We Bought the Wrong House! Now What?
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 too.
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 once circumstance where from the home inspectors 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.
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.
There's No Ceiling on Ugly
It is a basic, and in my opinion flawed designed 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.
Be careful about trying to time everything if you are buying a house. For instance, sometimes 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. 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.
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 a 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.
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 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, 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.