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  1. #1
    Hang 'Em High RRMB's Avatar
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    05.21.17 @ 06:42 PM
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    Default Need Some Home-Buying tips

    DMad & I seem to be making some headway in our effort to sell our house and get a bigger one. We have two in mine right now. She's in love with split-anythings. Split-level, split-foyer, whatever. I seem to gravitate towards houses built in the 40-early 60's that have been remodeled.

    The house, I think we've settled in on as #1 has something for both of us. The one thing that has her leery is the heating system. They just put a new Munchkin boiler in. Since neither of us are savvy on these types of things, I was looking for some advice on whether boilers save money on utilites.

    Thanks in advance.
    "Jesus, that fucker just crawled out of his hen house that was destroyed by the Alabama tornados. Fucking 280mph plus winds sucked the gleam off this bitch and passed it on to a bird in Rhoad Island." - Hurricane Halen 5/3/11 (about my birthday chicken from seenbad)

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  2. #2
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    12.15.17 @ 05:43 PM
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    I think now is a good time to buy...it looks like most markets have stabilized somewhat

    a word about split levels

    I grew to hate mine. Loved it when I bought it in my 30's but when I got to 50, I realized all of it's shortcomings

    hard to have my parents over because there was no ground floor bedroom that was accessible for them....that may be a plus for other people but not for me

    entertaining was awkward because of the levels and separation between living room family room and den

    like many split levels, mine had no formal dining room...which I thought I wouldn't need, until I needed it and had to turn the living room into a dining room

    cleaning laundry and grocery days were always ...up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs down the stairs ( my house was on 4 levels!!!)

    aside from a lot of stairs there was a LOT OF ROOF on that house....a lot of roof that made it expensive to re roof when the time came because of the height of the upper level roof

    beware of slab foundations that have anything running thru them...I had hot water heat and when the pipe in the slab went bad...well it was a big problem

    split levels can also be weird to heat and cool...its hard to "zone" them

    when I got ready to sell 14 years after buying, I was limited in my showings because a lot of people in my area simply would not look at a split level...those with very young children looked at all the staircases and thought of the hassle of childproofing all of them, and dragging babies and all their stuff up and down all those stairs
    and those who were older who knew that they would not be able to live in the home as they grew older

    the house sold but I did not get as many showings as the ranch across the street



    as for homebuying, I'm in that phase myself right now. Mortgage brokers are driving me crazy. My realtor says that in our area, bank owned and shortsale home offers will not be given any consideration without the attachment of a pre approval letter and straight sellers are following suit

    my mortgage broker only wants to do a pre qualification letter....I told him I KNOW I'm pre qualified..good credit scores, stable employment, 20% down, but I'm at the point where I want to make offers and close fast

    but he hit me with the news that even if you are pre approved, you may not get to closing...there is no guarantee! and there are frequently hickups


    so my best advice is

    1 find yourself a really good mortgage broker who comes well recommended by realtors because of his history of getting things to closing FAST
    2 set your price point at a level where you can afford the mortgage on just one salary....I don't think these economic hardships are over yet
    besides...it's hard to enjoy your home and life if you are sweating the mortgage every month

    remember your realtor is a sales person paid by you and on commission. They work for you, but they have a conflict in that the higher the sale the higher thier commission...don't let them upsell you or only show you their own listing...you are the one who has to live in and pay for the house

    do your research and drive by the houses and neighborhoods before you ask for a showing to rule out the no go's before wasting your time on showings...some reators are getting really savvy about online pictures and the house you see online is not the house you see in person

    and lastly GET YOURSELF THE MOTHER OF ALL HOME INSPECTIONS find someone really picky ...really ocd type and get the very best home inspection you can....many houses these days seem to be suffering from neglect especially shortsales and you will pay for that neglect later

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  3. #3
    carpe damn diem billy007's Avatar
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    bad deal about split levels is there are more staircases to fall down

    good deal is that those staircases have half as many stairs as a standard issue staircase!

  4. #4
    Hang 'Em High RRMB's Avatar
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    05.21.17 @ 06:42 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Hill View Post
    I think now is a good time to buy...it looks like most markets have stabilized somewhat

    a word about split levels

    I grew to hate mine. Loved it when I bought it in my 30's but when I got to 50, I realized all of it's shortcomings

    hard to have my parents over because there was no ground floor bedroom that was accessible for them....that may be a plus for other people but not for me

    entertaining was awkward because of the levels and separation between living room family room and den

    like many split levels, mine had no formal dining room...which I thought I wouldn't need, until I needed it and had to turn the living room into a dining room

    cleaning laundry and grocery days were always ...up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs down the stairs ( my house was on 4 levels!!!)

    aside from a lot of stairs there was a LOT OF ROOF on that house....a lot of roof that made it expensive to re roof when the time came because of the height of the upper level roof

    beware of slab foundations that have anything running thru them...I had hot water heat and when the pipe in the slab went bad...well it was a big problem

    split levels can also be weird to heat and cool...its hard to "zone" them

    when I got ready to sell 14 years after buying, I was limited in my showings because a lot of people in my area simply would not look at a split level...those with very young children looked at all the staircases and thought of the hassle of childproofing all of them, and dragging babies and all their stuff up and down all those stairs
    and those who were older who knew that they would not be able to live in the home as they grew older

    the house sold but I did not get as many showings as the ranch across the street



    as for homebuying, I'm in that phase myself right now. Mortgage brokers are driving me crazy. My realtor says that in our area, bank owned and shortsale home offers will not be given any consideration without the attachment of a pre approval letter and straight sellers are following suit

    my mortgage broker only wants to do a pre qualification letter....I told him I KNOW I'm pre qualified..good credit scores, stable employment, 20% down, but I'm at the point where I want to make offers and close fast

    but he hit me with the news that even if you are pre approved, you may not get to closing...there is no guarantee! and there are frequently hickups


    so my best advice is

    1 find yourself a really good mortgage broker who comes well recommended by realtors because of his history of getting things to closing FAST
    2 set your price point at a level where you can afford the mortgage on just one salary....I don't think these economic hardships are over yet
    besides...it's hard to enjoy your home and life if you are sweating the mortgage every month

    remember your realtor is a sales person paid by you and on commission. They work for you, but they have a conflict in that the higher the sale the higher thier commission...don't let them upsell you or only show you their own listing...you are the one who has to live in and pay for the house

    do your research and drive by the houses and neighborhoods before you ask for a showing to rule out the no go's before wasting your time on showings...some reators are getting really savvy about online pictures and the house you see online is not the house you see in person

    and lastly GET YOURSELF THE MOTHER OF ALL HOME INSPECTIONS find someone really picky ...really ocd type and get the very best home inspection you can....many houses these days seem to be suffering from neglect especially shortsales and you will pay for that neglect later
    We're all good on the realtor end of things. We had an offer on a house a while ago, but it was contingent on us selling ours. They had a cash-in-hand offer, so we lost out. So we took our time looking at things, and have spent countless hours on the BOR website, analyzing, comparing, constrasting, etc. Since we lost out on the first house we really, really wanted, we've spent every Sunday since then, going to a crapload of Open Houses. In the last month, we've probably been to 30+ open house/private showings. And have come down to these two houses.

    I have NEVER been a fan of split-anythings. She keeps saying she doesn't want steps when we're older, but this flies right in the face of that. Not to mention, that's a lot of open, un-useable space that needs to be heated/cooled. And I totally agree about the entertaining space. they're not made for having a lot of people over, unless you're going to be going up and down stairs to do it.

    And I talked to a contractor friend of ours. He said that boiler heat is really a good way to do it, because it's a radiant heat, keeping the house at a constant, steady temp. But did caution that if the boiler breaks, it can be pretty costly to fix.

    Here's the links to the houses. Even though you have to physically look at them, to get a positive/negative vibe. Give me your impressions from the pics. I'd appreciate it.

    This is the one she likes. I don't mind it, but It's my 2nd choice of the two.

    http://www.wcfbor.com/listing/173777...erloo-ia-50702

    This is the one I like. She likes it too. But is really leery of the boiler heating. Keep in mind, it looks small, but it's not inside. Don't let the curb appeal catch you off guard. We weren't too jazzed, until we looked inside.

    http://www.wcfbor.com/listing/174508...erloo-ia-50702


    Quote Originally Posted by billy007 View Post
    bad deal about split levels is there are more staircases to fall down

    good deal is that those staircases have half as many stairs as a standard issue staircase!
    And there's a landing half way in between. And/or the bottom in the basement.
    Last edited by RRMB; 01.25.12 at 02:26 PM.
    "Jesus, that fucker just crawled out of his hen house that was destroyed by the Alabama tornados. Fucking 280mph plus winds sucked the gleam off this bitch and passed it on to a bird in Rhoad Island." - Hurricane Halen 5/3/11 (about my birthday chicken from seenbad)

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  5. #5
    Good Enough SassyLassy's Avatar
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    Since I've never bought my own home, I can't give the best advice. However, I can definitely advise you to buy in this buyer's market. My poor parents sold their home in Florida right before the state's realty went belly-up for around $130,000, and the buyer sold it the next year for over $250,000. This has been the source of more tension than when my mother broke my father's vinyl copy of Live Dead back before I was born.

    That's pretty much all the input I have, but I definitely wish you both the best of luck!! Hopefully you two find the perfect home
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  6. #6
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    My 2 cents....I like the warmth of kitchen number 2 with the adjacent family room. I had white kitchen cupboards and while they brightened up the kitchen nicely, they were a chore to keep clean

    in house #1 you have that flight of steps up to the living room just like I had...nice that it gives you a formalish foyer, but I was over the stairs thing in a hurry...but it looks like you have few steps between the garage and the house so that's nice for carrying in packages


    I had a boiler and if it had not been for the bad pipe in the slab, I would have had no problem. Kept the house evenly heated, it was just zones that were a problem, mostly because every area in the split level was open. Added doors between areas so that I could close them off and was able to save a lot of money by not heating the downstairs all night...... but it does take a while for hot water heat to reheat a room in the morning

    boilers can be expensive to repair but in my experience they need less frequent repair, and they run inexpensively ....they also don't dry out the air in the winter

    drawback is no duct work to use for central air,,,,if you want to add that you are looking at an expensive alternative method....or wall units, like I did.

    curb appeal of house 2 could be really nice with some color accents and landscaping...but it doesn't have an attached garage, which would be deal breaker for me in the winter

    both are nice! looks like you can't lose!

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  7. #7
    Hang 'Em High RRMB's Avatar
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    05.21.17 @ 06:42 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Hill View Post
    My 2 cents....I like the warmth of kitchen number 2 with the adjacent family room. I had white kitchen cupboards and while they brightened up the kitchen nicely, they were a chore to keep clean
    Yeah, she's not too keen on the white cabinets either. They look like they can be stripped though. But that's a chore and a half.

    in house #1 you have that flight of steps up to the living room just like I had...nice that it gives you a formalish foyer, but I was over the stairs thing in a hurry...but it looks like you have few steps between the garage and the house so that's nice for carrying in packages
    The steps are kind of steep too. The upside is the attatched garage. The downside is the garage comes in to the down stairs, so you still have to go up either the back stairs, to the deck and in, or through the basement.

    I had a boiler and if it had not been for the bad pipe in the slab, I would have had no problem. Kept the house evenly heated, it was just zones that were a problem, mostly because every area in the split level was open. Added doors between areas so that I could close them off and was able to save a lot of money by not heating the downstairs all night...... but it does take a while for hot water heat to reheat a room in the morning

    boilers can be expensive to repair but in my experience they need less frequent repair, and they run inexpensively ....they also don't dry out the air in the winter
    That's the general concensus I've been getting from people I've talked to as well. There's also the fireplace in the basement that can be used as supplemental heat on really cold nights. The last picture is the unfinished utility room, where the boiler, water heater, central air, laundry, etc. are at. It's a pretty decent sized room, too.

    drawback is no duct work to use for central air,,,,if you want to add that you are looking at an expensive alternative method....or wall units, like I did.
    House #2 actually does have central air. The vents are ceiling type, circular vents. The house I had w/my ex-wife had that type of duct work and it worked really well.

    curb appeal of house 2 could be really nice with some color accents and landscaping...but it doesn't have an attached garage, which would be deal breaker for me in the winter

    both are nice! looks like you can't lose!
    Thanks, Daisy, I appreciate your input.
    "Jesus, that fucker just crawled out of his hen house that was destroyed by the Alabama tornados. Fucking 280mph plus winds sucked the gleam off this bitch and passed it on to a bird in Rhoad Island." - Hurricane Halen 5/3/11 (about my birthday chicken from seenbad)

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  8. #8
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RRMB View Post
    Yeah, she's not too keen on the white cabinets either. They look like they can be stripped though. But that's a chore and a half.
    .


    YIKES! I stripped my cabinets because the lacquer had turned almost black, so that I could paint them white!

    a never-to-be-done-again project


    when I used to deal in antiques I was advised by my refinisher guy to NEVER try to strip wood with the intent to restain it unless it was painted a dark color like black or dark brown because the paint gets in the cracks and pores of the wood and when you stain, the pores and any other flaws become more visible...with dark paint in the pores, it blends in more easily
    Last edited by Daisy Hill; 01.26.12 at 08:43 AM.

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  9. #9
    Good Enough Bostonian's Avatar
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    As someone who has bought a home in the last year and a half... Make sure your home is SOLD before going out in the market and being ready to buy... Since there is a glut of homes on the market, and prices are still dropping (at least here in the Metro Boston Area), be very cognizant that.

    My wife and I purchased a home in 2010, the smallest and cheapest home in our town, knowing that the market still had a ways to drop. We also got it on what looks like a distressed sale. Once your house is sold, then and only then I would begin to seriously look. When that happens, I would follow what Daisey said, find yourself a good mortgage broker. Get everything shored up on the financial end and then begin to look

    As for the the split levels... I think they kinda suck. The flow of the house is all chopped up. It makes for a pain to get to the laundry room and it just is a very dated feeling to the house. Now while it may be a big house, again you need to see where you will spend most of your time.. When I was growing up we had a split level entry, and the downstairs family room got a lot of use when I was little. But the older I got before my parents sold it and moved to a dutch colonial, the less we used the downstairs... But that is my own personal experience, and yours may differ

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    I will agree on buying a home based on one income if you can. In other words buy less than you can. I know that's a far out concept to many Americans. My wife and I bought less house than we could afford about 6 years ago. In that time she was laid off and then I experienced an illness that kept me from working for nearly a year. If we had extended ourselves we would have been hosed when the proverbial poo hit the fan.

    I do notice home prices stabilizing in certain markets without a doubt. In my neighborhood the most recent sales price inched up 2% from the year prior, which is good. Many homes are affordable now and if they are priced correctly they can sell quickly. Some buyers seem a little shocked to see how quickly homes are moving right now.

    It's been said before, but place a heavy emphasis on inspections. Be as thorough as you can before you buy.

    For myself I would have taken the cash deal and found a month-to-month rental. Is that something you could consider if the scenario came up again? Banks are finicky now and I've seen numerous deals fall apart days before closing, even if the buyer had excellent credit. Not everybody can be as flexible of course.

  11. #11
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    excellent point on trying to buy a home assuming one income (if you have two). Banks up here are still far too quick to give out loans that only be repaid if nothing bad happens to you. We just did a blend and extend on our mortgage and talking to the banking rep I just heard horror stories on the disasters people caused for themselves.

    As for the homes, I like the first one better (except for the white cabinets - those are a bitch to keep clean). But a very pretty looking house, I like the hardwood floors on the main floor and the big backyard is a plus. I just get an overall cozy feel from that home. But it really depends on so many things. What fits for one person doesn't for another. And the one thing you can't see (and the most important thing) is the neighourhood you're in.

    It's amazing thing is how much different homes are valued across the continent. My house is about the size of the homes you're looking at and cost 3 times as much.

  12. #12
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by It's Mike View Post

    It's amazing thing is how much different homes are valued across the continent. My house is about the size of the homes you're looking at and cost 3 times as much.
    I was looking at a home for my retirement years ( I can't believe I said that) uh...a WINTER HOME in Florida

    one house last sold in 2006 for just over 250,000 it can now be had for less than $100,000 wow...just ....wow

    talk about real estate going into the shitter...altho I do not believe Iowa was as badly hit

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Hill View Post
    I was looking at a home for my retirement years ( I can't believe I said that) uh...a WINTER HOME in Florida

    one house last sold in 2006 for just over 250,000 it can now be had for less than $100,000 wow...just ....wow

    talk about real estate going into the shitter...altho I do not believe Iowa was as badly hit
    We have condos down here (Tampa Florida), nothing special but clean and easy living, for as low as 25-30k for a 1/1. No joke. Retirement condos even cheaper. When you can purchase a place to live for the price of a car I think it's fair enough to say we're scraping along the bottom.

  14. #14
    Hang 'Em High RRMB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by It's Mike View Post
    excellent point on trying to buy a home assuming one income (if you have two). Banks up here are still far too quick to give out loans that only be repaid if nothing bad happens to you. We just did a blend and extend on our mortgage and talking to the banking rep I just heard horror stories on the disasters people caused for themselves.
    We are kinda of glad we didn't get the first house. In hindsight, we would've been in over our head in the price category. We absolutely LOVED the house, but our payments would've doubled. We do have an excellent mortgage broker. Highly recommended by multiple people and realtors. we did some investigatng, and discovered the guy is 100% top-notch.

    As for the homes, I like the first one better (except for the white cabinets - those are a bitch to keep clean). But a very pretty looking house, I like the hardwood floors on the main floor and the big backyard is a plus. I just get an overall cozy feel from that home. But it really depends on so many things. What fits for one person doesn't for another. And the one thing you can't see (and the most important thing) is the neighourhood you're in.
    We feel the same way about it. The lay out, for a split level, is really nice. But it's a lot of wasted space to me. Then there's the stairs thing. My wife says she wants to avoid stairs when we're, excuse me, as she says; "when you're old and I have to take care of you." LOL

    The backyard (#1) is decent sized, but not as big as it looks in the pictures. It has a workshop that is attatched at the back of the garage. It also doesn't have direct access to the upstairs from the garage. So carrying in groceries, were hoofing up the stairs.

    #2 has about the same sized back yard behind the garage. And, when we're old(er), we wouldn't have to go to the basement for much, other than laundry. And if we did, the steps are wide, short and not as steep as #1

    It's amazing thing is how much different homes are valued across the continent. My house is about the size of the homes you're looking at and cost 3 times as much.
    Here it all depends on the neighborhood. Both neighborhoods are fantastic, the owners just want to sell. The appraised values are much higher than they're asking. They decided to price them to sell, instead of getting the most money they could.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daisy Hill View Post
    I was looking at a home for my retirement years ( I can't believe I said that) uh...a WINTER HOME in Florida

    one house last sold in 2006 for just over 250,000 it can now be had for less than $100,000 wow...just ....wow

    talk about real estate going into the shitter...altho I do not believe Iowa was as badly hit
    In Iowa, again, it all depended on the area. Here in Waterloo, foreclosures were below the state average, but not by much. Iowa, historically, has always been an extremely affordable place to live. People here, like the rest of the country, over-extended themselves. Most of the foreclosures were on people that are more finacially able to handle it, but in order to "keep up with The Jones'" they had to have top of the line everything. Cars, TV's, boats, RV's, etc. Hell, when I worked for the public works department, people were throwing away 46" HDTV's, because their neighbor got a 60", so they got a home theater system.

    When we first started looking, the houses we were looking at were in the $175k area. Now houses that were that high, have dropped drastically, because they've been on the market so long. So, in hindsight, having our house not sell, has been a benefit, because these houses are now cheaper, which will make our payment lower.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RRMB View Post

    In Iowa, again, it all depended on the area. Here in Waterloo, foreclosures were below the state average, but not by much. Iowa, historically, has always been an extremely affordable place to live. People here, like the rest of the country, over-extended themselves. Most of the foreclosures were on people that are more finacially able to handle it, but in order to "keep up with The Jones'" they had to have top of the line everything. Cars, TV's, boats, RV's, etc. Hell, when I worked for the public works department, people were throwing away 46" HDTV's, because their neighbor got a 60", so they got a home theater system.
    yup - see a lot of that up here too. No clue where people are getting all this money from (likely credit coming out of their ass I'm guessing).

    The biggest tip I give anyone buying a home is find a place you can afford long term and a place you can see yourself living in long term. The real estate valuation shouldn't even matter to you until you either (1) die (and who cares at that point?) or (2) downsize in your retirement. The biggest mistake i see people make is buying the "starter home" and then moving to another place 3 years later and then moving again a few years after that. Moving is fucking expensive and a pain in the ass and they never seem to take that into consideration. No one should buy a mansion right off the bat (the other common mistake) - just buy a long-term reasonable place first if you can.

    You seem to have your head on straight and aren't looking for anything more than you can afford so just pick the most comfy house in the nicest area you can find. Sometimes we complicate this stuff too much and get ourselves in trouble. We've been in the same place for 6.5 years and will probably be here until we retire unless something really horrible happens to the area. House will be paid for in about 11 or so years and then we can relax for a while. We could afford a bigger house but we're comfortable where we are so even if it means the house is a little small for the 5 of us, it's better than risking moving to another place where the house might be bigger but everything else isn't as good as we have it here.

 

 

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