Seller won't budge, the deal is off. Were we wrong?

glassapplesMay 4, 2011

So we are moving soon and found a house we absolutely love. We were going to sign a contract for only $5k under asking and we agreed to pay our own closing. Well today we got an email that there is asbestos on the ducting, but seller will not have it removed unless we raise our offer to cover the expense. This is just not sitting right with me. The house will already need several thousand in other updates/repairs(new kitchen w/new wiring, new appliances, new furnace, etc). He's been on the market 90+ days so I can't understand why he won't budge. Granted the market there is pretty stable, but in this economy you never know when it will turn.

I'm really heartbroken about this whole thing, but I don't want to be taken for a ride either. Sigh.

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Obviously the seller has figured out that you love the house and is counting on you paying what he wants. The ball is in your court! You aren't wrong, but neither is the seller.

If the price you agreed to is already above market value, then it might not be worth it with all the repairs you mentioned OR it might be a fair price. We don't know your area, so we can't make that call for you.

Will you always regret not living in this house? Is getting the house worth another $5k, $10k or whatever the extra cost of the asbestos removal?

If the market is slow in your price range, you might be able to walk away now and the house might still be available in a month or two, when the seller might be a bit more flexibke. But if the house might appeal to others, just like it did to you, then someone else might also make an offer.

Isn't buying a house fun!! Not!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 7:25PM
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UNLESS the asbestos is peeling, crumbling or falling apart it is NOT a danger. Disturbing it will cause more problems than if left alone.
You need somebody who specializes in old houses to look at it. HI's (Home inspectors) are not well versed on this type of thing and often scream fire to cover their butts when there are more rational solutions. Simply having it wrapped in plastic is often enough to keep everyone safe and happy and it's a lot cheaper than having to remove it and dispose of it properly.
Why not see if wrapping it isn't a better option and offer to split the cost?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 7:45PM
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Maybe the seller has same opinion as above poster and thinks it is a waste of money to do this and figures you can pay for it if you want to do it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 7:49PM
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Frankly, as a seller right now, we have our home listed as low as we possibly can go. We will be bringing money to the table and getting a loan from the second lien in order for the deal to close. To go any lower for us, is just not possible. We refuse to wreck our credit with a short sale, so if a buyer doesn't buy it at this list price (we reduced it $45,000) AS IS, we will just rent it out for a year. So, it may just be that the seller is at his "absolute lowest price", as well. Good luck! I hope it works out for all parties involved!!!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:12PM
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Chispa, The price we agreed on is slightly above comps, especially condsidering the amount of work it needs. The market is very slow, but stable. Houses in decent shape & price correctly seem to go 120 days. You might be right. He must know we absolutely love the place since we have not walked yet. We've been going back and forth for several weeks now. There are a few comps that already have the upgrades we are wanting to do for about $20k more. He has not made any reductions in price since coming on the market, so we'll see.

Carol, I was the one that inquired if the tape was asbestos. I understand that it is not a danger unless friable. The kitchen and bathroom almost certainly have asbestos linoleum and that is just fine. The problem with the tape is it's not in the best shape, although it doesn't appear to be friable at this time, and the location. The ducts are directly above what I hoped to have turned into our childrens playroom.

Kellyfoota, from the feedback we have received I don't feel that this seller's situation is at all similiar. The house has been in his family for many decades and he hasn't even lived there in almost a year. I get the impression he wants a certain price for this house & is sticking to it. We were sellers last year, so I know what you're going through! Not fun.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:50PM
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Also, do you have an actual estimate of what the asbestos abatement will cost? We just did this for our house last fall, and (in a very expensive labor area!) it was only $1K for the abatement (plus a bit more to run the new ducts, but that part was trivial). This might cost more for a bigger house or a multiple-story house (ours is only one floor and the ducts are accessible), but I can't imagine it would be *that* much more. For me, that wouldn't be enough to be worth losing a house over---but if you're in a lower cost area, it might represent a bigger chunk of the home's value. (It also wouldn't be enough to be worth losing a buyer over, either---I wonder if getting some estimates and presenting them to the seller would get some movement? He might think it's much more involved/costly than it actually is.)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:06PM
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Hi Artermis,

We did get an estimate and it was around $1800, which in the big sceme of things is not a big deal. The main problem is, it's been one issue after another. One big example is the electrical service looked sketchy. So after having an electrician out to look at it, we find out some of the fuse boxes are a fire hazard! He agreed to fix only some of the problems, but only with a higher offer.

We have not even got to the inspection and can only imagine what that will turn up. I can't see him agreeing to split the costs on anything that needs to be fixed if he won't even budge on $1800 to remove the asbestos. He is definitely not priced at the fixer upper level, which is what this house seems to be turning into. We were under the impression that it was move in ready, but that is not the case at all. If we knew all the work it needed, we would have never viewed it, but we did and fell in love and have tried to work with the seller. Maybe our expectations have been too high?

I hope this makes sense. It has been a very emotional couple of weeks. :(

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:06PM
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The whole premises of him agreeing to fix things as long as you agree to pay more would be a bit insulting to me. I think I would turn and walk myself, but that of course depends on how much you like the house/neighborhood, and whether you personally are willing to go along with sharing the expenses. I realize the seller may be trying his best to keep as much of his money as possible, I guess that is only human nature. When I place an offer, I base that price on the condition of the house, and I factor in whatever repairs that are obvious. "Surprise" repairs that the house inspector may find that you were not aware of, or maybe you thought weren't such a big deal (such as the asbestos) would surely fall into the category where the seller pays for everything, with no increase to house price. I agree asbestos is better left alone than to mess with it - same for lead paint - but at the same time, the presence of that in itself would make me want to steer clear. I am really not trying to talk you out of your house. If you truly love it, and feel it is right for you, by all means pursue it. Just be careful not to let your emotions be in control of your money.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:21PM
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I would walk. He'll be begging you to come back in September. I would never accept that nonsense.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:46PM
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You haven't got the inspection yet? What if that shows up more stuff? What will you do then?

Are you getting a mortgage? Do you have an appraisal contingency? You said that the price is slightly above comps already. If you raise the price any higher you may run into an appraisal problem.

In the grand scheme of things, $1,800 is not that much money. But it sounds like there are more problems to come with this seller.

In hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea to get all the inspections/repair estimates together at once and then present the entire package to the seller. He's probably getting annoyed thinking that you have a "deal" and then you keep coming back and asking for more concessions.

Your agent may have to remind his agent that if you walk, he will still be obligated to disclose the problems to any other potential buyers.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 6:04AM
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"The whole premises of him agreeing to fix things as long as you agree to pay more would be a bit insulting to me."


This is a business deal, not a feel good exercise.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 9:15AM
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you "got an email" that there was asbestos in the ducting? Email from whom? And you say that you haven't had the house inspected yet, but you say that you had an electrician look at it?

Have you bought a house before? I'm confused as to how you're approaching this transaction, and if I was the seller with the information you've provided I wouldn't be too keen to work with you either. I would want a solid contract with a standard inspection contingency, but it seems that you are trying to go back and forth over each item you believe changes what you feel the house is worth as you think of it.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 11:01AM
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How old of a house is this? Is it in a neighborhood of old houses?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 11:14AM
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Revamp, I'm not understanding your point. Our realtor informed us about asbestos ON the ducting in the form of tape after we inquired if it was in fact asbestos or not. We had an electrician out a couple weeks ago after initially viewing the house and realizing the electric was extremely inadequate. This has all been done with the expressed consent of both realtors & the seller. It's not like we have been sneaking in contractors to look at the place. We are doing due diligence and want to be fully aware of everything that needs to be done. If you have ever had a home inspection done, you would know they do not go into specific details of repair & I have never seen one that will confirm asbestos. They almost always recommend getting a second opinion from a licensed contractor.

So while we may have done things a bit backwards, i'm not exactly sure what difference it makes. In fact, I have read several times on this board to get opinions from licensed contractors & skip the home inspector altogether because many times they miss things or have the wrong information. Due to the age of this house & the repairs needed, there is NO WAY I'd go on a home inspection by itself.

We have raised our price 3x to date, not once has the offer been lowered to offset a repair. So what we feel the house is worth has actually changed very little. What has changed is the realization that we can not keep raising our price if the inspection turns up another major repair. If that makes us horrible buyers, well I honestly don't know what to say.

In any case, after sleeping a couple nights on it, we made one last ditch offer that would cover 1/2 the cost of asbestos removal. I hate that is has come down to this last issue, but it is what it is.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 9:33PM
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You have raised YOUR price every time you found something else wrong with the house? And now you are going to pay half of the asbestos removal? That usually isn't the way it works. It really sounds like you have fallen hopelessly in love with this house, and are now blindly moving ahead at all costs. When you keep finding more things wrong with a house, you come to a point where you realize it is a bad investment and just walk away, or the seller REDUCES his price or pays for all repairs himself to entice you to remain interested. Sounds like this seller has you exactly where he wants you. Please be careful here. I would hate for you to overpay for a lemon. Maybe you can take the same money you are willing to spend on this particular house and find a comparable one that doesn't need so much work?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 11:24PM
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To be clear, most house purchase transactions go this way (disclaimer--each transaction can be unique and there may be regional differences)

1. Buyer looks at houses
2. Buyer finds house they are interested in bidding on
3. Buyer may look at this home once, or a dozen times before placing an offer--I think the most common is twice
4. Buyer submits a formal written offer outlining the price they are willing to pay, and sometimes including contingencies such as: financing (i.e., The deal is off if I can't get a 30yr fixed loan for less than 6%), inspection (i.e., If faults are found in the home the seller does/does not have the right to fix them, and failing to come to an agreement on repairs may render the contract void), appraisal, and less frequently these days, a sell the buyer's home first contingency.
5. The contract usually lays out the timeline of these events (i.e., buyer has 10 days from contract date to complete the inspection, 30 days from contract date to secure financing)

So, what should have happened, speaking from my experience, is that you submitted a formal written offer (within a contract with the above items in it). During your "inspection period", then you could have any and all experts you're willing to pay to come through and give you opinions and quotes. It doesn't have to be simply a home inspector.

After all of your inspections, you gather the information and decide if what you know now changes what you think the house is worth (changes your offer). If so, you tell the seller that X electrical issue needs to be resolved, as well as Y plumbing issue and Z roof issue. If the seller is unwilling to make those repairs himself, then he can either give you a credit at closing for those items, deduct some agreed upon amount from the offer price, or tell you to go take a hike. If you as a buyer to not agree with whichever decision the seller makes, then you you walk away, the contract is void due to the inspection contingency.

As a final word of advice--with nearly all home repairs or appliance replacements it ALWAYS better to get a credit or at least an amount off the contract price rather than have the seller fix it. The seller is only motivated to do something in the cheapest way possible, using the cheapest materials possible to get the sale over with and move on. As the new owners that just made a sizable investment, your choices in labor and parts will be made much more carefully than someone who just wants to do a job "good enough" because they are moving out.

hope that explains a little more why many people here keep asking you WTF you're doing. :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:57AM
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How frustrating for you.

I think I kinda agree with revamp. You might have had more negoating power for repairs once you were under contract rather than before. Once under contract, I think many sellers are going to more willing to fix issues or give credit rather than lowering the sales price upfront. The buyer *thinks* he has set the price to reflect the current condition of the house.

But, I understand your point of view too in that you want to fully know what you're getting into before you make an offer. If you have time, you could try going under contract with this guy. But I think you'd have to accept the very strong possibility that he'll end up being too difficult to work with. Just depends on how much you want the house.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:31AM
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"In any case, after sleeping a couple nights on it, we made one last ditch offer that would cover 1/2 the cost of asbestos removal. I hate that is has come down to this last issue, but it is what it is."

Huh? It hasn't "come down to this" - you are just forcing it to end this way. Half the cost of removal is a couple hundred bucks. It is a totally inconsequential amount to scuttle a deal over. A fair price +/- $900 is still a fair price. An unfair price +/- $900 is still an unfair price.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:44AM
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If you have children or even yourselves, think of the health issues in this house. You need to reevaluate your postiton and possibility look at other homes. It sounds like you will have to put more into the house than it is worth. Why do you "love" it??? Location, schools etc. As we have built and remodeled homes, I see way too many dollars going out even with the inspections you have had. One other thing. will you be able to insure it or even finance it.
Personally I would pull out and look around a bit more.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 11:02AM
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"asbestos on the ducting"

"If you have children or even yourselves, think of the health issues in this house. "

The simple presence of asbestos is NOT a hazard unless it is friable or releasing fibers.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 1:17PM
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Carol - The house is from the 1930s. The neighborhood and a good chunk of the town is about the same age. It's a beautiful area.

Revamp - I understand and agree with you. We did not plan on things going this way, but when we realized the electric needed major work we decided to find out to what extent rather than wasting 3-4 weeks of everyone's time waiting for the home inspection timeframe to come up.

I honestly hadn't gave getting a credit much thought. I think we will ask for that for the asbestos removal and anything else that might come up at inspection(if we make it that far!). That probably makes it easier on the seller as well since he wouldn't have to cough up money now, when closing may never happened. Good advice, thank you! I wish our realtor would have brought that up.

Maurenemm - Very frustrating! I'm positive it has been equally as frustrating to the seller and i'm trying to understand things from his point of view. I think he had no idea the electric was in such a bad state and I know he didn't know about the asbestos, unless he was lying?! The house has obviously been very well taken care of and loved, it just hasn't had any updates since it was built, it appears :-).

Billl - I can't disagree with you and it probably sounds absolutely crazy to everyone, but we had to draw the final line in the sand so to speak. My husband and I are both mentally drained. We need to have closure one way or another, and i'm sure the seller does too!

Marie - the presence of asbestos by itself didn't scare me and was really never the issue, it was more of who is going to pay to fix it and how. As long as it's handled properly I don't have a problem with it. We are moving to a very small town, so the real estate market is pretty limited. I would guess 90% of the houses we have seen come to the market in our price range are older. The location is probably the top reason, but I honestly love the house as well. We could move to a town about 5 miles away instead, but the property taxes are also 3x as high, so that needs to factor in as well.

We should know by Monday if we are proceeding with this house or not! *crossing fingers* Sorry to anyone I may have been short with. This has been a very emotional experience, perhaps more than it needed to be. I keep telling myself in 2 months it will all be over, one way or another.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 3:03PM
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As a side note--I completely missed that you were working with a Realtor. With all of the "unusual" steps taken so far during this transaction I assumed you were forging ahead by yourself.

Understanding now that you are working with a Realtor, let me be clear that he/she has NO IDEA what they are doing. If you haven't signed a buyers agency agreement please fire them. If you have signed an agreement, please contact their broker/office they work for and have another agent assigned.

Realtors get paid to guide you through both finding a home and negotiating and completing the purchase. They are paid because of their very specific knowledge and skill set (of which your agent shows NONE). They should be able to navigate the home buying process (from offer to contracting to negotiating to closing) blindfolded and one handed. PLEASE find another agent, that is my heartfelt and very serious (and experienced) advice for you.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 4:20PM
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It's a little too late to fire the realtor - if they really deserve to be fired in the first place. If they go back to the seller with a different realtor, the seller may be even more aggravated and just tell everyone to get lost. If the sale still goes through, realtor number 1 and realtor number 2 are going to be in a nasty fight to see who gets the commission.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:52PM
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Ravamp - I'm not sure, our realtor was from a referral and she has been in the business a long time. I believe because he is not living there, having contractors out was not a big deal. It was going to have to be done regardless and the sooner the better, in our view. In hindsight, it was actually favorable to him to have things go in the order they did, because he did not have to take his house off the market during this time. He could have taken another offer at any point.

In any case, Cas66ragtop is right, I wouldn't want to risk killing what is left of this deal by frustrating the seller further. The bigger issue though, we are flat out of time. If this deal falls through we will end up renting, mostly likely for a few years.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 10:01PM
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I wouldn't let this deal die just because of a few thousand dollars unless you are way over your price range already. I'll tell you, as a seller, I hate when people use inspections to renegotiate a price. When I put my house on the market, it is what it is. I fix whatever I'm going to fix, or not, and price it accordingly. Maybe your seller feels he did the same thing. You said he's a little over the comps but you also said the taxes are a lot lower. That's valuable. And it sounds like he doesn't HAVE to sell it. He's probably figuring he'd rather sit on it than "give it away." On the other hand, as a buyer, I have to admit I expect deals in this economy. When we were trying to buy an old Victorian that needed a ton of work a few months ago (before we lost our own buyer), we tried to get a better price but could barely get the seller to budge. We finally agreed to pay close to her asking. In the end, I had to go by what it was worth to me and not worry that I didn't get one of those great bargains you hear about out there. That seller was not fixing or crediting me for squat. I can't buy the house now because my house didn't go to closing and I'm heartbroken. Sometimes there are more important things than a few thousand dollars.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 11:47PM
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IMHO, you are getting taken, and the seller is wrapping you around your finger. I would have walked long ago. This is a buyer's market. There's no reason to put up with such silliness.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 1:05PM
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LoveInTheHouse - I'm so sorry to hear about your house not selling! We sold last year and it was very stressful. I'm trying to decide what has been more stressful so far.

He can sit on it if he chooses, but he may be sitting on it a long time. I just checked and he's been on the market for 103 days. I believe the market is telling him he's overpriced, not just us. I joked with my husband that our latest offer will be declined and he'll end up lowering his price right after we find somewhere else to live. That's how our luck always is :-)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 5:37PM
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It seems that you are infaturated with this house and keep on talking yourself into a worse deal.

Is it possible to find another house equally wonderful sooner or later? - "The house is from the 1930s. The neighborhood and a good chunk of the town is about the same age.It's a beautiful area"

Why do you put yourself under such a pressure? - "If this deal falls through we will end up renting, mostly likely for a few years."

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 5:43AM
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If it is really the only home in the entire town that will work for you, and you will have to rent for several years if this deal does not happen, then I know what I would do. You will not overpay for it... you have an appraisal contingency in the contract. You will spend much more money paying someone else's mortgage in rent, than you will repairing the ductwork.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 6:00AM
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"IMHO, you are getting taken, and the seller is wrapping you around your finger."

If the price has already taken into account any problems no one is "getting taken."

There is no way to tell from the simple description of the asbestos if it requires removal (or if it is conclusively asbestos).

Many older houses contain asbestos in a number of uses.
Some can be more problematic than others, but for the most part encapsulation in place remains the preferred method and NOT actual removal.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 9:51AM
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How long have you been looking for a house to buy? (How savvy are you about what's available and *value*?) Have you ever owned a home? (What do you know about ownership costs?) Have you added up the costs to re-do electric, buy new HVAC, remodel the kitchen (and baths?), etc.? How's the roof? The foundation? Are there a lot of old trees? How long has the house been vacant? Has it been heated? No plumbing troubles?

I'm getting the idea you are buying 'charm'. OK, and 'location' is always a biggie, but this won't work if you can't afford to revamp the whole house.

In my town 103 days on market is *nothing*. What's the median DOM there?

Instead of telling us the cost of repairs, could you tell us what percentage of the price of the home they represent? (A few thousand isn't memorable on a million dollar home.)

Re: Low taxes. Would you be paying the same taxes, or has the assessment been lowered by some factors, like 'senior discounts'? (Or, "I know a guy who knows a guy"?) Why are taxes lower on this house than on its neighbors?

DO you have a mortgage approval clause in your contract? I'm thinking it could save you from yourselves. lol

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 12:06PM
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Azmom - "Is it possible to find another house equally wonderful sooner or later?" Not in our price range and not with low taxes, although who knows what will happen in the future :). There have been a few foreclosures that would have been perfect for us, but those go extremely fast. Basically by the time we were able to contact our realtor to put an offer in they were sold.

Chisue - We have been watching the market in this area for about a year now. Those are all things we plan on going over with the inspector. We had the electric & asbestos priced out because those were obvious problems. We will have a HVAC contractor out if we make it to inspection, as we want to change from oil to gas heat. We have owned before, new construction, which had a ton of problems considering it was a brand new house! We were also slightly house poor with that house, and will not make that mistake again!

DOM, from what i've noticed over the past year, vary greatly. For our desired price range, they seem to sell very fast IF they are in good condition. I'm sure our realtor could give more specifics about it. I have seen a lot of price reductions recently though, so maybe the market is starting to soften more?

Total repairs, unless something else pops up, will be around 10-15% of the price of the house. Taxes are lower because it's in a different state than the comps we have been looking at.

Brickeyee - You have me second guessing if removing it is the best option. We want to go with removing it because it is starting to look worn, although not friable, and the location. I just saw encapsulating it as kicking the can down the road. We are NOT touching the ducts inside the walls, assuming they have asbestos as well.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 9:37PM
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"I just saw encapsulating it as kicking the can down the road. "

If it is encapsulated correctly it is very much permanent.

The ceiling of Dulles International Airport has asbestos flocking.
When they decided to double the size of the main terminal removal was NOT an option.
The whole place would have been closed for years and very likely contaminated by removal.
The asbestos was instead sprayed with resin to lock it on place, and then the new portions had flocking applied using safer material to match.

Even the EPA has admitted that in the vast majority of cases encapsulation is preferred (after they spurred school system nationwide to wast billions of dollars on removal).

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 9:33AM
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Ahhh! I feel better for you now. lol So much anxiety was coming through on your posts that I worried you were 'a babe in the woods'.

So...taxes are lower because we're talking about two different states? Often lower taxes translate to poorer schools, since that's where a lot of the money goes. Do you have children who would attend public schools? Not a concern?

You're saying total *repairs* would be 15% of the price of the house. Does that include the new furnace and kitchen? I'm asking because unless a house is 'historic', it's easy to put so much into remodeling that you'd never recoup it.

New houses can be better or worse than old ones. How 'tight' is this house? Insulation? Windows?

BTW, why is the house on the market? (You indicated the seller doesn't live there.)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 10:27AM
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Chisue brought up a good point, the tax is low now, but once you remodel the house, once the tax break is no long there (such as senior discount), once the house changing hand (to you), will it still have low tax?

" There have been a few foreclosures that would have been perfect for us, but those go extremely fast. Basically by the time we were able to contact our realtor to put an offer in they were sold." - It seems you either have an imcompetent realtor, or you have not fully utilized the realtor's talent yet.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 10:44AM
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Something else you need to check into since it is in an area of older homes. If it in a historic district you are very often limited as to what you can do to the house. There are restrictions on everything from paint colors to the type of materials you use to fix or repair the outside and in some cases even the inside of the house.
Much depends on the individual historic district.
I'd make darn sure before I bought that if the house is in a historic district just what the rules and regs were. They may not be something you can live with comfortable. Many folks find it very restricting and try to get around it only to find out that the historic district has more power than they anticipated and end up selling soon after purchase.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 12:28PM
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Is it remotely possible that the seller has found another buyer willing to pay more that his realtor is unaware of? This is exactly how the seller of our house behaved after being told by family members that she should have priced the property higher (we offered what we felt was a fair price based on the condition of the house and the offer was accepted straight away). She was hoping that by refusing to fix things we would walk.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 5:59PM
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"The house has been in his family for many decades and he hasn't even lived there in almost a year."

This is your problem, Glassapples. This kind of seller may be one of the hardest to work with, because he/she has no incentive to bargain with you. Owners who have inherited property from parents or family members often have very little, or even zero, costs associated with the house -- especially if Mom & Dad left a bit of cash to cover taxes and repairs. Consequently, they are disinclined to see the disadvantages of the home in realistic terms and are all about making as much pure profit as possible. If you end up in contract with this seller, I think you should be prepared for a tough time.

When we were looking to buy two years ago we focused our search in a small city where prices were flat and where there was a good-sized inventory of small, affordable homes from the 1920s - 1960s. What I realize now is that many of these older and smaller homes change hands because the initial sellers die off and no one from the second generation wants to go back and live in their childhood home. Instead, they plan to sell the property off and share the proceeds. The problem seems to be that this type of seller often sees the sale as a windfall, not as a business deal, and they won't budge from the imagined value they've placed on the home. We viewed several properties with 'off-premise' sellers offering horror-homes for nutty prices -- like the one home that was filled with dead flies covering the pink wall-to-wall carpet, or the closets that held porta-potties and molting mink stoles. We saw one -- a small 1 & 1/2 story built in 1935 -- that could have been the right place for us, with some work. The hardwood floor in the liv. room stank of cat pee, however, and the small kitchen hadn't been updated since 1979. The selling agent explained that the husband and wife who raised their family there had both died and the kids were selling it (my heart sank when I discovered Dad's well-worn moccasins tucked in a cubby on the stairway down to the basement... son and daughter had overlooked them when cleaning the house out, along with two truckloads of trash in the basement.) We asked her if they were firm on the price, because it reflected a house of that vintage in top condition, with new appliances, a new roof and nore modern bathrooms -- in other words, about $20,000-30,000 more than the fixer-upper was worth. The agent said no, don't even bother making an offer much below asking -- apparently the house had been listed for three months already and the sellers were 'holding out' for their price.

Not long after, we found the house we were looking for, at a very good price, and we live there now.

About a year later, I found myself in the same part of town and drove up the hill to see the little Colonial with the shaggy camellias and the old man's moccasins on the stairs. The place looked shabbier than ever. It was empty, and a new agency's "For Rent" sign stood out front in the uncut grass.

The moral of this story is: beware of a buyer with nothing to lose and everything to gain. From you. If he/she has got the house you want, then you may willing to deal. But as you yourself have pointed out, so far, you're the only one negotiating.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 10:52PM
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I can only give you my experience. I bent way too far over when buying a house. Seems like your situation & the seller knew that we loved the house & and we gave in and in and in. The realtor (of course) encourage this as he wanted to get to close. Even after 3 years, I wish that we had walked away. (I doubt the seller would have gotten any one else to pay what we had paid). I do love the house, but I'm reminded constantly that we really got the starch beaten out of us in the process. There's a house on every corner.
Good luck

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 2:34PM
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Sorry about my lack of replies, it's been very hectic as we're getting ready to move in another week! Thank you for all the very thoughtful replies.

Well, we did not agree on a final price so we are not getting the house. There was just too many things that needed to be repaired and we are NOT in the market for a fixer upper at this time, especially with 2 very young children. The house was no longer 'feeling right' to me as much as I love its character :(.

I think we will just rent for 6+ months and reevaluate the market and what we want to do at that point. Chances are we will stick with whatever rental we end up with, since I HATE moving lol.

Thanks again everyone!!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 1:19PM
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It sounds like you have made a good decision. Later on down the road you will have gained more experience in looking for what you want. You might print out these ideas and keep watching the forum to help out. You might keep a notebook on ideas, suggestions etc.
Good luck

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 2:33PM
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Thanks for not leaving us in suspense! Hope you will feel all settled into your new rental soon.

Susan -- I'm going to remember your line, "There's a house on every corner." It makes a good Stop (slow down) sign.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Thanks Marie! We are feeling much better about things. In fact, we just put a deposit down on a rental, which is also a historic gem, except it already has all the updates done.

Thanks Chisue! This move has been about all the stress I can handle lol. A week ago I was feeling utter despair, but now I'm actually excited about moving.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 10:55PM
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