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Old 03-06-2021, 07:24 AM   #101
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Quick list. Where is the current dump and prior landfills? Toxic waste sites? Critical if on well water. Are utilities above or below ground? If septic are there plans for a central water treatment you will have to connect to? Just ask the folks in Malibu! How reliable is the electrical service? Can be related to above or below ground utilities. Local internet speeds (went from fiber at 180Mbps to 10 on last move). and cell phone connections? You might have to change carriers.. Access to shopping and delivery... recent pandemic showed that our house had zero grocery delivery options and almost no food delivery options.
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Old 03-06-2021, 08:02 AM   #102
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Lots of good stuff here. A couple of ours, I did not see mentioned. We once has a cookie cutter house built in a new subdivision and missed the electric lines in the backyard. They can get loud and we were concerned if there was a health issue.

The other is the ability to walk and bike vs using our car all the time. Not having sidewalks is a deal breaker. We like the concept of the 15 minute city. Can you get to the things you need most within 15 minutes. We measure this by biking and walking.
We moved from Midwest to NE 6 years ago. Kids were out of the house and we wanted some acreage (meaning no planned subdivision). Found a great piece of property that backs up to a conservatory. House was okay. Road is winding, wooded with big rock outcroppings. DH had stars in his eyes!

Now we enjoy the outdoors. DH and I love hiking, biking, walking, gardening... I found out quickly that our little slice of heaven was not for me. You fear for your life if you walk/bike on our road so you have to drive somewhere to do this. Gardening is limited as the woods/shade is such a factor. And that conservatory? Well DH loves the "bouldering" and gives his fat tire bike a great workout.

Needless to say - DH is job shopping
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Old 03-06-2021, 11:27 AM   #103
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Our last 2 homes were new construction. One on a huge secluded lot and this one on a tiny lot in a development.



We knocked on doors to ask residents how they liked their homes and the neighborhood. Went on Facebook at sent private messages to whomever we could find that lived there also. We researched info. on the builder and of course, the whole area.



I recommend driving around to see what is around your house. We didn't realize there was a motorcycle camp directly behind our home. Talk about noise in summer/fall! Plus no noise ordinance and they love their fireworks here!



There are a lot of dogs in our neighborhood. I love dogs but our neighbor has one that barks continually when they leave her alone.


We had an inspector come when we bought the house and also at the end of the first year (that is when the builders punch list contract expired).


Location of stores, hospital, health care, activities, etc. Safety of the area, Check out the HOA if there is one- how are their reserves? Rules? What is allowed regarding rentals? How are the schools? Taxes? Ages of the people in your development? How much maintenance is involved?


Cell service? Internet/cable service? A lot of power outages? Will you need a generator? What's the water like? Cost if municipal? What are the taxes and the utility rates?


Where's the fire dept., the police? Places of worship? organizations/clubs? Cultural venues? Restaurants? Airport?


What is the fuel? How much is the average cost? Sewer r septic? Dry well? Flood issues? How is the lot sloped? Can you expect water in the basement because of it?


Keep in mind there is no perfect house or area.There are always compromises you have to make in some way. Especially in this real estate market.


In the house, how many amps for electrical? How is the water heated? Will the layout work and will your furniture fit? Is there enough storage? Get at least 2 bathrooms. Does it have central air? Enough water spigots outside? Enough electrical outlets inside and out? Insulation? Lots of natural light inside through the windows?


Oh- and home insurance and car insurance rates! And don't forget radon testing if prevalent in the area!
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Old 03-06-2021, 11:45 AM   #104
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I discovered much to my dismay, that over the block wall in back of our garage was a DIY car wash. These jacka$$es would have their music turned up while they dried their cars.
Also they would beat the living daylights out of their floor mats.
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Old 03-06-2021, 11:47 AM   #105
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I am going to print out this thread when we start house hunting. It will be impossible to protect against everything, but it contains a lot of helpful ideas.
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Old 03-06-2021, 11:56 AM   #106
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While looking at maps for airports - also consider active railroads.

More preferences than potential problems:

Consider what direction you want the house to face. We've come to prefer west-facing. You get the sun in the morning in the back (kitchen/family room in most houses) and the patio/deck is shaded by the house in the afternoon.

Consider the length of the driveway for parking. In our subdivision, most drives are maybe 1.5 car lengths deep. Ours is 2 cars deep due do lot shape, placement of the house, and street geometry.

That's a good one. The direction the house faces. Our's faces north which is good in summer- though the western sun is a killer and we had to purchase shades for our front porch. But in winter no sun on our driveway or into our living room.


Size of driveway also. Ours is tiny but two cars do fit- barely.
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Old 03-06-2021, 12:08 PM   #107
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This may or may not have mentioned but if you are buying in a rural area you need to find the distance to the nearist firehouse. If you are far away, your homeowners insurance can be very high.
Also, check who provides the utilities? What internet options are available?

We were shocked to find that we had NO internet options for the first couple of years.

Very true. We lived in a rural area on a lot of acreage and after 20 years our insurance company decided to drop us due to the firehouse being over 10 miles away. Didn't matter that the secondaries were right around the corner and we never had a claim of any kind. So we went with another company with no issues and for a smaller premium. We took our car insurance and umbrella policy to them also.



Years later- they reversed that policy. SMH....
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Old 03-06-2021, 12:21 PM   #108
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1. What type of heat (fuel type) does the house under consideration have? In general, it will be electric (resistance or heat pump), natural gas or propane (forced hot air furnace or hot water "boiler"), or heating oil (forced hot air furnace or hot water "boiler"). Note that for the same heat output, propane and heating oil cost 3 to 4 times what natural gas does. Also, heating oil furnaces and boilers are more maintenance intensive than those fueled by natural gas or propane, and require special equipment to correctly set the fueling and combustion air that the average do-it-yourselfer can't get. Figure one professional tune-up and cleaning per year with oil-fired equipment. Rural locations tend to not have natural gas.

Electric resistance (forced hot air, baseboard, or heat pump back-up) heat tends to be a little more expensive than propane or oil heat and its cost is dependent on your electric rates, which can vary significantly based on location.

In the 1980s I had a house with a heat pump with electric resistance supplemental (back-up) heat. (Heat pumps can have backup heat supplied by natural gas, fuel oil or propane as well). I did not like the luke warm heat it produced. Perhaps they are better now.

2. Water and sewer: Does the house have public water or well water? Does it have a public sewer connection or is it septic tank/field equipped? I don't know much about well water or septic tanks/fields, other than they are quite common in rural areas and especially with older properties. A friend of mine who has septic and well water told me that you need to know how deep the well is and how high the water table is. You don't want to have to drill a new well because the old one crapped out. Very expensive he said. As for septic, he said if a new septic tank has to be put in, it's $20k plus. He also said some jurisdictions require yearly tank pumping at about $300. I reviewed some of the information in Inspectapedea covering septic systems and that was enough to make me want to steer clear of them. Too many unknowns.

3. Know how much snow the area under consideration gets on average. Are you ok with this amount?

4. If you perform your own home maintenance (like I do), keep in mind that as you age you may not be able to do what you once did and perhaps select a more maintenance friendly house, unless you don't mind hiring this work out at some point. I'd rather not have a two story house, or one that requires a lot of exterior painting.

5. Consider the layout and accomodations of the house in terms of your future mobility as you age. A few houses we saw online had wheelchair wide doorways and roll-in showers.

6. Is there a vaulted ceiling that includes the kitchen and living/great room? We have that now and all sounds are amplified tremendously and are somewhat distorted. We hate it and never again will have this in a house. We also never thought anything of it when we were looking at our current house.

We, too, do not like the acoustics of the vaulted ceiling. We have a very small house and we thought by having the builder vault the ceiling it would make it seem bigger. Well- it does, but I have been in the other homes like ours and the standard 9 feet ceilings seem to be just fine.
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Old 03-06-2021, 12:23 PM   #109
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Five pages in, I'm starting to wonder whether this checklist is getting so long and detailed that no home on Earth will ever pass the inspection!

How about moving to NYC? Every type of noise, hazard, neighbor, and other potential or existing problem will be right there at your front door 24/7 and there'd be nothing you could do about any of it except bask in the din of a perfectly imperfect living situation!

I'm a perfectionist too and wish the perfect home were out there. It's not. If there is one for the moment, it will change eventually and the perfect will become imperfect or worse. Only a matter of time.

Maybe just find a nice town or city and settle down. Find enough activities to keep you busy so you're not obsessing about every little thing. Health hazards like wood smoke and poison water are worth worrying about, but with the rest, take the bad with the good. This is a hard lesson to learn. I'm still trying every day and failing fairly often.

So true. Perfect is the enemy of the good.
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Old 03-06-2021, 12:29 PM   #110
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+1
This turned out to be an issue for us. We had never lived in a “resort” area popular for vacations and didn’t realize how noisy and crowded it can be on weekends. It’s supposed to be regulated by the city but managing complaints about short term rentals has become a overwhelming issue for them. While landlords may be on the winning end of that financially (as they advertise “PARTY HOUSE”), it reduces the quality of life for residents when its high volume.

I wish we had realized how much noise all manner of motorized desert fun (OHV, motocross bikes, ATVs, etc) make as they roar by your house, always at full throttle on their way out to the dunes. So, keep that in mind for any area advertised as an “outdoor playground”.

Otherwise we really like where we are. I can paddle board at dawn at two places within a 10 minute drive and hike with my dogs on at least 30 trails with spectacular scenery all within an hours drive. Theres also over 100 miles of bike paths in the area.

So, it’s always a balance to get what you want and abide the rest. We are currently researching some sound reducing windows...

ETA: we turned out to be in a great place to ride out the pandemic and continued to enjoy outdoor activities all year. If we move in the future, we will review how the area fared in the pandemic. This brings together a lot of factors; area population density, local and state strategy and response, how a community did or didn’t come together to support each other, etc.



Very true. We moved from a secluded area and lifestyle to a vacation area on steroids. I hate the noise (motorcycles, boats, fireworks, music blaring on the beaches), but I love that there are things to do. But with COVID it's been even more crazy and I have to fight for reservations on some beaches in the state parks and so forth. There;s a beach within walking distance that I need to get to by 7:30 in the morning in order to get in at all due to all the out of staters.
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Old 03-06-2021, 12:57 PM   #111
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Very true. We moved from a secluded area and lifestyle to a vacation area on steroids. I hate the noise (motorcycles, boats, fireworks, music blaring on the beaches), but I love that there are things to do. But with COVID it's been even more crazy and I have to fight for reservations on some beaches in the state parks and so forth. There;s a beach within walking distance that I need to get to by 7:30 in the morning in order to get in at all due to all the out of staters.
Different kind of destination here with different issues:

Pre-covid tourists kept the area businesses comfortably busy except peak weeks. There's a few weeks, one coming up, where you don't want to need groceries, prescriptions or common attractions.

There's a VBRO behind us that's normally booked, occasionally there's a alcohol fueled idiot but they generally pass out quickly due to altitude.

Our neighborhood is developed but the national forest is just over the cliff. The one that got me was two guys hunting elk down in the canyon last fall. Houses dot the canyon rim and walking trails are all over the place. Our neighbor, packing her two small children on her hip, walked past them shortly before we did. Perhaps 20 years ago you could shoot something besides houses or humans down there; not anymore.
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Old 03-06-2021, 02:50 PM   #112
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One more- are family and or friends nearby to make visiting easy?
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Old 03-06-2021, 02:59 PM   #113
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I remember when we were looking for our retirement home the real estate agent found a nice one for us. However when I looked at the map I realized the motor speedway was not that far from it! The noise from
those speedways travels for miles. No thanks!

The rental house we were in before we moved wasn’t far from one and it was very difficult to sleep at night.
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Old 03-13-2021, 11:27 AM   #114
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I recommend walking the neighborhood at morning rush hour and evening rush hour (although they might be diminished right now) and during morning school bus pick-ups. Is the school bus pick-up at the end of your driveway so kids (mostly a middle school issue) wander around (and push and fight and run and drop trash) in your driveway and yard for 30 minutes while waiting for the bus? And also during Friday and Saturday night evenings (at a minimum) when the party houses will show up.
I never considered that. Thanks; added to my list.
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Old 03-13-2021, 11:28 AM   #115
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I've noticed a theme here of suburban considerations (HOA, neighbors) and rural (well water, lots of land to avoid neighbors messing it up), and very little mention of urban.

NateW - are you looking at suburban/subdivision, rural/big lot subdivision, or urban? IMO the considerations can be very different for the three types of locations.
All of the above, except urban.
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Old 03-13-2021, 11:36 AM   #116
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Airbnb party houses.

I never thought about it until the million dollar home next door (in rural Montana) turned into a party house. Weddings, bachelor parties, you name it. Its 3800 square feet and the rent it to large groups. Ask around and search airbnb.com, vrbo.com, etc. There is huge income to be made. This is growing like wildfire. Our neighbor averages $450 a night and its booked about 50% of the nights. Never thought it would happen here but we are 18 miles from a great ski area with no accommodations, and on a blue ribbon trout river.

Also I would want to talk to the taxing authorities to see if my sale would trigger and new taxes or a reassessment.

And barking dogs...

Good luck!
Thank you Troutnut1. This is one of those things you never think of until it happens, making your life hell. I hope you can get resolution to this and peace and quiet soon.

We're moving because of another issue, also one we never even thought existed: being bathed in vile wood smoke 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the 5 months of heating season.
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Old 03-13-2021, 12:26 PM   #117
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Wow, it's amazing to read this thread and see how many things could be a problem! Nearly everything one could think of has already been mentioned.

When I bought this house, I had already "researched" the neighborhood in a sense; Frank lives next door, and had for 11 years so I been over there nearly every day and knew all about the neighborhood (and liked it). Another factor that I discovered is that the joy of living next door to one's sweetie can compensate for some fairly minor stuff.

I guess I can contribute the idea of thinking about the landscaping, and how much it may cost to change it to the yard you want. My yard was literally a jungle, very unkempt with several of the most gigantic water oaks around plus scads of other trees and bushes not to mention wildlife. I am more of a "nothing but grass" kind of gal. I knew I'd have to have the jungle removed in order to be happy. So, I mentally added my own estimate of the cost to have all that removed, to the cost of the home when deciding on my offer. Then right after I moved in I had the yard re-landscaped, re-graded, and new dirt and sod brought in, not to mention all new concrete work, and so on. That was costly but worked out nicely, because it was an expected expense and I got what I wanted.

Think about the laundry room; is it too small? New, oversized HE washers and dryers can be larger than washers and dryers that people bought 50 years ago. In my case the dryer door hits the wall when less than fully open, and it's impossible to get my laundry cart past the dryer to the washer. We figured out a makeshift way to deal with the problem, sort of. I could tear down walls but this is easier. It would have been nice if the laundry room had just been a foot wider.

Are there plans to re-do the street? That can go on for months or years and could be annoying. They were tearing up our street when I moved in, and it was tricky to get the moving van to my house. But they finished just a week or two afterwards so I haven't had to deal with it since then.
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Old 03-13-2021, 02:47 PM   #118
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In addition to all the great advice:

There was a rental a quarter mile away, nice older couple lived there until they didn't.While later State police came by asking to observe the drug house from our property; they were there mostly at night.

Same house was thirty miles from Whiteman AFB, no problem once in a while you would see a B2. Then there was an operation where they were bombing from MO, the JATO units at 2AM were a novelty at first.

I think I posted about our annual snow geese invasion but it should be expanded to all wildlife, make sure you understand what's around you. My dog has an escort at all times after watching a large mountain lion stroll through the neighbors yard. Bears crap in the yard. DW was attacked by a wild turkey, her fault, don't try to chase unknown baby birds.
Thank you MRG. Something has been crapping in our back yard and not being an excrement expert, I have no idea what animal it came from. It's from something larger. We do have bears in the area.

All great stuff.
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Old 03-13-2021, 03:17 PM   #119
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Five pages in, I'm starting to wonder whether this checklist is getting so long and detailed that no home on Earth will ever pass the inspection!

How about moving to NYC? Every type of noise, hazard, neighbor, and other potential or existing problem will be right there at your front door 24/7 and there'd be nothing you could do about any of it except bask in the din of a perfectly imperfect living situation!

I'm a perfectionist too and wish the perfect home were out there. It's not. If there is one for the moment, it will change eventually and the perfect will become imperfect or worse. Only a matter of time.

Maybe just find a nice town or city and settle down. Find enough activities to keep you busy so you're not obsessing about every little thing. Health hazards like wood smoke and poison water are worth worrying about, but with the rest, take the bad with the good. This is a hard lesson to learn. I'm still trying every day and failing fairly often.
Very good advice Ramen. I think I started out trying to find the perfect location and house, and it's futile, and I'm beginning to realize that. I also had the impression most retired people knew exactly what they wanted and then obtained it. And that for some reason I was not able to do that. I used to think I did not know what I wanted in terms of a house or location. But now I'm beginning to realize I want what most of us probably want: A safe location; relatively close to grocery stores, doctors, hospitals, restaurants, and the arts; an area that has clean air and water; is quiet; and has people I can socialize with, and perhaps has an above average number of retirees. Adequate housing to select from would be nice too. I've also come to realize some of the things I want are mutually exclusive.

But after moving into the house with the 24-7 winter wood smoke problem, I'm being very cautious. But you are right, I need to concentrate on the items that if missed, would require a move. If I try to eliminate the small issues, I would spend a very large amount of time researching and may eliminate everything I am interested in.
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Old 03-13-2021, 03:21 PM   #120
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It seemed inconceivable to me as necessary when I bought my home. but check gun laws for the county if you live in a non incorporated area. Having people shooting guns on their property ant time of the day or night is not pleasant. Add the holes in my roof from bullets..... oh my.
Thank you msanniee. Where I live now, I'm surprised I have not experienced this.
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