Negotiating price post an old house inspection

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Wirksworth
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Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Wirksworth »

Hi All,

I am new to house buying in the USA and learning fast !

I have a contingent offer on an old (for the USA) house which is contingent on Inspection. The whole house inspection came up with 4 1/2 ages of Red or Orange flagged items.

I have assembled the list into items which I think the seller should pay 100% of the cost of repair/work and those where a shared split seems fair. The biggest items on the seller's 100% list are the tree removal and the rot repairs on the shared list the roof replacement and the replacement of the 20 year old HVAC units ( there are 5 4 ton units ). This list may change after the structural engineer visit!

I would be interested on peoples views on the 100% sellers list and also what share of the big ticket items you would expect the seller to pay.

My heart says buy the house with a reduction and my head says runaway !

Thanks in advance


Proposed 100% Seller's Responsibility

Electrical circuit identification on all Boards
Sewer line jetting
Mould cleaning of ducts
Removal of 18 in diameter dead tree
Removal of large 4ft lime tree with rotten core
Termite treatment
Dormer rot
Attic rot
Servicing of non working radiators
Addressing East elevation Kitchen door
Handrails for decking
Living room gas line replacement
Sewer stack leak reapir
Porch leak repairs and new ceiling

Total Essential repairs


Proposed Split Costs

Roof replacement as close to needing replacement
Addressing south elevation Kitchen door
Stone porch repairs
repair of termite damaged basement window
Brick replacement and tuck pointing on East and South elevation
5 Air conditioning units beyond service life
regrading of soil for drainage
repairs to paths and steps
Tuck pointing chimneys
gaining access and fixing spa bath
Normchad
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Normchad »

Run away. That’s a long list, frankly, it sounds like it will be a never ending money pit.

The sellers are very unlikely to agree with this list. It would be too much money and hassle for them; they can just wait Fira other buyer.
Nowizard
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Nowizard »

A common approach is for an offer to contain a reference to a specific amount allowed or requested. That avoids dealing with individual items. For example, we recently sold a house and stated we would pay up to $1,000 to the purchaser for any identified repairs.

Tim
carolinaman
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by carolinaman »

+1. I agree to run away from this one. That is a very long list of repairs. The house was poorly maintained which is a big red flag to me. The repair cost, most of which are necessary will be expensive.

It also makes me wonder what the inspector missed? I would not want to find out later.
mortfree
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by mortfree »

Run away.

That’s what you get when opting for an old house.

Now if you do go through with it. Ask for cash and you hire out for all of the repairs.

The seller will only do minimum and cheapest as possible.
HomeStretch
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by HomeStretch »

How old is ‘old’? What year was the house built?

Has the Seller listed the house (or accepted your offer) at a price lower than others in the neighborhood to already take into account it’s ‘fixer upper’ condition? Is there a lot of interest / other offers on the house? If so, you may not receive much more on price concession (but should try).

That list says to me too the house has not been well maintained. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other issues not detected by your inspector arise after closing. If there are better-maintained houses for sale at a similar price point, you may want to reconsider your offer.

We bought a house that needed a lot of work (some major). It was a lot of time, money and hard work to get it into excellent condition. We paid 25-30% less than similar houses. Over the years, we put all that discount and more into the house.
simas
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by simas »

Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:31 am Hi All,

I am new to house buying in the USA and learning fast !
yes, and it pretty easy to see :)

The answer to your question, if I were a seller, I would pay for nothing on your list, not 100%, not 'split', not anything.
As a seller, I would be advised by my realtor that I would need to pay for things which are required by law - things that create real health safety and are regulated as us, think radon remediation system (~1k), mold aka microbacterial growth removal ,etc. Anything else, there is zero expectation.

And , no, I would not let structural engineer, or any other inspector galore on my property - no value to me and potential issues (disclosure ) going forward. My realtor and lawyer would say the same if I were a buyer.

Similarly , you are a buyer, should be advised by your realtor of what is regulatory required fixed in your area and go with that.

Also, as a seller, I would probably not even look at your offer compare to others if I knew that you are first time home buyer, because expectations in your head are completely unrealistic fantasies of getting older house with new construction requirements (labelled, up to the code ,etc). if you want new construction , go buy new construction for two or three times the cost (or knock this one down and build whatever you want and label it anyway you want). if you are paying small fraction of new construction prices -> you need to set your expectations correctly or prepare for your deals to fall through.

now, as a buyer, what mater is the price and value I am getting - are you getting good or very good price for this? If yes, I would move ahead as is as I did not see any health items on first scan. If no, why are you even moving forward (regardless of repairs)? i.e. things like age of the roof are already in the price, you will not get someone to replace the roof for you or 'split it' with you in any world I know unless they are desperate. Are they ?

I bought and lived in 100 year old house, talk about hacks, 4 generations of electrical, and other weird item
Now I live in 35 year old house which still has issues, construction items ,etc.
I know going in what I am getting. I know what I am paying
yes, I can solve a lot of these issues by building new. however it would be 3X the cost of my house right now and imho not worth it.

does it worth it for you?
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Sandtrap
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Sandtrap »

Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:31 am Hi All,

I am new to house buying in the USA and learning fast !

I have a contingent offer on an old (for the USA) house which is contingent on Inspection. The whole house inspection came up with 4 1/2 ages of Red or Orange flagged items.

I have assembled the list into items which I think the seller should pay 100% of the cost of repair/work and those where a shared split seems fair. The biggest items on the seller's 100% list are the tree removal and the rot repairs on the shared list the roof replacement and the replacement of the 20 year old HVAC units ( there are 5 4 ton units ). This list may change after the structural engineer visit!

I would be interested on peoples views on the 100% sellers list and also what share of the big ticket items you would expect the seller to pay.

My heart says buy the house with a reduction and my head says runaway !

Thanks in advance
<<<cut>>>>
<considerations and questions>

Proposed 100% Seller's Responsibility
<realistically expect that not everything and all things will be 100%>
<home inspectors are not the end certification of defects and remedies. Sometimes have to use licensed specialists and contractors for evaluations that require $$$ and/or remedies for seller>

Electrical circuit identification on all Boards <gray area>
Sewer line jetting <why? Do are the sewer lines plugged or slow to drain? What evidence>
Mould cleaning of ducts <do you have a mould report from a mould specialist?>
Removal of 18 in diameter dead tree <gray area. Unless a safety hazard, will be sold as is, not related to the home structure>
Removal of large 4ft lime tree with rotten core <gray area . . ." "
Termite treatment <is there verified evidence of live and active infestation? Termite specialist called in?>
Dormer rot <cosmetic or structural, old or ongoing/active. A specialist as to verify>
Attic rot <costmetic or structural, old or ongoing/active. A specialist has to verify>
Servicing of non working radiators <Assume this is a HVAC heating system. Yes. Get this fixed>
Addressing East elevation Kitchen door <what is wrong with it?>
Handrails for decking <is this a safety issue or cosmetic, ongoing or exisiting. What is wrong with it?>
Living room gas line replacement <why? Is this a safety or cosmetic issue. Evidence of failure?>
Sewer stack leak reapir <is this an active and existing problem or evidence of a past leak but repaired?>
Porch leak repairs and new ceiling <Are these leaks active or evidence of past leak but repaired?>

Total Essential repairs


Proposed Split Costs

Roof replacement as close to needing replacement <how old is the roof? Is it leaking now?>
Addressing south elevation Kitchen door
Stone porch repairs <what is wrong with the stone porch? Active structural damage? Unsafe?>
repair of termite damaged basement window <active termite infestation? does the window leak?>
Brick replacement and tuck pointing on East and South elevation <does it leak? structural compromise? Or cosmetic?>
5 Air conditioning units beyond service life <Do they run and blow cool air now? Service life can be relative.>
regrading of soil for drainage <gray or zero area>
repairs to paths and steps <unsafe? Not structurally sound?>
Tuck pointing chimneys <do they leak? Structurally unsafe? Or cosmetic?>
gaining access and fixing spa bath <does the Spa leak? Is it broken? Why is there no access?>

This sounds like a property that seller's sell "as is" and is sold with a "disclaimer or release, etc".
Given the list above and based on my limited experience, it is often not in the sellers budget, finances, and best interest, to put out the time and money on things that have not been done all this time. If so, they would have been addressed during ownership and before time of sale.

*Notice that I have differentiated items on your list that are:
1. An existing and ongoing safety and health hazard (good case for you).
2. Cosmetic or structural
3. Inconvenience or what?
4. Of no relevance. (IE: tree stump)
5. Ongoing damage and an issue. (IE: active termite infestations, active mold activity)

*Some of these things, if a health or safety issue, might interfere with legal occupancy, or certificate of occupancy (depending on state and local laws).

Be sure you are not buying a "money pit" fixer upper or "tear down" in which the funds needed to restore the property to marketable and good condition is out of whack.

* If you had to pay for everything on your list after buying this home, would you still be below market value and would you be able to turn around and sell it for a profit or at least break even? (always have an exit plan)

*Are you a Construction General Contractor, Real Estate Property Developer, Experienced R/E Investor, Seasoned R/E Businessman?
*Have you done "flippers" and extensive home renovations/restorations like this before, many times?
*Are you a construction tradesman?
(Likely, if this home is a great financial opportunity to the above people, they would have bought it already or in the past, in cash, and flipped it. So, put yourself in thier shoes and ask yourself why haven't they?)

Unless you have very deep pockets$$$ to mess around with this R/E purchase, I would say, "don't go down that rabbit hole".
But, you never know, It could work out perfectly, or it could not.

I hope this has been good food for thought.
j :D
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JHU ALmuni
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by JHU ALmuni »

Don't by it, the list is too long :shock:
stan1
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by stan1 »

A list like this has two purposes:
1) Get you out of the deal if you no longer want the house
2) Give you leverage to negotiate the price lower

It looks like you asked for and got a detailed inspection. Inspecting trees is definitely not done in a standard inspection where I live. You didn't say how old the house is but any 100+ year old wood frame house is going to have a laundry list of similar issues.

The seller should have fixed a number of items on the list before listing to avoid getting into this difficult negotiating situation.

There's no way I would buy a house with five (!) four ton AC units unless I had enough money to hire a household manager to keep track of maintenance and replacement (e.g. I had over $100M in assets and several million a year in income).
Outer Marker
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Outer Marker »

Your ability to negotiate really depends on what market conditions are in your area. I live in a HCOLA and a competitive housing market. After losing out on four properties in the last year, I bid $1,000 over asking the day it came on the market with no inspection contingencies and got the house I wanted.

If I was the seller, I'd be very annoyed at being presented such a long discrepancy list and trying to negotiate each one on a line item basis. If the market were decent, I'd move on to the next buyer. If there was something I was legally required to fix in order to convey, so be it, but I'm not going to renovate a house I'm leaving.

As the buyer, if I still wanted the house, I'd give them the inspection list of all items together and negotiate it as one lump sum. i.e. We agreed on $500,000. These items are going to cost me $20,000 to correct; let's set a new price of $490,000. That avoids getting into a this is on you, this we split, debate, and makes the seller feel like you are being reasonable and s/he is getting a bit of a deal.
CurlyDave
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by CurlyDave »

I think it all comes down to price.

The list is long, but the really expensive items (Roof, HVAC) are not signs of neglect. The systems are old, but nothing says they don't work. It is unusual to replace these preemptively.

How much of a handyman are you? A lot of this stuff can be done for modest cost if you are willing to do it yourself. If not, take out your wallet and open wide.
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Prokofiev
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Prokofiev »

We had a house inspection for the new (1915) house we purchased in 2017. Best money we ever spent and ended up with a 35 page
report with 100+ digital photos from the roof to the foundation. They tagged 95 problems. Most were quite minor. It is what they are
paid to do - look for potential problems and report them to the buyer to know exactly what you are getting. Don't become so alarmed with a
long list of items that you lose sight of the end game of purchasing a home. But use it to estimate your all-in cost of owning this house.
Walking away because you had a good and complete house inspection is counter-productive.

In our state, the seller must list all known problems and needed repairs for the property prior to a buyer making a bid. The bid is contingent
upon the list being accurate and any repairs for these items are included in your offer to buy the property. After the home inspection, a new list
of problems will certainly be created by a careful inspection and you can ask for a new, lower price or require the owner to fix items.
The seller is not required to do anything. It becomes a second round of negotiation. After going though our inspection report, we asked for a
$10k reduction in price based upon foundation issues, rotten wood and several other fairly major issues. The seller agreed and we bought the home.

Old appliances, AC, water heater etc are usually a known problem and to be expected. You are not buying a new house. Likewise landscaping and trees and bushes being cut or removed is something to be anticipated and a seller would hesitate to reduce the price just for that. But in the end it is all a negotiation. If you really want the home you may have to step-up and eat these costs. If the seller is desperate to unload the property, you will have lots of leverage to get repairs done or a price reduction. Beware of using your RE agent for accurate advice. Unfortunately, both the sellers and buyers agents have a strong vested interest in getting a deal done. Our agent told us it was crazy to ask for an additional $10k. The sellers agent was telling them to accept our new offer since they had no others and the actual cost of the repairs was way beyond $10k. We stuck to our guns and got a better deal. But had there been other bids for the property, we might have lost the house.
Last edited by Prokofiev on Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:42 am, edited 3 times in total.
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New Providence
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by New Providence »

Tear it down and built your own brand new.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Sandtrap »

stan1 wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:40 am A list like this has two purposes:
1) Get you out of the deal if you no longer want the house
2) Give you leverage to negotiate the price lower

It looks like you asked for and got a detailed inspection. Inspecting trees is definitely not done in a standard inspection where I live. You didn't say how old the house is but any 100+ year old wood frame house is going to have a laundry list of similar issues.

The seller should have fixed a number of items on the list before listing to avoid getting into this difficult negotiating situation.

There's no way I would buy a house with five (!) four ton AC units unless I had enough money to hire a household manager to keep track of maintenance and replacement (e.g. I had over $100M in assets and several million a year in income).
+1
Great points!
j :happy
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Hockey10
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Hockey10 »

Before making a decision, watch the movie named "The Money Pit". You will be a more informed buyer at that point. If you are still unsure, then watch a movie named "Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House".
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8foot7
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by 8foot7 »

If that entire list is important to you, then you should run away. If you're going to use it tactically to negotiate on price, you should do so carefully, as many items on this list are things sellers will simply shake their heads at -- you're buying an old house, not a new build, and even new builds have issues. I would caution against just sending the whole list as my first reaction as the seller would simply be to decline all repairs and let you walk away. Instead I'd pick two or three things really important to you, figure out what they cost, and use that figure as a starting point for a price concession.

Also beware that at some point the expense to the seller for doing all of these repairs you list may well exceed their net economic benefit from the transaction--if you push them to lose money they may back out of the deal completely and just wait for someone that doesn't expect a renovation.

I am surprised the seller is letting a structural engineer visit. That's excessive and nutty unless there is an obvious problem the seller already disclosed to you and you're trying to see what it would cost to repair.
drk
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by drk »

I’m buying an old house that among other things has:

1. Water heater at EOL
2. Furnace at EOL
3. Some knob-and-tube wiring

I didn't ask the sellers to address any of it. Why? These systems are still functional, I have plans to replace them with (IMO) superior alternatives, and the sellers already agreed to pay to replace the blocked sewer line. Sending over that laundry list is going to mark you as an unserious buyer, so pick your spots here.
jharkin
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by jharkin »

First... How “old” is this house? I’ve lived in houses as old as the 1700s so I don’t think many of the things people complain about here are really that old.

Second... The purpose of a home inspection is to find as many defects as humanly possible. Often a lot of the list is a stretch at best.

Third... Asking for money on “ beyond service life “ is ridiculous and as a seller I’d tell you to pound sand. He service life definition inspectors use is comically conservative and many things will last decades longer. Plus as a seller I would not pay for making the house “ new” it was obviously older when you made the offer and you should have priced accordingly.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by adamthesmythe »

> 5 Air conditioning units beyond service life

My guess is these are window units. Which means no central AC, a red flag in much of the US these days.

It's a long list and a first-time buyer without handyman abilities should probably not buy this house.

Negotiate a price reduction that makes sense or pass.
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Watty
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Watty »

I would be cautious about asking the seller to make any of the repairs since they may do it as cheaply as possible and there may be disputes about if the work was done right or not.

The seller will also be reluctant to spend a lot of money and six months making all those repairs before the sale because there is no guarantee that you will not back out at the last minute or that your financing might fall through. The seller will also be reluctant to have the work done since when they start doing it there will likely be more problems that are found.

Even if the seller wanted to do the work and is willing to do it they may not have $100K available that they can spend on the house to do the work that you want them to do.

It would best to just ask for a price reduction then you could have your contractors do the work right.

The question I would ask myself is what I am willing to pay for the house "as is" now that I know the information that the inspections have disclosed. I would then just ask for the price to be reduced to that figure.
Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:31 am ....and the replacement of the 20 year old HVAC units ( there are 5 4 ton units ).

....Roof replacement as close to needing replacement


These is not reasonable if they are working but just older. The reason was that the seller would have priced the house with older but working HVAC systems and roof.

The seller likely has a list of things that they would have had on a disclosure list, as a seller I would likely not be willing to pay for things that were on the disclosure list since those had already be reflected in the price that I was asking for the house and you knew about those disclosures before you agreed to the current price.

Some things like the dead tree were also obvious and you saw that before you made your offer.

Pretty much anything like that you would have seen without the inspector when you decided what to offer will be hard to get the seller to pay for.

It also sounds like this must be something like a 150+ year old 15,000 square foot mansion to have that many HVAC systems. If it is something like this then I would expect that there were be many more things that will be found once you start working on it so be sure to budget for that.

Also look at what the land is worth compared to the total sales price. If the land is valued at 90% of the sales price then the house may not be worth fixing up since a 10% price reduction for the needed repairs would be basically saying that the house should be torn down.

It is also easy to over analyze this trying to figure out what is right and fair. The big question is what someone else might be willing to pay for the house if you do not buy it.
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Watty
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Watty »

8foot7 wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:46 am I am surprised the seller is letting a structural engineer visit. That's excessive and nutty unless there is an obvious problem the seller already disclosed to you and you're trying to see what it would cost to repair.
If I had a home inspector recommend that a specialist make an additional inspection and the owner would not allow that then that would be an automatic deal killer for me and I would walk away from the deal. If this is something like a multi-million dollar property then additional inspections might also be more routine.
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cowdogman
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by cowdogman »

I've bought and sold several 80 to 100 YO houses.

A number of items on your list look like filler to me--things all inspectors note to extend their lists. But a number of items are cause for serious concern, especially any mention of rot.

Hard to judge from your limited facts (desirability of house and neighborhood, price as compared to similar houses) but given that you are an inexperienced buyer, I would walk and treat this as a learning experience.

If you do negotiate, I agree with those above who say (1) just agree one aggregate adjustment amount and (2) do the work yourself. BUT(!) just be aware that when you are dealing with rot, you may find a lot more that wasn't disclosed in the initial inspection. Sometimes it's better to have the seller do the rot repair, subject to re-inspection.

But, again, I would just walk.
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cowdogman
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by cowdogman »

Watty wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 12:35 pm
8foot7 wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:46 am I am surprised the seller is letting a structural engineer visit. That's excessive and nutty unless there is an obvious problem the seller already disclosed to you and you're trying to see what it would cost to repair.
If I had a home inspector recommend that a specialist make an additional inspection and the owner would not allow that then that would be an automatic deal killer for me and I would walk away from the deal. If this is something like a multi-million dollar property then additional inspections might also be more routine.
Agreed, and a structural engineer inspection is, to me anyway, usual practice where rot is involved--because rot repair may involve removing temporarily one or more structural parts of the house--e.g., rot where the house rests on the foundation.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Mr. Rumples »

We renovated a 1924 townhouse. After moving in, we found problems not included in the inspection. My guess is there are going to be more things. If you rely on the owner to make repairs, they may not be up to your standards; if you "go in" with him on costs...well you are tying yourself into a business relationship with someone you don't know.

Frankly, as noted above, the rot seems the biggest issue. But in areas not showing rot, there could be more damage not being seen behind the walls. (In my neighborhood, there were two people who had their bathrooms collapse within a few years of moving in. The standard was the bathroom was on the second floor, the copper pipes were set in the concrete floor and the slow pinhole leaks over decades caused failure, these are the types of things which an inspection and engineer won't find.)

Unless you are willing to learn a lot about old houses, how they are built, how to maintain them and how to screen contractors to find those experienced with old houses, I'd walk. Its also important to note that in the US, building standards and methods varied widely in old houses.

Renovating our townhouse was one of the most rewarding things I did, but it was a long term project. I still miss that house and regret having sold it.
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Wirksworth
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Wirksworth »

Thanks everyone- lots of good advice! This is not my first house purchase by any means but it is my first rodeo here in the USA

To give more context the house was built in 1908 and has lots of great features but has been neglected of late.

It came on the market at an initial price that was the price for a totally redone property and a year later is still overpriced despite a substantial reduction. There also has not been a property sold at this price point in the area this year and prices being asked are dropping (which is what I would expect given the economic climate).

Where I come from (UK) this is a relatively new house and so I am very familiar with old house issues. I am also fortunate that I can tackle most things
on the list having done a lot of construction in. the UK - clearly many differences on approaches to construction but the fundamentals are similar. We do not bother with Aircon though so his is a new area for me.

The area where i live in the Midwest is relatively affordable compared with the UK but construction costs are higher here. As an example you can get a 100 year life plus slate roof installed in the UK for 25% more than a "50" year shingle roof price . I am also amazed by the Realtor things here. I am used to property selling fees at 1-1.5% in total. I agree with the comments about conflicts of interest that exist in the USA realtor space.

I accept that it is up to the seller and buyer to reach an agreement or not and the options differ in the answers received to date. I am a cash buyer and also like a project whereas most people at this price band would prefer finished or contractors to do all it for them. This house would take you underwater on values if you contracted out everything.

Thanks all !
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Wirksworth
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Wirksworth »

As a PS
Most of the issues on the list were not on the sellers disclosure
stan1
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by stan1 »

Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:34 pm As a PS
Most of the issues on the list were not on the sellers disclosure
They usually are not.

Your strategy to build a long list including additional specialized inspections to further negotiate the price of the house down seems fine. You'll have the most leverage if you can maintain the ability to walk away if you can't get them down to what you think is a fair price. If they want to sell and no one else is talking to them they don't have a lot of options.

You might enjoy this long thread from a seller getting divorced who encountered a demanding buyer. You might glean a few strategies to be a demanding and patient buyer.
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=281215

Sounds like the house is very unique. Keep in mind you may have a similar problem selling it in the future. You could put a lot of work into it and would not be able to get that money back because the house is so expensive relative to the market. But, if you accept that it is an expensive hobby, enjoy doing the work, and plan to live there a long time it might still be worth doing.
Normchad
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Normchad »

Were you present for the inspection? Of note, there are lots of things inspectors can’t see, find, or access. So this list is just the stuff they could see; there could be a lot more.

My issue with the whole thing would be the overall uncertainty of the price needed to repair. Rot repair might be $1000, or it might be $25,000. And you can’t know that until you open things up. So it’s difficult to price that level of uncertainty correctly. It’s not like estimating the price of an old hot water heater.

It’s great that you’re skilled in these kinds of things; that’s certainly a big help. But your time is definitely worth something as well, it shouldn’t be thought of as free labor.

Unless there is something truly special about this house or property, something that isn’t available elsewhere, I would walk away.
Last edited by Normchad on Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Lee_WSP
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Lee_WSP »

Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:34 pm As a PS
Most of the issues on the list were not on the sellers disclosure
Because nothing on the list made the house unsafe or uninhabitable and/or were perfectly visible on a walk through of the property.
rich126
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by rich126 »

Everyone has differing opinions on this stuff. There are buyers who think an older home should be in the same condition as a new home which isn't realistic.

I sold a 40+ year old home and my buyers wanted me to replace the HVAC because it was old but it was functioning fine. Maybe it would last another decade or break tomorrow, you just don't know.

I mostly told my buyers no on almost everything and I think I gave them $2,000 and said that was it and they eventually took it.

You can ask for anything but then the seller can say forget it.

Sometimes a seller might be desperate but I also know it takes time for a buyer to find a home they really want and it is hard to just walk away and start the search all over, especially if there are time issues involved.

My big worry with homes based on experience/bad luck is water. I won't consider anything that has had flooding issues or is on lower grounds where water can accumulate. I've just had bad luck and close calls with flooding and it isn't fun. I'd rather have a house burn down and then rebuild it than dealing with the smell, time, cost, effort to clean out a flooded basement/house.

I'd also be concern if it appears things are being hidden. I tend to replace electrical outlets because I don't like the painted look too many people do and when I replace them sometimes i see some very questionable things behind the outlets.

I sold one house many years ago that had a lengthy inspection report but due to the market (strong seller's) the buyers didn't ask for much, I was lucky.

And inspectors vary greatly. Some write up every tiny detail, and some miss some major things. I usually try to avoid any real estate agent recommendations and research them on my own.

Houses are probably like kids, at times great, at times great frustrations and expenses.
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kelway
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by kelway »

JHU ALmuni wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:30 am Don't by it, the list is too long :shock:
Don't buy it - it has 5 bloody HVAC units to manage!
quantAndHold
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by quantAndHold »

How old?

I've lived my entire life in 1920's houses, and bought and sold several.

For some of these, it depends on the market. If it's a buyer's market, then you might be able to get a fair number of concessions. If it's a seller's market, you will get told to take it or leave it.

In general, if the house looked pristine and was advertised in well maintained condition, you could get concessions on things, like the sewer system, that came up during the inspection, that you couldn't have seen before the inspection. But I'm guessing this place looks like a fixer. The roof being bad, for example, was probably obvious when you looked at the place. On a fixer-upper, the buyer will expect to price their offer accordingly, and it's unlikely you'll get traction on getting the seller to fix anything that isn't health and safety related.

That said, everything's negotiable.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
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Watty
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Watty »

Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:29 pm To give more context the house was built in 1908 and has lots of great features but has been neglected of late.
I am really curious about how many square feet the house has. I have a hard time picturing a house that needs 5 four ton AC units.

When the AC units are eventually replaced be sure that they do a new "Manual J" calculation to make sure that the new units are the right size.

I would assume that a house that age has minimal insulation so you also need to be prepared for huge heating and cooling bills.

One thing to watch out for is that in the US when you do a major remodel you may need to bring part of or all of the house up to the current building code so that can add a lot to the costs so be sure to research that. Sometimes the cost to bring things up to the current building code can cost more than the estimate for a repair.
Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:29 pm I am a cash buyer....
This give you a huge advantage since a mortgage company would likely not want to lend money for someone to buy a house that has major problems.

If you want to proceed with buying the house I think that the best plan would be wait for the structural engineers report then decide what it is worth to you then make the seller a lowish(but reasonable) cash offer for it "as is" with no financing contingency. Let them know that it is your "best and final" offer and that you will not consider counter offers. If they take it then it is a done deal, if not then you start looking for some other house. There is no need to chase a house with lots of issues. If the deal does not work out then there is also a good chance that you will get a call from them in six months if they have not been able to sell the house by then.

I am not a construction expert or anything like that but from what you described and with it being a large house I would be surprised if you could have all that work done for less than $100K and it could possibly be a lot more especially when you start adding in things like refinishing floors, painting, new windows, landscaping, etc so you need to consider if that fits in your plans or not. If you do a lot of the work yourself then it will take years to get it all done, and by then there will be new issues that come up with a house that age so you can expect pretty much expect never ending work, but some people enjoy having an older house like that.
Last edited by Watty on Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
nigel_ht
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by nigel_ht »

There will always be issues with older houses so I mostly look for water damage (rot, mold, etc), foundation and where applicable septic.

Anything where the solution may end up being huge money sinks.

I’d reconsider this place depending on the extent of the rot...
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FIREchief
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by FIREchief »

Hockey10 wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:32 am Before making a decision, watch the movie named "The Money Pit". You will be a more informed buyer at that point. If you are still unsure, then watch a movie named "Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House".
You said it brother!! (but, you have those in the wrong order). Blandings is absolutely one of the finest movies of all times. It is so ironic that while set pre-war, it so accurately captures the "plight" of non-homeowners and their pursuit of a dream house. There are so many classic scenes. For some reason, the walkthrough with the paint contractor sticks out in my mind. "Got that? Yeah, blue, yellow..... :D"
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.
buhlaxtus
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by buhlaxtus »

Actually important issues:
Removal of dead trees
Sewer stack leak repair
Gas line replacement
Seller refusing to allow certain inspections

May be important issues, or not, depending on details:
Termites
Wood rot
Sewer line
Tuck pointing

Indication that this house is obscenely huge and expensive and you are rich enough to deal with any problems:
5 4 ton air conditioning units
Cash buyer

All the other stuff: meh

Just one opinion of course :) Basically it sounds like a big old worn out house that you can expect to pour money into no matter how the sale goes.
barnaclebob
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by barnaclebob »

Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:31 am Hi All,

I am new to house buying in the USA and learning fast !

I have a contingent offer on an old (for the USA) house which is contingent on Inspection. The whole house inspection came up with 4 1/2 ages of Red or Orange flagged items.

I have assembled the list into items which I think the seller should pay 100% of the cost of repair/work and those where a shared split seems fair. The biggest items on the seller's 100% list are the tree removal and the rot repairs on the shared list the roof replacement and the replacement of the 20 year old HVAC units ( there are 5 4 ton units ). This list may change after the structural engineer visit!

I would be interested on peoples views on the 100% sellers list and also what share of the big ticket items you would expect the seller to pay.

My heart says buy the house with a reduction and my head says runaway !

Thanks in advance


Proposed 100% Seller's Responsibility

Electrical circuit identification on all Boards
Sewer line jetting
Mould cleaning of ducts
Removal of 18 in diameter dead tree
Removal of large 4ft lime tree with rotten core
Termite treatment
Dormer rot
Attic rot
Servicing of non working radiators
Addressing East elevation Kitchen door
Handrails for decking
Living room gas line replacement
Sewer stack leak reapir
Porch leak repairs and new ceiling

Total Essential repairs


Proposed Split Costs

Roof replacement as close to needing replacement
Addressing south elevation Kitchen door
Stone porch repairs
repair of termite damaged basement window
Brick replacement and tuck pointing on East and South elevation
5 Air conditioning units beyond service life
regrading of soil for drainage
repairs to paths and steps
Tuck pointing chimneys
gaining access and fixing spa bath
Im not trying to sound judgemental but based on your post, an old house is not for you. You cannot expect a perfect old house. Unless it is a crazy buyers market, expect to have nearly your entire list ignored.

You have suggested upwards of $50k to $100k of work corordinated with 7 to 10 contractors. No seller in the country will go for that.
afan
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by afan »

As others have pointed out, you should assume there will be other major issues hidden within the walls that no inspector will detect.
I would not bother trying to negotiate on each individual item.
I would ask your inspector for ballpark costs to do these repairs. For hardware that needs to be replaced it is straightforward to get prices. For construction, the labor is most of the cost.
Total up your ballpark estimates and add a generous allowance for similar unknown other problems. That would give you an estimate of how much you would want taken off to make this the deal you may have thought you had before you knew about the needed repairs.

On the other hand, unless you have a construction background or a lot of experience as a homeowner managing repairs (but you say you are new buyer), I would walk away.
This house might be a good deal for someone who can do many of the repairs themselves and get good prices from quality subcontractors. It might be something a builder would buy to rehab and sell. Those people have expert eyes for problems and estimating costs. For anyone else, this is a big gamble.

It is possible the selling price is already appropriate for a house of this age, condition and size in this neighborhood. If so, you have to ask whether you want to deal with the risk. I would not, but I am not a builder.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama
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unclescrooge
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by unclescrooge »

Walk though with a building contractor.

Ask for his time frame and cost to fix everything wrong in the house.

Then double both estimates. This will be your true estimate.

I ended up spending $400k rebuilding a house from 1969 in So cal which had decades of neglect.

I ended up being the GC for half the work.

Be ready for an adventure. The good news is this level of work scares off most homebuyers. The only people bidding would be professional home flippers, who will severely underbid.

This wouldn't happen to be one of these Victorian mansions you can buy for back-taxes in the mid West, would it?

If you do get the house, please post pictures and keep us appraised of your progress.
averagelonghorn
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by averagelonghorn »

Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:29 pm Thanks everyone- lots of good advice! This is not my first house purchase by any means but it is my first rodeo here in the USA

To give more context the house was built in 1908 and has lots of great features but has been neglected of late.

It came on the market at an initial price that was the price for a totally redone property and a year later is still overpriced despite a substantial reduction. There also has not been a property sold at this price point in the area this year and prices being asked are dropping (which is what I would expect given the economic climate).

SNIP...

Thanks all !
When I read your first post, I figured the seller would just decline your requests as too many things. If it were a hot seller's market, that would be the right call on their part; just move on to the next interested party.

But given this update, that it has been on the market for a year, AND that you feel competent to tackle a lot of it yourself, makes me think you may well have plenty of room to extract concessions.

It is almost always better to get price concessions rather than have seller fix... If they agree to fix something, you can't really be sure they will fix it the way you want it fixed.

I'm going to assume you are under contract for an amount that already was somewhat below list price if for no other reason that its been on the market so long, and several things on your list were probably obvious when you looked.

I'd pick the 4 or 5 biggest things on your list, figure out pricing on those as best you can, and look to negotiate that. Skip smaller items like labeling the breaker box or fixing the door (unless that's really bad.) Figure out what you're willing to take as a cash concession to cover some portion of the big ticket items, and see if you can come to an agreement.

I will say, as many others have, though: 5 ACs is a whole lot.... Not so much as a negotiation point, but just so you know what you're in for, get an AC professional to evaluate what's there, and give an opinion on how to replace all of them with fewer units, if feasible. Not that you have to do that if they're functional right now, but eventually you'll likely want to do that, and it won't be cheap.

Also, know going in, some sellers can be stubborn, it might not work out, and you have to be willing to walk away. Your leverage is that you can walk away, so you have to know at what point you will do that, and make sure to wrap up negotiations within the time allowed for you to exercise that option.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Sandtrap »

unclescrooge wrote: Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:08 am Walk though with a building contractor.

Ask for his time frame and cost to fix everything wrong in the house.

Then double both estimates. This will be your true estimate.

I ended up spending $400k rebuilding a house from 1969 in So cal which had decades of neglect.

I ended up being the GC for half the work.

Be ready for an adventure. The good news is this level of work scares off most homebuyers. The only people bidding would be professional home flippers, who will severely underbid.

This wouldn't happen to be one of these Victorian mansions you can buy for back-taxes in the mid West, would it?

If you do get the house, please post pictures and keep us appraised of your progress.
+1
Outstanding advice!

There are properties that even experienced G.C.'s, "Flippers", and R/E Developers, wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.
j :D
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afan
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by afan »

Sandtrap wrote: Sun Jun 21, 2020 5:25 pm
There are properties that even experienced G.C.'s, "Flippers", and R/E Developers, wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.
j :D
Which means that buyers who are not in the business should not consider these places.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Mr. Rumples »

unclescrooge wrote: Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:08 am Walk though with a building contractor.

Ask for his time frame and cost to fix everything wrong in the house.

Then double both estimates. This will be your true estimate.

I ended up spending $400k rebuilding a house from 1969 in So cal which had decades of neglect.

I ended up being the GC for half the work.

Be ready for an adventure. The good news is this level of work scares off most homebuyers. The only people bidding would be professional home flippers, who will severely underbid.

This wouldn't happen to be one of these Victorian mansions you can buy for back-taxes in the mid West, would it?

If you do get the house, please post pictures and keep us appraised of your progress.
This is sound advice. There are too many things to be tackled unless one is willing to spend an inordinate amount of time and years doing the work. If the buyer balks, then just walk, there are a lot of properties out there if one likes old houses:

https://www.oldhousedreams.com
Durzo
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Durzo »

Wirksworth wrote: Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:31 am Hi All,

I am new to house buying in the USA and learning fast !

I have a contingent offer on an old (for the USA) house which is contingent on Inspection. The whole house inspection came up with 4 1/2 ages of Red or Orange flagged items.

I have assembled the list into items which I think the seller should pay 100% of the cost of repair/work and those where a shared split seems fair. The biggest items on the seller's 100% list are the tree removal and the rot repairs on the shared list the roof replacement and the replacement of the 20 year old HVAC units ( there are 5 4 ton units ). This list may change after the structural engineer visit!

I would be interested on peoples views on the 100% sellers list and also what share of the big ticket items you would expect the seller to pay.

My heart says buy the house with a reduction and my head says runaway !

Thanks in advance


Proposed 100% Seller's Responsibility

Electrical circuit identification on all Boards
Sewer line jetting
Mould cleaning of ducts
Removal of 18 in diameter dead tree
Removal of large 4ft lime tree with rotten core
Termite treatment
Dormer rot
Attic rot
Servicing of non working radiators
Addressing East elevation Kitchen door
Handrails for decking
Living room gas line replacement
Sewer stack leak reapir
Porch leak repairs and new ceiling

Total Essential repairs


Proposed Split Costs

Roof replacement as close to needing replacement
Addressing south elevation Kitchen door
Stone porch repairs
repair of termite damaged basement window
Brick replacement and tuck pointing on East and South elevation
5 Air conditioning units beyond service life
regrading of soil for drainage
repairs to paths and steps
Tuck pointing chimneys
gaining access and fixing spa bath
If you have contingent offer you would have already seen the property at least one time correct? That means the only things I would even consider are those that were discovered because of the inspection. If you knew the lemon tree was going to be an issue for you then your offer should have reflected that. If it was disclosed to you in writing or clearly visible it should have already been included in the offer. However, if something is discovered by a structural engineer, roof inspection, electrical inspection etc. thats fair game.

That's like going on 10 dates with someone and then telling them you need to breakup because you have a nonnegotiable personal preference for redheads. Thats 100% fine, but that was obvious on date #1.
quantAndHold
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by quantAndHold »

afan wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:39 am
Sandtrap wrote: Sun Jun 21, 2020 5:25 pm
There are properties that even experienced G.C.'s, "Flippers", and R/E Developers, wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.
j :D
Which means that buyers who are not in the business should not consider these places.
An old Victorian is a love story, not a financial transaction. If OP was looking to profit, this wouldn’t be the house they would have chosen. The rewards are elsewhere.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
e5116
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by e5116 »

It really depends on how the market is where you're buying and how long the house has been sitting (i.e. how motivates the seller is and if they think they can get another buyer quickly). I bought a 100+ year old house that had been on the market for about a year and inspection came up with a laundry list of issues. I did negotiate it down from the agreed on price, and I had my attorney call out only the very major items (needs new roof, electrical, plumbing immediately) rather than every last little thing. As a seller, that'd turn you off if somebody goes line by line. I asked for $x off and got about 1/2 of x as a credit from seller at closing. It basically paid for a new lifetime architectural shingle asphalt roof (which are expensive...) but nothing else.

Having an old house often comes with issues, so you gotta decide if you're okay with it. If you're getting a reasonably good deal in a location you desire with some authentic architectural features, it might be worth it. If it's priced as basically move-in ready places in same location, then likely not. Some people love old houses, and some don't. I also don't have central air. There are $1M+ houses without it by me though....having old window units is the least of your concerns though. You can easily buy new ones that aren't that expensive.

Note that I have been under contract on another old house where I did walk away after inspection and didn't even ask for money off. In that case, things were done incorrectly in that I'd have to rip up finished basement and there was mold. It was also a house with multiple bids so had little leverage so decided to walk away, seller went to next bidder who paid full ask. It was a 1800s converted farmhouse.
Last edited by e5116 on Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by Sandtrap »

afan wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:39 am
Sandtrap wrote: Sun Jun 21, 2020 5:25 pm
There are properties that even experienced G.C.'s, "Flippers", and R/E Developers, wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.
j :D
Which means that buyers who are not in the business should not consider these places.
Of course there are many buyers that do absolutely great in all types of R/E purchases.
There is such a great range of possibilities to these things.
As always, depends on the buyer, funding, and motivation.
j :happy
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nigel_ht
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Re: Negotiating price post an old house inspection

Post by nigel_ht »

quantAndHold wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:07 pm
afan wrote: Mon Jun 22, 2020 11:39 am
Sandtrap wrote: Sun Jun 21, 2020 5:25 pm
There are properties that even experienced G.C.'s, "Flippers", and R/E Developers, wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.
j :D
Which means that buyers who are not in the business should not consider these places.
An old Victorian is a love story, not a financial transaction. If OP was looking to profit, this wouldn’t be the house they would have chosen. The rewards are elsewhere.
This is very true. Figure out why you are buying. If it’s for emotion then as long as it doesn’t risk your financial safety you have a lot more latitude in what becomes a “good buy”.

Just be aware that money pits have a tendency to turn love stories into horror stories...
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