Real Estate in Upstate

Living room sofa, rain 41 F, 0630

Recently, there have been a lot of people from NYC buying houses in the area. Real Estate in the metro area and down state is very expensive. Most Manhattanites feel that owning a weekend home is a good investment. The outbreak of COVID-19 makes it even more attractive.

When we bought our home, I was naive about home ownership in general. As a trusting individual, I felt that most people were honest. We hired a home inspector to complete a full inspection before sale. Unfortunately, many things were missed. Very obvious things. Since that time, inspection business in New York State has been regulated. Current buyers are much less likely to be utterly ripped off.

Leaking well pump, started after about six months of regular use. Shaft seal went bad.

There are still some things to look out for when buying someone’s weekend or vacation home. When I home is a weekend home, things often sit unused or under used. Home inspectors will spot most things but some might not be so obvious. Mechanicals; pumps, furnaces, air conditioners, and so on work better when they are regularly in use. If they sit around for long periods of time, then seals can go bad, bearings get rusty, and so on.

We moved in during a drought, next year we had this

During dry periods, basements and crawl spaces can look great. When the weather returns to normal however, things might look different. The same can be said for the function of leach fields, which is the most common septic system in rural areas.

Check the water situation especially if it is well water. Look for bacteria and also dissolved minerals. Iron (ferrous water) is very common around here. It gets worse when the weather is dry for a long period. In other areas, lime, calcium, copper, and/or particulate is found in well water. An appropriate water filter can remove these minerals.

A tale of two glasses: Glass on left, just drawn from the faucet; glass on the right, after sitting for 25 minutes

Look for signs of mouse and insect infestations. In defense of the current owner, these things can happen over time and no one will notice it. Termites can be destructive but so can mice, bees, carpenter ants, raccoons, etc.

Make sure that the property has been surveyed and a current deed description is on file. This is one of those things that I dealt with, as our house was build on pieces of three lots all with different descriptions filed at different times. This was cleared up with a new survey and deed description.

Sometimes, if the neighbors are out and about, chatting them up can reveal some of these things. After we moved in, one neighbor stopped by and asked me why I bought a house that had so many problems. That is never a good sign.

Finally, there is the one thing that cannot be changed or fixed; location. Make sure you are buying in the right area. Many places in upstate are great, but there are some places to avoid so research the area thoroughly. Local news sources can be a good place to start.