View Full Version : Help making an offer on a home? Cat hoarders house

Jun. 16, 2012, 12:55 PM
Sadly my neighbors passed away this past winter. There is about a 1/4 mile between my current home and this one, only one neighbor sits between mine and the sale one. There home will be offered for sale soon. I do know that a real lowball offer has already been made we're talking under 18,000 it has been turned down. I do understand the offer as the property connects to there land and they want it for more hay fields (they already have been doing the hay for years there). Just so nobody thinks I could have problems with the people that there offer was denied we are friends and are ok with me trying also.

Ok so the place is on 6.5 acres which 6 of it has been used as hay fields pretty level land, a barn it would be an odd layout but I could fit 5 12x12 stalls and a large tack room, run-in already connected to barn. Now for the house it is a old farm house fieldstone basement(great shape) house is still solid. New vinyl siding, windows and roof in last 10years. newer septic system,some of the electrical has been replaced. Furnace is newer also. people lived in house until Jan. 2012.

Sounds great right?

So here is where it goes from sounding like a nice place to a nightmare. The house had 26 cats that had run of the house for many years its a complete gut job on the inside (I might be able to save some of the original molding on the second floor). Months of being empty it still has an over powering cat urine smell. Its going to take a lot of money to make it worth living in. Lucky for me I have family that are contractors and electrical (certified) and one that works for a plumber.

The good is that I would like to keep my current home and slowly fix the other home over the next couple of years. I would no longer have to do selfcare on my horses at another location/pay board. Hopefully I would be able to sell my current home when fixer was done and be almost mortgage free. My kids can stay in current school. DH does not want to leave our current area. First plan would be to get fencing done horses moved.

I have no clue what to offer for this place or get financing for it as I know I wont be able to get a mortgage because of the shape it is in and I don't want to have them tell me it needs to be fixed right away. I know this is the reason for the low offer already. I have been looking to see how much equity I can take out on my current place. Homes in my area with 5acres have been selling for 75,000-150,000 most are newer or atleast move in condition. per a real estate agent land is currently 1500-2000 an acre in our area.

How do I figure out a fair offer? I'm hoping to get my offer in before it is listed.

Jun. 16, 2012, 02:20 PM
As far as the property goes - engage a realtor to be your buyer's agent and you will save a lot of headache. I can't tell you a thing about that area and what is an appropriate price, a good realtor should be knowledgable about land values and future value of the house etc.. You also say you have family in the trades - you need to get them on board and find out what they think about the work vs what you'll eventually get.

As far as the cat house goes - in 2001 a lady by the name of Marilyn Barletta was found guilty of animal abuse after over 200 cats were found living in the house she bought specifically for them. The cats were living and dying in the walls it was so bad. I can't find a link that verifies my local gossip, but I worked in that town and local gossip had it that they gutted the house and it seemed OK but that after not very long the odor began to rise again - maybe the dirt in the crawl space was full of urine. So I'd tred warily - you say there's been a lowball offer - well there's a good reason for that.

And good luck!

Jun. 16, 2012, 02:28 PM
Farm Credit will do a fix up loan on an acreage. You need 20% down of the final price (i.e. purchase price plus contractor estimates). You can take gifts for the 20%, which you cannot on a traditional mortgage (no idea if relevant, but worth mentioning). Your rate is not locked until construction is completed but you only have one closing on the entire loan to pay for. A week ago I was told the current fixed rate on a 30 year was 5 or 5.5%--so it is higher, but something to consider if you just want to get it fixed up right away and don't have the money for both purchase and immediate fixing...

How bad will property taxes be on a non-owner occupied farm in your area?

At least that is what they told me last week when I called! LOL.

Around here you would buy that land bare for 97k or so, so if you could get it for 18k and have a barn (wow) you could easily start over with a new house...I wish I could get land for 1,500 vs $15,000! :-)

Jun. 16, 2012, 03:44 PM
That place is not worth much more than land prices. At best it sounds like a take down to the studs and re-model. I have worked many animal hording cases in my past and a fair number wear tare down as the structure was so urine saturated there was nothing salvageable. Likely there will also be mold issues. There are some new products nowdays, but much of the walling and flooring are probably shot

Jun. 16, 2012, 08:49 PM
I disagree that you will be able to save any wood or dry wall/plaster inside the house. Everything will hold the smell of the cats and there is no point trying to do anything but gut to the studs, and you'll probably have to replace the sill plates (? bottom floor base if that's not the right term) for all of the walls, and possibly the wall studs for a certain height from the floor also.

A few years ago a friend's brother bought the family house, and one cat had totally nailed one room. He replaced the wall board, mouldings, sterilized the concrete floor and sealed it, and apparently it was in the sills too, because it still reaked after he replaced everything. The guess was that the urine flowed under the floor/wall bottom plates and went further.

Jun. 16, 2012, 09:18 PM
yup, the sellers are going to have to realise it's a total teardown.
still maybe a good bet, since the water, power, septic and driveway are there already.
make sure you check with the zoning office about rebuilding and grandfathering issues before you spend a dime.
basically make sure it can be rebuilt to suit you.

Jun. 16, 2012, 09:34 PM
A local hoarder was living in a nice house with 90 cats.
Once the daughter finally had her committed, they condemned the still fine looking house from the outside, as they said there was no way anyone could have cleaned it.
It was soaked all over, studs, floors, all with cat urine and dead cat smell, horrible.
They bulldozed it all.

Just be sure how bad it is before guessing you can clean it.

Jun. 16, 2012, 10:49 PM
Well not the answers I want to hear but usefull in deciding what to do. Thank you for giving me a heads up on how hard it can be to get rid of the cat oder.

A new house would be nice and if it was a must to take down the existing home I would do it maybe eventually do a dream house. I'm happy with my current home (just no land with it) and its not so far that I couldn't just use the other property for the horses.

I believe the people that put in the low offer had gotten a quote to do a cleaning on the place in the 5000 range and that was with the home already gutted to the studs. They told me they had no use for the house so instead of investing more $ they'ed have it torn down and just use the barn as storage.

I did find out today that there had been another offer in the 25000 range but it was shortly after the owners passed away and the family never gave an answer. I don't think they realize either that the tax assesment does nothing for the actual value of the home. The family seen that and only see the $ signs. When I walked through the house she kept showing me the paper with the tax assesment and I didn't have the heart to tell her that there was no way anyone would pay that amount.

As for the zoning currently where I live there is no zoning so I guess I luck out there.
Thanks again for the advise so far.

Jun. 16, 2012, 11:19 PM
Former top realtor here........absolutely, positively GET A FEE PAID APPRAISAL........... The bank will require one anyway and the seller can't argue with an offer based on one. If it comes in higher than you expect, then don't disclose it, just make the offer. But the only way I have had good success in this circumstances (an estate, poor condition property) is to get an appraisal and go from there. The appraisal should cost you about $300 and will be worth every penny.

Jun. 17, 2012, 12:18 PM
As others have said, get an appraisal from someone you pay, and get them inside the house because of the cat issue. Then get a restoration company like ServePro or some other disaster clean up company to tell you if it's possible to de-cat the house, and get the cost to do so. Then figure in 20% more for Murphy's Law, and make an offer. If you get it, great. If you don't, you know that whoever gets it paid more than it was worth. If the family won't deal with you, that's ok. They are the ones stuck with the cat house, and they are paying the insurance and property taxes. Have a plan of action if you do get it, and don't stress and do coulda/whoulda/shoulda if you don't.

Years ago, we had to dump my MIL's house because she was a hoarder and had Alzheimers. Thankfully no cats! We took a very low cash offer from the neighbors because they were in a much better position to clean it out and remodel it. Sometimes the family just has to see the light. I am SO happy we did not have to deal with it.

Jun. 17, 2012, 12:59 PM
A lot of hoarder houses have to be condemned. It will just depend on how bad it is in there. (I could tell you story after story, but no one wants to hear them and I don't want to bring them back into my mind again! ;)).

I would look into what land prices are for similar properties without houses. And that's what my offer would be, maybe minus some since you'll have the trouble of tearing down the current house.

If you want to try to save part of the house, I would have it inspected first. See if a professional thinks it is worth saving...

Jun. 17, 2012, 01:39 PM
I would follow the good advice in this thread and get an honest appraisal. Tax values don't reflect realistic sale prices in this market for any property, much less one in bad condition compared to when it was assessed. Hopefully the home may be salvagable by rehabbing it like it had been in an extensive flood and gutting everything possible. It would be a shame to have to tear it down, but you would still have a nice 6 acres close to home for your horses!

Ambitious Kate
Jun. 18, 2012, 05:30 PM
I would put an offer on the land, saying the house has to be razed. There may be consideration for the fact that there is a foundation/footprint and that there are utilities into the property, but I would not pay for the building. Get an apparaisal with that in mind.

Jun. 19, 2012, 06:17 PM
agree with most. cat odor does NOT come out. Ever. Bulldoze it. So make offer on land.

Jun. 19, 2012, 07:01 PM
agree with others... some friends had to remove the carpet, flooring and sub-flooring after a visit from a neighborhood feral while they were away... and still didn't get all the odor.

Jun. 19, 2012, 11:46 PM
At one point a had a cat that used the corner of the bedroom a few times instead of his litter box. He was eventually diagnosed as diabetic so his pee was especially stinky.

He got the carpet, pad and plywood sub-floor. We had to get rid of the carpet and pad. For the sub-floor I used oil based Kilz and 2 coats of oil based paint on top of that to paint the sub-floor. I originally tried with latex paint and could still smell it.

When I moved into a new house I had to spot treat a couple areas of the sub-floor where the previous owners cats had gotten it. My cats have not marked on top of those spots since we sealed it with oil based paint. They had marked on top of those spots before I sealed them.

That being said, these were isolated spots from a few cats not from 26 cats. Maybe you could gut things to the framing and sub-floor and then spray everything from waist down with a couple of coats of oil based paint. But I would want a really good discount on the property in case that didn't work.

I would think that you would need to offer a little bit over going land prices in the area since having the utilities already on-site adds some value even if you level the house. This is especially true if the property has a well and in-ground septic.

Jun. 20, 2012, 11:36 AM
Thanks for the great responses. I've been doing my research as to ways to possibly save the home, I have emails into several places hoping to find others experience with this type of situation.

Sonnysmom I had just read where people said that 3 coats of Kilz oderless paint will cover the oder with years of success. I thought about looking into taking the house down to the studs and trying that. That was used after the area was cleaned first.

Right now I'm still working on getting the owner to let me back in so I can set up an appraisal so I can come up with a realistic offer. The home is currently not listed with a real estate.

I'd really hate that my only option is to doze the house, it just has that old farm house charm that I've always wanted. I guess if I get the property for the right price I really can't complain it will most likely cost the same making the current one liveable or put a new home there.

Jun. 20, 2012, 11:53 AM
you can get a lot of that old house charm back by using reclaimed materials.

But I would also suggest making an offer on the land.

Of course, your definition of cat smell might vary from mine....but that is one stink you just can't get out. :no:

With a little luck it's only in the drywall and the flooring...not in the studs and floor joists...but I would not hold my breath - no pun intended...

Alpha Mare
Jun. 20, 2012, 11:59 AM
OP: I am agreeing with others that the value is of the land, plus maybe having utilities and septic. Having redone an old stone farmhouse I can say that the cost to 'do over' is more per square foot than to build new, so it is likely cheaper to bulldoze and build new. Don't forget the cost of teardown, which may be an offset to the benefit of the utilities.

I am so sorry to hear of the old farmhouse 'let go' like that, but I agree with the others that odors are really pernicious and if it is still reeking the tear down may be the better option.

In my area there are a few contractors that are better with salvage rebuilds than others (also familiar with it and thus cheaper), so you could save the windows and maybe trim that has no oder but retains the character of the house for the next chapter. In addition to the appraisal suggested, I would get a couple of contractor estimates on the work you think you might do to help with your estimates.

Jun. 21, 2012, 09:45 PM
Don't forget the cost of teardown, which may be an offset to the benefit of the utilities.

And in that cost of teardown, don't forget the cost of disposal. In some areas, the cost of renting the dumpsters and paying the landfill fees for construction debris are huge. It's not just the labor costs of tearing down the building. Also, there can be issues with proper removal/disposal of hazardous materials like asbestos and lead paint in older buildings.

If you rebuild and there is an oil tank which is buried, the county may have special requirements when you rebuild/remodel to remove the old tank and install protective barriers underneath the new one to prevent oil leaching into the aquifer, not to mention soil tests to make sure no oil has already contaminated the soil. This is a worst-case scenario, but if you have oil leakage, you might have to remove the contaminated soil and pay to send it to a hazardous wast disposal dump. The fuel-oil company should be able to answer questions about this very easily.

Please listen to people saying you cannot clean up the cat odor and at least get a professional opinion. I also know of someone who had to remove all the flooring down to the joists: carpet, plywood, and plywood subfloor, and then they had to cut out the sill plate and bottom two feet of studs in most of the walls. I can't even imagine how to make that work.

The thing is, remodeling can be very rewarding. Just be very thorough and detailed in your budget so you don't get any big surprises.

Jun. 24, 2012, 06:14 PM
My husband is an architect. We've build several modern, new houses and then more recently got into the renovating-to-sell old farmhouses. Having done a few of these, we have decided no more! They are great fun, and the end result is lovely and if you are willing to sink far more than you will ever get back they are great. They are honestly ONLY a labor of love though. In our experience it is far cheaper, and much easier. to start from nothing than to try to start with something that needs work, spend a lot of money getting it back to where you can even start rebuilding, and then rebuilding it.