Buying a house, need some advice

ben1

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We used JBS Home Inspections out of Cambridge. They were great and I actually got all my money back from issues they found which the seller discounted for. We were actually at the inspections with the sellers realtor and my dad said “you must get nervous at these”. His reply was “Its usually not that bad. Except this one inspector who was a women three weeks ago. My god she found everything. She was great for the buyer though”. Five minutes later our inspector showed up. She introduced herself looked at the sellers realtor and said “were’t you just at the house I inspected a few weeks ago”
 
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We used JBS Home Inspections out of Cambridge. They were great and I actually got all my money back from issues they found which the seller discounted for. We were actually at the inspections with the sellers realtor and my dad said “you must get nervous at these”. His reply was “Its usually not that bad. Except this one inspector who was a women three weeks ago. My god she found everything. She was great for the buyer though”. Five minutes later our inspector showed up. She introduced herself looked at the sellers realtor and said “were’t you just at the house I inspected a few weeks ago”
depends if the contract allows for that. I have a small contingency I allotted in my offer to entice them. I'm buying from an elderly couple and they are looking to go to a somewhat assisted care housing (or so I'm told) and don't want to have to deal with getting things fixed of getting estimates to get $$ clawed back. The house was very well maintained though and the bigger ticket items (roof, driveway, heating system including oil tank) are all relatively new.
 

MisterHappy

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On the 16 yard line, shootin' for the Lewis!
Back in the day, my lawyer just kept saying, "Sign....sign....sign."

"Shouldn't I read it?"

"That's what I'm here for - if I get it wrong, I'm the one you sue." [laugh]

About the survey. Been here 25+years. Last year, the neighbor that was here before us put in a driveway and fence....on my land. We got is surveyed, and at one point, it's 10 feet! Now, it's gettin' fugly.

Survey.
 

GM-GUY

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Home inspectors will miss stuff - as said previously, put on your grubby clothes and go where they go, go in the attic and look for mold, check the basement, do full radon tests and water tests.

READ ALL THE DOCUMENTS YOURSELF - DO NOT TRUST ANYONE ELSE - no matter what you’ll be on the hook first and may be able to get off after years - READ EVERYTHING AT CLOSING. NEVER SIGN UNTIL YOU HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD IT.
 

Shark_Cage

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Couple of thoughts.
Tiger Home inspection sucks, they missed so much f-zing stuff (termites, electrical etc) on my house.

Do a walk through just before you close. You’d be surprised what appears and disappears.

Finally, my wife is a RE attorney. One closing she was representing the bank. Everything about to be signed, they just need the buyers bank check for $75K. The husband said the check was in the car and he will go get it. A half an hour later they all realized he wasn’t coming back. The poor wife was there, he left her there. Needless to say they lost their deposit lol.
 
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If you don't or can't get up on the roof, use binoculars to check out the shingles and chimney.

Make sure there is good drainage in the basement. Check for water damage. Poke the floor joists for soft wood. Make sure there are no easements or liens on the property.
 
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Check at different times of day and of the week. Look for smells from pig farms, factories, etc.. Listen for highway noises, gun ranges, airports, factories, hospitals, etc. Ask at the Town Hall and local shops. People will usually be forthcoming with info.
 

Mark from MA

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Most people have said it everything. Ill go a bit further...

If it's in floodplain don't buy it.

You probably don't have a septic but if you do...get it inspected,title 5 passed, and all that and get it pumped.

Make sure you know the lot lines and the setbacks in case you want to build any additions or garages. Nowadays getting a variance isnt cheap or easy.
 

hminsky

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Go in the house with nobody there and just listen. Turn on the heat or AC then every electrical device, and listen and watch. If the lights flicker, or if there's a weird noise (buzzing, whining) you might hear it. When we bought our house, it turned out the main circuit breaker to the main panel was arc'ing internally. We noticed eventually that lights were flickering, then heard the buzzing. If that had arc'ed completely over, the only way to shut the power off would have been to pull the power meter off the outside of the house (they are apparently like giant fuses, if all else fails).
Nobody noticed this when inspecting the house because it only happened under high load, at first...
 
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Back in the day, my lawyer just kept saying, "Sign....sign....sign."

"Shouldn't I read it?"

"That's what I'm here for - if I get it wrong, I'm the one you sue." [laugh]

When we sold the house we owned for 16 years the buyer's title search picked up a lien the town had on the house from the owner previous to us that was missed by our title search. Our original closing attorney's malpractice insurance ended up paying off the debt in a timely enough manner as to not screw up the sale. Our seller's agent and that attorney just shrugged it off as just part of the business.
 
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Find out where the water shutoff is, or if there even is one.

Look up the chimneys. (Can use a phone with video running to "look around up there").
 

gxx9sdb

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Ask if any of the abutting properties are being developed. While in the process of buying my house, the seller was notified that the field behind was being developed into an industrial building. I never thought to ask and they did never bothered to tell me. In fact they sped up the closing and I found out like the day I moved in from a new neighbor. Not fun and there was no recourse because I didn’t ask. Realtors make me sick.
 

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On a slightly different tack:

Particularly if this is your first house, go out and get a good set of tools, and maybe a couple of books on DIY plumbing, electrical and carpentry. If you've been a renter, you've become used to making a phone call if something goes afritz. Shortly after you call, a little old man shows up with a tool bag to fix the problem. Buy your own house and you've become the little old man.
 
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If it's an old house just be aware it won't be perfect. I've had friends look at literally dozens of houses because the inspections come back with some issues or they find issues on the walk-throughs. Some have been doing this for years while renting and are now priced out.

As to the DIY aspect. Invest in good tools as you need them. I'd start with a miter saw and good Li-Ion drill/driver set. I recommend Milwaukee. DIY books are cool, but literally everything is on youtube now. I gutted my kitchen within 2 months of owning my (first) house. Sub out when needed, call friends when possible. It's not rocket science, it's fun, and you'll save 75%+ over having it done by a GC.
 
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Broccoli Iglesias

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If it's an old house just be aware it won't be perfect. I've had friends look at literally dozens of houses because the inspections come back with some issues or they find issues on the walk-throughs. Some have been doing this for years while renting and are now priced out.

As to the DIY aspect. Invest in good tools as you need them. I'd start with a miter saw and good Li-Ion drill/driver set. I recommend Milwaukee. DIY books are cool, but literally everything is on youtube now. I gutted my kitchen within 2 months of owning my (first) house. Sub out when needed, call friends when possible. It's not rocket science, it's fun, and you'll save 75%+ over having it done by a GC.
Good advice. I would say that 90% of home work is not hard. It comes down to a few things:
1. Patience.
2. Having the right tools.
3. Not being afraid of doing something.

Most people I know that cant do sh*t is because they dont have the patience to watch several videos or read how to do it. They also don't have the tools, and because of 1 and 2, they are afraid of doing anything.

I have a friend that literally cant even paint his walls. His wife is painting the entire house, and she is doing a great job. He then calls me and complains she takes forever. Sometimes I'm embarrased to say I was his best man. [laugh]

For the remaining 10% call someone.
 

Rob Boudrie

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You are typically getting very limited representation from closing attorneys. They essentially review the docs, mortgage, etc, and make sure all your paperwork ducks are in a row. You get what you pay for for about ~700.
An armed society is a polite society. A business deal where you have an attorney and your opponent has one is a polite negotiation. Remember the deal may be mutually agreed, but you entered into it as opponents each trying to take as many chips off the table for yourself. Buying a house without an attorney is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
they can legally keep your money and re-list the home.
But the seller will have a hard time getting it. In any dispute, the realtor will not interpret the contract, but rather say "you both have to agree to the disposition of the $$ or I will keep in my escrow account". If you are selling, the only meaningful deposit is one held by your attorney, all others are illusory.

A frient entered into a P&S and paid $175 for an inspection. The seller backed out, and the agent told the buyer "I will not refund your deposit without a court order or a written release holding the seller harmless for backing out, including the money you spent on an inspection, as that is what he requires to agree to the refund. If I guess wrong on who should get the money, I could be personally liable."
 

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If you don't or can't get up on the roof, use binoculars to check out the shingles and chimney.

Make sure there is good drainage in the basement. Check for water damage. Poke the floor joists for soft wood. Make sure there are no easements or liens on the property.
A drone is good for checking roofs. Even a digital camera that can zoom in can tell the tale. One house we looked at had two very severely cracked chimneys. Somewhat visible by the naked eye, but really showed how bad it was when I took pictures in zoom mode.

Check at different times of day and of the week. Look for smells from pig farms, factories, etc.. Listen for highway noises, gun ranges, airports, factories, hospitals, etc. Ask at the Town Hall and local shops. People will usually be forthcoming with info.
A couple of houses we looked at we heard gunfire. Music to my ears . . . they only question is where is it coming from and could I join in? Our Realtor was NH_Realtor, so we both looked at each other and smiled.
 
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Spanz

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I didnt have an attorney and now I have an acceleration clause on an adjustable rate mortgage with an adjustment data amortization schedule with an annual percentage rate of 10% and the appraised value on an assumable mortgage with a balloon mortgage and balloon payment on a bankruptcy bill of sale with bi-weekly mortgage on a bridge loan with a buy-down call option and a cash out refinance a certificate of deposit.
stay away from bridge loans....things can go wrong in a hurry if you need a bridge loan to swing it
 

Spanz

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Find out where the water shutoff is, or if there even is one.

Look up the chimneys. (Can use a phone with video running to "look around up there").
AND make sure the shutoff valve is not frozen open....as MOST of them seem to be!!!!

:(
 
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snax

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But the seller will have a hard time getting it. In any dispute, the realtor will not interpret the contract, but rather say "you both have to agree to the disposition of the $$ or I will keep in my escrow account". If you are selling, the only meaningful deposit is one held by your attorney, all others are illusory.

A frient entered into a P&S and paid $175 for an inspection. The seller backed out, and the agent told the buyer "I will not refund your deposit without a court order or a written release holding the seller harmless for backing out, including the money you spent on an inspection, as that is what he requires to agree to the refund. If I guess wrong on who should get the money, I could be personally liable."
This.
Deposit disputes, unless mutually agreed between parties, usually end up in court.
Brokers/agents are not attorneys. That's why they use standard paperwork.
But in MA attys are automatically brokers if they pay the fee!
I am/have been a broker in 6 states, and the MA paperwork and process is the most f'd up.
I always recommend an attorney, in MA especially.
I had a buyer that a lender tried to (illegally) f*** him out of 5k in fees at closing. His atty caught it, closing atty agreed. They took the 5k out. Lender rep didn't find out until a day later. Was pissed. My buyers atty ripped him a new one for trying to slide it in the paperwork at closing. Laws are different now, there is a 3 day review period. I questioned why his lender fee was high, but my buyer thought it was right, but he admitted he never looked at the estimates I gave him and he took the lender at their word. He must get porked buying cars too.
 

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Good luck. If they’re not going to do anything, don’t waste money on radon test, they almost always fail and the remediation systems you install are just stupid IMO.
 

boiler_eng

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If it's an old house just be aware it won't be perfect. I've had friends look at literally dozens of houses because the inspections come back with some issues or they find issues on the walk-throughs. Some have been doing this for years while renting and are now priced out.

As to the DIY aspect. Invest in good tools as you need them. I'd start with a miter saw and good Li-Ion drill/driver set. I recommend Milwaukee. DIY books are cool, but literally everything is on youtube now. I gutted my kitchen within 2 months of owning my (first) house. Sub out when needed, call friends when possible. It's not rocket science, it's fun, and you'll save 75%+ over having it done by a GC.
Some people have the abilities and some just don't.

If you can't dive in and read 3 instructions then average out the advice to get a full picture its going to be an uphill battle.

For example not every how to on replacing a light switch says the same suggestion for how to keep track of the wires.

I am a big fan of DIY, but I always advise people to have a plan going in. Execution is one of the last steps in a process.

As for old houses having issues, yeah that is to be expected. However, I have a huge email from my FIL written to my BIL and SIL for what to check on a new construction. Short version is look for where they cut corners and what they hid.

Buying a house can be a big commitment, if they were perpetually looking maybe they were just not ready and knew it.
 

Matt-CZ

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Title insurance is worth paying for. You probably have to have title insurance to cover the mortgage lender, but you should make sure to have title insurance that covers you as well.

Title insurance protects you in case there are any problems or disputes after the fact concerning ownership of the property, easements, debts, whatever. The insurer will do a deep review of all the relevant records concerning the deed to make sure it is good to go and will cover any legal problems should they miss something and there is a legal dispute later on. Pay once and be protected as long as you own the property.
 

amm5061

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We used Hawkeye home inspectors and were very satisfied with them. Their report was thorough and they did exactly what you described--"no, that crack is nothing to worry about. Look how nice the boiler is. The wiring here is odd." Etc.

Very much agree with making your agent work for you. Remember they make 5% commission on the sale, so make them earn it.

I had my uncle/uncle's office do the lawyering for me.
+1 for Hawkeye. They did ours as well. I went through the entire house with the inspector and he was very good at explaining everything to me. Only thing I would have liked to see is more higher resolution images included with the report.

Don't fall for the not needing a lawyer bit. The boilerplate P&S is heavily slanted in favor of the seller. If something goes wrong, you can easily get screwed if you don't have a lawyer review and correct the P&S to add in some protections for your deposits.
 
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Some people have the abilities and some just don't.

If you can't dive in and read 3 instructions then average out the advice to get a full picture its going to be an uphill battle.

For example not every how to on replacing a light switch says the same suggestion for how to keep track of the wires.

I am a big fan of DIY, but I always advise people to have a plan going in. Execution is one of the last steps in a process.

As for old houses having issues, yeah that is to be expected. However, I have a huge email from my FIL written to my BIL and SIL for what to check on a new construction. Short version is look for where they cut corners and what they hid.

Buying a house can be a big commitment, if they were perpetually looking maybe they were just not ready and knew it.
It is true that some people just don't have a mind for it... with any renovations to an older home improvisation as you go will be required.
 
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+1 for Hawkeye. They did ours as well. I went through the entire house with the inspector and he was very good at explaining everything to me. Only thing I would have liked to see is more higher resolution images included with the report.

Don't fall for the not needing a lawyer bit. The boilerplate P&S is heavily slanted in favor of the seller. If something goes wrong, you can easily get screwed if you don't have a lawyer review and correct the P&S to add in some protections for your deposits.
you Hawkeye guys. do you remember who the inspector was? Can you generally request a specific one?
 

AHM

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A good lawyer to review the closing paperwork and contracts . Same thing, agent has a rec but wou’d rather someone of my choosing.
In our case, the bank gave us a list of lawyers they allowed to represent them,
and one of the ones we'd had recommended was on the list.

We also hired a true buyer's attorney (well, at DEC's expense) to represent our interests.
He reviewed the P&S, but said it was a waste of his time and our money
to pay him to be present at the closing itself (at the Lowell Registry of Deeds);
that if a problem appeared, he'd be in the office.
No relevant problems appeared, luckily.

The bank's lawyer was always scrupulous about underscoring that
in case of a conflict she represented the bank,
but luckily our interests never diverged.

She discovered that, contrary to her explicit instructions,
the dopes at MetPay had not included the boilerplate phrase
"and their heirs, successors, and assigns" in the insurance binder.
She let the closing occur, but sent us directly to the closest MetPay
to get a rewriten binder and carry it to her office.

The Voice was her calling the MetPay office:

Sitting at MetPay, I'd heard them answer the phone -
they'd instantly say "MetPaypleasehold" and hit the hold button
without listening to anything the caller said.
However, somehow she said "This is Attorney <name>",
and they did not put her on hold.

Oh, and make sure you have a way out and it is clearly spelled. No BS, no owing money if the bank falls through, none of that. PROTECT YOURSELF.
Our (6-8) contingencies were all boilerplate something like,
Buyer only gets deposit back if they apply for and are rejected for
three (3) fixed-rate 30 year mortgages for at least $n dollars at no more than p%
by <Date>.​

The seller got to keep the deposit if you only tried to apply to a couple of banks,
or the banks would only loan money at unreasonable terms,
or you screwed around and didn't make the mortgage applications promptly.

But if you objectively used due diligence to beat the bushes for a mortgage
that met your requirements, but nobody was willing to loan to you,
then you could punt the buy and get refunded.
That meant the sellers were gambling that
we were truly qualified to buy, and would probably get a loan.

I'm mixed on this. I'd say get an atty, but honestly, really??? I mean the bank has a very unilateral contract. You either sign or take a flying leap. So there's not much negotiating room done at the closing. And the deed itself?? Well, the BANK is going to ensure the deed is correct and title insurance is in place. So not a lot of need there either.

I'm not saying NOT to have an attorney. But there are a lot fewer items the atty can steer you clear from than you might think.
Here's an example Dave Ramsey gave off the cuff in the past week
about the value of title insurance:
Suppose some past owner of the property died and the house was sold by the executor of the estate.
If the executor didn't get one of the heirs to sign off on the deed, and then years later they discover
they were scrod, the current seller doesn't have clear title and they have to buy off the heir.
Which is what the title insurance will do.

Extending that to the case of getting supplemental title insurance
for the portion of the property covered by your down payment:
Suppose you've already paid off the mortgage, and then the long-lost heir appears
during your closing. Then your old mortgage bank's title insurance won't pay off the heir
because the bank doesn't have an interest in the property any more.

I was a first time buyer a few years back. Didnt know that a lawyer at closing was a good idea. Lawyer after the fact discovered wife isn't on the deed. I wanted her on the deed, but not the loan. Not that it matters though, its half hers by NH law anyway
If your wife's not on the deed, it may be more difficult for her
to use the house as collateral on a loan,
even if "it's half hers by NH law".

Also, is your wife named on the homeowner's insurance?
If not, and the house burned down, the insurance company
might reimburse you for the half of the house you lost, and let your wife twist in the wind.

But if you still have a mortgage, make sure that adding her to the deed
doesn't trigger a "due on transfer" full payment acceleration clause.

Cite: What Happens If My Name Is On Our Mortgage But Not On Deed?


A frient entered into a P&S and paid $175 for an inspection. The seller backed out, and the agent told the buyer "I will not refund your deposit without a court order or a written release holding the seller harmless for backing out, including the money you spent on an inspection, as that is what he requires to agree to the refund. If I guess wrong on who should get the money, I could be personally liable."
Did the seller back out for a good reason?
Or did the buyer not feel motivated to hold their feet to the fire?

I can believe that few buyers have the time or energy
to get the court to order the sale to take place.
But maybe it's not so hard to threaten a suit that demands full damages.

AND make sure the shutoff valve is not frozen open....as MOST of them seem to be!!!!:(
And don't verify the shutoff valve is frozen by breaking it...
 
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