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NateW 02-27-2021 06:54 PM

What are the Not-so-Obvious Things to Research Before Buying a Home?
 
DW and I are looking to buy a new home in a new geographic area and I would like to know what are some of the not-so-apparent items that should be researched and/or looked into prior to purchase. I want to develop a checklist I can use to lessen the likelihood of purchasing a home that has issues, and/or selecting a location that is problematic.

I approach our house hunt with some apprehension because a year after I ER'ed, DW and I bought our current home (in a new geographic location) and have lived in it a little over 2 years. Now we have to move because of a completely unanticipated situation that makes it impossible for us to remain in our home; and I thought I did diligent research prior to purchase. If you are curious as to what the issue is, I posted about it here: https://www.early-retirement.org/for...do-106989.html. I don't even think renting in the area for a year would have helped in our situation because the problem is confined to specific location within a specific neighborhood. We can't afford to make a similar mistake again.

Please reply with, once you have identified a potential new home, what you would research and look into prior to hiring a home inspector and making an offer. Thanks.

P.S., one I important item I came up with following the experience with my current home is this: Look at the sales history of the properties nearest to the one being considered (access this information via the County/City online property records). View at least 15 property records. Something is amiss if the majority of them have recent sales. (If I had done this before our current home purchase it would have prevented the problem requiring us to move, because we would not have purchased our home. 9 houses in a row, ours being in the middle, changed ownership within the previous 2 years. Many of the other 100 houses on our street were still owned by their original owners and just a very few homes had recent sales. A cluster of recent sales won't reveal the specific serious problem, but it will tell you there probably is one!

I have also discovered Google Maps Satellite and Street Views are your friend. These views can reveal all kinds of undesirable things in the neighborhood and around a potential home. Online pilots' maps are another good resource I have discovered (I never knew so many local airports exist; they seem to be located every 15 to 25 miles in the suburbs.)

Ready 02-27-2021 07:21 PM

I talked to the neighbors who were living in nearby homes when we bought our home 20 years ago. They were pretty honest in giving me the highs and lows of the neighborhood and they were pretty accurate with everything. But no matter how much due diligence you do, you can always end up with a bad neighbor that annoys you. Our next door neighbors when we moved in were a retired couple with no kids. They sold a few years later and the family that bought the place had five young boys. Our homes are only six feet apart so there was no escaping the fact that things were going to change.

You could also try creating an account on Nextdoor.com and see what the neighbors are chatting about. You would have to give a fake address to do so but since you would only be using the account to view comments and not contribute anything I don’t see any harm in doing so.

NateW 02-27-2021 08:50 PM

Thank you Ready; I'll add talking to the potential neighbors to my list and look I to setting up a Next Door login for properties we are really interested in.

RxMan 02-27-2021 09:12 PM

We are looking for homes in our area. Weíre considering new construction so part of our research process is researching the potential builders. One floor plan really stood out to us until we looked up the builder and found several negative reviews.

We will walk around potential neighborhoods to get a feel for what they are like as far as noise levels and traffic. We also asked for a copy of HOA covenants for the neighborhoods weíre seriously considering. I donít want any surprises there.

You can get an inspection on an existing home. Also look up the tax rate and assessment value for tax purposes so youíll know how much youíll pay in property taxes.

We donít have kids but we also research the area schools. Better schools impact resale values.

We also ask about adding a fence if there isnít one already. We have dogs so that is a feature we look for in a potential home purchase.

If you are moving to an unfamiliar area there are lots of resources online to look up crime statistics etc. There are also real estate agents that can provide detailed market information for the local markets you are considering.

I understand the importance of getting this kind of big purchase decision right based on your individual needs. We are finding that our local housing market is extremely hot right now. Everything is being bought up at quite high premiums.

Good luck to you. Iíll be following this thread to see if others have good tips.

clobber 02-27-2021 09:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NateW (Post 2568941)
9 houses in a row, ours being in the middle, changed ownership within the previous 2 years. Many of the other 100 houses on our street were still owned by their original owners and just a very few homes had recent sales. A cluster of recent sales won't reveal the specific serious problem, but it will tell you there probably is one!

Whats the problem?

Ramen 02-27-2021 09:25 PM

So sorry about that wood smoke problem. I read through your other thread. I had a similar problem 10+ years ago and ended up selling. I had a brand-new home with excellent windows and seals, yet the smoke still seeped in. This was in a very rural area, and in my experience such places seem to draw people who want to live their own way regardless of neighbors.

In my case, the stove smoke was not the only factor. Another neighbor built a motorcycle racing track on his private acreage across the road. I'm pretty sure I will never live in the county again.

Wherever you are shopping, no amount of sleuthing and research will eliminate the risk of buying. As Ready notes above, neighbors and other factors can shift on a dime after you've moved in. My smoke problem cropped up about five or six years after I moved in. The racing track a little before then. Homeownership is speculation on many levels, and if you're not up for the gamble, you might consider leaving the casino, at least for a while.

Do you have to buy at all? Could you rent for a while even if in your current situation it would not have helped? I've been renting happily for a decade after many years of ownership. I thought it was going to be temporary while I acclimated to a new region, but it has stuck. Not saying I'll never buy again, but it would have to be a pretty special deal.

If you really cannot afford to make such a mistake again, you should rent for a while no matter where you end up.

tb001 02-27-2021 09:25 PM

In a new geographic area I would also spend time researching any issues specific to that area. Eg radon, flooding, etc...

Every buy is a bit of a crapshoot with neighbors, but knocking on doors and chatting can unearth a lot of them. Also just sitting in your car and watching at various times of the day.

Free2030 02-28-2021 12:08 AM

I would second Ramen's suggestion of renting first. What's the rush to buy something when you are in a new geographic area? I would rent for 6-12 months first and get a feel of the area and make friends who can tell you about the neighborhood character, events, history, etc. Get on a neighborhood list serve if they have one. For Nextdoor you need a physical address and it's verified thru the postal service, so it's not easy to join without moving there or knowing someone, but maybe there's a neighborhood Facebook group. By the time you're ready to buy, you may even email the list serve to see if you can get leads before houses come on the market to beat the rush. I see my neighbors do this. Good luck!

Katsmeow 02-28-2021 01:04 AM

A couple of things to add. These aren't exhaustive but are things that I don't always see mentioned.

1. If your house has an HOA read the restrictions. Read all your deed restrictions. We used to have dogs that needed a 6' fence. Come to find out that not all subdivisions allow 6' fences. There are a lot of things that restrictions may require or forbid and you don't know it if you don't read them. I actually often read these before even deciding if I will go and look at the house. Often my agent can get them from the other agent or they are available online. At least around here, you get them after you under contract and they are in the title report but I tree to get them early if I can.

2. Read the ordinances on any issues that you care about. Ordinances can change but you can sometimes get an idea from them of what things the City things are important and you can get an idea of what the rules are now.

3. I always look to see when the house sold before and if there are pictures online of the house from the prior sale. When we bought our current house I found at, I think, realtor.com the pictures from when the owners bought the house and some earlier pics they did with a prior agent. These were all interesting to look at to see what had been updated on the house and how it looked before updating.

4. I look up the tax history of the house and see how taxes have changed and if there is anything that indicates the house has been remodeled. That isn't a bad thing just curious to see changes over time.

Renting in a new area is a good idea. We sold our house in another city and did a short term apartment rental in the new location while we were looking for a house. Even though I had grown up in the same county things had changed a lot and doing this was helpful.

Accidental Retiree 02-28-2021 07:46 AM

All of the above are good suggestions. I especially understand about dogs and fencing. Realtors have often been surprised when I ask about HOAs and fences but also # of dogs.

The wrong answer will be the dealbreaker for us.

Also, when we were looking to move into a new neighborhood, I went into the Costco, the mall(s), and the nearby grocery stores to see whether I’d want to shop there. If I didn’t like the local stores I’d be using, that had a bearing on whether I’d want to buy in that neighborhood.

USGrant1962 02-28-2021 08:10 AM

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.

Surewhitey 02-28-2021 09:20 AM

Some of ours are:
Don't live downhill from a non-guttered home (lots of water in the crawl space even if you have a French drain.)
Check out the noise map
Check crime map
Sex offender map
Knowing how many rentals are in the area
Maybe walking the neighborhood in the evenings?
Asking people who you see on the walk?

NateW 02-28-2021 09:21 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by RxMan (Post 2569019)
We are looking for homes in our area. Weíre considering new construction so part of our research process is researching the potential builders. One floor plan really stood out to us until we looked up the builder and found several negative reviews.

We will walk around potential neighborhoods to get a feel for what they are like as far as noise levels and traffic. We also asked for a copy of HOA covenants for the neighborhoods weíre seriously considering. I donít want any surprises there.

You can get an inspection on an existing home. Also look up the tax rate and assessment value for tax purposes so youíll know how much youíll pay in property taxes.

We donít have kids but we also research the area schools. Better schools impact resale values.

We also ask about adding a fence if there isnít one already. We have dogs so that is a feature we look for in a potential home purchase.

If you are moving to an unfamiliar area there are lots of resources online to look up crime statistics etc. There are also real estate agents that can provide detailed market information for the local markets you are considering.

I understand the importance of getting this kind of big purchase decision right based on your individual needs. We are finding that our local housing market is extremely hot right now. Everything is being bought up at quite high premiums.

Good luck to you. Iíll be following this thread to see if others have good tips.

Thank you RxMan. I'll add your several good suggestions to my list.

One thing DW and I discussed is finding an area in NC (we live in the north part of Virginia) and moving there, renting for a year and if we like it, have a new home built. Lake Norman area is one we are considering, or near Asheville. As for Asheville, looking around in Google Satellite View clued me in on this massive papermill due west several miles (in Canton NC), which led to this street view I posted. Further research reveals many environmental issues with this papermill and the sulfur smell does affect the Asheville area.

NateW 02-28-2021 10:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by clobber (Post 2569023)
Whats the problem?

It's explained here:
https://www.early-retirement.org/for...do-106989.html

SnowballCamper 02-28-2021 10:40 AM

Good Luck. We've got a neighbor that burns wet wood, not yet annoying enough to make us move though. If we ever do move it will be either to a place in the country where we can't see or smell our neighbors, or maybe a retirement community.

NateW 02-28-2021 10:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ramen (Post 2569025)
So sorry about that wood smoke problem. I read through your other thread. I had a similar problem 10+ years ago and ended up selling. I had a brand-new home with excellent windows and seals, yet the smoke still seeped in. This was in a very rural area, and in my experience such places seem to draw people who want to live their own way regardless of neighbors.

In my case, the stove smoke was not the only factor. Another neighbor built a motorcycle racing track on his private acreage across the road. I'm pretty sure I will never live in the county again.

Wherever you are shopping, no amount of sleuthing and research will eliminate the risk of buying. As Ready notes above, neighbors and other factors can shift on a dime after you've moved in. My smoke problem cropped up about five or six years after I moved in. The racing track a little before then. Homeownership is speculation on many levels, and if you're not up for the gamble, you might consider leaving the casino, at least for a while.

Do you have to buy at all? Could you rent for a while even if in your current situation it would not have helped? I've been renting happily for a decade after many years of ownership. I thought it was going to be temporary while I acclimated to a new region, but it has stuck. Not saying I'll never buy again, but it would have to be a pretty special deal.

If you really cannot afford to make such a mistake again, you should rent for a while no matter where you end up.

Thank you Ramen. You raise some good points I have not considered. This makes me feel better knowing now it's a gamble no matter what I do (I am beginning to think I've been attempting to eliminate all risk. You are right, I can't.) Renting would the pressure off finding the perfect house in the perfect location.

P.s. I have since discovered the smoking house 400 feet away has a neighbor across the street who heats solely with wood too, doubling our misery.

NateW 02-28-2021 10:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tb001 (Post 2569026)
In a new geographic area I would also spend time researching any issues specific to that area. Eg radon, flooding, etc...

Every buy is a bit of a crapshoot with neighbors, but knocking on doors and chatting can unearth a lot of them. Also just sitting in your car and watching at various times of the day.

Thanks tb001. I'm adding "Spend time sitting in car in neighborhood and observing".

savory 02-28-2021 10:59 AM

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.

NateW 02-28-2021 11:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Free2030 (Post 2569062)
I would second Ramen's suggestion of renting first. What's the rush to buy something when you are in a new geographic area? I would rent for 6-12 months first and get a feel of the area and make friends who can tell you about the neighborhood character, events, history, etc. ...

Thanks Free2030; that sounds like a good plan.

NateW 02-28-2021 11:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Katsmeow (Post 2569069)
A couple of things to add. These aren't exhaustive but are things that I don't always see mentioned.

1. If your house has an HOA read the restrictions. Read all your deed restrictions. We used to have dogs that needed a 6' fence. Come to find out that not all subdivisions allow 6' fences. There are a lot of things that restrictions may require or forbid and you don't know it if you don't read them. I actually often read these before even deciding if I will go and look at the house. Often my agent can get them from the other agent or they are available online. At least around here, you get them after you under contract and they are in the title report but I tree to get them early if I can.

2. Read the ordinances on any issues that you care about. Ordinances can change but you can sometimes get an idea from them of what things the City things are important and you can get an idea of what the rules are now.

3. I always look to see when the house sold before and if there are pictures online of the house from the prior sale. When we bought our current house I found at, I think, realtor.com the pictures from when the owners bought the house and some earlier pics they did with a prior agent. These were all interesting to look at to see what had been updated on the house and how it looked before updating.

4. I look up the tax history of the house and see how taxes have changed and if there is anything that indicates the house has been remodeled. That isn't a bad thing just curious to see changes over time.

Renting in a new area is a good idea. We sold our house in another city and did a short term apartment rental in the new location while we were looking for a house. Even though I had grown up in the same county things had changed a lot and doing this was helpful.

Thank you Katsmeow; very helpful. I'm adding "Look for previous sales listings and pictures of house being considered."

In Virginia if buying in an HOA neighborhood, the buyer must sign an acknowledgement that they have received and read the HOA Rules & Covenants.

My neighbor told me he wished he had studied the plat of his property (this and the plat of the neighborhood is something I now always try to review before even seeing a local property) before buying. If he did, he would not have bought his house because of a berm along the back fence and a "do not build line" 20 feet back from the berm and noted on the plat, preventing him from installing an in-ground pool.

Yes, I now know to read the local ordinances. Oddly, our County nusiance ordinance should protect me from the current situation requiring us to move (it's enforceable through the health dept.), but the County Health Department, Environmental Affairs Div. is completely ignoring my complaint, filed with professional grade air quality sensor data showing the gravity of the situation. Their supervisor lives one street over from me in my neighborhood and has admitted to me on the phone he is aware of the issue, but yet I get no other response. So I have learned ordinances have to be taken with a grain of salt, so to say.

Ramen 02-28-2021 02:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NateW (Post 2569308)
Thank you Ramen. You raise some good points I have not considered. This makes me feel better knowing now it's a gamble no matter what I do (I am beginning to think I've been attempting to eliminate all risk. You are right, I can't.) Renting would the pressure off finding the perfect house in the perfect location.

P.s. I have since discovered the smoking house 400 feet away has a neighbor across the street who heats solely with wood too, doubling our misery.

Once you acknowledge and accept that you cannot eliminate all risk, you can take another approach: accepting and embracing the risk.

The first home I ever bought was the only one I looked at and involved less research and deliberation than I would have done before buying a toaster. It simply felt right in my gut, so I bought it. A few years later, some neighbors decided to go off the grid and I had to listen to their generator nearly 24/7. So in the gamble of homebuying, even the best jackpots can turn sour.

My next house, the one with the smoke problem like yours, also involved a lot of intuition but also more research and due diligence. Like the first house, it was great for a while -- until the wood smoke and other issues developed.

Life is a fluid experience, subject to change at any moment, for better or worse. I just moved out of a rental that was never perfect, even from the start, but that had been getting progressively less comfortable over the past couple of years. I finally made the leap to another rental, which seems much nicer so far.

But since I know nothing is perfect and never will be perfect, I try to embrace, or at least accept, whatever might happen in the new place. The big difference now is that I'm renting, which makes it much easier to shift with the winds if necessary.

I recently considered buying again and changed my mind after doing some research. So it's not futile to do research. Just know its limits and know that ultimately whatever you learn along the way might not apply after you have bought the place and moved in. If you can accept this, you won't set yourself up for quite as much disappointment when inevitably you end up buying a less than perfect home.

If you do opt to rent for a while, I'd suggest at least a year so you can see and experience the new area in all four seasons. Maybe even live in a few Airbnb locations in the same neighborhood, switching every few months, so you can assess the place from different angles. Leave your large items in storage and be serial visitors during the trail period. Just an idea, if you're inclined to take it slowly.

FreeBear 02-28-2021 02:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Surewhitey (Post 2569216)
Some of ours are:
Don't live downhill from a non-guttered home (lots of water in the crawl space even if you have a French drain.)
Check out the noise map
Check crime map
Sex offender map
Knowing how many rentals are in the area
Maybe walking the neighborhood in the evenings?
Asking people who you see on the walk?


Great list!


Regarding water, we always pull the flood maps online. Keep in mind that these are occasionally updated, typically to ENLARGE the flood problem areas. I'd stay as far away as possible to reduce risk of an unfavorable re-classification (and potentially the need for flood insurance) or, even worse, a actual flooding in the real world.

Trulia has crime map well-integrated into their platform. Use with care. Some cities don't report data and this appears as a white blog that covers the exact city outline. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!

We always pull demographic data on the neighborhood level via City-Data and, better yet, statisticalatlas.com as in below example.

https://statisticalatlas.com/place/S...nburg/Overview

You can "profile" based on stuff that you care about. We prefer socio-economic status comparable or better than ours in terms of income. I've lived in enough neighborhoods running downhill to want to continue living that way in retirement.

We also look at school rankings, although we don't have kids, because abysmal schools often correlate with crime, at least in city and suburban neighborhoods we frequent.

We stalk the city-data forum for the area, just to get a feel for local issues. Take with lots of grains of salt, just more data. We did nix a beautiful area in CA due to city-data reports of escalating crime, backed by the crime maps. Beautiful houses were cheap for a reason!! :facepalm:

Ramen 02-28-2021 02:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FreeBear (Post 2569451)
We stalk the city-data forum for the area, just to get a feel for local issues.

I meant to suggest this too. The "data" from forum posts can be quite subjective, of course, but if you get enough replies to a query about an area, you can put them together for a pretty good composite of pros and cons. I would do my own assessment on the ground as well, but the City Data forums are a great place to start.

Palmtree 02-28-2021 03:20 PM

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.

Dash man 02-28-2021 03:31 PM

Check with the zoning office to make sure there arenít any major changes going on in the area.
When you scope out the neighborhood, be sure to check it on Friday and Saturday nights to see if there are any wild parties in the neighborhood causing noise problems. An early morning check wouldnít hurt either.
Look for potential water hazards, especially drainage. Ours was a very high water table flooding our basement twice. A second sump pump resolved the issue, but it was an expensive lesson.
Check to see if the area is prone to sinkholes. We had a rental townhouse that had the parking area sink right in front of the townhouse. The tenant didnít renew the lease. 🤨

Walt34 02-28-2021 03:33 PM

I will wholeheartedly second the advice to talk to the potential new neighbors, that has bailed me out twice. One was in a brand-new development and we were almost ready to sign a contract. On impulse, I said "Let's take a walk around and talk to some of the new owners and see what they think". Boy, did we get an earful! It turned out that the builder had apparently never seen a carpenter's square or had the foggiest what caulking was for, and was very reluctant to fix anything. We just about ran from that place. On another we found out about a "problem neighbor". At the moment I forget exactly what the issue was (long time ago) but I knew we didn't want to live near it.

On the crime level issue, in addition to the online resources I'd suggest going by the local police station and see if you can talk to a few of the officers or desk clerks. They will know the gritty details about any neighborhood. There is a lot of stuff going on in most neighborhoods that don't make the statistics that a new home buyer will want to know about. In my case, before I bought a house and did that, I had to tell the officer where it was (buried in suburban sprawl). I knew that was a good sign, because it told me they never had to go there. I was not disappointed.

Sunset 02-28-2021 03:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by USGrant1962 (Post 2569166)
..

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.

.....

West facing also means the driveway melts clear of snow faster and more often than East or North facing houses, really nice in a cold climate.

Gumby 02-28-2021 03:40 PM

Look at the zoning maps for the area, with all the overlays, in conjunction with a review of the zoning laws. In addition to knowing what you can and can't do with your property, it will also inform you what the neighbors can and can't do with theirs. Like sell to a developer who will put in apartment buildings next door to you if it is not single family only, or start up a dog breeding kennel if home businesses are permitted.

My neighborhood in the center of town was fully developed and filled in by the end of the 19th Century, and it is a designated historic district, so we can be confident that it won't change for the worse. If I were choosing again, I'd live in a place with the same restrictions.

While many people might like a little open space, there are downsides in that adverse development is possible. Who wants to buy or build a house out in the country only to see a new, cheap subdivision spring up right behind your house? So if I wanted more room, I'd look for a place that borders a state or national park, or a cemetery, or private land with a conservation easement. Basically, anything that precludes more development.

Drake3287 02-28-2021 03:42 PM

Two things and one you might laugh at but it's sincere.

1. Decide which direction you want you backyard to face, sun wise. My first house had a west facing backyard and with it came the perfect afternoon/evening weather and temperatures for entertaining and eating outdoors. My current house is in this same subdivision but unfortunately it's faces in the exact opposite so in the afternoon/early evenings it's in the shade. Maybe nice for Palm Springs but generally not everywhere else.

2. Stop at a local store and buy a half gallon of ice cream or cookies and go to the nearest Fire Station in the area your looking at. Ask the Firefighters for their honest opinion of the area your looking at while at the same time asking questions about this and that. You'll totally break the ice with the goodies and these guys will give you the straight scoop. Sounds ridiculous but as a Firefighter it's the real deal and these guys will be more honest than a realtor. You'd be surprised how often this type of thing happens.

Sunset 02-28-2021 03:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Surewhitey (Post 2569216)
Some of ours are:
Don't live downhill from a non-guttered home (lots of water in the crawl space even if you have a French drain.)
Check out the noise map
Check crime map
Sex offender map
Knowing how many rentals are in the area
Maybe walking the neighborhood in the evenings?
Asking people who you see on the walk?

Good list, we could have possibly benefited from seeing when we bought.

Turns out our next door neighbor is a sex offender, so we DON'T socialize.

I'd add to look on maps for Super Sites.
We nearly bought a house near a Super Site, and a few years later there was news items of gas entering the peoples houses, and disease clusters. :o

Walt34 02-28-2021 03:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gumby (Post 2569474)
While many people might like a little open space, there are downsides in that adverse development is possible. Who wants to buy or build a house out in the country only to see a new, cheap subdivision spring up right behind your house? So if I wanted more room, I'd look for a place that borders a state or national park, or a cemetery, or private land with a conservation easement. Basically, anything that precludes more development.

+1

I learned this too, but got the lesson relatively easily. My first wife and I almost bought a new house that we abandoned because of other issues (see above post). Three years later, the nice cornfield a block away was filled with new Section Eight housing. My experience at work was that if anything of any value was left outside, like bicycles, gas grills, and the like in such an area you could pretty much count on it being gone by morning.

Our current house has a nice open area behind us, on the other side of a creek, normally used by grazing cows. They're pretty quiet. About two times a year that nice open area becomes a flood plain so we are confident that it won't be built on, at least not in our lifetimes. The salesman had told us about the flood plain but I went up to the County Planning Office anyway and verified before accepting it.

qwerty3656 02-28-2021 04:18 PM

We lived in a beautiful home that we loved, it just happened to be in line with approach for the airport. We weren't anywhere near the airport, but every 5-7 minutes an airplane would be flying overhead (and they started their decent much further away from the airport than you would think).

USGrant1962 02-28-2021 04:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by qwerty3656 (Post 2569499)
We lived in a beautiful home that we loved, it just happened to be in line with approach for the airport. We weren't anywhere near the airport, but every 5-7 minutes an airplane would be flying overhead (and they started their decent much further away from the airport than you would think).

When I was a kid our house was on the approach to an Army base with Chinook helicopters. They would rattle the dishes when they went over.

FreeBear 02-28-2021 04:53 PM

Loving this thread! Never thought about looking up the zoning map, but I guess I do this indirectly. We tend to buy "inner" units in subdivisions so that are neighbors are somewhat of a "known evil", hopefully better. On the other hand, friends down the street bought an "edge" home a decade ago. So far, no adjacent subdivision has popped up and no gas station or minimart. They have enjoyed a beautiful mountain view over the empty space for a decade and counting. It helps to be lucky!


Just looked at the sex offender map, something I did do before moving in. Dodged the bullet, no trouble near us! Looks like the sex offender map is roughly correlated to the overall crime map, which, in turn, seems loosely related to median income and other socioeconomic markers.

Walt34 02-28-2021 05:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by qwerty3656 (Post 2569499)
We lived in a beautiful home that we loved, it just happened to be in line with approach for the airport.

One of DW's cousins owns a house very close to the Potomac River in MD just a few miles northwest of D.C.'s airport. The airliners all follow the Potomac River into and out of D.C. During a couple of family gatherings there I noticed that it was virtually impossible to hold a normal conversation in the back yard. You have to pause every few minutes for an airliner to go by before resuming. I couldn't stand living there.

braumeister 02-28-2021 05:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by USGrant1962 (Post 2569519)
When I was a kid our house was on the approach to an Army base with Chinook helicopters. They would rattle the dishes when they went over.

Most Air Force bases get noise complaints all the time from new residents about jets flying over their neighborhood. The standard response is "That's the sound of freedom, sir!" :laugh:

braumeister 02-28-2021 05:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Walt34 (Post 2569534)
it was virtually impossible to hold a normal conversation in the back yard. You have to pause every few minutes for an airliner to go by before resuming. I couldn't stand living there.

The house I grew up in was right under the primary approach to JFK airport in NYC (it was called Idlewild at the time). A plane typically went over about every 15 seconds in the evening, and the TV screen went to snow with garbled sound for 5-6 seconds every time. Believe it or not, we got so used to it we didn't even notice. But any visitors would go nuts and ask how we could possibly stand it.

Out of Steam 02-28-2021 06:23 PM

There will always be surprises in buying a house. We moved in 2019, and I think we did our homework, but have had several surprises. None are particularly serious as of now.

1. In house types and sizes, as well as lot size, our new neighborhood looks quite similar to our old one. I think we assumed that the residents would be more similar than they have turned out to be. This may limit our opportunities to make friends among immediate neighbors.

2. The lot has a small slope, with the back downhill of the front and sloping steadily to a small creek. I assumed it would be enough to leave it well drained. After a rainy stretch, the back half of the backyard is almost unwalkable.

3. I have a long-term concern about the county and state's commitment to preserving older neighborhoods such as ours, as opposed to favoring new suburbs. This seems to show up in local infrastructure. On the other hand, we do have a new elementary school.

Out of Steam 02-28-2021 06:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drake3287 (Post 2569475)
Two things and one you might laugh at but it's sincere.

1. Decide which direction you want you backyard to face, sun wise. My first house had a west facing backyard and with it came the perfect afternoon/evening weather and temperatures for entertaining and eating outdoors.

We've moved from a ranch house with the front door facing north to one facing east. Definitely prefer the east-west orientation. We have a long season where we can use our covered, west-facing patio.

rk911 02-28-2021 06:39 PM

buy acreage...my buddy had 40-acres.

two of the things we checked when we were looking to move were restrictive ordinances ( we would never consider an HOA) for radio towers and RV parking.

NateW 02-28-2021 08:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Accidental Retiree (Post 2569151)
....Also, when we were looking to move into a new neighborhood, I went into the Costco, the mall(s), and the nearby grocery stores to see whether Iíd want to shop there. If I didnít like the local stores Iíd be using, that had a bearing on whether Iíd want to buy in that neighborhood.

Good idea, I'll add this to my list, thanks.

NateW 02-28-2021 08:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by USGrant1962 (Post 2569166)
While looking at maps for airports - also consider active railroads.....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.

Good point about railroads. When I was a kid I'd visit my grandfather and he lived half a block from the RF&P mainline. That was enough to convince me that 2 miles would be about right for the minimum distance to a railroad.

I never thought about the orientation of the house as being something to consider, but you are correct, it is. DW can't stand how the morning sun blinds her when sitting on the sofa and likewise in the afternoon in the office. Ours faces east, but that's about to change.

NateW 02-28-2021 09:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Surewhitey (Post 2569216)
Some of ours are:
Don't live downhill from a non-guttered home (lots of water in the crawl space even if you have a French drain.)
Check out the noise map
Check crime map
Sex offender map
Knowing how many rentals are in the area
Maybe walking the neighborhood in the evenings?
Asking people who you see on the walk?

Thanks Surewhitey, I'm adding these to my list.

NateW 02-28-2021 09:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SnowballCamper (Post 2569303)
Good Luck. We've got a neighbor that burns wet wood, not yet annoying enough to make us move though. If we ever do move it will be either to a place in the country where we can't see or smell our neighbors, or maybe a retirement community.

The valley we live in makes our issue worse than it normally would be (about half of the winter days have inversion layers where the air is dead still, especially at night).

We thought about retirement communities, and probably should visit one to satisfy our curiosity, but I think I would go nuts in one because I do all our home maintenance and yardwork (the ones we saw online included exterior maintenance and yard work for a monthly fee). The small lots that many have don't appeal to me. In about 10 years I may have a change of mind, though.

NateW 02-28-2021 09:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ramen (Post 2569424)
Once you acknowledge and accept that you cannot eliminate all risk, you can take another approach: accepting and embracing the risk.

The first home I ever bought was the only one I looked at and involved less research and deliberation than I would have done before buying a toaster. It simply felt right in my gut, so I bought it. A few years later, some neighbors decided to go off the grid and I had to listen to their generator nearly 24/7. So in the gamble of homebuying, even the best jackpots can turn sour.

My next house, the one with the smoke problem like yours, also involved a lot of intuition but also more research and due diligence. Like the first house, it was great for a while -- until the wood smoke and other issues developed.

Life is a fluid experience, subject to change at any moment, for better or worse. I just moved out of a rental that was never perfect, even from the start, but that had been getting progressively less comfortable over the past couple of years. I finally made the leap to another rental, which seems much nicer so far.

But since I know nothing is perfect and never will be perfect, I try to embrace, or at least accept, whatever might happen in the new place. The big difference now is that I'm renting, which makes it much easier to shift with the winds if necessary.

I recently considered buying again and changed my mind after doing some research. So it's not futile to do research. Just know its limits and know that ultimately whatever you learn along the way might not apply after you have bought the place and moved in. If you can accept this, you won't set yourself up for quite as much disappointment when inevitably you end up buying a less than perfect home.

If you do opt to rent for a while, I'd suggest at least a year so you can see and experience the new area in all four seasons. Maybe even live in a few Airbnb locations in the same neighborhood, switching every few months, so you can assess the place from different angles. Leave your large items in storage and be serial visitors during the trail period. Just an idea, if you're inclined to take it slowly.

Thanks again Ramen; very sound advice. Up until this point following my ER, I've been trying to find the "perfect" home and location for retirement. I also was thinking along the lines that this time I need to try harder. I'm coming to realize this is futile and your sound advice puts my mind at ease. I also need to keep in mind that being ER'ed puts me and DW in a much better position to locate a good home and to enjoy life. I should also keep in mind how fortunate we truly are not having to wo*k to pay the bills. I forget these things sometimes.

NateW 02-28-2021 09:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by savory (Post 2569318)
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.

Now that you mention it, a large percentage of the houses we have looked at online are in neighborhoods without sidewalks. And these are 2005 and newer $400k to $500k houses. Sidewalks are important to me too, but I never really gave it much thought.

I agree with you on the need to not live near to high voltage power/transmission lines. I didn't know they could be noisy, though.

NateW 02-28-2021 10:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FreeBear (Post 2569451)
Great list!

Regarding water, we always pull the flood maps online. Keep in mind that these are occasionally updated, typically to ENLARGE the flood problem areas. I'd stay as far away as possible to reduce risk of an unfavorable re-classification (and potentially the need for flood insurance) or, even worse, a actual flooding in the real world.

Trulia has crime map well-integrated into their platform. Use with care. Some cities don't report data and this appears as a white blog that covers the exact city outline. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!

We always pull demographic data on the neighborhood level via City-Data and, better yet, statisticalatlas.com as in below example.

https://statisticalatlas.com/place/S...nburg/Overview

You can "profile" based on stuff that you care about. We prefer socio-economic status comparable or better than ours in terms of income. I've lived in enough neighborhoods running downhill to want to continue living that way in retirement.

We also look at school rankings, although we don't have kids, because abysmal schools often correlate with crime, at least in city and suburban neighborhoods we frequent.

We stalk the city-data forum for the area, just to get a feel for local issues. Take with lots of grains of salt, just more data. We did nix a beautiful area in CA due to city-data reports of escalating crime, backed by the crime maps. Beautiful houses were cheap for a reason!! :facepalm:

Thank you FreeBear; I really appreciate the Statistical Atlas link. That'll be useful. I do download the FEMA flood maps. I'll look at the Trulia crime maps; I was not aware of those.

NateW 02-28-2021 10:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Palmtree (Post 2569464)
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.

Thank you Palmtree; excellent pointers. I've added them to my list.

NateW 02-28-2021 10:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dash man (Post 2569469)
Check with the zoning office to make sure there arenít any major changes going on in the area.
When you scope out the neighborhood, be sure to check it on Friday and Saturday nights to see if there are any wild parties in the neighborhood causing noise problems. An early morning check wouldnít hurt either.
Look for potential water hazards, especially drainage. Ours was a very high water table flooding our basement twice. A second sump pump resolved the issue, but it was an expensive lesson.
Check to see if the area is prone to sinkholes. We had a rental townhouse that had the parking area sink right in front of the townhouse. The tenant didnít renew the lease. 🤨

Thank you Dash man, I have added these to my list.

NateW 02-28-2021 10:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Walt34 (Post 2569470)
I will wholeheartedly second the advice to talk to the potential new neighbors, that has bailed me out twice. One was in a brand-new development and we were almost ready to sign a contract. On impulse, I said "Let's take a walk around and talk to some of the new owners and see what they think". Boy, did we get an earful! It turned out that the builder had apparently never seen a carpenter's square or had the foggiest what caulking was for, and was very reluctant to fix anything. We just about ran from that place. On another we found out about a "problem neighbor". At the moment I forget exactly what the issue was (long time ago) but I knew we didn't want to live near it.

On the crime level issue, in addition to the online resources I'd suggest going by the local police station and see if you can talk to a few of the officers or desk clerks. They will know the gritty details about any neighborhood. There is a lot of stuff going on in most neighborhoods that don't make the statistics that a new home buyer will want to know about. In my case, before I bought a house and did that, I had to tell the officer where it was (buried in suburban sprawl). I knew that was a good sign, because it told me they never had to go there. I was not disappointed.

Thank you Walt34. I've added "contact local police department regarding crime in the potential new neighborhood.

NateW 02-28-2021 10:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sunset (Post 2569471)
West facing also means the driveway melts clear of snow faster and more often than East or North facing houses, really nice in a cold climate.

Thanks Sunset, good point. Ours faces east, but that's about to change.

Out of Steam 02-28-2021 11:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NateW (Post 2569607)
Good point about railroads. When I was a kid I'd visit my grandfather and he lived half a block from the RF&P mainline. That was enough to convince me that 2 miles would be about right for the minimum distance to a railroad.

Depends on how much train traffic. We're just less than that away from a track that has four short freight trains a day. We can hear them, but they have no real impact on our lives.

That is a very realistic minimum for a set of mainline tracks, though.

rk911 03-01-2021 12:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by braumeister (Post 2569536)
...Believe it or not, we got so used to it we didn't even notice. But any visitors would go nuts and ask how we could possibly stand it.

i believe it. the UPRR tracks are 125í +/- from our rear deck. we love the house. the view from the deck is a federally protected wetland. the house is on a U-shaped 3-street neighborhood so the only traffic are residents, people coming to see them or people who made a wrong turn. our house is on a corner and is set back much, much farther from the street than our neighbors. oak trees galore on our lot and the adjoining lots. the only downside are the RR tracks. but after 33-years we hardly notice them but it can be amusing to see the reaction to folks who arenít used to trains.

Blue531 03-01-2021 04:22 AM

What I am about to say isn't something to research but it's something that I didn't give much thought to when I purchased a home but wish I had in retrospect. We get so excited when we are buying but we often don't realize that we have more leverage that we think. The reason being is that most of the time when we are buying, we don't have to buy but the seller is usually under pressure to sell. Not always, I know but think about it, the seller is selling for a reason. It's a big decision to sell so by the time they do, they're ready to go. Maybe to a new job in another state. Maybe to a bigger house because they need more room. Or maybe someone died and the heirs need to sell. The buyer has the advantage most of the time to get a better price. Try not to overlook that due to excitement over the new purchase.

Music Lover 03-01-2021 09:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sunset (Post 2569471)
West facing also means the driveway melts clear of snow faster and more often than East or North facing houses, really nice in a cold climate.

I have a SE facing house in a very cold climate. It's nice to have the sun shining into the living room on a cold day....and in summer the hot sun later in the day has moved past the window so it doesn't heat the house up as much. However, many people in hot climates may prefer a north facing living room.

Orientation is also a factor when designing outdoor spaces. If the only place you can build a deck or patio is on the south it can be unusable in the summer without built in shade.

NateW 03-01-2021 09:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gumby (Post 2569474)
Look at the zoning maps for the area, with all the overlays, in conjunction with a review of the zoning laws. In addition to knowing what you can and can't do with your property, it will also inform you what the neighbors can and can't do with theirs. Like sell to a developer who will put in apartment buildings next door to you if it is not single family only, or start up a dog breeding kennel if home businesses are permitted...

Thank you Gumby; I've added this to my list.

Along these lines, a couple days ago DW Googled the name of a neighborhood of a house we were interested in seeing. The search returned an article that said the home builder in this neighborhood had received approval to add 200 more homes (there are about 75 now) and work will begin in the fall. That cooled our interest!

NateW 03-01-2021 09:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drake3287 (Post 2569475)
...?Stop at a local store and buy a half gallon of ice cream or cookies and go to the nearest Fire Station in the area your looking at. Ask the Firefighters for their honest opinion of the area your looking at while at the same time asking questions about this and that. You'll totally break the ice with the goodies and these guys will give you the straight scoop. Sounds ridiculous but as a Firefighter it's the real deal and these guys will be more honest than a realtor. You'd be surprised how often this type of thing happens.

I never would have thought of this, very clever. Added to my list, thanks!

NateW 03-01-2021 10:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sunset (Post 2569477)
.....I'd add to look on maps for Super Sites.
We nearly bought a house near a Super Site, and a few years later there was news items of gas entering the peoples houses, and disease clusters. :o

Very good advice. I actually did this when over the summer I accidentally discovered (I was looking on the County real estate assessments site to see if our increase was inline with houses around us) several houses in a row on our street (ours was in the middle) changed ownership within the last 2 years.

In the town where I grew up there was a 30 plus storage tank petroleum products distribution terminal. It was several miles from our house. Residents living next to the tank farm (happened to be a very upscale neighborhood) began smelling gasoline and diesel fumes in their basements and then upper levels. The storage tanks were leaking their contents. That was one big superfund site and just about bankrupted the terminal operator!

NateW 03-01-2021 10:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by qwerty3656 (Post 2569499)
We lived in a beautiful home that we loved, it just happened to be in line with approach for the airport. We weren't anywhere near the airport, but every 5-7 minutes an airplane would be flying overhead (and they started their decent much further away from the airport than you would think).

Here is a link to the (unofficial) pilots' map (aeronautical charts) of the United States that identifies all known airports and other hazardous areas. I still am learning how to read it.

VFRMAP - Digital Aeronautical Charts

NateW 03-01-2021 10:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Walt34 (Post 2569534)
One of DW's cousins owns a house very close to the Potomac River in MD just a few miles northwest of D.C.'s airport. The airliners all follow the Potomac River into and out of D.C. During a couple of family gatherings there I noticed that it was virtually impossible to hold a normal conversation in the back yard. You have to pause every few minutes for an airliner to go by before resuming. I couldn't stand living there.

I can identify. When I wo*led, we lived in Northern Virginia, 16+ miles south of Reagan National Airport. Not as bad as you describe, but bad enough on certain days. Then at some point several years ago, the FAA allowed National Airport air traffic to approach more directly over the local neighborhoods and ours was one of them. It got more annoying after that!

NateW 03-01-2021 10:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Out of Steam (Post 2569572)
There will always be surprises in buying a house. We moved in 2019, and I think we did our homework, but have had several surprises. None are particularly serious as of now.

1. In house types and sizes, as well as lot size, our new neighborhood looks quite similar to our old one. I think we assumed that the residents would be more similar than they have turned out to be. This may limit our opportunities to make friends among immediate neighbors....

This is my concern and one reason we thought about 55+ communities (but were turned off by the small lots and the possibility of being the youngsters in the neighborhood). Not sure how to research how friendly the neighbors would be.

NateW 03-01-2021 10:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rk911 (Post 2569577)
buy acreage...my buddy had 40-acres.

two of the things we checked when we were looking to move were restrictive ordinances ( we would never consider an HOA) for radio towers and RV parking.

My next door neighbor did just that, bought several acres in West Virginia and is having a house built.

In the states we are looking in only about 5% of the houses are in non-HOA neighborhoods, probably because they are in newer neighborhoods.

NateW 03-01-2021 02:25 PM

Here are a few of my items
 
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.

Souschef 03-01-2021 02:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NateW (Post 2569817)
Here is a link to the (unofficial) pilots' map (aeronautical charts) of the United States that identifies all known airports and other hazardous areas. I still am learning how to read it.

VFRMAP - Digital Aeronautical Charts

Interesting site. Select sectional instead of hybrid, and enter your state in the search box. I was able to locate the airport 1/2 mile from our home in CA.

rk911 03-01-2021 03:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NateW (Post 2569817)
Here is a link to the (unofficial) pilots' map (aeronautical charts) of the United States that identifies all known airports and other hazardous areas. I still am learning how to read it.

VFRMAP - Digital Aeronautical Charts

to what sort of hazardous areas are you referring or hoping to identify with this chart. these charts, known as 'Sectionals', will show virtually all airfields, public and private, bodies of water, railroad tracks, cities and towns, nuclear power stations and just about anything a pilot flying under visual flight rules would need to be aware of for safety or navigation purposes. other than identifying airfield locations i'm not certain this will serve any useful purpose in identifying undesireable locations.

one thing. you'll notice that each airfield is identified by. 3-character alpha or alpha-numeric ID such as my home field, ARR. you can lookup these airfields to get an idea of what sort of air traffic they serve and how busy they are.

AirNav: Airport Information

doneat54 03-01-2021 03:29 PM

Lots of great suggestions already. Yes, streetview the whole neighborhood.

You might find this website useful. It will show you previous occupants at an address, owners or renters. Used it Googling the names on mail that was being delivered to our 2nd home we bought in 2019.

clustrmaps.com

Finance Dave 03-01-2021 06:26 PM

I am a retired home inspector, sounds like you're going to hire one. Are you talking about a brand new house? If so...

1) Neighborhood covenants
2) Plans for building adjacent (if they will be building for a few years yet, you will have dirt all over your house until they are done)
3) Airport path? May be noisy
4) Don't be the most expensive house in the neighborhood
5) Don't pick a house where adjacent lots slope towards yours...this can cause water in your basement or around your foundation and can lead to all sorts of problems.
6) Does the builder use "contractor grade" mechanicals? Do you have the option of spec'ing your own?


If you want tips on some key house construction techniques I'd recommend, I can give those...but would want to know more about price range and what part of the country you are living in.

Finance Dave 03-01-2021 06:27 PM

...

Bamaman 03-01-2021 08:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NateW (Post 2569632)
Now that you mention it, a large percentage of the houses we have looked at online are in neighborhoods without sidewalks. And these are 2005 and newer $400k to $500k houses. Sidewalks are important to me too, but I never really gave it much thought.

I agree with you on the need to not live near to high voltage power/transmission lines. I didn't know they could be noisy, though.

The longer these postings get, the better the information.

We moved just over a year ago, and we hope this is our final move. Our house is in a small 20 home subdivision that's probably the nicest housing within 5 miles in any direction. We're in the country about 10 miles out of town surrounded by huge farms.

Behind our house 150 yards is a two lane highway. We had no idea that that road would be so noisy, especially late on Friday and Saturday nights.

It seems as if there's not a Mustang or V-8 powered truck in this end of the county that even has a muffler. And when the weather gets warm, out come the Rice Rocket motorcycles drag racing until 2;00 or 3:00 a.m. many nights.

Around 3:00 a.m., many heavy trucks sound like locomotives on the highway behind our house. They're hauling groceries and other consumer goods into retail stores for the day's sales.

And as many have said, it's good that many can filter out familiar noises.

I just wish we had restaurants, doctors, dentists and more restaurants in this quadrant of the county. We have a Publix as the only grocery. But we do have a great Domino's out our back door. We also wish it wasn't 10 miles to the big box stores including Walmart. We are very thankful for Dollar General stores that are 3 miles apart in every direction.

NateW 03-01-2021 08:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Souschef (Post 2569958)
Interesting site. Select sectional instead of hybrid, and enter your state in the search box. I was able to locate the airport 1/2 mile from our home in CA.

Thanks Souschef, I'll give it a try.

HarveyS 03-01-2021 08:24 PM

Look out for a closed/abandoned quarry nearby. You should be able to see this on google maps. Sometimes these get re-opened and blasting & truck traffic become an issue.

Look at the overall demographics of the area. Have the local gov'ts build lots of elementary schools to support the young families moving to starter homes? If so, these schools may be empty in 5 - 10 years. Will a nice walkable school from your house close, leaving young kids to bus to school? And who will be paying for the empty schools? Not an issue for you, per se, but maybe for resale.

NateW 03-01-2021 08:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rk911 (Post 2569974)
to what sort of hazardous areas are you referring or hoping to identify with this chart. these charts, known as 'Sectionals', will show virtually all airfields, public and private, bodies of water, railroad tracks, cities and towns, nuclear power stations and just about anything a pilot flying under visual flight rules would need to be aware of for safety or navigation purposes. other than identifying airfield locations i'm not certain this will serve any useful purpose in identifying undesireable locations.

one thing. you'll notice that each airfield is identified by. 3-character alpha or alpha-numeric ID such as my home field, ARR. you can lookup these airfields to get an idea of what sort of air traffic they serve and how busy they are.

AirNav: Airport Information

Instead of "hazardous areas" I probably should have used "some of the undesirable things near a neighborhood". I was looking at the aeronautical chart for the Richmond, VA area and it identified a coal-fired power plant and other manufacturing facilities and I think quaries and high-voltage power lines.

Yes, I stumbled upon the aeronautical charts when looking up information on regional airports on the AirNav site.

RetireeRobert 03-01-2021 11:44 PM

Check for water pressure and water quality. Look inside toilet tanks to see what kind of residue the water is leaving over an extended period. Flush the toilets and run bath faucet and sink faucets at same time. Taste several glasses of water from different faucets, preferably on different days.

Sunset 03-02-2021 12:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by qwerty3656 (Post 2569499)
We lived in a beautiful home that we loved, it just happened to be in line with approach for the airport. We weren't anywhere near the airport, but every 5-7 minutes an airplane would be flying overhead (and they started their decent much further away from the airport than you would think).

I did that once, it was so LOUD , if you were talking about 6 feet to a neighbor, both of us simply stopped talking and waited for the loudest sound to fade a bit.

Gumby 03-02-2021 08:47 AM

We live about 3 miles from the Sikorsky helicopter plant. After they build a new helicopter, they take it out for a test ride and usually fly right over our house. When that happens, you can feel it as well as hear it. However, it is infrequent, brief and always in the middle of the day, so we don't mind.

NateW 03-02-2021 11:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by doneat54 (Post 2569976)
Lots of great suggestions already. Yes, streetview the whole neighborhood.

You might find this website useful. It will show you previous occupants at an address, owners or renters. Used it Googling the names on mail that was being delivered to our 2nd home we bought in 2019.

clustrmaps.com

Thanks Doneat54. Added to my list. I gave it a try on my ex:coolsmiley:

PoorOldCountryBoy 03-02-2021 12:10 PM

If the next door neighbor is a beginning bagpipe student who is so bad his wife sends him outside to practice. (True story, fortunately a house rental.)

NateW 03-02-2021 12:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Finance Dave (Post 2570064)
I am a retired home inspector, sounds like you're going to hire one. Are you talking about a brand new house? If so...

1) Neighborhood covenants
2) Plans for building adjacent (if they will be building for a few years yet, you will have dirt all over your house until they are done)
3) Airport path? May be noisy
4) Don't be the most expensive house in the neighborhood
5) Don't pick a house where adjacent lots slope towards yours...this can cause water in your basement or around your foundation and can lead to all sorts of problems.
6) Does the builder use "contractor grade" mechanicals? Do you have the option of spec'ing your own?


If you want tips on some key house construction techniques I'd recommend, I can give those...but would want to know more about price range and what part of the country you are living in.

Thank you Finance Dave; very helpful. New construction is not off the table. If we went that way, we would rent while it's being built. Our current house (built by Ryan) has all contractor grade stuff as far as I can tell. Vinyl siding is one notch above contractor grade (and many below top-notch) at 2/1000 of an inch thicker.

NateW 03-02-2021 06:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bamaman (Post 2570116)
The longer these postings get, the better the information.

We moved just over a year ago, and we hope this is our final move. Our house is in a small 20 home subdivision that's probably the nicest housing within 5 miles in any direction. We're in the country about 10 miles out of town surrounded by huge farms.

Behind our house 150 yards is a two lane highway. We had no idea that that road would be so noisy, especially late on Friday and Saturday nights.

It seems as if there's not a Mustang or V-8 powered truck in this end of the county that even has a muffler. And when the weather gets warm, out come the Rice Rocket motorcycles drag racing until 2;00 or 3:00 a.m. many nights.

Around 3:00 a.m., many heavy trucks sound like locomotives on the highway behind our house. They're hauling groceries and other consumer goods into retail stores for the day's sales.

And as many have said, it's good that many can filter out familiar noises.

I just wish we had restaurants, doctors, dentists and more restaurants in this quadrant of the county. We have a Publix as the only grocery. But we do have a great Domino's out our back door. We also wish it wasn't 10 miles to the big box stores including Walmart. We are very thankful for Dollar General stores that are 3 miles apart in every direction.

I can identify with you Bamaman. I'm not sure rural life is what we want. I originally thought so after spending 50 years of my life in the Washington, DC area. I guess the positive thing in our situation is we have a chance to rid ourselves of many of the home and location annoyances, in addition to the big problem that makes life impossible in the house. We live 350 feet from a 4 lane highway with a traffic light. It's a major trucking route and the truckers use their engine brakes all the time to stop at the light. Tomorrow I'm going to see a dermatologist 60 miles away due to our doctor shortage. And health district we are in has made it impossible for DW to get a Coronavirus vaccination (she's in one of the qualifying groups). They have no waiting list, but only online scheduling, which there is nil chance of getting an appointment. Spent hours trying. Then last week I read CVS drugstores are vaccinating and after spending 5 minutes, got DW an appointment and she had her first of 2 vaccinations today (Moderna's).

Man, I hate the thought of moving and at this point don't know where we're moving to and I hope we can move in time to put our house on the market before the fall. It's very unsettling and anxiety provoking, especially on top of the pandemic.

NateW 03-02-2021 10:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HarveyS (Post 2570129)
Look out for a closed/abandoned quarry nearby. You should be able to see this on google maps. Sometimes these get re-opened and blasting & truck traffic become an issue.

Look at the overall demographics of the area. Have the local gov'ts build lots of elementary schools to support the young families moving to starter homes? If so, these schools may be empty in 5 - 10 years. Will a nice walkable school from your house close, leaving young kids to bus to school? And who will be paying for the empty schools? Not an issue for you, per se, but maybe for resale.

Good point about closed quarries. Any quarry nearby is a deal breaker.

Where we are now, there are not enough schools to support the families moving to the area and the county is building new ones. Because of this, our reasonable real estate taxes went up 26% this year! 8% was the increase in tax rate and the assessed value increased 18%. Glad we are leaving on several levels!

NateW 03-02-2021 10:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RetireeRobert (Post 2570178)
Check for water pressure and water quality. Look inside toilet tanks to see what kind of residue the water is leaving over an extended period. Flush the toilets and run bath faucet and sink faucets at same time. Taste several glasses of water from different faucets, preferably on different days.

Thank you RetireeRobert. So noted. That reminds me, I should also pull the water quality report for the public water system (at this point I won't buy a home with well water).

RetireeRobert 03-03-2021 12:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NateW (Post 2570704)
Thank you RetireeRobert. So noted. That reminds me, I should also pull the water quality report for the public water system (at this point I won't buy a home with well water).

You are shy of well water. Perhaps for very good reasons. But we used to live on a municipal water system, and in fact that system drew its water from municipal wells. The water left the insides of our toilet tanks black. And the tap water really did not taste all that good either. It was "hard" water.

We moved about 20 miles south to an acreage and had our own well. When we first tasted the water from our new well, we were so surprised, it tasted so good. "Sweet water". And it tested out as "soft" water and no detectable traces of any of the bad things they look for, easy on the plumbing system, the dishwasher, the sinks, the toilets---and on us!

Finance Dave 03-03-2021 06:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RetireeRobert (Post 2570734)
You are shy of well water. Perhaps for very good reasons. But we used to live on a municipal water system, and in fact that system drew its water from municipal wells. The water left the insides of our toilet tanks black. And the tap water really did not taste all that good either. It was "hard" water.

We moved about 20 miles south to an acreage and had our own well. When we first tasted the water from our new well, we were so surprised, it tasted so good. "Sweet water". And it tested out as "soft" water and no detectable traces of any of the bad things they look for, easy on the plumbing system, the dishwasher, the sinks, the toilets---and on us!

I was a home inspector for 7 years. Some people love well water, some don't. We performed water tests on well water. About 30% of them had Ecoli. It's fairly easy to get rid of, but you should always at least have it tested.

NateW 03-03-2021 08:38 PM

I have to admit I am not happy with the county water (another undesirable we'll soon be rid of). It comes from a limestone aquifer and is harder than some desert municipal supplies. It's hardness is 320 mg/liter calcium carbonate equivalent. We do have an ion exchange water softener and that makes it useable, but I drink bottled water because of the sodium the softener adds.

As for well water, I view it as a potential big homeowner expense if the well was not drilled correctly or the water is contaminated. I'm trying to eliminate as many unknowns as I can. If I really like some of the properties I see, and if they have well water, I probably will learn all I can about well water systems to know what to look for and to make an informed decision.

USGrant1962 03-03-2021 08:49 PM

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.

MrsHaloFIRE 03-03-2021 08:56 PM

I would say the competitive environment for power, water and cable. In my gated neighborhood in a major city I have exactly 1 option for each. So you can imagine my ability to negotiate.

rk911 03-03-2021 09:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrsHaloFIRE (Post 2571298)
I would say the competitive environment for power, water and cable. In my gated neighborhood in a major city I have exactly 1 option for each. So you can imagine my ability to negotiate.

well, there's always DISH Network or DirecTV.

Buckeye 03-03-2021 10:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Surewhitey (Post 2569216)
Some of ours are:
Don't live downhill from a non-guttered home (lots of water in the crawl space even if you have a French drain.)
Check out the noise map
Check crime map
Sex offender map
Knowing how many rentals are in the area
Maybe walking the neighborhood in the evenings?
Asking people who you see on the walk?

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.

vchan2177 03-05-2021 06:57 PM

I actually parked my van near a house that I want to buyon a Friday and slept overnight in my van. This is because the neighborhood is generally quiet during the day when everyone is at work. When people come home, they have parties and you can tell what type of people they are when they do come home. You can also hear dogs barking at night, train noises or airplane noises. Noise is amplified at night so all my houses that I purchased are in a very quiet peaceful neighborhood...which is what I want.

troutnut1 03-05-2021 08:10 PM

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!

MRG 03-05-2021 08:40 PM

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[emoji854].

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.

Ramen 03-05-2021 09:35 PM

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.

msanniee 03-05-2021 09:49 PM

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.

imnontrad 03-05-2021 09:58 PM

Sit down and start brainstorming what you want, and do not want in a home.
Some things to consider is the availability of public transportation, appropriate medical care (and ensure they will take new patients on Medicare), a Senior Center or groups with activities you like to do, places you would like to eat plus grocery stores that carry items you want, distance to an airport to travel/visit relatives, if there is a local college where you can attend events or even take classes for little/no fee.
Some long term things could be a house with hallways wide enough to accommodate a walker/wheelchair, a separate "in-law" apartment for an in-home caretaker or relatives visiting, an entry without steps (for you or friends), and whether the home would be easy to manage after one spouse dies.

Boose 03-05-2021 10:08 PM

We thought it would be great to age within walking distance of the medical area in our city - but we didn't think about the sirens that need to drive past our street all day and night, nor the mentally ill homeless who are discharged from the ER and remain in the neighborhood.

clubmanstl 03-05-2021 10:38 PM

I have to deal with wood-burning smell intrusion, as well: I'm guessing the air intake for my high-eff. HVAC is the source for most of the smoke smell getting in.

NXR7 03-05-2021 10:39 PM

Many people moving into Ohio are greatly shocked because Ohio is one of 17 states that allow cities and counties to levy an income tax.

https://www.thebalance.com/cities-th...-taxes-3193246

But that article does not tell the whole story. It lists Cleveland as 2.5%, which is correct. But if your city has its own income tax they may or may not allow a credit on income taxes paid to other cities.

My city has a 2.0% income tax but only allows a 1% credit. I worked in Cleveland so my combined income tax rate was 3.5% plus the Ohio state income tax plus the federal taxes.

Even better, only registered voters in those communities get to vote on tax increases. When Cleveland increased their income tax the last time, the mayor's ad campaign stressed that 88% of the people who pay the Cleveland income tax do not live in Cleveland so they cannot vote against the proposal.

If you work in multiple communities as, say, a contractor, you need to file an income tax return with every one that has its own income tax for the days you worked in that city.

In Ohio, those local income taxes are only on earned income, meaning W2 income but not investment income.

Ohio also finances the schools through very high property taxes. But some communities have opted to use an income tax instead, some use earned and some use all income.

Ray

NXR7 03-05-2021 10:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msanniee (Post 2572355)
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.

Yup. I live in an incorporated area where that is prohibited. But on the west, south, and east are townships that do allow gun shooting. And they do and there is nothing anyone can do about the noise.

Ray

clubmanstl 03-05-2021 10:51 PM

These aren't not-so-obvious, but important - especially for pre-'80s homes:

1) Grounded/3-prong wiring. A lot of homes have 3-wire covers placed on 2-wire outlets, so buying a tester can save you future headaches - many houses have daunting hurdles to re-wiring them.

2) Look for the possibility of aluminum wiring. Some insurers won't touch homes with it - even if it has been "pig-tailed" by a pro electrician.

3) If buying in an area without basements, a camera inspection of the sewer line is critical. The work to repair a line - when there's no basement floor to dig up - can be a huge hassle.

Happy hunting!

blueskyk 03-06-2021 07:00 AM

What are the Not-so-Obvious Things to Research Before Buying a Home?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by troutnut1 (Post 2572316)
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.



+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.


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