The worst house to buy

Want to know the house to stay away from?

It’s the one that has had the same owner for many decades and has never had anything major done to it the entire time.

How do I know this?  I own two of them.

I sometimes stumble across a deal that I can fix up and rent out.  The ones that I have spent the most on are the ones that fit this profile.

Most of the time, there isn’t much you can save.  I usually end up replacing windows, the roof, the furnace, air conditioner, water heater and all the appliances.  Often the kitchen and bathrooms are worn out enough that I end up having to start all over, even though I prefer to keep as much of the original character as I can.

A lot of these houses were built in the 50s and 60s.  Houses from that era are arguably the best built houses ever……I can tell by how hard it is to do any demo work.  Most have bathrooms with lots of ceramic tile.  The kind that goes half way up all the walls.  Only once have I ever been able to keep the tile.  Most of the time there is a really bad section and it can’t be saved, or the vanity needs replaced, but the tile is all around it.  To replace the vanity you end up having to take off the tile and it forces a pretty big renovation.

It’s all worked out pretty well for me, but I was just thinking about how these type of houses are the ones that I am always over budget because they are like that “If you give a mouse a cookie” book where you do one thing that leads to another action, then something else, and so on.

These type of houses appear to be a real bargain to most buyers.  They are usually in pretty cool older areas with big trees.  They have character.  If they are decorated right, they look nice too.  It is only when you do a home inspection that you realize that while nothing is catastrophically wrong with the house, almost EVERYTHING needs some attention, and that attention costs a lot of money.

2 thoughts on “The worst house to buy

  1. John, the house before this one we built was this way, both when we bought and when we sold it. There is pretty much nothing I can’t do with my own hands other than internal A/C / heatpump diagnosis. But with my travel, only replaced water heater, linoleum with Armstrong laminate, and painted dark paneling in fam room, and all paint in and out, roof. I sold it as is after looking what a similar house that was redone brought and what I’d have to spend to get “move in ready price”. It sold right away. Every time we packed something, I saw another project I didn’t have to do, it was like a big weight off! I’d had have to spend $40k min on kitchen, the 60’s pink bathroom (tile, tub, commode, sink, even pink shell-shaped lites over vanity. until Deb toned it down with black covers/curtain you’d turn on the light and it would blow you back out the door it was so pink!), master cabinets and shower, on and on, 6 months, and … maybe … it would have brought $50k more. Here, we update something every year or so, mostly small, but we’ll never be in that position again, best sale decision I ever made! Guy that bought it owned and maintained several rentals; he more or less gutted it. 2 years later still hadn’t moved in…
    Chip

    1. I think I am in a similar spot with my current house. I’d love to have my next house be a brand new one….with a 10 car garage!!

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