Information needed, may buy this house

bobblehead_2008December 31, 2008

Hi, I am a single parent of a 'tween', and am finally able to buy a very small house (maybe-- if my offer is taken). Its very small--800 sq ft-- but a relatively unscathed 1906 simple interior-- meaning the hardwood floors are okay, and the molding is good. Its in fairly decent condition for the price range. The neighborhood is quiet.

On the flip side, it has really ugly white vinyl siding, so I cant see the condition of the wood siding underneath (it also has a layer of shingles). I didnt get a good look at the basement, which was REALLY tiny (enough space for the furnace, water heater, and w/d) because there was no light, and we had no flashlight (but plan to go back).

The hardwood floor in the LR/DR slightly bow up-- is this a structural problem?? Thats my really big concern!!

Another question is: the shape of the exterior is really odd, anyone have any idea of style? (I guess I am having trouble posting the pic-- can anyone help with that?)


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ok, trying a link:

Here is a link that might be useful: the house

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 7:30PM
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I'm sorry I can't answer your questions, I'm in the process of buying a mess of a house so wrong person to answer anyway but... I wanted to say that I think that house would be very homey and pretty with roses out front.

Did you already put an offer in? Has it had an inspection? I'm not sure where it is or what sort of issues are common in the area.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 8:57PM
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I can't be real helpful, either, but I would echo the suggestion of an inspection. Yeah, a good one is a few hundred dollars, but it can save you thousands and a lot of grief. The inspector also should be able to answer your questions about the floor.

As for the style, it would be helpful to see the floorplan of the house. Does the floorplan give any clues as to the style of the front? The picture you supply looks like many I've seen in the neighborhoods of Minneapolis/St. Paul (the Northstar MLS watermark is a tipoff, too :-) Very frequently, these houses have been added onto. I would not be surprised if there originally was a porch on your house which was later enclosed for more usable space.

One more thing: the amount of paper on the front door (and inside the porch?) indicates this is a foreclosed property. Is it? (I just closed on one of those myself.)

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 3:53PM
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is that water damage along the front of the porch?
tell us more when you go back, and best of luck.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 4:03PM
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DEFinitely get an inspector, and one that is referred by a few people (and not just by your agent, for instance). Old homes are notorious for rotting foundations, bad plumbing, out-of-date (and even dangerous) electricals, plus roofs that need replacing yesterday. Don't 'just' get something because you've decided you want to do it and can now afford something, anything, as the mkt's down. Better to wait til you can get something less risky, with better chances for resale even if only in 10-15 yrs. because an old house (never mind one that small) is only getting older, however 'cute' it might seem to you now. The less experience you have buying homes, the more you need to rely on things being at least a certain basic standard (e.g. no more than 25 yrs old - and they all seem to need new roofs at that age), or things which at least have modern 'systems', never mind cosmetics. It's one thing for you to do your own painting, etc., another to be stuck with thousands of dollars worth of fixes that may be more, in the long run, than the house is worth.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 8:10PM
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For one thing, It's a cute little house, and could be made into a doll house. Looks like it has an outbuilding?

This style house was particularly typical in my locale as 'company' housing. IOW sometimes factories of that era would build housing to accommodate their employees and rent it out to them so they'd be close-by to work. They then were sold when the companies went defunct and the whole lot of them were referred to as the "Shoe factory addition" for example.

I just sold a home in that size range, and my daughter and I did all the updating on it and believe it or not, if you get them at the right price, they're in a clean or transitioning up location, and you have a good handle on how much their needs are going to cost, you can do well on them and they are fairly liquid assets on the real estate market in bad times, because they can be very easily worked on, because of their size.

The lack of a full basement would be the most obvious limiting factor on a home this small. The basement in tiny homes, if it's full........clean........and dry and with good foundations can double your functional room, supply much needed storage and work areas and help sell your house down the line.

I went into mine already having new wiring, a slate roof not in need of repair, and newer plumbing. I knew I'd be replacing the heating plant, putting gutters to it, and doing lots of plaster repair, cleaning, and painting. I could afford to put a higher quality material into it since it was a small home than I may have put into a large one. I could reach any part of the house on a ladder myself, both in and out of doors. The taxes were minuscule and so were the utility bills. When I put it up for sale, there were five other houses on the same street with realty signs on them, and mine sold and the other five still have signs on them almost a year later. So there are people out there who want these types of homes.

My biggest concerns on a house this age would be 1) asbestoes. Not because it freaks me out, but puts the kiss of death on a house unless you abate it. When you said it had shingles, do you mean over the siding on the house itself? If so, are they asbestoes? 2) wiring and entrance boxes! A new entrance box on this house could cost as much as new wiring. Roof leaks. Chimney condition. I put in a high efficiency furnace in mine, so it could be vented through the foundation wall, but you'll find a lot of people just ran gas HWH and furnace out the same chimney and it was against code in the city where I owned. Codes issues. Termites, especially on a vinyl over wood home where you can't see the siding condition. Old pipes (water pressure issues), expensive to fix with old metal pipes. Dampness or flooding issues. Mold issues. Foundation crack issues. Whether the house is insulated and how well. How good are the windows, and do they function and have storms or screens.

None of these are insurmountable obstacles. They are more important, however, than how cute a house can be. You just really need to know beforehand exactly what you are getting into, and know which need to be addressed first and being sure you have the money and/or ability to address it. Don't ever assume you will just deal with any of these issues as they come up down the line. If it's a coding issue, tax issue, safety issue..........all things come to a halt and you throw money at them before anything else gets done or sometimes before you can even move into it. You WANT to know each and every possible pitfall, and be sure it's something you can handle. This is very important. If it's a home where they don't let you do an inspection first, (like in a sheriff's sale situation) or perhaps a bank owned, if they won't do an inspection, pay for it yourself. If they won't let you do that, take somebody who knows this stuff (and well) when you go look the next time, and don't be in any hurry to leave. If you cannot check some issues like whether you can even run water, then assume you'll have to fix it, whether that is the case or not.

But, you have already made an offer? It may be too late to write that stuff into a contract?

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 8:55PM
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I think it can be a very cute cottage for you. BUT, do not consider buying it until a complete inspection has been done. Trying to finance structural repairs could put you in a real pickle. If you can't afford the inspection, don't buy the house. I would ask the sellers to pay for the inspection, but leave the choice of inspectors to you. Find one that is really knowledgable about old homes.

Good luck to you,

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 11:05AM
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Asking price, $49,000! I am knocked out by the thousands of homes available in the Twin Cities for less than $100K.

Unless you're sure what you're buying, this can end up a mini-moneypit.

Get a good inspector. Or consider something a bit more substantial and newer.

Here is a link that might be useful: 530 Charles Avenue

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 12:37PM
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As always, be careful to ask questions about the location. worthy, yes, there are low priced homes here in the Twin Cities, but like the one you posted they are often in pretty run down and crime ridden areas. That goes a long way in explaining the low price.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 2:50PM
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Bowed flooring is usually a sign of water damage which could also have caused mold. You should suspect water damage wherever possible in a house that appears to have been neglected or unoccupied. When they warm up and get cosmetic treatment they can fall apart. The basement will tell you a lot but have it inspected on a warm day or with the heat up full if possible. Ask the inspector to check everything for moisture content.

Don't buy any house without a contingency fund for repairs.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 4:19PM
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