Friday, November 3, 2017

Homebuying Adventures, Part 1

I wasn't too keen on the idea of spending thousands to build on my lot as I didn't think I'd recoup the value upon selling. So I started looking at other options. I found a cool-sounding property on NoName Road in Youngstown FL listed at $67,999. It was an old (1994) RV trailer roofed over with an addition that had a sunroom, bedroom and bathroom. It had water frontage on two sides on canals of Deer Point Lake. It seemed a little pricey for an almost 25 year old RV with an addition of undetermined age and quality, but I decided to go look at it.  When I got there with the realtor I found it wasn't in nearly as good shape as the pictures appeared. First thing I noticed was a tree had fallen on the roof and put a huge dent and a hole. While the place had been vacant for years, it was obvious they knew about it as they tried to tie some of the siding in place with some wire. Which was very rusted so it had been damaged for a while.

The second thing I noticed was that the well house was all distorted, either from subsidence or from just being poorly built. I was hoping the same guy didn't build the addition. (That's supposed to be a flat roof.) The well wasn't in there, just the pressure tank.

The water filtration system was in pieces, with one tank leaning up against the trailer.

The air conditioner looked awful too. The lack of maintenance was obvious. Plus the skirting was buckled in some places, leading me to wonder if the trailer had settled and might settle some more. I never did get to look underneath and see if, god forbid, it was still sitting on tires. Or how well it was blocked if they had taken the tires off.

We found the septic tank by following the exposed pipe to the mostly exposed tank.  Which was right next to the fence/property line. That may have been ok decades ago, but not now. The tank has to be 5' from the property line. Plus other setbacks from the foundation, potable water lines and 100' from the water.  I was pretty sure this would be a problem as the county here is not exactly consumer friendly and I doubted they'd approve a permit to repair or replace it where it was, and it was hard to see where I could put it and comply with all the other setbacks without ripping out the structures.  I thought the lid was cracked, it turned out it was just ancient. The septic guy told me they stopped using 3 piece lids in the 70's. (It did fail the septic inspection, by the way. Quite spectacularly. He pulled up one piece of the lid, took one look and walked away. But that's a story for another day.)

When I took these pics I had never seen a septic tank like this so I thought it was broken. Turns out it's just how they did it almost 50 years ago. :-( 

One of the storage sheds was in poor shape, with the floor all rotted out.

The hot water heater was outside, under a kinda weird cover that didn't seem very weatherproof. Unsurprisingly, though the breaker appeared to be on, there was no hot water.

The shed with carport, while mostly in good shape (though FULL of mud dauber wasp nests and surrounded by fire ants) but it was weirdly placed. It was jammed up against the corner of the addition and they cut a section out of the carport roof to make it fit. Just odd. 

The view was not quite as nice as the pics either, they must have been taken after a lot of rain. There wasn't nearly as much water when I looked, and the annual lake drawdown wasn't starting until the 20th of November. 

The other canal was full of lily pads and seemed like skeeter central. :-(

We went inside and then the real fun started.  Pretty much the first thing I noticed was the largest spider I've ever seen anywhere. Ever. Eeeeee......  The second thing I noticed was the gaping hole where they yanked out the fridge, tearing up the vinyl floor and leaving a piece of rotten, water damaged plywood exposed, along with a hole in the wall. This was kinda fortuitous as it exposed how haphazard the wiring was, and the fact that they just stuck a piece of plastic over the hole where the old RV fridge had been vented to the outside. The opening is only 24" wide so there aren't many options in fridges that will fit. 

The pic is blurry since most of the lights in the camper didn't work. The built-in ones are 12v and the 12v system wasn't functioning. There are lots of reasons that could be, my guess was a failed converter.  I never found a breaker box or panel inside the rv to check.

The addition looked great, on the surface.  When you looked more closely at it, problems appeared.  I didn't realize it at first, but the walls in the addition were not wooden beadboard like I thought, but plastic panels made to look like it.  I'd never seen that before. So much for my idea of painting it. :-(  When I looked under the vanity in the bathroom I had a couple more surprises.....first of all, the back of the vanity had disintegrated. Like the fridge, this was kinda fortuitous as it revealed some poor workmanship in the form of another hole in the wall. It also revealed that the walls were a styrofoam sandwich! Plastic panel, plain, uncovered styrofoam, and another plastic panel. No drywall, no foil or other covering on the styrofoam, nothing. I had to wonder how that would fare in a fire. I really wonder what the home inspector would have said about that, though I never got to that point.

The floor in the bath was pretty badly stained too. 

I found the VIN plate showing the year and model of the RV trailer, it still had a license plate on it. I wondered in passing how that worked....was there a title for the RV and a deed for the land or how that worked. I figured that was something for the seller to take care of. (It turned out that I was right to wonder about that......they did need to transfer the title of the RV to me.....and they never got one. I guess when they bought it they didn't do title insurance or a survey or anything and didn't know to get the RV title. And the lady they bought it from had died. This could have been a real headache.)

Even after seeing all these problems, I thought the lot had potential.  I felt that I could use the structures as they were until maybe some day I wanted to build something better.  It would have been nice to kayak around and watch the sunset. I didn't realize the drawdown was going to make the kayaking impossible.

(I did go back after the first drawdown and the water was pretty hard to see from the house. The 'boat ramp' (if you can call it that) was already unusable. When the lake is fully drawn down in December it's probably just a mud flat out there until March. Since I'd only be here in the winter......that was a big negative.)  

I went home and started researching. I found that the sellers paid $25,500 for the property in 2012 and all the improvements had already been done before they bought it. (I was never able to find a single permit for anything.)  I also found that the entire lot was in a flood zone, AE elevation 8 feet. In other words, if I ever wanted to build or put in another manufactured home it would have to be above 8' elevation. In fact, it sounded like if you even wanted to add another room it had to be 8' up. Most of the other lots on the street had a bit of land out of the flood zone where people had built but this lot didn't. So that was a negative about the lot.  After giving it some thought I offered $40,000. I felt that was a fair offer with all the problems, giving the sellers a $15,000 (almost 60%!) profit. Plus I was a cash buyer, so there was no uncertainty about someone getting a mortgage. Though I doubt any bank would finance something like this anyway. So now I just had to wait.

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