Monday, August 31, 2009

Pest Reports Are Your Friends

Second weekend, fewer houses - some we rule out just by driving by. After 16 years on the force, the ex-cop Husband casts a fisheye on any of the following being too nearby: apartment complexes, especially with people hanging around outside; liquor stores, especially with people hanging around outside; and young men walking pit bulls, rottweilers, or mastiffs.

We look at another tiny place in Albany - when will we learn? Remodeled, everything new, inside and out - but only one bedroom, and a microscopic lawn. They give us a typed list of everything they've done to the house: new plumbing, drip irrigation, double-paned windows - and three sump pumps. This tiny property requires THREE sump pumps?? As F. says later, "Is it on a river?" Asking price: $469K.

On to another place in Berkeley, where someone clearly lived for years, and kept things clean, but not updated. But it's huge - the eat-in kitchen could hold a table for twelve. It takes us a little time to find the "unpermitted" second bathroom - walk out the back door of the kitchen, down the stairs, across the patio, down another little set of stairs into the laundry room - where the ceiling is so low the Husband cannot stand upright. "You're doing all the laundry," he says drily. The washer and dryer sit on one side of the laundry room; a toilet, sink and cement stall shower on the other side. Gee, not up to code? Asking price: $425K.

The Husband does not like the looks of the apartment building across the street, but I ask F. to pull the reports. She emails pages and pages of inspection and pest reports - termites, electrical issues, plumbing - estimated at $36K, but she will also insist on a stucco test and foundation inspection. I forward the reports to my handyman brother in San Francisco, and he is more concerned with what is missing from the report than by what is included. We don't pursue the house, though I had already remodeled it in my head. Must stop doing that.

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