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We Bought the Wrong House! Now What?

Did you buy a lemon?

Did you buy a lemon?

Money Pit

Let’s try to avoid the problem of buying the wrong house. I have made plenty of mistakes in the house buying process so you don’t have to.

Exotic Fixtures

Exotic Fixtures

Mind on the Gutter

There can be any number of small problems with a house that are not immediately discernible when you walk through it with a realtor but which can be a pain to deal with later. It’s good to have a competent home inspector catch these, but I have been in at least one circumstance where from the home inspector report, you can’t prove that he went to the same house I was looking to buy. For instance, I had a home inspector claim there were rain gutters on a southern California house when there were none. This same genius said that the previous homeowners had left a refrigerator and other items that they did not leave.

We were kind of at the mercy of the realtor since we were new to the area and knew no inspectors that we could call. When we pointed out these and other discrepancies, it was astonishing how little the realtor and even our money lender cared about the fact that the inspection report looked kind of bogus. The inspector was allowed to correct his obvious errors, but his suspect report was allowed to stand. So the lesson here is you might want to get your own inspector and not go with a buddy of the realtor who seems to do his “inspections” from his desk.

Outlets are a crucial and overlooked item.

Outlets are a crucial and overlooked item.

You Need an Outlet!

Amongst the things that the “inspector” missed was that several of the electrical outlets did not function. You kind of need those. So if you get to do a little inspecting yourself, you might want to bring along something like a small night light or cell phone charger or anything that can tell you whether a representative sample of the outlets is getting juice. In sum: Test the outlets.

If you can't see damage, how will you know it's there?

If you can't see damage, how will you know it's there?

There's No Ceiling on Ugly

It is a basic and, in my opinion, flawed design of some California architecture to have no lights in the bedrooms. What idiot decided that was a good idea? I will never know.

In any case, you might want to make sure you have flashlights or little lights if your furniture and lamps are not going to be available soon. If you are furnishing from scratch, then a floor lamp might be one of the first things you can buy. My wife bought a little solar doodad that absorbed sunlight and then lit up at night that also carried us over in some rooms until we got lamps.

Old stoves can be deceiving.

Old stoves can be deceiving.

Half Baked

Be careful about trying to time everything if you are buying a house. For instance, some companies may unexpectedly deliver something faster than they first estimated. If that delivery happens before your closing date and before you even get keys to the place, your furniture could wind up on that front porch for a long time. Sooner or later, someone might relieve you of that burden.

Your new house may contain appliances of a type you have never used before. For that reason, an abundance of caution is required for first use. For instance, even though the electric ovens you used in the past might have used the bottom oven drawer for storage, don’t trust that to always be the case. Some gas stoves use that bottom drawer as a broiler. If, for instance, you left oven warranty paperwork in the bottom drawer thinking it was for storage when it was really for broiling, you could have a ruined oven and maybe even a dangerous fire on your hand. The best case might be ruined food and melted plastic.

If you buy a house in a region that has drought problems, either buy one with no plants, or buy one with xeriscaping (desert or terrain-appropriate type landscaping), or hire someone to rip out the plants after you buy the house or rip out the water-loving plants yourself after the house belongs to you.

Don't end up with an outhouse!

Don't end up with an outhouse!

Who Needs Privacy?

After we bought our latest house, we discovered that the master bathroom did not have a door. We did not notice that before we bought the house. My wife, who is 5’3”, noticed that the bathroom counter was something like 3’5”, which is half a foot or higher than she was used to. No matter what folks say about looking at the house you are going to buy as though you were using it to see if it fits, some things slip through the cracks.

Bug infestations will be a pain in your butt!

Bug infestations will be a pain in your butt!


Sure the house was inspected for termites. I think California state law might actually require that. But that does not mean that the house will be free of all vermin infestations whatsoever. The tiny black ants, so little they were hard to see struck as soon as the buffet known as our household was laid out. They actually infested my wife’s computer first. Word must have spread amongst the insects that it was an Apple.

And then they found the kitchen.

We have dealt with ants before, and there are several ways to eliminate them, and they all work to some degree or another. We are using ant bait and ant poison in this particular case. Back in Texas, we sometimes used boric acid and sometimes used diatomaceous earth inside the house and store-bought fire ant killers and bait outside the house.


No Repairs for You!

Always be prepared to walk away from a house. Never appear to be anxious to buy it. Don’t add money to your bid in a panic at the last second.

We have had two different experiences in home buying. Generalizing from a small sample size is generally not a good idea. But it’s what I get paid for, so here goes. It seems that if you have a choice, you should buy a house from a homeowner who would be embarrassed to have his house shown off in a bad light. That way, he might fix things that are not quite right before you agree to buy. That was a Texas experience.

In California, we bought a house from house investors. They barely lifted a finger to fix anything that was wrong. For instance, we knew some electrical outlets did not work before we bought the place. We pointed that out and asked them to fix it, and they did not. There were a number of things, including an aging heat pump unit, that we asked them to repair or replace, and they did nothing. We wanted the place anyway, so we bit. In retrospect, we probably should not have.

Another one of those things that might seem kinda cute when you and looking at the house but will not be cute if you are in your declining years is stairs. Do not get a house with stairs if you are old enough to qualify for social security.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


poetryman6969 (author) on August 21, 2020:

Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate your kind words.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 21, 2020:

This article is very helpful. So thoughtful of you to share from your own experience so that others might learn. Thank you for the warnings.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on June 22, 2020:

Those are a lot of great tips to consider when buying a house. I will pass this on to my daughter, who is house hunting.

poetryman6969 (author) on April 29, 2018:

Good to hear from you Rachel. Thanks for the kind comments!

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on April 29, 2018:

Hi Poetryman, You gave some really good tips for house buying. I don't think I will ever have to buy a house, but you never know what the future holds. It could be one of my girls will have to buy a house in their time, so if they do, I will steer them to this hub. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Blessings to you.

poetryman6969 (author) on April 14, 2018:

Mary, I am glad things turned out better for you. It is wise to get to know someone in the business.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 14, 2018:

Oh, my goodness. What a nightmare that would be if it happens to me. I am sorry that something like that can happen to anyone. We are lucky we know a building inspector who takes our interest to heart.

poetryman6969 (author) on October 19, 2016:

Sorry to hear about your troubles JonRush. Maybe someone else can learn what we experienced.

JonRush on October 19, 2016:

I wish I had come across this 12 months ago. Because I made such a mistake, and now I am stuck with a lemon. The inspector was the realtor's buddy, so downplayed problems. But I have to take responsibility, because i was too excited at the prospects of owning a house for the first time. I have already sunk in $20000 in repairs, and perheps there is still another $20000 to go in repairs before the place looks the part. But I am not sure its worth it, neither can I afford it. I am tempted to walk away, taking a massive loss with me. That is if I can even get anyone to take the place for even for 10% less than what I paid.

poetryman6969 (author) on September 15, 2015:

Sujaya Venkatesh at least people might learn what not to do!

Have a blessed day.

sujaya venkatesh on September 15, 2015:

people shall benefit for sure

poetryman6969 (author) on August 12, 2015:

Thanks for dropping by Laurel. I am glad you enjoy the hub.

Have a blessed day!

Laurel Johnson from Washington KS on August 11, 2015:

Very helpful information, written with a wry humor I just love. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

poetryman6969 (author) on August 07, 2015:

Hello Devika. I haven't seen you in awhile. I hope that you are well and that the world is treating you well.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 06, 2015:

Helpful hub. You shared an experience that many can learn from in such cases.

poetryman6969 (author) on August 06, 2015:

Au fait I appreciate your dropping by. Fortunately we bumped into a handy man who doesn't charge that much so we are getting by.

Have a blessed day!

C E Clark from North Texas on August 05, 2015:

Great advice! Like you said, no matter how careful a person tries to be, invariably something is overlooked, but one must do the best they can. Repairs can be so expensive unless you're good at that sort of thing, and even then there are expenses involved.

poetryman6969 (author) on August 04, 2015:

Felisa, we had such an easy time buying our first house that sometimes it seems like buying the second was harder than necessary. We seem to be settling in and accepting the things we cannot change.

Have a blessed day!

Felisa Daskeo from Manila, Philippines on August 04, 2015:

I have never tried buying a house but if I do, I will make sure to be careful. In my country I guess buying a house is easier to do.

poetryman6969 (author) on August 01, 2015:

CrisSp sounds like we need to let others pick our real estate agent!

Have a blessed day!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on July 30, 2015:

Sorry for your bad experiences but this is a good hub, very informative and useful with a bonus sense of humour. I didn't know ants like Apple. Lol!

This is our second house and I guess, we're lucky in finding a good real estate agent. :)

poetryman6969 (author) on July 29, 2015:

Marlene I definitely agree with your observations. We will be more patient next time.

Have a blessed day!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on July 29, 2015:

Oh my gosh, you have been through the wringer with your house buying ventures. Your experiences should never have been filled with so much terror. Indeed, all of your tips are excellent. The biggest tip is to never get too excited about a house because you may miss a lot of clues that the house is not right for you. And, never ever let sellers see how interested you are in a house. Make them jump through a few hoops to gain your interest.

poetryman6969 (author) on July 29, 2015:

Esmé (esja) there is a movement to go to smaller and smaller houses these days. I doubt that the wife will buy off on that though.

Esmé from South Africa on July 28, 2015:

Maybe you should invest in a tent??

Like the hub!

poetryman6969 (author) on July 27, 2015:

Moonlake, I don't think we like the water much in our new house. It has a chlorine taste to me. The refrigerator filter does not seem to do that much to the water.

Thanks for dropping by. Have a blessed day!

moonlake from America on July 27, 2015:

We only bought two houses and we had no problems with the first one the second one we rented first and knew it's problems. We built one house so we knew everything about it.

When we would go to sell a house we would always mention we had good water, no softener needed. The realtors even looked at us like we were crazy to think that was important. I guess they never had bad water, that's a very big expense in a home.

I know what you mean about no lights in the bedrooms, my parents ran into that problem when they bought houses in Texas.

Voted up.

poetryman6969 (author) on July 26, 2015:

Good to see you here Rachel. Having a house so bad off that it can only be used for storage is certainly not a situation to be envied.

Have a blessed day!

poetryman6969 (author) on July 26, 2015:

Alicia, I hope that people will look for things that they otherwise might not have in a house.

Blessings to you.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on July 26, 2015:

Wow, I know what you mean. The old house next to us went up for sale and my husband thought about buying it, but the neighbor on the other side bought it instead and what a problem they had. It's so bad they won't fix it, so they are using it for storage instead. Your hub has a lot of very good information in it. I voted up and useful.

Blessings to you.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 25, 2015:

This is very useful information for house buyers, poetryman. It sounds like you've had some interesting experiences when buying a home!

poetryman6969 (author) on July 25, 2015:

Florypaula they say when you have a house you can always make yourself busy because there is always something on a house that could be worked on.

poetryman6969 (author) on July 25, 2015:

Victoria I think you are correct in your observations. It seems there are always lessons to learn!

poetryman6969 (author) on July 25, 2015:

FlourishAnyway thanks for dropping by. When you have more than one adult stakeholder in the process then coming to an agreement on what to do is more difficult.

Paula on July 25, 2015:

The house me and my boyfriend live together was bought by him and the previous owners had it freshly painted that he didn't realize the walls weren't correctly done and some cracks appeared in the paint after a while. We had already purchased it and the old owners ran as fast as possible so we fixed it ourselves.

It is good to know what to look after when buying a new house.

Have a nice day.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on July 25, 2015:

I've had positive experiences with realtors and inspectors, but I know there are not so honest ones out there. Interesting hub. It's always good to really look over a place carefully--maybe several times--before buying. I liked your sense of humor in this hub!

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 24, 2015:

Always be willing to walk away. Of course, it's easy said than done. I'm so sorry you had such terrible experiences, but I'm sure it's made you wiser. My husband and I learned about the inspector thing as a first time buyer. If your or the other party's real estate agent insists on being there at the time of home inspection say no, but you should insist doing so. That way you can see if they get up on the roof like they are supposed to, etc.