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-   -   What are the Not-so-Obvious Things to Research Before Buying a Home? (https://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f29/what-are-the-not-so-obvious-things-to-research-before-buying-a-home-108157.html)

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!


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