Looking to buy first house

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Slugg
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Looking to buy first house

Post by Slugg » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:11 pm

So the wife and I are looking to buy our first house. We have searched CL and other websites, only because I am on active duty orders for about 30 more days till I start to burn leave on my way out. We have found a house that looks alright on CL and it is posted on a few other websites. We contacted the person through email and are having family in that area go and take a look for us. Basically, we already know the house is a little too small for us to raise a family in. We would like to ad another room and bathroom at the absolute minimum and were wondering how difficult is this. I have asked other places on other forums and such. Just wanting a broad input and this forum has tons of handymen that could give a quick crash course. We have to work with michigan winters and rain.

Now my father in law is retired police and has spent his retirement working up his house. And knowing him, he would come help us ad on. But with the house market so bad, is this a bad investment? Is it better to just move on and find a house that fits our needs? Its just us 2 now, but plan on kids eventually and want this ad on prior to children. Also, the house is in a horrible house market(metro Detroit) so we are getting the house at a great cost, its just small. Comes with a basement, so that is an option, but it is real close to a great lake so idk how difficult basements are to maintain there. If you guys need a little more info on the situation let me know. Otherwise, we are thinking of getting it, just looking for tips/tricks and anything to really watch out for.

Thanks guys for the time of reading and your 2cents
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Chantrea
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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by Chantrea » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:31 pm

I am not a handyman, but I am the wife of someone who enjoys "doing things ourselves" (and former partner to two others).

Let me be blunt with you. Don't buy a crappy house that you KNOW doesn't meet your needs under the assumption that "Oh yeah, of course I'll fix it up and my dad will help!" What you're describing is a pretty major renovation; how easy is it to navigate permits in the town/county/municipality where the house is?

There are a crapload of houses on the market and there will be many on the market for a long time. Don't rush in because you guys want to do it now now now. Be sure that both of you understand the sacrifices and discomfort that go hand in hand with a DIY while you're living in it. Be sure that it's work that you can either do without assistance OR you have the finances to pay someone to do the things you don't know how to do. In the best case scenario you won't need to tap into that $$ and you have a nice chunk of savings--but you don't want to get into trouble/lose your free help, and then have your family life go into the shitter because you only planned for the best case scenario, and your wife now has to deal with living in an ugly, soul-crushing house with no insulation, running water, or she's knocked up and there's no way you're going to have carpet/flooring installed in time for the birth, ect.

Or, at least...ignore those things and don't have a backup plan at the peril of your/your family's happiness. I've seen a lot of families (including some that shocked the hell out of me) totally implode over a DIY gone wrong; but others (esp. if both partners enjoy it, and there are MANY people that do!) have a lot of fun/adventure/satisfaction out of it and laugh off the things that invariably go wrong. Just don't lie to yourself about what category y'all will likely fall into if a major roadblock gets put into your path.

But again, I dunno--with so many nice or *minimal* DIY houses out there--why would you buy something that you'd have to make major structual changes to just be liveable for your family unless it's a to-die-for location? I'd think carefully about that one.

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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by Electricity » Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:07 pm

Good points right there ^.
I had a friend in a similar situation several years ago. He and his newly wed wife where eager to get out of their parents houses and into their own place. He was (still is) a fireman, and had a decent amount saved up.
At first they where looking at pretty much the same situation you are OP, they where willing to settle for less than the perfect place with the notion that they would just fix it up.
Eventually though they realized how bad of an idea it was given both of their lifestyles (him pulling 50+ hours a week and her busy with school aand a full time job grooming pets) so they decided to wait. It took them nearly a year and a half to find the perfect place. But find it they did, well within their budget, and are now happily living there.

Moral of the story, the turtle won the race, and lived comfortably because of it.
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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by Mister Dark » Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:43 pm

Here's my 2 cents:

Since it is just the two of you for the moment, I would lean towards going for it. You have several factors in your favor right now:

~The housing market is still in a slump, so anything you buy now is poised to move upwards nicely, sooner or later.

~Its just the two of you, so you have time to upgrade the house as you need it.

~Right now, especially in major cities, you can find craftsmen willing to work for cheap.

Just be sure to have, and work to, a good longterm plan. And have fun!

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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by Shinhao » Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:06 pm

Metro Detroit, huh? Just exactly "how" Metro Detroit are we talking about here... I lived around 10 mile and Lahser for a few years, and all I can say is...I'm glad I was young and renting.

If you're thinking about buying a house, and putting in substantial improvements, that means you want to spend a good bit of time there. It sounds like you want to raise a family wherever you buy the house. I'd pay attention to the neighborhood crime stats, the schools, and the general "flow" of people in and out of the neighborhood in the past few years. Touchy subject, I know, but it will be worth your time to try and estimate what that neighborhood will be like 5 years out. Grosse Pointe has managed to stay nice for a very long time, but their luck may be running out, as the long-time residents begin to retire and move out. The housing market in Detroit is a giant special-case, even if the national market turns around, that may not help you. Tread carefully.

As for the house itself, my real estate friends tell me that the only money to be made in housing renovation is to turn an absolute dump into a fixer-upper, or at the very high-end. You don't save much money by buying a fixer-upper and then spending the money and time turning it into a nice house, because a lot of other newly-weds are thinking the same thing. But it can be a labor of love, and if you like that kind of thing (and I do), you can have a fulfilling hobby and learn some skills that will be useful. If you don't take it slow and do your homework, you can make very costly mistakes. Basically, buy the house you need, don't try to make the house you need, unless you are honestly interested in construction as a serious hobby. You won't save money either way.

I'm not an expert in anything related to housing, although I've done some basic repair work myself. If you want my advice, don't try to buy a house on a 30-day deadline. One, you'll be in a rush and you won't think carefully about what you want. Two, people who know you're in a rush will try to screw you over. Just my two cents.

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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by Slugg » Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:17 pm

The current parts of the house we are not working on. The only thing we are considering, is putting a half bathroom in the basement. But the main living area is going to stay as is unless something happens like a car hits the place. So bascally, its not a fixer upper. It's just smaller then what we want for long term. Keep in mind I chose to do some military service before college so now is when I'm going to go to school and get my "career" or whatnot. So we weren't planning on babies for a while anyways.
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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by wguy00 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:25 am

Definitely check out http://www.crimemapping.com when you're considering a place. I'm looking to buy a house myself, and this website has steered me away from a couple after just checking out the crime stats for the neighborhood for the last couple weeks or so.
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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by J.C. » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:18 pm

The reason the price is so low is that few people are willing to invest in that market right now. Is there anything you think you know that the average buyer would not? As far as a "fixer-upper" goes, you very rarely get your money out of major room additions. I'd stay away from it personally from an investment standpoint.

As far as a fixer-upper as a starter home it can work, it really depends on you. I know myself that I won't put the time into something like that and a few years down the road when I need that space I likely wouldn't have it. Also as others mention if its a neighborhood that is going down then schools and crime could be significant issues to consider for raising a family there.

There are lots of good opportunities in almost all housing markets right now and I'd keep looking if I were you.
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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by wguy00 » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:04 pm

J.C. wrote:The reason the price is so low is that few people are willing to invest in that market right now. Is there anything you think you know that the average buyer would not? As far as a "fixer-upper" goes, you very rarely get your money out of major room additions. I'd stay away from it personally from an investment standpoint.
As far as additions and value, a bathroom, especially if you only have one bath, is one of the best returns on investment when talking about additions.
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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by J.C. » Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:34 pm

wguy00 wrote:
J.C. wrote:The reason the price is so low is that few people are willing to invest in that market right now. Is there anything you think you know that the average buyer would not? As far as a "fixer-upper" goes, you very rarely get your money out of major room additions. I'd stay away from it personally from an investment standpoint.
As far as additions and value, a bathroom, especially if you only have one bath, is one of the best returns on investment when talking about additions.
Yes that does make sense.
squinty wrote: Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, zombies gotta shuffle around and eatcher brains. Why do sharks eat divers? Why not swim around and starve to death?
Why do tornadoes zero in on trailer parks? Why not just blow around harmlessly? It's the way of the world, man.

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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by BigBear » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:40 am

Be sure you can install a wood stove. The power infrastructure in the United States is crumbling and this is especially so in the old rust belt cities like Detroit. You don't want to be forced out of your house by an extended power outage. This leaves your home open to crime.

A small wood stove would allow you to keep the family warm and secure while your neighbors are forced into shelters.
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Re: Looking to buy first house

Post by mariposa » Sun Jul 31, 2011 1:33 pm

Unless you've got a lot of time to deal with the renovations, I'd keep looking. Is this house in an area with an HOA, or equivalent? That could give you more hurdles to jump. Do you have the funds to do the work, or have it done? If not, "someday" may never get here. Get a home inspector to look at it before you buy.

When I was house hunting, I thought I found a great place. It was bigger than I needed, but the right price. After the home and termite inspections, I backed out of the deal. There was at least $5,000 of work needed, and I didn't have that laying around, or the skill to do it. I heard that 2 weeks after the house was eventually sold, the hot-water heater burst. I found a wonderful home a month later.

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