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Negotiating Misrepresented 1905 Cottage!?

I'm looking to buy my first home, and my "second choice" is a small 1905 cottage that has been listed and re-listed since 2009. My problem is that it's wildly misrepresented in its listing details, and I think it is priced unreasonably. The sellers seem like they may be in denial about certain things, but I haven't tried to negotiate yet - I don't want to go about it wrong! (My first choice of house was a craftsman pulled from the listings after 180 days and sold to the seller's family member, but that's another story). So the problems with the way my "second choice" house is listed and priced are:

-It's a 1056 sq ft cottage listed as a "3 bedroom." The alleged third bedroom is a small mud-room with exterior side entry door, that has been carpeted. Not sure how this makes it a bedroom, since It's too small to fit a twin-sized bed in it without blocking both the exterior and interior doors...

-Even the second "bedroom" is a cramped addition that resulted from enclosing the front porch to make a couple more feet of interior space, then putting a wall up to cut the existing single bedroom in half. There is no closet in this bedroom, but there is a wardrobe.

-The added walls that turned the porch into a front bedroom are just exposed exterior beams, painted over on the inside. They need to be drywalled, (which will cut into the already cramped space of the front bedroom - maybe that's why this was not done in the first place?)

-The listing says the house has a "detached garage," but there is nothing but a garden shed in the backyard, with no car access to it. In local real estate, sheds are listed as sheds or outbuildings, not as detached garages.

-The sellers pulled up the carpets to reveal thick layers of black paint on heavily dented fir barn-wood floors, and they raised the price of the already-overpriced house by $1,000, when all the other houses around here are going down $10,000 every couple months. Of course, the paint is likely to have lead in it, but they probably don't know that.

I'm having a GC look at the house with me on Monday, so I'll see if there are anymore issues... but from my standpoint, and from the standpoint of most other buyers I'm sure, this is at most a 2-bedroom house, and possibly even a 1-bedroom if the enclosed porch space addition in the front bedroom is not up to code. And none of the above seems to be reflected in the price, which is priced comparable to 3-bedroom houses in the neighborhood, in similar condition.

It's like they are trying to market the house to a family with dual-income, when it is clearly too small to support one. As a single woman who doesn't drive and needs a home office, this house suits me alright. Things that would turn other buyers off, like being 3 blocks from the highway where I catch the bus to work, are OK for me. So, what they have is a decent little "starter home" misrepresented and sitting unsold for a long time, because people who might actually be interested in it can't quite afford it...

But how do I negotiate if the sellers are so out of touch that they can't even list the correct number of bedrooms? :(

Re: Negotiating Misrepresented 1905 Cottage!?

P.S.- There have been no other upgrades to this house that I'm aware of, except maybe some 1970s ceiling fans that aren't really useful here considering it is always brisk and windy, even in summer. This is not a ceiling-fan kind of area, and they seem really out-of-place. The kitchen has 1970s appliances, no dishwasher, a TINY sink (they washed pots & pans in the bathtub, maybe?), and cupboards that look like they were installed in the 60s. I just can't figure out the seller's reasoning for their price... It certainly needs some updates, on top of everything I listed above.

A. Spruce
Re: Negotiating Misrepresented 1905 Cottage!?

Any real estate agent worth their salt would not only know everything that you've talked about, they'd run comps (comparisons ) on the house for what it actually is - a one bedroom with some hacked on modifications. If your agent hasn't tried to evaluate the price on their own for you, then you not only need a new agent, you need to move on to your "third choice" home.

First problem, it's a house over 100 years old, that means that it will likely need extensive repairs and upgrades, no matter how cosmetically pretty it looks.

Second, you've got owners who think they're sitting on a **** mine in a market where they just aren't going to get top dollar, no matter how good the home is.

Third, if they're misrepresenting the house as "3 bedrooms" with a garage, what else are they misrepresenting or flat out not disclosing?

Fourth, owners who lack the integrity to represent and disclose their property for what it is, tend to be living nightmares as the deal progresses. Be forewarned to stay alert and cautious with everything you do.

Fifth, you're bringing in a contractor to inspect for you, good idea. How about a pest inspection, has the owner provided you with a clear pest report?

If it were me, I'd have walked away from it already, however if you're going to stick to this one, have your agent get you accurate comps to other homes in the area with similar features, PREFERABLY all original, no carpeted mud room or converted front porch.

Re: Negotiating Misrepresented 1905 Cottage!?

RUN Forrest run !!

In my fair city, a "bedroom" has to have HVAC going to it. If there is no HVAC then at best it is a closet. Since this is Texas, many of our closets have HVAC but that's another story.

Check your local codes. I'd also check with the State realty board to see if the realtor who posted this listing can get away with these shinnanigans so the next unsuspecting buyer doesn't get caught in this mess.

Re: Negotiating Misrepresented 1905 Cottage!?

If you are really interested, get it appraised. If it appraises for $10k, offer that amount. They can then come back with a counter offer or just say no. In this market I would not go much above appraised value.


Re: Negotiating Misrepresented 1905 Cottage!?

all the above advice is good advice but i'll give you my opinion too. i've been a real estate agent for over 11 years so i know something about what i'm saying. #1 make sure you have a real estate agent representing you, DO NOT use only the selling agent to cover your and the seller's side of the deal. #2 check the public record of the house, in massachusetts, by law, a seller can only represent how many bedrooms, a garage, sq footage of the house, etc if it's stated on the public record, if it says 2 bedroom on public record and they have it listed as 3, they're breaking the law and they could even be sued, not to mention that their real estate agent could lose their license. in massachusetts if there's no closet, it's not a bedroom, end of story. #3 have YOUR real estate agent do a comparative market analysis on the house for you which is pulling comps to see what this house is worth. #4 if you still want this house, make an offer for what YOU (and YOUR agent) think this house is worth and stick to your guns. if by chance you can come to an agreement on a price, then hire a licensed home inspector and have a thorough home inspection where you walk along with the inspector on every step he takes and ask every question you can think of. #5 if it appears that the house needs alot of work then renegogiate the price and don't be afraid to walk away even though you've spent maybe $300-$500 for a home inspection. #6 the biggest mistake buyers make when buying is getting emotionally attached to a house which ends up being the main reason that buyers over look expensive reapirs and over pay for a house which bites them in the ass when it comes time to resell. feel free to ask more questions and keep us informed as to what is happening, we would all be happy to help you out, i hate seeing people get screwed by purchasing a house incorrectly or paying a contractor for sub-par work.

Re: Negotiating Misrepresented 1905 Cottage!?

You need to get three things, in this order:

  1. Appraisal by a licensed appraiser (NOT the tax assessment). This is a more reliable report than a real estate agent's comparative market analysis.
  2. Thorough inspection by a licensed home inspector.
  3. Estimate of repairs by a trusted, licensed contractor (even if you plan to do repair work yourself) using the information from the inspector's report.

Your offer will be based upon 80% of the appraiser's report, MINUS the cost of any repairs necessary to bring it to basic "in good repair" condition. So if the appraiser's report is $100,000 and the contractor estimates $20,000 in repairs, your offer is $80,000 minus $20,000, or $60,000.

Don't be afraid of insulting the sellers. You say you can't afford the listing price anyway, so you're out nothing but the costs of appraisal and inspection. And if they do come back with a counteroffer, you have wiggle room to counter the counter offer.

NEVER go above the appraised value minus the cost of repairs. If you do, you risk not being able to recoup the total cost of the house should you face a financial emergency.

P.S. -- If the sellers still don't bite, then they didn't want to sell the house in the first place and are just wasting their listing agent's time.

Re: Negotiating Misrepresented 1905 Cottage!?

I have been in this same situation a few times. Personally I wait. If the home is overpriced someone will come and make a "low" offer that will tick the sellers off. The second low offer usually shows the reality and maybe a deal can be struck. If they get no offers then the time on the market may help them to realize they are priced too high.

As to the overzealous property description, their agent should know better. That's a no no.

James Leon Mahan
Re: Negotiating Misrepresented 1905 Cottage!?

Some people will not flew in their pricing regardless until they are in a situation where they have to sell. I would give it one more try then either meet their price or look for another property. If you like the location and the house you may want to meet with the terms they are asking. I would also ask to spend some time in the house to see if you really like it or not. A house purchase is a major investment. and if you are not 100% satisfied upfront there may be hardship in the long run. If it has been on the market since 2009 they are probably in the position where they don't have to sell it right away. If you love the house you may want just to give in and buy it before they change their minds or before it becomes unavailable. Take Care Good Luck.:)

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