When buying a used car unless you are a mechanic, it is a good idea to take it to a mechanic and have them take a look, “under the hood”. When it comes to buying an older home you should always be sure of what you are buying. Of course you can’t, put a home up on a car lift and take a look, but there are a lot things you can look for. Some of those things, could be lead paint, mold, meth, electrical, structural issues, roof issues, the list is large and important. An ofter forgotten or neglected inspection is of the sewer line.
If you have ever seen a sewer line replaced, it isn’t pretty. Usually, it involves digging an enormous trench across your front yard and tearing up the sidewalk and partially into the street. The costs very, but here locally it is between $13,000 – $17,000. For all of our clients who are buying homes, we recommend having a plumber “scope” or camera the sewer line prior to buying the home. The plumber will usually find a clean-out in the main sewer line in the basement, or run the camera from the main line on the roof, or remove a toilet and scope from there. The camera is inserted into the pipe and pushed through the sewer line on a cable with the goal of getting to the main sewer line in the street. The plumber has a recording device that records what he sees and usually the camera will have a distance gauge that shows up on the screen so he knows how far into the pipe the camera is.
There is nothing glamorous in sewer pipes. Usually, they are full of toilet paper and other debris. What the plumber is looking for are things like cracks in the pipe, bellies in the pipe, and places where the pipes have slipped at the connections. These are all signs of future problems. Sometimes, the debris can mask other problems or look like problems that aren’t really a problem. In those cases it is best to have the line jetted by the plumber and then camera the line again. Many times, we have had the line cleaned out and what we thought was a problem was a crack in the pipe was nothing more than some old debris.
The cost varies between plumbers, but to camera the line it is usually about $200. To jet and clean out the line can be another $200-$300 dollars. So, the process isn’t cheap, but it is worth the piece of mind knowing your sewer is alright. Most homeowner insurance companies do not cover the main sewer drain. Some 3rd party companies do. Here in Salt Lake City, we have a company that covers the cost of replacement for around $7 a month. This can be a good deal if you end up seeing the possibility of a future problem, but can’t get it fixed when first buying the home.
Here are a couple of “dirty movies” showing a before and after clean-out of the same drain. When we saw the first video, we were sure that there was a problem with the sewer, but after cleaning it out, it was actually in really good shape.
How much ‘fixing’ are you really prepared to do? The romanticism behind reinvigorating the forgotten can be for some an insatiable lust. We would know. We have bought and remodeled 20 homes in the last 15 years. Now most of these homes were “flips” but a few of them were labors of love that we lived in for years. The majority of these fixers were built between 1920 and 1960, with a few newer duplexes mixed in for good measure. The biggest exception to that would be our most recent home being our oldest, built in 1912. It took the entire summer and some of the fall of 2016 for the major renovations, but here we are in summer of 2017 and still making changes. This one falls under the labor of love category. Read more about it in our upcoming book 19 Houses, coming out this fall!
When buying any home you should always make sure to do your due diligence and get all the inspections you need and make sure you’re ready for this massive investment. For older homes, unless they’ve already been renovated, inspections are more of a starting point or just a good idea as to what you’re about to dive into. Usually it’s not so much as to “if” it breaks, as “when” it breaks or “how many times has it already been fixed.” When you buy an older home you normally get older technology, appliances, fixtures, and so on. Our 1912 home came with a few big surprises that required a decent amount of time and money to deal with. When your home is over 100 be prepared. Even though the headaches and late nights tend to lead to gray hairs in the end we love to remodel. It’s just one of those Love / Hate relationships.
Now, I’m not saying “don’t buy that old house” (unless I want it, then yea you don’t want that one, it’s ugly), I would just recommend being well prepared.
Here are 5 Tips to get started:
#1Have a large contingency plan in your budget. Once you start making small changes, they can turn into large changes quickly. We usually estimate all the known costs and add 30% for things we don’t know about.
#2Hire the right people. (our vendor list) Contractors come in many shapes, sizes, and experience. Many contractors may say they understand old homes, but they don’t. Ask for references and examples and hopefully pictures of their work. Keep in mind, that the best contractor for your project may not be the least or most expensive. Get multiple bids, and let them know you are getting multiple bids.
#3 Styles change, be prepared. It might be trendy to have a red kitchen cabinets (it’s not by the way), but will it stand the test of time? If you decide to go with current trends be prepared to change it in the next 5-10 years. We always try to add a bit of modern style with the classic looks that will stand the test of time. For example, our new kitchen has very modern blue glass tile backsplash with a classic style of cabinets. When, not if, the tile goes out of style we can replace it for a few hundred dollars. The cabinets, not so easy to replace.
#4 Fix it right not cheap. Sure, it can be less expensive to replace only part of the plumbing, but that doesn’t mean you should. Some things are best to fix it all upfront rather than just in pieces. Plumbing is a good example. You remodel the kitchen, but only replace part of the plumbing. At some point, the old pipes will burst and ruin your new kitchen. It may cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars (depending on the house) extra to replace the pipes when your kitchen is gutted. Now, since you cheaped out you get to replace the plumbing, kitchen floor, and possibly your cabinets.
#5 Start up and work down. It is really tempting to start painting and getting your new appliances. Don’t do it, don’t give in. This isn’t HGTV. Start your remodel with the roof (if needed) and work your way down. After up to down, work inside out. Meaning, replace what needs to be replaced inside the walls. This could be structural fixes, plumbing, wiring etc. Then, you can start to put it all back together. If you are doing a kitchen, the very last thing you do is the appliances. If they are on the site before it is finished, they are always in the way and become tool storage for contractors. We had a worker drop a huge drill on our stove and completely destroy the control mechanism. That was a $350 lesson.
The list really goes on and there many blogs (more on our blog as well) , books, shows and articles that you can research to better prepare yourself. We will soon release a book of our own that dives further into our homebuyer experiences but until then, give us a call or send us an email if you have any questions or just want to know more.
Location, location, location. It’s cliche, but it can’t be understated. You can have that perfect dream home everyone wants but if it’s situated “perfectly” where no one wants it, that makes things difficult. Obviously, location is important and aside from the outside factors like “walkability,” crime rate, and school districts, an even more obvious and important reason is because it’s immobile. It is where it is and it’s limited.
When you are ready to sell and you are looking at what you think you can get there are many tools and resources that you can consult. Online automated evaluation systems are great tools. They are everywhere and can give you a great idea of what taxes were paid on the property in the past and what the purchase price was the last time it was on the market. The automated systems, however, can’t decipher the market like a professional.
Whether you hire an appraiser or a real estate agent, hiring a professional is the best way to determine the TRUE value of your property. An appraiser will take in all the facts and measurements, the value of the area or street the home is on and then give you the value of your property based on comparable homes that have sold in the past six months. The real estate agent will take all of the same information into account and compare it to what is currently active, under contract, and what has recently sold versus the amount of buyers and ready home inventory to assess what you could possibly receive for your home.
Hiring a professional isn’t just to find a price, it’s to set a price. If you have an odd floor plan or have already moved your belongings out and even you can’t imagine how to furnish it, then it will definitely be harder for the buyer to imagine it. Leaving some furniture in strategic areas or hiring a staging or design team can make the difference between a house sitting on the market for days or weeks. If the home looks like a million bucks then maybe you set the price just a tad higher. Professionally staged homes tend to sell 17% quicker, according to the National Realtor Association. The buyer of course is going to have the numbers in their head, “how many bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.” but the majority of the time when it comes down to the final decision, it’s all emotions. You and your professional team need to grab hold of the buyer’s emotions and help them imagine living the next stage of their life in your home.
We are first-time home buyers. We knew a little about the buying process, but not having bought a home, we were still very naive. We were placed into a situation where we needed to find and buy a home fairly quickly. We needed to find a real estate agency that could expertly take us through the buying process and at the same time keep our best interests at hand. We found Market Source Real Estate to be very experienced and knowledgeable in buying homes and a team that we could trust. They kept our best interests at hand in identifying homes that would fit the needs of our family and our budget. They kept in constant contact with us as we went through each stage of the buying process and what to expect next. They were able to act quickly when unforeseen circumstances arose and resolve them in a timely manner. Market Source Real Estate was fabulous working alongside our mortgage broker. From start to finish, Market Source Real Estate drove the buying experience “home” while at the same time always giving us time to make decisions. Market Source Real Estate made our buying experience awesome.read more
Jeremy and Monique were incredible agents for us back in Spring 2015. They are very customer oriented, they made sure the house we bought was the one that we wanted and had all the elements we were looking for. Market Source worked so hard for us and were a great asset and advocate to have in the search for a new house, the service was top notch. They have an immeasurable amount of knowledge when it comes to the Salt Lake City market and that expertise in the market got us a great price on a great home. If your looking for an agent to help buy or sell, I strongly suggest a call to Market Source. read more
I cannot speak highly enough of Monique and Jeremy. They both were extremely professional, patient, and courteous. Monique listened to our concerns and desires, and continually found properties that were aligned with what we were seeking. Throughout the process Monique was always willing to patiently explain any questions we had, and we truly felt that we had someone working for us who had our best interests in mind. Both Jeremy and Monique have been available for assistance following our purchase as well, and we could not be happier with our choice of realtor.read more
Monique and Jeremy would great to work with! This was my first house purchase and I wasn't 100% on the whole process (even after a lot of internet research) but they helped until I understood/was comfortable with everything.Their communication was also great. Never felt like I was bothering them with the amount of questions or requests I had. They were always pleasant to work with and never made me feel like I was putting them out. Even when I requested to see a house a 2nd time they met up in-between dinner plans just so I could walk through again. It was awesome :).One of the things I liked most about both Jeremy and Monique was that when we went through a house they pointed out all the good AND bad. They weren't like some realtors where they talk up everything just for a sale. Things that other would follow up with "...but that's not really a big deal" they would state "this could be a big deal and it's something to be aware of". These two were the first realtors I have dealt with (granted have only dealt with a few) that were there to help and not just sell me something as quickly as possible.In short, if you're looking for a realtor there two are definitely worth looking into. My experience was nothing but pleasant!read more
Fantastic!!! My home was on the market for 2 days and I received 2 offers following the instructions and guidelines of Monique. The sale went through and we closed in a week and a half. She and her team made the process effortless. I could not have done this without them. There was flawless communication throughout the entire process. I never felt pressured or left out of any decision making. I felt respected and valued throughout the entire process. Thank you so much Market Source Real Estate! I couldn't have asked for a better experience.read more
We recently had the opportunity to work with Monique Higginson with Market Source Real Estate and had such a great experience. She's AMAZING! We've worked with other agents in the past, and none of them can hold a candle to her. I can't say enough good things about Monique and Market Source Real Estate. She's everything you could possibly need in an agent and more. If you're looking for great representation and outstanding service, then look no further. She's extremely professional and thorough while remaining understanding and compassionate. She worked so hard for us and always made us feel like a priority. Working with Monique was a wonderful experience.read more
Monique's team does incredible work. If you're relocating to Salt Lake City from out of state and want to work a team that is dialed-in to cool old homes and trendy neighborhoods, look no further than Market Source. They also host awesome events at their office in Sugarhouse. Win Win. 5 Stars to this team. read more
Monique and her team are connected, responsive, and have their finger on the pulse for the Salt Lake real estate market. Their level of dedication is unparalleled - and you will experience this when you work with them.read more