as the house isn't fatally flawed. You need to make sure you have more than enough money for what you think are the necessary fixes.

In my neighborhood and actually most of the county, the worst house on any block will need to be demolished--you are just buying the land.
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hicabob
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by hicabob »

I think it depends on the homeowner. If you are able to and don't mind or enjoy the work the worst house on the block is great. If you would be paying others to fix it better to go with a good condition house to start.
Glockenspiel
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Glockenspiel »

I think that advice comes from the thought that the worst house on the nicest block will maintain its value better than the best house on the worst block. I generally agree, but would modify it to say that you want some more highly valued homes surrounding you, but don’t need to buy the worst house on the block.
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whereskyle
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by whereskyle »

mega317 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:51 am Absolutely yes as long as the house isn't fatally flawed. You need to make sure you have more than enough money for what you think are the necessary fixes.

In my neighborhood and actually most of the county, the worst house on any block will need to be demolished--you are just buying the land.
Great point. 2 bedroom in the neighborhood we're looking in: priced at $299,000. Empty lot of the same size: priced at $350,000.
"I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know." - Socrates. "Nobody knows nothing." - Jack Bogle
Spedward
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Spedward »

We bought the worst house on a great block and it turned out great. That being said, it is a ton of work, though I enjoy that kind of stuff. If you do not doing that type of thing yourself, it can get expensive very quick.

Actually the other day my wife was sorting through old pictures and found some of the house the day we closed on it.... totally shocker to me on how different it looks now.
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JoMoney
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by JoMoney »

Yes, worst house in the best neighborhood is preferable to the opposite.
The three most important things in real estate "location, location, location" ...
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oldfort
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by oldfort »

Do you have kids or expect to have kids soon? If not, then I wouldn't pay more money to be in a good school district.
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whereskyle
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by whereskyle »

Spedward wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:00 am We bought the worst house on a great block and it turned out great. That being said, it is a ton of work, though I enjoy that kind of stuff. If you do not doing that type of thing yourself, it can get expensive very quick.

Actually the other day my wife was sorting through old pictures and found some of the house the day we closed on it.... totally shocker to me on how different it looks now.
Did a year with AmeriCorps working for Habitat for Humanity as a construction crew leader. No feeling like doing it yourself! Thanks for sharing that experience of looking back on what you did. I'm sure there's no feeling like that either!
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whereskyle
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by whereskyle »

oldfort wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:02 am Do you have kids or expect to have kids soon? If not, then I wouldn't pay more money to be in a good school district.
One kid, planning on second for 2021. Right now, we have not prioritized school districts and due to flexibility in my wife's and my work, we are strongly considering homeschooling/community share with other parents with kids (if we can find them). That said, we do think we need to consider public school as a fallback.

To clarify, you are recommending NOT to pay more money for a school district, right? If so, why?

Thanks!
"I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know." - Socrates. "Nobody knows nothing." - Jack Bogle
Bir48die
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Bir48die »

It's not a "bad" strategy. Our goal on the first house was to buy what we thought was on the bottom 10% in value. Was located in a great school district. Never did major repairs but put insulation and drywall in garage, build decks, revamped yard, paint, etc. Great starter home in an established area. Were happy with how it worked out.
clydewolf
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by clydewolf »

You may not be considering using the public school system.
The next buyer of the house may want that good school system.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Sandtrap »

As long as you are not buying a “White Elephant” surrounded by far nicer homes.

As for the best house in a marginal or lacking neighborhood. Pass on that. Likely Owner overvalued and you will pay too much.

Is this a permanent forever home or a transition home or a potential “flipper” or future rental?

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Last edited by Sandtrap on Tue May 26, 2020 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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oldfort
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by oldfort »

whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:05 am
oldfort wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:02 am Do you have kids or expect to have kids soon? If not, then I wouldn't pay more money to be in a good school district.
One kid, planning on second for 2021. Right now, we have not prioritized school districts and due to flexibility in my wife's and my work, we are strongly considering homeschooling/community share with other parents with kids (if we can find them). That said, we do think we need to consider public school as a fallback.

To clarify, you are recommending NOT to pay more money for a school district, right? If so, why?

Thanks!
I would recommend not paying more money for a school district, if you decide not to send your kids to public schools. Where I live property tax rates are 2.5%+ in the best school district. I don't know about your specific real estate market, but say homes cost $300/sq. ft. in a good school district and comparable homes, with similar finishings, in a less good school district are $200/sq. ft. If you homeschool, you can be paying a high price in terms of interest and property taxes, for an amenity you aren't using.
stoptothink
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by stoptothink »

oldfort wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:21 am
whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:05 am
oldfort wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:02 am Do you have kids or expect to have kids soon? If not, then I wouldn't pay more money to be in a good school district.
One kid, planning on second for 2021. Right now, we have not prioritized school districts and due to flexibility in my wife's and my work, we are strongly considering homeschooling/community share with other parents with kids (if we can find them). That said, we do think we need to consider public school as a fallback.

To clarify, you are recommending NOT to pay more money for a school district, right? If so, why?

Thanks!
I would recommend not paying more money for a school district, if you decide not to send your kids to public schools. Where I live property tax rates are 2.5%+ in the best school district. I don't know about your specific real estate market, but say homes cost $300/sq. ft. in a good school district and comparable homes, with similar finishings, in a less good school district are $200/sq. ft. If you homeschool, you can be paying a high price in terms of interest and property taxes, for an amenity you aren't using.
School "rankings" are generally just a representation of the general wealth in the area. Even though I have two young kids we place virtually no emphasis on rankings (we pulled my daughter out of the highest ranked school in the county because it was awful, local school is miles better in every way), but if you ever plan on moving it is definitely something you should consider. Those rankings absolutely have implications for home value.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Jags4186 »

Unless the worst house on the block is still pretty decent, I would not buy the worst house on the block. People don’t want to live in the worst. So unless you are going to fix up the “worst house”, which may make it not such of a deal, you are going to be forced to sell it to someone else with a similar mind set that you have. Someone who wants a deal. Someone who is unlikely to pay you a premium for the home.
stan1
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by stan1 »

Be careful of pithy truisms. They are over-used on this site.

House 1:
2 bedroom, 2 bath. 5 minute walk to grocery stores and restaurants and express train station but yard is run down and has olive green 1970s kitchen and baths and the basement is damp. #1 elementary school in city. Neighborhood is well maintained but flowering trees drop a lot of pollen and you have allergies. There is a dental office on the other side of the back fence. $300K

House 2:
3 bedroom, 2 bath. 5 minute drive to grocery stores and restaurants. Previous owner was a flipper who did some cosmetic work but workmanship looks poor. Neighborhood is well maintained but there are kids toys in all the front yards. The yard is just the right size for kids and a dog. #2 elementary school in city. $320K

House 3:
3 bedroom, 2 bath. 10 minuted drive to grocery stores and restaurants. Just remodeled by previous owner who was a licensed contractor and did a good job with the details. #3 elementary school in city. Neighbor has a large motor home parked in side yard which your city allows and there are no signs of any kids in the neighborhood. The yard is big and looks like it would be a lot of work to care for. $340K.

Which one do you want to buy? My answer: I don't know, I'd have to walk each house and property and make a judgement call or look for House #4. There's no formula.
targetconfusion
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by targetconfusion »

stoptothink wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:30 am School "rankings" are generally just a representation of the general wealth in the area. Even though I have two young kids we place virtually no emphasis on rankings (we pulled my daughter out of the highest ranked school in the county because it was awful, local school is miles better in every way), but if you ever plan on moving it is definitely something you should consider. Those rankings absolutely have implications for home value.
We're grappling with this now. We very much understand that GreatSchools-type rankings ≈ test scores ≈ some function of household income and education, generally. And that it doesn't mean, necessarily, that a low-performing student would automatically do well transferring there or that a top student wouldn't still do well in a "worse" school.

But it also feels like if the kids are generally more literate and numerate the (often overburdened) teachers have to spend less time picking up struggling end of the class. Is there any element of the herd moving no faster than the slowest buffalo? Certainly in the extreme case this feels like it has to be true: a teacher in an under-resourced district is given a class of 35 kids performing multiple grade levels down won't be able to target the lessons at the 1 or 2 kids at grade. Maybe at some point on the spectrum the penalty of having lower-scoring kids in the class (if there is one) diminishes.

Also, insofar as kids learn from each other in groups and whatnot, do more advanced (and likely better testing) kids just raise the level of everyone in the class? Our kids are preschool and below and, who knows, could very well end up being the struggling end of 4th grade. But we're trying to read to them and expose them to stuff and do the things that will at least give them the chance to be at grade level. And if they are, my (often wrong!) gut says that having a higher fraction of other grade-level students helps the teachers create an environment that challenges them the right amount.

As you very correctly point out, test scores are far from the only reason to select a school. And if you're choosing on test scores alone you can end up, intentionally or not, stratifying yourself socioeconomically (and by correlation, sometimes ethnically). Those things are important to consider and weight, but to separate concerns I'm trying to first decide how to interpret test scores in the context of a kids education. I wonder if your daughters recent experience gives you better insight into that dynamic that I might have.

What made the new, lower-scoring school better? If you were choosing again, what would you choose? This is admittedly veering a bit from OP's question of housing but for those with kids house choice and school choice are often hard to consider separately.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by straws46 »

Be careful with the areas where the homes are being torn down to build new. When an empty lot is worth more than the lot with the old style house on it, there is no incentive to ever maintain the old place. Putting on a new roof or painting the old place is just throwing money away. When there is no incentive to maintain your home there can be a tough transition period.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by EnjoyIt »

whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:03 am
Spedward wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:00 am We bought the worst house on a great block and it turned out great. That being said, it is a ton of work, though I enjoy that kind of stuff. If you do not doing that type of thing yourself, it can get expensive very quick.

Actually the other day my wife was sorting through old pictures and found some of the house the day we closed on it.... totally shocker to me on how different it looks now.
Did a year with AmeriCorps working for Habitat for Humanity as a construction crew leader. No feeling like doing it yourself! Thanks for sharing that experience of looking back on what you did. I'm sure there's no feeling like that either!
We bought a fixer upper house at the bottom of the last recession. It is a lot of work and money fixing it up. For us I think it has been more frustration than benefit and we wish we spent more on a house someone else already did the work in.

It really depends on your desire and free available time to put in the sweet. How much is your free time worth to you and are you willing to spend it on many many many projecting to get your house how you like it.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by whereskyle »

Jags4186 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:34 am Unless the worst house on the block is still pretty decent, I would not buy the worst house on the block. People don’t want to live in the worst. So unless you are going to fix up the “worst house”, which may make it not such of a deal, you are going to be forced to sell it to someone else with a similar mind set that you have. Someone who wants a deal. Someone who is unlikely to pay you a premium for the home.
Great point.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by BruDude »

You can always change how the house looks or what's in it, but you can't change the location.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by TheTimeLord »

whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:48 am Hello all,

DW and I are in the process of looking to buy our first home and in our price range (circa $300k in relatively HCOL area) we are forced to choose between nicer houses in undesirable partS of town and fixer uppers in desirable parts of town. So I just wanted to see if Bogleheads think the old advice that location matters most still rings true. Should we buy the worst house on the best block? The inverse? Find some middle ground?

Thanks, all!
I have been counseled not to buy anything below the 30th percentile and above the 80th percentile in a neighborhood for resale reasons. Don't know if that is true or not but hope it helps.
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whereskyle
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by whereskyle »

TheTimeLord wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:07 am
whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:48 am Hello all,

DW and I are in the process of looking to buy our first home and in our price range (circa $300k in relatively HCOL area) we are forced to choose between nicer houses in undesirable partS of town and fixer uppers in desirable parts of town. So I just wanted to see if Bogleheads think the old advice that location matters most still rings true. Should we buy the worst house on the best block? The inverse? Find some middle ground?

Thanks, all!
I have been counseled not to buy anything below the 30th percentile and above the 80th percentile in a neighborhood for resale reasons. Don't know if that is true or not but hope it helps.
Thanks!
"I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know." - Socrates. "Nobody knows nothing." - Jack Bogle
multiham
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by multiham »

I would stay away from the highest priced house in less desirable neighborhood and would look for something below average price in the "better" neighborhood and make sure you have budget set aside to update/fix.

In my opinion, school district is huge when it comes to value to your children and also to resale value. We live in one of the top public school districts in PA. People are always trying to move into this area for the schools and are willing to pay more than the next town over which is in another school district.

Also, I saw the benefit last year when my son was looking at colleges. Most Colleges have academic recruiters who are responsible for different areas of the country. EVERY single recruiter we talked to had very positive things to say about our school district and to the readiness and proven success of the students who have attended that College. Before you say that this is just them being a recruiter, they were not saying the same things to others that were in our tour group. This occurred at Colleges in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina so not exactly schools in our back yard.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Jags4186 »

BruDude wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:01 am You can always change how the house looks or what's in it, but you can't change the location.
Yea, but if the cost of changing how a house looks is prohibitive, it might just have been better to buy something that fits your needs.

If you buy a $450k house in an area where the average house is $600k, and it takes $200k to get that $450k house up to average, then you lost $50k.
EnjoyIt
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by EnjoyIt »

Jags4186 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:35 am
BruDude wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:01 am You can always change how the house looks or what's in it, but you can't change the location.
Yea, but if the cost of changing how a house looks is prohibitive, it might just have been better to buy something that fits your needs.

If you buy a $450k house in an area where the average house is $600k, and it takes $200k to get that $450k house up to average, then you lost $50k.
But, one may not be able to afford a $600k now but can afford $200k over the next 5-10 years to get it where it needs to be.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Jags4186 »

EnjoyIt wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:44 am
Jags4186 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:35 am
BruDude wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:01 am You can always change how the house looks or what's in it, but you can't change the location.
Yea, but if the cost of changing how a house looks is prohibitive, it might just have been better to buy something that fits your needs.

If you buy a $450k house in an area where the average house is $600k, and it takes $200k to get that $450k house up to average, then you lost $50k.
But, one may not be able to afford a $600k now but can afford $200k over the next 5-10 years to get it where it needs to be.
If one can afford a $450k house and then a $200k renovation over 5-10 years, one should be able to afford a $600k house, especially when you get to stretch that extra $150k over 30 years.

I think stretching to get into a crummy house in a “good neighborhood” is a recipe for disaster. I know folks do it and make a bundle. But, as we often discuss, most people don’t talk about their losses.

Of course, if you can easily afford a $600k house and instead you choose to buy the $450k house and do a bunch of work to it to make it your own, have at it.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

stan1 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:36 am Be careful of pithy truisms. They are over-used on this site.

House 1:
2 bedroom, 2 bath. 5 minute walk to grocery stores and restaurants and express train station but yard is run down and has olive green 1970s kitchen and baths and the basement is damp. #1 elementary school in city. Neighborhood is well maintained but flowering trees drop a lot of pollen and you have allergies. There is a dental office on the other side of the back fence. $300K

House 2:
3 bedroom, 2 bath. 5 minute drive to grocery stores and restaurants. Previous owner was a flipper who did some cosmetic work but workmanship looks poor. Neighborhood is well maintained but there are kids toys in all the front yards. The yard is just the right size for kids and a dog. #2 elementary school in city. $320K

House 3:
3 bedroom, 2 bath. 10 minuted drive to grocery stores and restaurants. Just remodeled by previous owner who was a licensed contractor and did a good job with the details. #3 elementary school in city. Neighbor has a large motor home parked in side yard which your city allows and there are no signs of any kids in the neighborhood. The yard is big and looks like it would be a lot of work to care for. $340K.

Which one do you want to buy? My answer: I don't know, I'd have to walk each house and property and make a judgement call or look for House #4. There's no formula.
House#1 - schools are major attractants. also sounds like my neighborhood. cut the trees down!
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Watty »

whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:58 am Great point. 2 bedroom in the neighborhood we're looking in: priced at $299,000. Empty lot of the same size: priced at $350,000.
....
One kid, planning on second for 2021.
I would try to avoid buying a 2 bedroom stand alone single family home since those can be be very hard to sell when there is not a booming real estate market.

A 2 bedroom condo can be OK.

This is especially true since you are planning on having 2 kids. There is nothing inherently wrong with having kids share a bedroom especially if they are the same gender but the house sounds like it will be too small for you. If either of you have jobs where you will need to work from home that might also be hard to figure out in that small of a house.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by IowaFarmBoy »

As with most of these rules of thumb, nuance is important. It is generally a good idea if, as several has pointed out, there aren't fatal flaws. You also need to make sure getting it to the level you want makes economic sense and that you are willing to go through the remodeling processes. Sometimes the worst house isn't worth it. Or the second worst house is a better deal, etc.

I think what that saying is really getting to is that location is very important. And that you can never really overcome a bad location. Beyond that, the answer is frequently "it depends..."
Last edited by IowaFarmBoy on Tue May 26, 2020 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Sandtrap »

Speaking of bad location......

If the neighborhood is next to an industrial area with bars and “nightclubs” with blacked out windows, and all of the open walls and buildings and bridges have tags and spray paint graffiti, and most of the stores have bars on the windows, and the same dark cars with tinted windows cruise the neighborhood ... don’t live there.😬😬

From experience.
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whereskyle
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by whereskyle »

BruDude wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:01 am You can always change how the house looks or what's in it, but you can't change the location.
My thinking exactly
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oldfort
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by oldfort »

whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 2:13 pm
BruDude wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:01 am You can always change how the house looks or what's in it, but you can't change the location.
My thinking exactly
Not if you want to get your money back when you sell.
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whereskyle
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by whereskyle »

Watty wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 1:58 pm
whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:58 am Great point. 2 bedroom in the neighborhood we're looking in: priced at $299,000. Empty lot of the same size: priced at $350,000.
....
One kid, planning on second for 2021.
I would try to avoid buying a 2 bedroom stand alone single family home since those can be be very hard to sell when there is not a booming real estate market.

A 2 bedroom condo can be OK.

This is especially true since you are planning on having 2 kids. There is nothing inherently wrong with having kids share a bedroom especially if they are the same gender but the house sounds like it will be too small for you. If either of you have jobs where you will need to work from home that might also be hard to figure out in that small of a house.
Thanks for pointing that out. Our thinking right now involves the very big (clean thankfully) shipping container that sits in the backyard. (Feels like it doesn't take up that much space, which is a credit to the size of the property.) Our first impulse is to turn it into a garage/office, maybe even a teenager's room some day. We are also thinking it might make sense to add a bedroom onto the back of the house. I wouldn't say we are desperate to get into the neighborhood, but we have been unmoved by our other options and were surprised to find this as a potential entry point. We know it will take a lot of work to turn it into something more marketable. In the nearer term, living in it and using it as a rental make sense. We are feeling confident that the desirability of the surrounding area plus our efforts to improve the property will make it a sound long-term investment. Still, we're way ahead of ourselves, and I'm expecting if we get an offer accepted areas of concern will turn up in the inspection. So, we're not falling in love, and we're staying realistic about the downsides.
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Watty
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Watty »

whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 2:29 pm Our thinking right now involves the very big (clean thankfully) shipping container that sits in the backyard. (Feels like it doesn't take up that much space, which is a credit to the size of the property.) Our first impulse is to turn it into a garage/office, maybe even a teenager's room some day.
:shock:

If the best neighborhood in town has a house with a shipping container in the backyard(even if it is the worse house), then I would seriously consider moving to a different city.

That you would even consider keeping a shipping container in the backyard after buying the house really does not sound like you are interested in really upgrading the property much if you buy that house.

I'm not saying that to be snarky but you are in a high cost of living area so you may be in a no win situation.

In probably 80% of the country you can get a really nice house, in a nice neighborhood, with good schools for the $300K that you are looking at spending.

Here is an example of the type of house you can get in the suburbs here in Atlanta for $300K

https://www.realtor.com/realestateandho ... 02?view=qv

Houses closer to downtown or in some prime areas would be a lot more expensive.
EnjoyIt
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by EnjoyIt »

Jags4186 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 1:30 pm
EnjoyIt wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:44 am
Jags4186 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:35 am
BruDude wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:01 am You can always change how the house looks or what's in it, but you can't change the location.
Yea, but if the cost of changing how a house looks is prohibitive, it might just have been better to buy something that fits your needs.

If you buy a $450k house in an area where the average house is $600k, and it takes $200k to get that $450k house up to average, then you lost $50k.
But, one may not be able to afford a $600k now but can afford $200k over the next 5-10 years to get it where it needs to be.
If one can afford a $450k house and then a $200k renovation over 5-10 years, one should be able to afford a $600k house, especially when you get to stretch that extra $150k over 30 years.

I think stretching to get into a crummy house in a “good neighborhood” is a recipe for disaster. I know folks do it and make a bundle. But, as we often discuss, most people don’t talk about their losses.

Of course, if you can easily afford a $600k house and instead you choose to buy the $450k house and do a bunch of work to it to make it your own, have at it.
OP has stated they are carpentry handy. They will likely save a bunch of cash on DIY work and be able to get that house to $600k with sweat labor.

We bought a fixer upper expensive house in a more expensive neighborhood. We have spend a lot of money and resources fixing it up. I wish we just bought a more expensive house at the time. Basically I am agreeing with you. On the other hand. Because we did the upgrades over time, we have been investing the difference that has served us very very well thus far.

Our next house will not be a fixer upper. No way!
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Millennial
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Millennial »

I don't know about worst, but we bought a house with a lot of needs and potential improvements. Let's say bottom quartile.

We bought on a great block, with great neighbors, and a 1/4 mile walk from a city square (~25 restaurants, two theatres, a major subway stop, a bunch of local shops, and great open space).

The house landscaping was a mess, it is clad with fading black/brown aluminum siding (>30 years old), it has cheap vinyl replacement windows that are starting to fail. The kitchen is dated and the cabinets are failing. Several rooms were redone in the 80s with terrible materials. We will slowly rectify all of those things.

Overall, we couldn't be happier with the choice. I knew the location would be an improvement (we only moved half a mile), but I must admit I didn't realize how much of an improvement. We'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Wannaretireearly
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Wannaretireearly »

Ideally no hoa and a big lot your family can grow into.

No hoa gives you a lot of flexibility to do as you wish on your land. Plus likely save $ long term.

I'm a proponent of buy once and plan for space for kids etc. This doesn't mean it has to be ideal to begin with. But, it helps to have space/city rules that allow you to grow in 5/10/15 years as needed.

I got this advice from my Dad above and it's worked out well. Only thing I'd do differently is look for a larger/corner lot. Perhaps ideally on a quiet cul da sac.
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livesoft
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by livesoft »

I'll give concrete examples of why one would not want the worst house on the best block.

In our area it has come to light that there are geological microfaults in several great neighborhoods. When some really fancy homes started cracking, tilting, and falling apart, they figured out that these faults existed by using ground-penetrating radar (or maybe it was LIDAR ground-sensing laser rangefinder data). The ensuing lawsuits went nowhere and million-dollar homes became worthless even though the homes on either side maintained their values since they did not straddle a fault.

In another case a family living out-of-state bought a foreclosure sight-unseen at a great price. But they had to evict the people living there who were hoarders and had made no repairs despite plumbing leaks, mold, collapsed ceilings, and so on. The new owners told me that they thought because of the neighborhood was so nice and other homes in the neighborhood were expensive and outside photos looked good, they assumed the inside was also not in too bad a shape. They had to gut the house and re-build.

So as already mentioned, investigate why a home is the worst.
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whereskyle
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by whereskyle »

livesoft wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 7:26 pm I'll give concrete examples of why one would not want the worst house on the best block.

In our area it has come to light that there are geological microfaults in several great neighborhoods. When some really fancy homes started cracking, tilting, and falling apart, they figured out that these faults existed by using ground-penetrating radar. The ensuing lawsuits went nowhere and million-dollar homes became worthless even though the homes on either side maintained their values since they did not straddle a fault.

In another case a family living out-of-state bought a foreclosure sight-unseen at a great price. But they had to evict the people living there who were hoarders and had made no repairs despite plumbing leaks, mold, collapsed ceilings, and so on. The new owners told me that they thought because of the neighborhood was so nice and other homes in the neighborhood were expensive and outside photos looked good, they assumed the inside was also not in too bad a shape. They had to gut the house and re-build.

So as already mentioned, investigate why a home is the worst.
Certainly. I perhaps overstated the "worstness" of this home. It is more appropriate to call it the smallest house on the block. The huge backyard, complete with a bamboo garden, a wonderful variety of trees, and open space, definitely makes up for it, but we are thinking long and hard about the size of the interior space. We are happy in our current apartment, which is 950 sq ft with tiny living, kitchen, and dining rooms but very large bedrooms. Our toddler daughter is always pushing us to go outside, so we walk her down the staircase and so on. We wish we had a space she could play, explore, and feel safe in, that isn't public. The house we're considering is 906 sq ft but an open plan, so it feels bigger. The yard is a double lot, and I expect it really will be good for our daughter and hopefully our next kid as well. There is a certain allure to the storage container: pool, garage, office, bedroom. YouTube makes it seem intriguing, if difficult. We would need to do something within 5 years I expect. Hoping the monthly payment will be low enough due to lower rates to allow for aggressive expansion!
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Sandtrap
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Sandtrap »

Shipping Container???
😬😬

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alfaspider
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by alfaspider »

I think this is generally a decent strategy, with some caveats. You want to make sure it’s on a decent lot. The cheapest house is usually priced around lot value, so you don’t want a lot that is compromised (busy street adjacent, unusually small, etc.)

You may not want the absolute cheapest, but a notch above is not a bad way to go. Of course consider the hidden costs of a home that needs work.

I’d absolutely not do the opposite and buy the nicest home by a large margin. You can always upgrade your house, but you can’t upgrade the location without selling.
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gr7070
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by gr7070 »

whereskyle wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:05 am
oldfort wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:02 am Do you have kids or expect to have kids soon? If not, then I wouldn't pay more money to be in a good school district.
One kid, planning on second for 2021. ...

That said, we do think we need to consider public school as a fallback.
How is this even a question with this information?

FWIW my answer is the same with our without kids, but this is a laughably easy answer with kids.
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Socrates
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Socrates »

Location, Location, Location

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stan1
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by stan1 »

Sandtrap wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 7:53 pm Shipping Container???
😬😬

j🌺
They are in style right now among the Tiny House people.

https://www.curbed.com/2017/6/21/158397 ... r-sale-buy
joaquin168q
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by joaquin168q »

I try to adhere to this principle as much as possible, but the DW does not always agree. I would love to have a shipping container in my back yard. This is one of the things I cannot convince the DW.
Irenaeus
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by Irenaeus »

stan1 wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 8:45 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 7:53 pm Shipping Container???
😬😬

j🌺
They are in style right now among the Tiny House people.

https://www.curbed.com/2017/6/21/158397 ... r-sale-buy
Couple Builds SHIPPING CONTAINER HOME W ... Experience
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celia
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by celia »

oldfort wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:02 am Do you have kids or expect to have kids soon? If not, then I wouldn't pay more money to be in a good school district.
Even if you don’t have kids, the local schools impact your house value, which is important when you sell.
oldfort
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Re: Worst House on the best block?

Post by oldfort »

celia wrote: Wed May 27, 2020 5:03 am
oldfort wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 9:02 am Do you have kids or expect to have kids soon? If not, then I wouldn't pay more money to be in a good school district.
Even if you don’t have kids, the local schools impact your house value, which is important when you sell.
Whether a school district is good or not is already embedded in the price you pay for the house. It doesn't mean buying in a good district is a great investment.
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