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Old 10-19-2012, 07:39 PM   #61
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Inspection next Monday at 9 AM.
Paws crossed for a happy outcome and a place you can call home.

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Old 10-25-2012, 09:56 PM   #62
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I don't know what to do. I went to the inspection Monday, and though this house is in much better condition than the other, it still needs several thousand dollars' worth of repairs to make up for deferred maintenance, and that's not including the cosmetic fixes, which would be about an equal amount.
I am torn two ways. Even though this house does not give me warm fuzzy feelings like the little yellow one did (or the "house that got away" in July), my head says "this is probably about as good as it is going to get". The only way I can think of that I'd find a house in as good a location, in as good or better condition, and completely within my budget is if it were on a much smaller lot. I'd consider such a house, but I don't see any coming up in the search results on MLS. It may be there aren't any such small lots in that area. I didn't have warm fuzzies for my townhouse, but it was OK. This house is better than the townhouse was in that respect. Also, I would really like to be done with house-hunting. Even with the ability to check out houses online and only look at the really good prospects, it's very tiring. Or maybe I am just more pooped, but that's not going to go away any time soon. And every time I pay for an inspection, it eats into the amount of money I have to spend on the house itself.....

I think I could pull it off by taking contributions out of my Roth IRA and/or spending a little of the money in my 457 account, which I can withdraw without early distribution penalty when I retire, since I am over age 55. I don't think that will affect my chance of running out of money...FireCalc, Flexible Retirement Planner, and the financial guy I consulted all said I had enough money to retire last March, even if I lived to be 100. I haven't put any more into the Roth or the 457 since June, but money has been deducted from my paychecks for the pension fund, and if, as I have been thinking of, I take the option with a partial lump sum refund, I can roll that money into an IRA and use some of my 457 for repairs. Or maybe I can just work a bit longer.

I have to make up my mind by the day after tomorrow.
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:12 PM   #63
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I don't know what to do. I went to the inspection Monday, and though this house is in much better condition than the other, it still needs several thousand dollars' worth of repairs to make up for deferred maintenance, and that's not including the cosmetic fixes, which would be about an equal amount.
Did you get an answer to your concerns about asbestos in the floor coverings or asbestos/lead in the paint/texture on the walls? If there's a problem material in the floor coverings it wouldn't be hard to put something over the top, but if you really can't stand the texture on the walls then you might have a bigger problem.

You sound rushed--it's a buyer's market, isn't it? Can you take the time to cruise the neighborhoods and see if there are homes with smaller lots that might be coming up for sale soon? That can also be a good way to spot a neglected home and swoop in before it even hits the MLS.
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:32 PM   #64
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Did you get an answer to your concerns about asbestos in the floor coverings or asbestos/lead in the paint/texture on the walls? If there's a problem material in the floor coverings it wouldn't be hard to put something over the top, but if you really can't stand the texture on the walls then you might have a bigger problem.
The inspector does not test for asbestos. The contractor I had with me does not think the material is asbestos but in any case he says the least expensive way to get smoother walls is to overlay with 1/4" drywall rather than try to remove the existing texture. As long as the material is not disturbed I don't think it matters whether it is asbestos. The baseboards all need to be replaced and I think I would hire a remediation contractor to demo & dispose of them together with suspicious fibrous material inside the fireplace insert which could very well be asbestos. Amazingly enough, there are hardwood floors under the carpets--seen in the living room and possibly throughout the house except kitchen and bath. It is a mystery to me why so many people covered these up with carpeting. Maybe they are very worn where the traffic patterns were. Even so I think I'd rather look at worn hardwood than worn carpeting any day. Also, the house is already insulated, and has double-pane windows and a new roof. That is better than I expected to find.

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You sound rushed--it's a buyer's market, isn't it? Can you take the time to cruise the neighborhoods and see if there are homes with smaller lots that might be coming up for sale soon? That can also be a good way to spot a neglected home and swoop in before it even hits the MLS.
I feel sort of rushed. I don't know if it's a buyer's market or not. Also, I want to have my own place again, even though I can't move into it right away. My mom is great, but I miss my solitude and just having the ability in so many areas (diet, schedule, etc etc) not to consult anyone's wishes but my own, which just isn't possible when you live with another person.

Cruising the neighborhood is not a practical possibility, since it's 70 miles from here. I heard on the news today that you can now see pre-foreclosures on Zillow, but when I searched it it didn't even show all the houses on MLS that have the characteristics I'm looking for. I didn't feel like signing myself up for yet another source of commercial emails just to see whether there is anything interesting about to revert to the bank.

I think I am talking myself into it. I don't think it's an imprudent decision (like talking myself into the yellow house would have been). It's just not obvious one way or the other. Maybe that means whichever way I go it's likely to work out OK in the end.....
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:45 PM   #65
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The inspector does not test for asbestos.
If it's worth the trouble to you, it's not hard to send samples out for testing yourself. There are labs on the internet that will send you a kit and directions. Of course you won't get results within your present timeline.

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The contractor I had with me does not think the material is asbestos but in any case he says the least expensive way to get smoother walls is to overlay with 1/4" drywall rather than try to remove the existing texture.
Yes, that's one good answer. But remember that the increased thickness will need to be addressed at all your windows and doors, and that the new drywall will need to be taped and mudded just as though it were a brand new wall. On the plus side--you could fairly easily add insulation to any exterior walls that lack it before putting up the new drywall.

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Amazingly enough, there are hardwood floors under the carpets--seen in the living room and possibly throughout the house except kitchen and bath. It is a mystery to me why so many people covered these up with carpeting. Maybe they are very worn where the traffic patterns were. Even so I think I'd rather look at worn hardwood than worn carpeting any day.
The carpet in our present home had been in place for 50 years when we bought the place--it was disgusting. The hardwood floors underneath looked pretty good. We had them refinished and they look great and have been trouble-free for 7 years.

Good luck on the hunt.
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:47 AM   #66
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I suppose you know your own mind, but even a new house will have issues and ongoing expenses and work. I really can't see the improvement in your life that comes from leaving a townhome that at least can't be very old, and picking up yard work and a lot more exterior maintenance. Being retired, we have time to do very enjoyable things, and for me home maintenance is about number 785 on the list of pleasant things to do. And Home Depot? I would be pleased if I never entered one again, though that may be hard to accomplish.

Also, it costs more to heat a house, and especially an older house. That may not be an issue with you, but it certainly is for me. Maybe feeling tired is asking you slow down and spend more time planning and for a bit at least, less time acting.

Is it a buyer's market? I certainly think so. Up there North of the city but still in King County sellers tried briefly to go up in price, but apparently have given up and begun reducing prices lately. That is even true in the so called hot neighborhoods right in the middle of Seattle.

I admit I do not understand the warm fuzzies connected to a house. What I wanted was reasonably attractive, quiet building with OK owners, reasonably interesting views or outlook, lots of natural light, central location near to many things, plenty people, and easy access to several active bus routes. This wasn't easy to find for what I wanted to pay, but this is a big city, and people get sick, die, divorce, get imprisoned- all kinds of things that turn them into non-economic, eager sellers. When my car got totaled I decided I just may not bother with another car, as I have limited needs for one here, and I really no longer enjoy the fact of owning one.

I lived for some time in a popular retirement community outside Seattle. The place supported more Realtors than you might expect in a medum sized city. Many couples came, bought, then discovered the unhandy aspects, particularly if one of them fell ill. Then back to the city they went, with less money and a lot more experience.

Benjamin Graham and many value investors after him have spoken about the margin of error needed to make an investment somewhat safe. I think this applies to much of life, not just investing. Once we reach retirement age, we really do not know what is in store for us, physically or otherwise, and some stuations are much more flexible than others. In general, greater flexibility equals more margin of error.


Whatever you do, I hope you will be happy.

Ha
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:38 AM   #67
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I suppose you know your own mind, but even a new house will have issues and ongoing expenses and work. I really can't see the improvement in your life that comes from leaving a townhome that at least can't be very old, and picking up yard work and a lot more exterior maintenance. Also, it costs more to heat a house, and especially an older house. That may not be an issue with you, but it certainly is for me.
The improvements I see are, no common driveway (thus avoiding other residents blocking my access to my garage), no common wall (so no late-night thudding bass from neighbors' parties), and enough space and sun to grow my own toxin-free veggies and fruit. The house is significantly smaller than the townhouse was (750 sq ft vs 1100), so I don't expect it to cost more to heat. It has wood siding, which I agree is not a point in its favor, and plan to change when I can. But it's also one story, which means I may be able to do at least some of the exterior maintenance myself. That was never a possibility on the townhouse, which was three stories high. The only way I know of to completely avoid exterior maintenance is to live in a home which has no exterior--an apartment or condo--and neither my budget nor my temperament would easily adapt to such a setting. I don't have an extra hundred or two a month for condo dues; I've never liked living in multi-family buildings (and the more units, the less I like it), and I always felt ripped-off when I was a tenant.

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Maybe feeling tired is asking you slow down and spend more time planning and for a bit at least, less time acting. (snip)
My current tiredness can, I think, be entirely attributed to chemotherapy. It may take a long while--I've been told to expect not to be back to my previous energy level for a year afterwards--but it should eventually go away once I finish my treatment.

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Once we reach retirement age, we really do not know what is in store for us, physically or otherwise, and some stuations are much more flexible than others.
That is true, and it's possible that in the future, I may be forced out of my house by ill-health or disability. But I don't want to live as if that has already happened, before it has. For now, I much prefer a detached house to any other form of residence.

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I lived for some time in a popular retirement community outside Seattle. The place supported more Realtors than you might expect in a medum sized city. Many couples came, bought, then discovered the unhandy aspects, particularly if one of them fell ill. Then back to the city they went, with less money and a lot more experience.

Whatever you do, I hope you are happy.

Ha
It's not as if I'm contemplating moving to outer Mongolia! This house is right in town, and within five miles or less of practically every necessity and convenience (hospital, clinic, church, groceries, library, veterinarian, bank, etcetera, etcetera). Most of the above are bike-able (it's pretty flat) and there's a bus line at the end of the block.

Where was the "popular retirement community", and what were the unhandy aspects discovered by the dissatisfied purchasers? Maybe I am missing something.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:43 AM   #68
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The house is significantly smaller than the townhouse was (750 sq ft vs 1100), so I don't expect it to cost more to heat.
The house will probably cost more to heat. Factors:
-- The heat loss of a dwelling occurs at the exterior surfaces. Those common walls in the townhouse (the source of the thumping bass at night!) were probably heated on the other side by your neighbors, so you had virtually no heat loss through them. Plus, assuming the townhouse was newer it probably had better insulation (and maybe better windows) in the exterior walls.

Did you find out if the house has insulated walls? In homes built before 1960, especially in moderate climates, it was common to have no insulation in the walls. Tip: To see if there's insulation int he wall, remove an outlet cover or switch cover and (being careful not to touch any wires) push a small hook of coathangar wire into the gap between the outlet box and the drywall. See if you can "snag" any fiberglass insulation and pull it out. If you don't find any (or don't hit foam, etc) then it's likely the wall has no insulation.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:46 AM   #69
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It really is your decision but I can't help but wonder if it would be better to just concentrate on getting better first.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:51 AM   #70
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I feel sort of rushed. I don't know if it's a buyer's market or not. Also, I want to have my own place again, even though I can't move into it right away. ....
I think I am talking myself into it. I don't think it's an imprudent decision (like talking myself into the yellow house would have been). It's just not obvious one way or the other. Maybe that means whichever way I go it's likely to work out OK in the end.....
You're the one with the checkbook. I think you have plenty of time to find the perfect house, as interest rates will stay low for a couple of years per the fed.

If you added the cost of doing the repairs on this particular house to the purchase price, it might equal the price of a house you truly will love that doesn't require work and doesn't have unknowns that may cost even more.
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:33 PM   #71
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The house will probably cost more to heat. Factors:
-- The heat loss of a dwelling occurs at the exterior surfaces. Those common walls in the townhouse (the source of the thumping bass at night!) were probably heated on the other side by your neighbors, so you had virtually no heat loss through them. Plus, assuming the townhouse was newer it probably had better insulation (and maybe better windows) in the exterior walls.
The townhouse had only one common wall (more than enough!) and three walls plus roof exposed to weather. I don't have enough measurements to calculate the surface areas of both buildings but I think they are probably roughly comparable.

The house has double-pane windows, but I don't know when they were put in. It might be possible to find out the dates of insulation and window installation from the City building office, if a permit was required for the work. The townhouse is going on 16 years old and still has the original windows.
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Did you find out if the house has insulated walls? In homes built before 1960, especially in moderate climates, it was common to have no insulation in the walls. Tip: To see if there's insulation int he wall, remove an outlet cover or switch cover and (being careful not to touch any wires) push a small hook of coathangar wire into the gap between the outlet box and the drywall. See if you can "snag" any fiberglass insulation and pull it out. If you don't find any (or don't hit foam, etc) then it's likely the wall has no insulation.
Yes, the inspector's report says the house is insulated. I saw some of the material; it looks like fiberglass. He also pointed out plugged holes through the siding in other parts of the house, that would have been from blowing-in the insulation. However, it is quite possible the townhouse was more thoroughly insulated than the house is. Next time Angie's list or the local utility has a discount on home energy audits, maybe I'll spring for one to find out where the under-insulated areas are, so I can have them corrected when (in future) replacing the wood siding with something lower maintenance. Some of it has already been replaced with Hardi-Plank or similar. I don't know if I would have the rest of the wood shingles replaced with the same, or have the exterior completely re-done with metal siding. (It might depend on whether the thin spots in the insulation are behind shingles or behind the newer siding...) There's no hurry for that though. With a new coat of paint, the current exterior material is good for at least several more years.
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:42 PM   #72
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It really is your decision but I can't help but wonder if it would be better to just concentrate on getting better first.
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You're the one with the checkbook. I think you have plenty of time to find the perfect house, as interest rates will stay low for a couple of years per the fed.

If you added the cost of doing the repairs on this particular house to the purchase price, it might equal the price of a house you truly will love that doesn't require work and doesn't have unknowns that may cost even more.
Maybe or maybe not. My mom is thinking about putting this house on the market next spring. It is really too big for one person, and the yardwork would even be too much for me to do, and I can't afford to hire it out. It is a large, sloping yard with multiple rockeries, and not at all designed with ease of upkeep in mind. (The house in Lacey has a flat yard with no rockeries. Right now it's all lawn, but one of my post-retirement pastimes will be designing a low-maintenance garden for it.)

I am aiming at having a new home ready to move into by the time I finish chemo in January. Because I get the IV meds once a week, it just wouldn't be practical to leave Seattle any sooner than that. I don't want to switch infusion centers in the middle of treatment.

Interest rates are irrelevant for me, as whatever house I buy will be an all-cash purchase. As of the sale of my townhouse, I'm completely debt-free, and plan to stay that way.

I have pretty much decided to buy this house. I could do a lot worse, and there's no guarantee I can do better if I pass it up, and particularly no guarantee that I can do better before January.
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:57 PM   #73
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It sounds like you are very happy with this house and it feels right for you. Best of luck with the purchase process!
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:23 PM   #74
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Yes, I hope things go well on your offer. Those "several thousand dollars of deferred work" your inspector found can be useful in presenting your offer--you should at least note what's wrong with the house in your (below list) offer--so they know you are aware of the problems and so they've been put on notice about them as well. Sometimes sellers honestly don't know some of the defects in their properties, and if they (then) know about these problems they should (legally) disclose them to other potential buyers. Obviously, this isn't the tiny stuff, but roof defects, water problems, electrical systems that don't meet code, foundation problems, etc.

And, I know it is 70 miles away and you're probably a bit worn down now, but this is a big purchase and a big change in your life. If I were in your boots, I would want to see that neighborhood during the week and on the weekend, in the daytime and at night. I'd knock on the door of the next door neighbors and have a 60 second chat on the doorstep. That's how you find out about the 5 dogs they own, if they are renting or buying the house, about the new gravel pit set to be dug behind the neighborhood, about any impending zoning changes, etc. If they care about their property values, they'll be pleased to meet a new prospective neighbor who feels the same way. It could be time well spent.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:56 PM   #75
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I agree with Samclem about the price you offer...

When we bought out house, the inspector found a few thousand worth of items to fix... we asked for most of them and got them fixed...

We also put in a two priced offer, one where the price was lower if the roof or AC was 10 years old and one if they were not... they were, so we got the lower price...


The biggest help in this is if the house has been on the market for awhile and there are no other buyers... I waited over 1 year (maybe 1 1/2) for the previous owners to figure out they were asking to much for their house... now, prices are going back up and most people have adjusted to the new normal.... but, there are still a few who list high....
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Old 10-26-2012, 04:15 PM   #76
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The inspector does not test for asbestos. The contractor I had with me does not think the material is asbestos but in any case he says the least expensive way to get smoother walls is to overlay with 1/4" drywall rather than try to remove the existing texture. As long as the material is not disturbed I don't think it matters whether it is asbestos. .....
Rather than add 1/4" of drywall over the existing walls and tape, prime and paint it might be easier/cheaper to have a crew come in and skim coat all the walls. I've never had such a thing done but I have heard about people having it done.
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Old 10-26-2012, 05:30 PM   #77
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I was curious about pb4uski's post on skim coating and found this:
How to Skim Coat Walls | The Family Handyman Definitely looks like an option to research.

Having the original hardwood floors is a major plus, as is the roof and at least basic insulation and paned windows. The location also sounds like just what you are looking for - and you know the old saying about location.

I completely understand the frustration with how much time and energy the process takes - we looked actively for 11 months. The goal is to find a good place to call home - not to find the perfect house. Good luck with your decisions!
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Old 10-26-2012, 05:43 PM   #78
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I have pretty much decided to buy this house. I could do a lot worse, and there's no guarantee I can do better if I pass it up, and particularly no guarantee that I can do better before January.
Congratulations! I hope negotiations go well. There always seem to be a few obstacles at closing, but I know that you will overcome them and soon all will be as you have hoped and planned for, for so long. I just know you are going to really enjoy your new home.
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Old 10-26-2012, 06:28 PM   #79
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I was curious about pb4uski's post on skim coating and found this:
How to Skim Coat Walls | The Family Handyman Definitely looks like an option to research.
IIRC, the problem with kyounge's walls is the texture coat that is now on them. I don't think the above method (using thinned out joint compound) would be very effective--not enough build. A "real" skim coat, using setting compound and applied with a trowel, will work but it's not a job for a do-it-yourselfer. It takes a skilled wall pro to get things looking right, especially if the light will be striking the wall at a sharp angle. By the time you pay someone for their time, putting up fresh drywall would probably be about the same price or less. Anyway, it's worth getting bids for each approach.
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Old 10-26-2012, 06:55 PM   #80
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I wouldn't jump all over potential asbestos, as long as it isn't airborne or flaking it isn't a hazzard. If you need to change the kitchen flooring at some point deal with it then. In our climate I would pay the most attention to the building envelope, electrical, plumbing and heating systems.
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