Revisiting an Old House
The glimmer of hope with Juniper did not turn out. My agent dug into the house and confirmed it should have closed weeks ago, but the seller's agent wouldn't return her calls. I then saw the status update in Redfin that the house closed. It appears the agent may have forgotten to update the MLS. Oh well, so that house is done and I started looking for a new batch.
The folk Victorian on Magnolia from my third offer was still on the market and I have kept that in my back pocket. I think the house is great, but overpriced. The sticking point is that the owner is an older lady who now lives out in California, and doesn't want to sell for less than 200K. The house was cut to 209K from 250K, but it's still on the market. I put in an offer for 185K but they rejected it.
I assembled a new list of homes to check out in Wildwood. The agent for the folk Victorian reached out again and said that the seller would be coming out to Wildwood. That seemed like a good opportunity to meet her and get some history on the house. Maybe charm her that I wanted to take care of the house and she would accept my sub-200K offer once I explained how much work I'd need to put into the house. So we put the folk Victorian on the list for a return visit.
My agent set up the appointments, but sadly found out the seller recently died and now the house was in her children's hands who were now looking to get rid of the place. I swear, I feel like I'm cursed with these old homes.
We did a second walk through of the house and took more notes on what will need to be fixed. I made a spreadsheet of what I thought each repair would cost, how long it would take and who would do it and ended up with years and over 150K of work. But maybe the biggest deal breaker to preserving an old house is the FEMA regulations for flood plains.
While we were touring the house, a neighbor noticed us looking and came by and asked us if we were aware of the flooding issues in that part of Wildwood. He said that the street regularly floods from the back bay and people lose their cars to saltwater damage if they don't move them to higher ground. That got me researching the FEMA flood regulations related to buying a house.
If a structure is under the base flood elevation and you spend more than 50% of the value of the structure on improvements, then you must lift the house above the base flood elevation. That number is for the structure, not the value of the land and it affects work done over a 10 year span. The base flood elevation in Wildwood varies between 8 and 10 feet. If you talk to most contractors the first thing they will tell you is to knock the house down and build a new house up higher. If keep the existing house, you need to elevate the house above the base flood elevation which means working with a house lifter (and spending lots of money).
There are no incentives to keep the old houses in a flood area. The newer houses are designed to be elevated with the garage under the living quarters where no old houses have that set up. So I can see why most people would not want to deal with an old house in a flood area since it is a real passion project to preserve it.