General Question

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Is buying this house a bad idea?

Asked by ItalianPrincess1217 (11290points) 6 days ago

We found a for sale by owner that we would be able to afford to buy outright. It’s over 2 acres of land and includes a manufactured home on it that needs updating but is habitable in the meantime. We thought it would be perfect for us. Secluded, beautiful land, room to expand off the home, inexpensive living.

The owner listed it as “2 acres with cabin”. She mentioned she would rather sell this as a land sale and transer it to us without the use of lawyers due to funds and because it’s easier. She also said it would be a warranty deed.

We don’t have a lot of money to spare right now either but this sounds like a terrible idea to me. I don’t know anything about real estate transactions but what if someone comes back in 10 years and tries to claim that they have rights to our house? Couldn’t that happen? Is there a way to ensure that doesn’t happen without a lawyer involved? Is this even legal in NY?

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54 Answers

chyna's avatar

That’s a red flag to me! I’m not an expert in any way on real estate, and neither are you. That’s why this is not a good idea.
Anything can happen and you will not be protected.
Another thing you might want to think about is the “seclusion “. You have kids and you will be running them all over the place because you will have no neighbors for them to play with. My nephew is in the same boat. He bought a place far out and they spend most of their time on the road running the kids to ball games, school, play dates.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@chyna The house is secluded but the town is right down the road. That’s why we loved this particular place. All the other places have been at least 30 minutes to the nearest town. And neighbors aren’t far, but far enough that we wouldn’t be bothered.

I do agree with the red flags. It worries me, all the not knowing.

LostInParadise's avatar

Unless you are an expert in real estate, you should hire a lawyer to take care of the paperwork. It should not be that expensive. Make sure to agree to a flat fee, so the lawyer cannot bill additional hours.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@LostInParadise Can we just use the same lawyer in this case?

longgone's avatar

Your instincts are spot-on. You need legal help.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The house may be lovely, but the transaction stinks.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE “BUYER’S AGENT” ?

rojo's avatar

As a starting point, here is the definition of a Warranty Deed. Notice that it indicates title is “usually” transferred by a warranty deed so perhaps nothing odd there.

A couple of things I would check out are why is she have the house listed as a “cabin”? I would guess it has something to do with wanting to sell it as a land deal but I do not know. Makes me uncomfortable, like something is wrong with the home. Also, is a “land deal” really cheaper than a regular home sale? And, if so, is it a way to get around having home inspections (which you should do no matter what) or does she think that it is a cleaner transfer without lawyers/realtors being involved.

BTW you having a lawyer costs her nothing. Probably a good idea to cover your bases and get your questions answered. If she doesn’t want one then she doesn’t need to get one.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@rojo Great information! I was wondering if it would cost her anything. If that’s the case, we will definitely just get a lawyer and take that route. There’s no reason for her to be upset about us getting and paying for a lawyer (unless she has something to hide).

MrGrimm888's avatar

Sounds shady as an oak tree. Lawyer up….

Dutchess_III's avatar

Kind of on a side note…have you seen the house? Anything listed as a “cabin” can be pretty freaky heaky!

I used a lawyer when we sold our land.

@Tropical_Willie, a buyer’s agent = a realtor. I’d suggest that Princess talk to a realtor too, first thing before an attorney. A realtor won’t cost her any money and they understand the legal side of it as thoroughly as a lawyer.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, we’ve looked at it. We definitely know it needs some updating but for the price, even if the house wasn’t salvageable, we could build new on the land. Although I’m confident that’s not the case.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Talk to a realtor ASAP. It won’t cost you a thing.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Same as @rojo, if she was wanting to sell as Land only, that should be significantly cheaper. So it sounds like it wouldn’t pass an inspection and be insurable. RED FLAG!

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

It wouldn’t be cheaper, as land out her goes for 10k per acre and it’s only listed at 23k. This is over 2 acres of land plus a “cabin” (really it’s a very small manufactured home). So the cost equals out right for the land and she’s basically throwing in the house for a couple thousand. But there are a lot of red flags here. So if it’s true that us hiring a lawyer wouldn’t cost her anything, we definitely will do that.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Make darn sure there are no easements or caveats that keep this land from being buildable.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, a lawyer wouldn’t cost her anything, but it will cost you. And basically they’ll tell you what a realtor will tell you for free. The realtor will konw where to look for easements and stuff.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Where’s the buyer’s agent; again?

Has the seller said no realtors ?

RED FLAG

Dutchess_III's avatar

Italian Princess….GET A REALTOR!!!

Patty_Melt's avatar

I could be wrong, but I believe cabin allows for home without city water. It could be the water source is an on property well. That means sewer would also be on property.
Again, a realtor could clear that up for you.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

It’s a for sale by owner…why is everyone saying get a realtor? Neither of us wanted a realtor for this transaction. I’m okay with the lawyer part. I don’t see the need for a realtor at this point though. I’ve already found the property and based on the agent who is selling my house, she’s been useless after a certain point. The lawyer took over most everything.

@Patty_Melt It’s well water and septic. Most houses we are looking at in the country have this.

Dutchess_III's avatar

WHY don’t you want a realtor? SHE may not want a realtor because there may be some things she doesn’t want you to find out about. I think that in this situation, especially, you’re taking a big risk not using one. It’s cheaper than an attorney. So why would you want to go with a lawyer and not a realtor?

zenvelo's avatar

In California, mobile homes come with apink slip and are registered at the DMV. That’s why you need to check with a lawyer.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@zenvelo That’s interesting! I had no idea.

@Dutchess_III Realtor’s won’t work for free. Any realtor I’ve ever talked to will not do a for sale by owner because there’s no commission involved. They don’t get money from that unless the seller gets a realtor. And the seller listed for sale by owner in order to avoid paying commission. This is common.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m going to check on that @ItalianPrincess1217. The seller can choose to represent themselves but I’m pretty sure the buyer can still hire a realtor. But I’ll check.
I have my Realtor’s license, actually, but I may need my memory refreshed on that.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Dutchess_III Okay. I just wonder how they would get paid? What would their motivation be?

Dutchess_III's avatar

If you hire a Realtor you do pay their commission. I have a friend who is a Realtor. I’m composing a FB message to her now. Do you want me to add you to the conversation?

Dutchess_III's avatar

There are SO many different things to consider. You don’t pay the Realtor until you buy the place. They take their share off the top so you don’t have to write them a check or anything. Meaning, it don’t hurt so bad. :/

Dutchess_III's avatar

Here is what my Realtor friend said:
***********************************
I wrote:

I have a friend in NY who is in a bit of a pickle. They are looking to buy a house and here is the situation as she described it:

*********************************
We found a for sale by owner that we would be able to afford to buy outright. It’s over 2 acres of land and includes a manufactured home on it that needs updating but is habitable in the meantime. We thought it would be perfect for us. Secluded, beautiful land, room to expand off the home, inexpensive living.

The owner listed it as “2 acres with cabin”. She mentioned she would rather sell this as a land sale and transfer it to us without the use of lawyers due to funds and because it’s easier. She also said it would be a warranty deed.

We don’t have a lot of money to spare right now either but this sounds like a terrible idea to me. I don’t know anything about real estate transactions but what if someone comes back in 10 years and tries to claim that they have rights to our house? Couldn’t that happen? Is there a way to ensure that doesn’t happen without a lawyer involved? Is this even legal in NY?
*******
I said:

My friend can still get a Realtor even if the seller doesn’t have one, right? How is the commission paid?

***********************
My friend said:

If it has a house on it with any value at all I think they better use an attorney or a title company to cover their bases. It may have a lien on it that a title search would find. Your friend can use a realtor to represent them but a realtor will want the seller to pay a 3–4% commission which would be written in any offer made by the buyer.

******
I say get an attorney. But I am excited for you! 2 acres seems perfect to me.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Dutchess_III So here’s what I just got back in an email from the seller. It turns out the mobile home has no title. She says when purchased the land it had a trailer on it. She got a receipt from the lawyer for ”$1” for that trailer. Now what…

chyna's avatar

You have sold your house, you need a place in a hurry. If you jump on this deal I’m afraid you will be very sorry. It’s either going to take forever to straighten out the title, deeds, etc., or you buy it without a thorough investigation which could turn out badly for you.
I think you need to look elsewhere.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

No title means…not yours. Just getting a title for a car is a major pain in the ass. BUT, if the land is buildable and there are no issues there you could use that as leverage to negotiate the price way down on the land. Possibly look into a salvage title but do take your time to sort all this out before you sign anything. If there is a lien still on it that will have to be taken care of.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait…it had a trailer on it? Is that trailer gone? Or are you referring to to prefab house as a trailer?

Talk to an attorney. Please.
If nothing else, go down to the court house and request the records for the property. Go to a title company, tell tell them the situation. They can help you out.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

It’s a manufactured house. As it turns out, manufactured homes built before 1994 do not have titles and only need a bill of sale. Found this information on the NY State DMV website! Who knew!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait….are you using the term “trailer” and “manufactured home” interchangeably? The way you phrased it in the past tense above (”...when purchased the land it had a trailer on it.”) is confusing.

JLeslie's avatar

Lawyer, not a realtor. Sorry to disagree with those above suggesting a realtor for this. If she is selling by owner, and she is not willing to cooperate with a realtor, then no realtor is being paid, and they don’t work for free.

Plus, in NY transaction are customary done by lawyers in NY, even when a realtor is involved. The realtor finds the property, the lawyer does the contracts.

Furthermore, when I was a realtor I had to take one week of real estate school – ONE WEEK – and a state test. NYS might be a little tougher, but it is nothing like what a real estate lawyer knows about the law. In FL when we go through school we are instructed to tell clients we aren’t lawyers to make it clear when we are asked legal questions.

How much will a lawyer be? How much was it on the sale of your property? I’m guessing less than a $1,000, Which is much less than a realtor. If the lawyer does all the closing paperwork also then it’s all done in one place.

janbb's avatar

This looks lousy to me. I think you should walk away and maybe rent and build up some savings.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But I can see the allure for the 2 acres, if she can just get her bases covered. What are they asking for the property?

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@janbb The problem is rent costs more than my mortgage so we would lose money, not save. But it’s looking less lousy now that I’m discovering more information about why there is no title. Manufactured homes built before 94 won’t have a title and only need a bill of sale to prove ownership. She does have the deed to her land.

@Dutchess_III Sorry yes, I’m using trailer loosely. It’s a manufactured home. The homeowner referred to it as a trailer but that’s just the country folk way of saying manufactured home. I checked the country tax site and it’s not just listed as land, it does have a manufactured home on the land too. She’s asking $23,000 for everything. Over 2 acres, includes an apple orchard on the land, the house which has electric, well water, septic, and propane heat, all in working order.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Dang that’s tempting. All the electric, well, septic already in….
You will need someone to test your well water. You also need to talk to someone who REALLY knows about this stuff. Out in the country there is no one to really policedog stuff, like they do in the city. Everything really needs to be professionally checked. Please, PLEASE go talk to an attorney.

Please PLEASE post some pictures!

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Dutchess_III Isn’t it? Even if the house was garbage, everything is run already so we could build there (if permitted of course.) It’s even on foundation, not blocks. There’s a lot of unknowns but a lot of good things about it if it worked out in our favor. So we’ll have to talk to someone who knows about this type of transaction.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Go talk to an attorney. Or at least, as my Realtor friend said, start with a title company. One thing will lead to another and you’ll start asking more and more questions. There could be a lien on the property. Could be a LOT of unknowns so you need to start researching.

rojo's avatar

I would consider the deal if you want the land. If it is a mobile home you can always get rid of it and get a new one or build.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The fact that the seller is so adamant about no Realtors is a flag for me.

janbb's avatar

@rojo But they have no money.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Do have that well checked.

I lived on two farms in my childhood. Both had abandoned wells, with redigs done. The second farm we had so many problems with it. There were little wiggly stuff, probably mosquito larvae, maybe not. In the winter we had to throw big rocks in to break the ice and haul water up with a bucket.

Apple orchard sounds beautiful.

Have you seen Diane Keaton in a movie called Baby Boom? If not, I recommend you do, before making your decision.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You don’t have to haul it up in buckets any more. It’s piped right to the house, just like city water. It’s also covered so you don’t get animal crap in it.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Ours was piped to the house too.
It froze in winter.
I am trying to point out there’s a variety of problems with wells.
There is also potential for toxic seepage into the well. Our well was covered even wayyyy back then.
I didn’t say anything about animals crapping in it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You mentioned mosquito larva.

Patty_Melt's avatar

That isn’t poop, and I don’t know what the tiny guys were, I am guessing.
Don’t know why you are picking at what I posted. No matter how back woods my family was, doesn’t change the fact that wells can have issues now.
I have personal experience with such issues, and I know it is important to check it out.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I didn’t mean “crap” as in “poop.” I meant “crap” as in “junk”, be it poop or larva or tad poles or whatever.
Yes, wells can have issues. They need to have it tested.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Manufactured homes are called “trailers” here on the east coast.

Dutchess_III's avatar

There are so many different styles of pre fab homes. You’d be hard pressed to call some of them a trailer:. Another.

It just depends on what it looks like. We have tornado bait trailer parks around here. You won’t see those kinds of homes there, just your regular old mobile homes.
I don’t know why, but there is a kind of allure to those things for me. Not sure what it is.

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