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Would you buy this house?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
There's a tiny house for sale in town but it's in very poor condition (foundation looks like it's cracked, two trees very close to the house probably exacerbating the issue, the windows are broken/boarded up, collapsed shed in the corner, most exterior wood looks bad, inside looks bit rough, old wall paper spotty carpet, no appliances). The roof from the exterior looks okay, but one of the soffits (underside of an overhang) had a cantaloupe sized hole that I imagine some animal has been using as an exit/entry. The house is small ~800sqft, about 100 years old, on an about an acre lot, has public sewage/water service, and it's dirt cheap, under $35k.

The average house in town sells for ~$150k, heck all the empty lots I see around are about double/triple the cost of this house. I figure I could buy this house and have a contractor cut the trees down (though I like the trees, they look as old as the house, but the house is first), jack the house up and fix the foundation as a first step and slowly go around fixing it room at a time and it'll be way cheaper than what I pay for rent currently. Or just fix it enough so that it's livable and when the time comes knock the house down and build a new one on the same spot.

Think it's worth the trouble? The next cheapest house I've seen is in the $80k range.
post #2 of 22
I think it's worth it if you can afford to make all the repairs and upgrades. I'd do it if I could get a bigger loan to cover most the major things I needed to do to the home.
post #3 of 22
Depends on what the inspector says about the home.
Do you have the time to take on such a HUGE project?
Say you have the time, do you have the patience to deal with such a huge project? Are you going to do this yourself? How many people would help? How long to fix up the home? How much money (remember things like this often go over budget). These are just some of the questions I would ask and consider.
post #4 of 22
Hmm, well Ive always said that if the foundation isnt good then move on. Based on what an inspector says, call and get estimates for everything that would need to be done (electrical, siding, windows, jacking it up, pouring a foundation/basement). If you can afford to put 100k into it and add that to the selling price and if you think you'll make a good profit and have the time and energy, it could be something to consider!
post #5 of 22
My husband and I purchased a very similar home to the one you posted about 6 years ago. It was a handyman special, but had a good base (no foundation problems, totally built solid) but needed everything replaced. We are just about finished and it was a huge project for us. We replaced: the roof, boiler system, all the old electrical,porch was knocked down and rebuilt, total house was insulated, new windows purchased and all new flooring was installed. This summer will be the final 'big' item, adding a garage.

The house was originally an old schoolhouse, it was very small (620 sq. ft) and the previous owners created little dark rooms which made it very cramped. So, last August we tore down the back wall to add a sunroom and took down a middle wall to open the place up. We then moved the kitchen over to the other side of the house for better functionality. It is amazing what light does to a house and now it feels like this house has a new life!

I would suggest a few things. First, bring in a home inspector and contractors to get an idea of the condition of the house and how much renos would be. If you are handy, and can do most of the work yourself, then you are ahead of the game. Also, if you are going to tear down the place in the future, then you won't have to do expensive renos, just enough to get by until that future date happens. Second, bring in a real estate agent who is familiar with the area and get their advice. You don't want to buy a property, fix it up, and not get your money back or have a hard time because the neighbourhood is not desirable. Third, never buy a property until you have done your research. How long has it been on the market? What are the neighbours/neighbourhood like? Why is it so cheap? You may just want to tear it down and start from scratch - invest your money wisely.

We always purchase properties with the resale value in mind. So, if you know this is a steal and have looked at future costs/values and still don't mind doing the renos. Go for it. But plan for unexpected costs, they always come up and can seriously eat away at your budget. But, if you are patient, and don't need everything done all at once, it can be a very satisfying project to work on.

We both are very glad we went through this process, since we turned an old neglected house, into a gem with our own hands. But, for us, it was a 6 year project since we only did the renos when we could afford it and life events didn't get in the way. It was a great amount of work and took a great amount of time, but for us it was worth it.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
I understand people's perspectives from a resellability stand point, but truthfully if I buy this house I don't think I'd ever want to sell it. With the demand for housing going up in my neighborhood because of the nearby automotive plants and R&D center, plus the recent crazy development the area's been going through, I'd probably rent it out for cheaper than all the apartments around to a co-worker if I ever get another house, and I expect to stick around for a long while.

Anyone know what redoing a foundation costs around? Say if I were to jack the house, dig out the old foundation + roots, etc, repour concrete. I was guessing $10-$25k for that small house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
If you can afford to put 100k into it and add that to the selling price and if you think you'll make a good profit and have the time and energy, it could be something to consider!
100k?! I think I could afford a modern pre-fab house the same size for that price, which is an option I'd been toying with. Like this one: http://www.inhabitat.com/2006/06/16/...iday-weehouse/

Knowing me, I'd probably downsize even more and get the smallest one they sell. Save my yard space and/or make the garage bigger.
post #7 of 22
For $35,000? Basically all you are really getting is the land at that price. By the sounds of it the house is more than a "handy man special" and should be torn down and a new one rebuilt.

If the land is as expensive in the area as you say, then $35,000 for the land is an excellent buy. But don't buy it thinking you can fix up the house that is currently there and live in it.
post #8 of 22
I would listen to what Russian Blue has recommended. With a house of that age I'm sure there are others issues that will need attention and money other than the foundation such as electrical, plumbing and heating and cooling. I'm not sure what part of the country you are in but if insects are a problem that could be an issue too. Depending on what answers you get from an inspector or contractor would be a big factor on buying and procceeding with any updates.
post #9 of 22
Wow, what a strange little house!
Well I would imagine it would cost quite a bit, dont know about foundation work but I just bought an older house, much bigger though- 2400 sq ft. and to replace just the ridge cap on the roof is 3,500. The plumber just cost 350 for five hours of work, the electrician put in circuit breakers (so didnt have to rewire the house from old wire, only switch out the fuse box for a new one because wiring was already updated at some point) and added a bunch of outlets and that cost over 3,000. Maybe 100k is a little extreme for a small house. You could call around and ask for ballpark estimates on rewiring a house that size, plumbing, maybe call a contractor(?) to find out about the basement thing. If you do end up getting it and have to strip wallpaper, buy a steamer, it makes it 100x faster!
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GailC View Post
I would listen to what Russian Blue has recommended. With a house of that age I'm sure there are others issues that will need attention and money other than the foundation such as electrical, plumbing and heating and cooling. I'm not sure what part of the country you are in but if insects are a problem that could be an issue too. Depending on what answers you get from an inspector or contractor would be a big factor on buying and procceeding with any updates.
Gotcha, so I guess the first step would be to have an inspector look at it. Though I think the prognosis will be pretty grim from what Natalie_ca was saying. It is basically land price and the house just happens to be sitting on it. Even at just land price it's a steal. I wondered if it was a flood area but I checked yesterday when it was raining hard and place was dry as a bone. I'm wondering if something happened in the house, or has some shady history.
post #11 of 22
If you are paying cash for it and have the money to fix it up - go for it. However, many banks will NOT loan money for a mortgage on a house that is not livable in 30 days.

We found that out when looking for our house. There was a cool one we wanted to fix up (had plans on what to do with each room). We qualified for it - no problem. But our banker asked us if we could move into the house in 30 days. We wanted to fix it up first and then move in - fixing at our own pace.

So we could not get a loan and had to look at other houses.
post #12 of 22
My two cents: buy it for the land, raze the building to the ground, and put something else up... like one of the pre-fabs you mentioned. With that much land space, you can do a LOT with it... set the house back a little from the street, do some nice landscaping in front, and still have a decent yard in back. I grew up on a third of an acre, with a larger house than what you describe... it wasn't quite livable at first but my dad fixed it up. Still needs some work all these years later... when they sell or are gone (Dad's 81, mom's 78), the house is worthless... but the land can have two houses on it... Heck, you could put two of those pre-fab houses on it and still have nice yards for both...
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
Hmm, well Ive always said that if the foundation isnt good then move on. Based on what an inspector says, call and get estimates for everything that would need to be done (electrical, siding, windows, jacking it up, pouring a foundation/basement). If you can afford to put 100k into it and add that to the selling price and if you think you'll make a good profit and have the time and energy, it could be something to consider!
I have a friend who loved houses with foundation problems. It scared off all kinds of buyers, so he'd get them dirt cheap, fix them up, and sell them. Made a lot of money at it.
post #14 of 22
Have you tried contacting "this Old House"? The people that fix up older houses and film the progress. I think they are still filming and they might be interested in filming yours since it is 100 yrs old or more.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Catkiki View Post
Have you tried contacting "this Old House"? The people that fix up older houses and film the progress. I think they are still filming and they might be interested in filming yours since it is 100 yrs old or more.
With 'This Old House' it's typically not them fronting the money... you, as the owner, are paying the contractors and buying the materials... Originally, they'd buy houses and fix them up, then resell them, but they stopped a long time ago. They did one like that (that huge farm house with the attached barn) a few years back, but primarily for nostalgic/anniversary of the show reasons... to try it. And then, when THEY own it, they will spend the money... but if it's an owner having them come in and document the remodel, the owner is the one who fronts the cold hard cash for the improvements...

I've been watching that show since I was a little kid... and still think Bob Vila is very pompous... I'm not as crazy about the current host... I liked Steve... anyway... I'm strange (as I already mentioned in another thread today).

Amanda
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemur 6 View Post
have a contractor cut the trees down (though I like the trees, they look as old as the house, but the house is first),
Are you allowed to just cut down trees? Over here the council has to approve that and can say no.
post #17 of 22
Well I think it depends a lot on whether you are able to do the repairs yourself. If you are going to have to pay someone to do the work then that wil be quite costly and probably not worthwhile. But if you are crafty enough to do most of the work on your own, then it's probably a good investment.
post #18 of 22
I would get an inspecter first, the foundation may only be one of many problems, a friend bought a house simular to this one, not only did they have to replace the foundation, they also had to rewire and replumb the whole house, they wished they had tore it down, then to put that much money into it.
post #19 of 22
I would say that if the foundations are bad, then no, it's not worth it. $35k is still a lot of money if the house is literally going to fall apart around you.
post #20 of 22
What city is this? How are prices for real estate? It might be worth it for just the land.
post #21 of 22
DH redid an old farmhouse (we rented). This was a few years before his divorce and us getting married. Its a heck of a lot of work. He didn't think it would be that bad. Looking back he would have done it different - mainly NOT living in the house while you do the work!

The owner paid for all the material, DH did the work. But he almost had to rebuild the entire house from bottom up. The foundation/floor was so bad that it was a 6 inch drop between the living room and kitchen. He said you could not fill a bowl with cereal and milk more then 1/2 way or it would spill!

DH does know how to do construction, electric, plumbing, but its a BIG project to take on. And worse is that you don't know ALL of what you will encounter. He didn't think he would have to replace almost all the walls cause there were hidden problems.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
Hmm, well Ive always said that if the foundation isnt good then move on. Based on what an inspector says, call and get estimates for everything that would need to be done (electrical, siding, windows, jacking it up, pouring a foundation/basement). If you can afford to put 100k into it and add that to the selling price and if you think you'll make a good profit and have the time and energy, it could be something to consider!


yea i agree with that one.
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