Buying a foreclosure with some repairs ...

random_pupOctober 29, 2008

Dear Forum readers,

My husband and I are first time home buyers and we've lived in apartments all our lives. We are currently looking at a house in Northern California and I am reaching out to you to gather independent advices :-).

We are considering a house that would probably fall into the "fixer upper" category. The house is located in a quiet, nice neighborhood. Early inspections of the house indicate that the house is structurally sound and the roof is fine (except some flashing-related repairs). There are 2 main problems though: (a) two bathrooms have leakage problems that have affected the subfloor, and (b) we observed some mold (source unknown) on one of the closet walls that is also an outside facing wall. Other small fixes, include painting, fixing the lawn, upgrading the kitchen, etc.

Unfortunately, asking the seller to fix any of the above is not an option as this is a foreclosed property. We have an agent but, of course, the decision has been left to us. Naturally, the house is priced slightly lower than the others in the neighborhood, but my initial guess is that additional costs of repairs will bring it close to the neighborhood house prices.

So why should we buy this place?: we are hoping to take on some remodeling projects that will hopefully improve the value of the house. While we are not experienced handy persons, we have no qualms no qualms about spending our weekends working on the house. We understand that we should contact a contractor to fix the subfloor and the initial quotes are a few thousand dollars.

My question is: What would you do? :-) Is fixing a moldy wall and a leaky bathroom feasible fixer-upper projects? How much spending (ball park) are we looking at? Anyone has any similar experience that they are eager to share? Can we push the seller (bank) for credits for repairs?

To RE agents, please don't post replies to fish for new clients (sorry :-)). I am really looking for advice from "regular" home owners and hopefully learn from their experiences.

Thanks much in advance,

Random pup

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Just a note: Northern Ca will always have mold problems. It depends on how close you are to the ocean. Simple mold can be taken care of with paint, and then constantly using bleach to wipe down the areas. Your paint must be the type to seal. It would help if I knew what city and approx how far inland you are. My relatives live in NC and in the winter have to keep the wood stove going to keep the house "dry" Materials are very expensive as are good licensed contractors. If you are in a city, find out what permits you will need. Is there electricty? Water?
Need further information for additional help.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 3:34PM
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Well a leaky bath could mean mold/rot inside the walls, under sub-floor as well so hard to know how extensive that would be as far as cost to fix would be. Unknown until you open it up.

Mold on the wall could mean it was condensation on the outside wall due to low air circulation and high humidity or it could mean there are pipes leaking in that wall, or could be that something has been leaking for a while into the wall from above such as a roof or a bathroom above. No way to know without opening the wall up a little to have a peek.

My best advice would be for you to count on worst case scenarios to fix these items and then see if you still rather have this house vs. another that doesn't have these issues. You might get lucky and it is something simple and cost you less in the end, but for deciding I would assume worst case.

If you can DIY you will save money and just need to figure cost of materials (although I recommend an experienced roofer for the flashing parts). Also you need to figure in that you will living in a state of chaos for a while until you have repaired fixed these as the time to fix will always take longer than you think and you will want some of your spare time to spend on regular hobbies and just relaxing and not just work on the house as well.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 4:00PM
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