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Buying property and moral quandary.

 
Posts: 321
Location: Tip of the Mitt, Michigan
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Hi,  I have the option to buy a 10 acre wooded lot (mostly white and red pine trees with some beech and birch) with an unfinished 20x40 structure and a Amish built shed 12k. I will need to deconstruct the interior of the house and rebuild it and clad the exterior of the structure. Once finished I will need to add a 400 foot addition

The seller is asking 50k more than what it is worth. Paying full price will put me deeper in the red as lots of materials to finish the home and all mechanicales  and appliances needs to be purchased.

My quandary:  this was the husbands dream place as everything is in place for hunting, (rye field, deer stand, hanging pole etc..).  He was diagnosed with blood cancer and is dying. Having worked in the medical field, and after speaking with the wife I know she could loose everything she owns because of the costs associated with this disease. I also feel for her since I know what she is going through.  Do I pay full price or not? If not, I don't know how well I could sleep and live with myself knowing I had a chance to help her when she needed it. Do I let someone else buy it and sleep soundly, except for wishing I had bought a really good flat piece of land?

My heart says one thing, my head another.

Any thoughts out there?
 
Arthur Angaran
Posts: 321
Location: Tip of the Mitt, Michigan
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Forgot to mention this will be the last home for my wife and I, and yes we have to move for various reasons.
 
pollinator
Posts: 266
Location: Central Texas
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The only reason I can ever see to overpay current value if it literally checks every box on my list. Or at least has some crazy awesome feature that other nearby properties do not have. My advice is don’t be emotional about a purchase. Think of how far along 50k will get you for structures equipment ponds etc. Sorry for those people tho
 
pollinator
Posts: 1780
Location: Victoria BC
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That is a rough place for the seller.

It doesn't really sound like you've got the room to pay full price without major risk to your own family, though, if I am correctly interpreting 'further in the red' and 'last home'.

What happens if you generously overpay, and you or a family member is diagnosed with something dire and expensive 6 months down the line?


You could tell the seller what you will pay, and offer them some time to find a better offer.. if you are able to wait a while..
 
gardener
Posts: 874
Location: Piedmont 7a
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It is a strange market these days, so it can be hard to determine a fair market value.  Zillow and similar algorithms may not be keeping up with local conditions in a hot market, so be careful when pegging a value and get as many inputs as possible.

You don’t mention the price of the property - $50k above market on a $500k property versus a $100k property makes a big difference in the decision-making process as to what to offer (or whether to offer at all).  

If in fact it is significantly overpriced, is anyone else really going to buy it at that price?  If financing, the bank will want an appraisal anyway.

In your shoes, I would try to separate the sellers personal circumstances from the decision and focus on two things: what is it worth, and what can I afford. And make your offer based on that. The sellers then get to decide what works for them.  

I know this sounds cynical, but the fact that you as a buyer even know about sellers personal medical conditions seems emotionally manipulative and intended to extract maximum dollars from your wallet. These transactions are best kept at arms length to reach agreement on a fair market price.  
 
Posts: 39
Location: Big Island Hawaii
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Great advice for the real estate market that my parents gave me is; 'Never make an offer on a house you cannot walk away from.'  The Market is in flux and varied right now post pandemic.  The price of my parent house appreciated $40 k in 4 months and they sold it in the first couple weeks.  On the other hand there are probably desperate people out there who want to move more than turn a profit.  So do your research and your likely to find a market that is within your budget.  BTW -the more I learn about permaculture the more I realize that you can rehabilitate most any piece of land into something of perhaps great value.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2339
Location: Denmark 57N
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Walk away, helping people is fine if you can aford it but you've already said you can't. there are always more properties around even if you don't see them right now.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3614
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If the situation were, "the family is so desperate for money for medical treatment that they are offering to sell to me for 1/2 the fair price", you have a moral dilemma, and, in my mind, you are taking advantage of the situation if you accepted.  Paying $50,000 more than it's worth because the medical bills are going to be outrageous?  That isn't a moral dilemma for me.  If you give her the price the place is worth, that is money that gets them through some amount of time.  It may be that even if you gave them the extra $50,000, they are still $300,000 short, and you hurt your own family in the process.  My opinion is, offer them what the land is worth, and leave the decision as to whether it is worth it to them.  You aren't forcing them to accept the offer.  It's their choice.
 
master steward
Posts: 14110
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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If I was looking at this property, I would go to the County Appraisal District's office and ask them to pull up the information on this property.  I would get a copy of the value of the property and how much the taxes currently are.

While there, I might also check on the value of adjoining properties to see how they compare for land value only.

Even though the land has an unfinished house it sounds like it adds no value to the land if it must be torn down and rebuilt.

If the Amish shed is not on the County's appraisal then I would add that to the value of the land.

After completing this process I can see how much to make an offer to purchase the property.

I see this as a sad situation that would not cloud my vision as to what to offer unless they are very good friends or relatives.

 
master pollinator
Posts: 4180
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
1106
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In addition to what Anne said: the appropriate County ofice will be able to tell you if permits were were required and issued for the structures on the land. As much as I hate permits, when buying a property you need to know where you stand -- including whether you can legally finish a structure.
 
Arthur Angaran
Posts: 321
Location: Tip of the Mitt, Michigan
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Hi, thanks all. I should have said I am acquainted with the family, but we are not best of friends. Basically the property is a 20x40 new build shell, with the interior being studded out, electric in place. I will need to redo the interior and replace the kitchen floor and cabinets to make the house wheelchair accessible. Well and septic are in place. They want 155k. seems reasonable except, the land is worth 30k, well and septic 10k, foundation 10k, materials for structure 30k so far, shed 12k.  

I will need to put siding on the house, walls, insulation, kitchen, and bath, exterior landscaping for entry access and a driveway.  My head says pay 100k and use the 50k to finish the house.  My heart and conscience say pay the full amount and borrow the 50k.

The 10 acres is a hunting and fishing paradise. Deer, bear, elk, trout, salmon, whitefish and a few more.
Also space for a large garden.  

My wife and I could buy, or pass and buy 2 acres and build new. Will have to travel to hunt or fish though.



 
Joe Hallmark
pollinator
Posts: 266
Location: Central Texas
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You listed 92k worth but part of it has to be ripped out anyways. 150 sounds not reasonable at all. Unless structures are finished value is not there. If you were to build would you do an 800sqf house? If not there is no value. I’m not trying to be mean but helping someone is saying this place is worth 92. I’ll give you 95. Giving 50k away seems absurd. Especially since you mention borrowing that money.

That may come across as harsh but you have no moral obligation to an acquaintance financial situation. It would be immoral to take it for 50k since you know them in my head.

In my mind your moral obligation is to benefit your family in an honest way. Offering them the actual value does that. Fair to both parties. It’s up to them to accept it or not. I would under no circumstance borrow sums of money large or small to overpay for something to help someone else.  
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Posts: 4180
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
1106
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It's fair to note that there are tangible improvements over raw land -- a well, septic system and utility buildings. These cost real money to put in. I'm not clear if there is grid electrical service.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1128
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
480
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As Douglas said, there's a lot of value to the well and septic and foundation work all being done already. More than just the dollar amount, it's the TIME.
Waiting for a survey, permits, inspections, perc. test, drilling the well, excavation, forming and pouring the foundation, plumbing, electrical, framing (even considering the re-work). ALL of these things stretch out for weeks and months, take calls/meetings/visits, and time to schedule, price out, etc... (also if it was begun pre-2020, lumber costs were less!)

So, the value may be somewhere in the middle? I would offer something that considers their time invested so far, but also how far left to go to finish what's there. Your additional plans may add to the property value when completed, but has nothing to do with the state of what they set out to build. Maybe you could get financing that includes money to complete the house? maybe with your addition? You're buying a construction project, not a move-in ready home... that might tie you up with two properties/homes at once? or selling, then renting and storage until it's completed?
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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1106
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:As Douglas said, there's a lot of value to the well and septic and foundation work all being done already. More than just the dollar amount, it's the TIME.


Very true. Re-reading the OP, I see the well and septic estimated at 10K. If they are reasonably modern and in good repair (and acceptable to the powers that be), that valuation seems light. The cost of putting them in new would be double or triple that amount.

The option of pulling a portion of your food -- especially protein -- directly from natural sources is truly seductive. I think the bigger question is whether this property is a good overall "fit" with your situation and aspirations. Can you get grid services -- electricity, telephone, cell phone, internet -- should you need them? Is the commute distance reasonable for work and supplies when you need them? Do you want to raise a lot of larger grazing animals, which would require a ton of work clearing forest and planting forage? How difficult is access in different seasons? Is there a way to make money from this land? And, life throws curveballs: if needed, can you easily resell it for what you paid? My 2c.
 
Anne Miller
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Posts: 14110
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Another thing to consider and investigate is the fact that there might be a mortgage on the property.

If these people have a mortgage then paying that mortgage off would go a long way by helping them financially.  Offering them some cash after paying off the mortgage would help even further.

That property sounds like a great deal and might be worth the asking price if it were finished. Though it might not be a good deal if you have to borrow $50,000 to complete the sale and then another $50,000 to finish and make it move-in ready.

I always consider the sale price as an asking price and that the other party has asked more than what they are willing to take.

 
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