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Re: JG & Real Estate people
Old 05-28-2005, 05:37 AM   #21
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Re: JG & Real Estate people

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildcat
Wow if I keep reading I may never go near real estate.* Of course s--- happens.*
Aw, come on wildcat, very little of life is truly under our control.
I think it was Cut-Throat who pointed out that we don't have nearly
the amount of control over events that we think we do.
I am a control freak and I agree with him completely. Anyway,
one of the attractions for me is the amount of control
(in real estate) RELATIVE to the stock market, where you
effectively have none, other than picking the horse.

JG
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Re: JG & Real Estate people
Old 05-28-2005, 06:24 AM   #22
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Re: JG & Real Estate people

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grand Banks
Unless you REALLY know what you're doing, a lot more can go wrong than not.

Watch the tv show "house detectives" on HGTV (if you have cable or sat).* Watch people who actually do (or should) know what they're doing and the marvelous situations they find themselves in with real estate.* I'm stunned how many realtors buy homes without an inspection, people who had a 'professional' inspector look at a house that found none of the bad stuff, or 'expert contractors/carpenters' who 'assured' the new owners that everything was up to snuff, only to have a real pro show them the 20k worth of stuff they screwed up.

The comments about tenants, neighbors and other stuff thats not really under your control is also well taken...
"Inspections"..............I'm guessing maybe I had less than 50% of all real
estate I've owned inspected by others prior to buying. For example, for our house
I hired a couple of local contractors (for cheap). They found a bunch of
insignificant stuff. The main thing that worried them was a lack of
insulation in the garage and the fact that there were water pipes in the garage and in a crawl space (unheated). Turns out this
"problem" was a major plus. The garage stays at around 50 degrees
in winter without direct heat and freezing is never a problem.
Heating costs are very low. On the condo I just winged it. No problems.
Biggest problem I ever had was my manufacturing plant in Michigan.
16,000 SF and the roof was shot. I never felt like I wanted to cough up for a new roof, so it was patch patch patch until I found a tenant
who put on a new roof as part of his rent. Creativity won out again

JG
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Re: JG & Real Estate people
Old 05-28-2005, 06:42 AM   #23
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Re: JG & Real Estate people

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanky
Be prepared for the worst is useful in the event of a disaster. What is the liklihood that eveything will go wrong. Would it be better to asume something will go wrong and some do not.
You are right Spanky, assuming everything will tank at once is a bit dark. For me though, I always consider the "dark side" and then ask
"What would I do if..........?" The one area where I was late in
using this theory was ER and that was because I never gave it any thought at all until I was in my late 40s. I'm not kidding. My ER planning could have been designed by Rodney Dangerfield.
(It got no respect

JG

JG
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Re: JG & Real Estate people
Old 05-28-2005, 07:45 AM   #24
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Re: JG & Real Estate people

Quote:
"Inspections"..............I'm guessing maybe I had less than 50% of all real estate I've owned inspected by others prior to buying.
Any particular reason only 50%?
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Re: JG & Real Estate people
Old 05-28-2005, 12:39 PM   #25
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Re: JG & Real Estate people

Because he only made that kind of bad decisions half the time, and then used the cheap contractors for the other half that didnt know enough.

I do my own 3-4 hour walk-through, because I know what to look for, then I pay good $ for an experienced home builder to tell me all the structural stuff and code violations I dont know about.

Its a good idea to get an inspection even on a new property. New home builders often fail to redo work that didnt go well the first time.

Seems like the worst problems have to do with drainage, hidden water damage, and hidden pest damage. I've found, or had inspectors find, massive rot or termite damage in a home the 'pest inspection' whiffed on. Seems like every home I look at has a downspout that doesnt take water from the foundation, so thats shifting or the whole property is incorrectly graded and bringing water in. Lots of times the 'brand new work' is incorrectly done and needs to be redone.

Lets look at three homes I didnt buy.

One was a structural marvel. Completely steel framed home, builder had about 20 homes in the area, ~3800 square feet on a half acre, sloped down from the street. Just a beautiful home and the steel framing was unusual but a plus...very strong, wont rot, highly resistant to damage. Unfortunately as it turned out, the builder hadnt done a steel frame house before, hadnt prepared the lot correctly, and started running out of money halfway through construction and took shortcuts, substituted cheaper labor, and did some of the work himself (halfassedly). A lot of what he didnt do right wasnt obvious to me at first. Inspector said it would be a race to see if the floor collapsed in the main entry/living room as it hadnt been trussed properly, or if the whole house would slide down the hill first due to the improper grading.

Second was a nice little one story on a half acre. Cute little house and cheap. Brick halfway up the waist and siding from there. Former owner had added on to the home and poured a concrete carport and concrete walkways and patios all around. Unfortunately he poured the concrete top even and in a few places slightly above the level of the slab, which was hard to tell due to the brick. All of the bottom plates in the house were rotted out and the studs were starting to rot as well because water hit the concrete and laid against the brick, which absorbed it and kept the framing damp. The whole house was leaning on the decorative brick...a few years and it was going to fall apart. Taking all the brick off to fix the problem? Not worth it, it was a knocker-downer. Further, a big room he added on was trapezoidal and he didnt use any tar paper or other moisture barrier under the siding so all of the framing was rotting. All almost impossible to tell unless you know what you're doing. I now carry an 18" long thin screwdriver with me on inspections, and measure rooms not just for size but for squareness and level.

Almost a brand new home, experienced builder. Skip to what was wrong: bad siding that had been recalled but the manufacturer would only pay about $1000 towards a $15k replacement. Roof had been installed incorrectly and because it was huge, complex and very high it would be about $18k. Central fireplace completely built completely wrong, fire hazard, needed to be gutted out and fully replaced; since it ran up the middle of the home, probably 15-20k. Gutters installed incorrectly so they would allow some water damage to edges of roof sheeting during heavy rains and roof pitch in one spot improper, allowing some water to back up into a decorative exterior wall that was starting to rot from the inside out...probably $8-10k to fix. House looked great...no obvious problems.

Ok, one more quick one...an $800k home in the bay area. Foundation was improperly done so the first good earthquake and about half of the back of the home was likely to collapse. The front was floor to ceiling two story glass, but they didnt use tempered, so if you were in the part of the house that didnt collapse in the earthquake, the falling shards of glass would cut you to pieces.

The good news is that most homes are well made and dont have huge repair/engineering needs. But you wont know unless you're an expert, or pay someone that is to find out. Bad, bad place to 'save' a few hundred bucks.
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Re: JG & Real Estate people
Old 05-28-2005, 07:19 PM   #26
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Re: JG & Real Estate people

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildcat
Any particular reason only 50%?
No particular reason. Just my gut I guess. BTW, can we get
th back? This Grand Banks character is way too verbose
for my taste. Brevity man, brevity!

JG
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Re: JG & Real Estate people
Old 05-28-2005, 07:57 PM   #27
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Re: JG & Real Estate people

Quote:
... because I know what to look for, then I pay good $ for an experienced home builder to tell me all the structural stuff and code violations I dont know about.
Grand Banks,

What is a reasonable fee for an experienced builder?

Spanky
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Re: JG & Real Estate people
Old 05-29-2005, 11:04 AM   #28
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Re: JG & Real Estate people

You should pay between 300 and 500 dollars and it should take about 4 hours. Do not use the one the realtor uses, as they've been programmed to find $300-500 worth of 'problems' and not dig too deeply and screw up the sale.

Look for someone who has or still does do home building, find out how many inspections they've done (should be more than a few hundred), and see if they have "errors and omissions insurance". If they have that and they screw up and miss something, you have a shot at getting at least partially reimbursed for the repair work by the inspectors insurance.

Also, even though many states require a homeowner to get a pest inspection (rot and insect), get your own. The last two pest inspections I paid for as a homeowner, one walked around the outside of the house for about 2 minutes, jotted down a couple of pieces of bad trim and left. The last guy showed up, slapped a sticker on the water heater that said he was here, and sent me a clean report. Which absolutely worked fine for me...

Big stuff to check yourself before you make the spend...slope at least an inch or two every 3 feet away from the house, no large 'uphills' adjacent to your lot unless you have a heck of a drainage system (ie, you do NOT want a house in your backyard thats 50' uphill from you), gutters with good drainage away from the house. Concrete or driveway adjacent to the home is at least 4-6" below the slab or foundation crown. Doors and windows open and close smoothly with no gaps around them. Put a ball down in the middle of each room and make sure it doesnt roll anywhere. Ask seller if he paid to have work done on the place or did it himself...the latter should set off alarm buzzers...ask him to tell you all about what he did, most DIY-ers will gush endlessly. Write it all down and ask the inspector to focus on that. Get in the basement or crawl space and check the foundation for cracks, cracked beams and any wet areas or standing water. Get in the attic and do the same. Should take you about an hour and you might just find enough to warrant not bothering with the property anymore.

Oh yeah, and read any sellers disclosures documents VERY closely for downplayed problems before you even make an offer. They have to disclose stuff they know about, but some people are very good at 'marketing' the problems. Most people breeze by those documents during the closing when its too late. I remember seeing the disclosure for the house above with the defective siding; the disclosure read something like "some areas of siding may need some maintenance or repair/replacement". Doesnt sound like $15,000 now, does it?

If nothing else, in an average home you'll probably find a couple of thousand bucks worth of stuff to fix. If the problems are widespread, you also might panic the seller a little into dropping the price to keep you around, because once you've told him about the problems, he has to disclose them to subsequent buyers.

I've also decided to avoid buying anything older than 10 years. I've found that many homes built today, especially in california, really dont hold up well past 50 years and the building booms brough in a lot of poorly trained contractors who did shoddy work. Even newer stuff isnt necessarily built right but at least the problems havent had time to fester too long.
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Home inspectors
Old 05-29-2005, 11:27 AM   #29
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Home inspectors

Agreed. And follow the guy around while he does the inspection-- you'll learn a lot and most of them love to teach. The talking will also remind them of things that they might otherwise forget to check.

Better inspectors bring a wooden baton to rap the fascia/soffett boards for termite damage, a receptacle checker to verify that electrical receptacles are correctly wired to ground or for GFCIs, and will check the operation of every appliance. This means they'll be starting the dishwasher, stove/burners, washer/dryer, etc (whatever's included in the sale of the home). They might also want to trip GFCIs or service-panel breakers.

They'll also check all the faucets (possibly including a mineral hardness conductivity check), all sink drains & drainpipes (for leaks or other telltale stains) and toilets.

Some inspectors may not do crawl spaces or attics. You'll want to know that ahead of time. Perhaps they'll compromise by shining a light into the space from outside and discussing it with you.
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