Substandard property (long) - Posted by Chris (CA)

Posted by Gavin Wilkinson on September 14, 2004 at 12:59:53:

Think of the motivation of the building department. Do they have anything to gain by telling you anything? No. Do they want you blameing them when you discover other things wrong with the building that they didn’t know or care about. No. Do they want you spoiling their doughnut break? No.

Who is the motivated party? The seller. They are the ones that would get some cash. Contact the seller and ask them for their paperwork from the building department. They should know what is wrong. The seller may not be motivated to sell. Then you are wasting your time.

I spent 5 years trying to contact the owner of a lot next to mine that I wanted. I would have paid up to $50,000 for it because it really complimented my lot well, and I wanted it for my backyard. Well, I found out her address, and I called her and left messages. No answer. Several years later I wrote again, and again called and left messages. No response. Eventually the lot came up at tax auction and I got it for $10,000, far less than I would have paid, if the lady only replied to my phone message!!! I found out later that she had gotten the lot in a divorce and she hated to even think about it and just let it go to taxes.

You never know what peoples motivations are. Contact the seller and if they are motivated you will make a deal. If they are not, keep looking for another motivated buyer.

Substandard property (long) - Posted by Chris (CA)

Posted by Chris (CA) on September 14, 2004 at 11:15:17:

I found a property that has been declared unsafe to occupy by the building inspector. It has been this way for close to two years. I have no idea what is wrong with it. I went to the department of building safety to see if they could tell me why it is unsafe to be occupied. The guy I spoke with was less than friendly. He acted like I was asking for the winning lottery numbers. I told him that I was interested in purchasing this property but before I contacted the owners I wanted to find out from them why they declared it unsafe. Was that asking too much? I really don’t know what is public knowledge and what is not when it comes to this type of property. I thought that I would be able to at least find out what was wrong with the house from this department. I kept getting responses like, “if you want to buy a house I suggest you contact a realtor.” I replied in the nicest way possible that I don’t want to buy A house, I want to buy THIS house. I’m well aware on the process of buying a home. However, this paricular house was deemed unsafe to occupy by your department and since this is the department of building safety I thought I would come here to inquire about it first. So now I’m waiting to get the property profile from an associate at the title company I work with. She has already told me that it is an absentee owner, so I’ll have to get in touch with them to find out what the damages are. I looked around the outside of the house a little and found there was a nice sized bee hive living in the house. Do owners in this type of situation typically know what the building inspector found and why it is unsafe to be occupied? What if this owner doesn’t know all the details. I’m kind of venting about the experience, but I do have some questions.

  1. What are some of the “gottchas” when dealing with unsafe properties? What type of damages should I avoid, or is everything fixable for the right price?

  2. Where would you have started to determine the damages that make the property unsafe? Should I have gone to the owner first, or was I right to go to the department of building safety?

  3. If the owner(s) do not know all the damages then I assume I will have to get a limited power of attorney to deal with the department of building safety, correct or no?

  4. Let’s say I buy this house. At what point would the building inspector come out and declare it a safe property?
    Just wondering…would it be before, during, or after repairs. Or all of the above.

Has anyone else had a similar situation? If so, what was the outcome? Thanks for reading.