So we finally got a chance to take a deeper look inside of the 1913 Craftsman Gem we found this past weekend. We now understand why our offer got accepted (although it was 25K under asking) and possibly why it's still on the market...It's still an amazing find, it's just not for us --- guess it wouldn't be a "hunt" if it were so easy! Lessons we learned:
- Ask a LOT of Questions
- Find a Good Inspector
- Talk to Neighbors
- Focus on what's best for you/don't get caught up in the Deal
- Try & Get as much information as you can before an offer (in LA where houses get snatched up in 3 days this is a tough one)
- Listen to your Gut
Our inspection started off super well with a great Sewer Health review. Juan was able to do a camera inspection of the entire sewer (see below if you're curious). We paid 250$ for a last minute Sunday inspection (we only gave a few hours notice) which we hear is on the higher end ($125- 300) but what you'd expect if someone professional is coming with the appropriate tools, video, etc and actually showing you the feed, which is what you want...
Most importantly for us he was punctual (got there before us), and professional. If you're in LA give Juan a shout-- we'll be using him again for inspection & hydrojetting! (818-421-9543)
Next came the Big Daddy of inspections a little over 5 hours of poking, prodding, and explaining-- our inspector was AMAZING (more on him to come in future posts). We actually found him through our lender which is a great move for anyone going through the 203K process as this will be the person doing all your documents down the line -- In the inspection we found out that there was an incremental 20-30K of work (on top of the 30K we already expected) that would be needed to get the house up to code -- Meaning we'd need 50K in addition to the 80/90K we'd planned for renovations -- coming out we realized we'd have to drop our offer significantly (another 40-50K) for it to make sense for us. This was tough as it was still a great house, super large (3200 Sq feet), close the the neighborhood we wanted to be in, and well priced.... so still a great deal, but it would mean living in a place we weren't comfortable with for at least a year.... Some Additional Goodies we found out: While talking to the tenants and neighbors and taking a re-look at our previous week's photos (make sure to take photos on your first visit!) we learned some more info:
- The AC Unit that was there last week was now gone
- There may or may not be the original wood flooring under the floor boards as we were originally told (2 of the tenants said it was torn out)
- There is a pigeon problem on the property (they added in bird spikes the day before we came)
- The windows are nailed shut because the house next door was filled with hobos 6 months prior
- As of last year 30+ people lived in the house, the ceilings were falling down, and the neighborhood was so unsafe children couldn't ride their bikes
- The street was basically a modern wild wild west a few months ago w/the neighbors (who are super charming) fighting to get the last remaining renters off the street - they contacted the LAPD, city council, etc. etc.
- There are still some issues with another house & it's tenants a block down -- I found 2 assaults and a recent rape (3 weeks ago :/) on LA crime mapping... what's scary is it's still a super safe street for LA (safer than a lot of places in Venice or Santa Monica)
- Someone's throat was slit in the car port -- she bled out on the driveway
What we did next: We immediately contacted our rock star agent and told him they'd have to drop the price 40-55K for us even to accept the offer given all of our new found information. We expected that this would result in the deal going away but to our surprise they were willing to consider a low offer! (We're pretty sure they're desperate to sell at this point due to all the neighborhood issues) which left us with a lot of thinking to do. Introspection: In truth -- the house is a great find: We could get it at 70-80K below asking, thanks to the 203K loan we could put in the money needed to bring it up to code & renovate it to something we would LOVE to live in, the neighbors are charming, and sure someone died on the property in a horrible graphic nature but it's a 100 yr old house and she bled out outside, not inside... There may be crime but so much less than other neighborhoods in LA, it's a great investment as it's super close to upcoming transit construction, and the creepy ex-tenants might try to come back but we would be next door to a parole officer so probably not. While this decision sounds like a no-brainer given all the crazy surrounding this property when you're about to give up what could be the perfect house (in about 6 months from now) it doesn't feel that way.... You wonder if growing up in gated communities and having a false sense of security in NYC because you never really read crime stats has made you soft. You think of the 100- 150K you could be saving by being 2 blocks away from where you really want to be.... And then if you're lucky you remember you're making a 30 year commitment and your friends (who've already purchased houses) tell you to go with your gut.