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October 19th, 2015 at 10:00 am

house hunting

It’s the time of year when the air is thick with wicked words, scary sentences, grisly grammar, and painful puns.

So, what’s not to like? We decided to stir the pot and come up with a pot-puree of randomly related real estate horror stories and terminology. Our intent is not to shock you, but to unmask some potentially perilous pitfalls when it comes to the home buying and selling process. For good measure, we’ve thrown in info on a few Southern California homes that are monstrous in size or acreage, haunted, or a combination thereof.

Of course, working with an experienced real estate agent is the best way to avoid a frightful undertaking. OK, let’s go see if there are any skeletons to avoid in the closets out there.

You’re pre-approved? Really?


Your bank has you pre-approved for a home loan? Great! Just remember that a pre-approval doesn’t mean full approval. After the home you want to buy is appraised, your lender could cancel the loan if it determines the residence isn’t worth what you’re paying for it. Agents have seen lenders pull out the day before closing because they weren’t happy with the appraisal. So make sure you’ve satisfied all lender conditions and find out when it will have the appraisal conducted. Try to have about 5 percent of your purchase price available in case your lender ultimately offers you less money.

house huntingClosing can cost you

Be sure to budget closing costs such as the home inspection, title and recording fees, possible prepaid taxes, mortgage insurance (if required), and even moving costs. These can add up and catch you off-guard, especially if you’re trying to put as much as possible into your down payment. Getting an unsecured line of credit from your lender might help cover everything for a while.

Uninvited ghosts

Not every state requires sellers to disclose that their home is believed to be haunted – although a positive disclosure might be attractive to a certain type of buyer. A seller in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, decided to tell the truth and listed his home as “slightly haunted” by footsteps, screams, and knocking. The listing went viral, and he was soon plagued by ghost hunters showing up and expecting a tour. Had he checked first, he would have found that his state’s law only stipulates that sellers need to disclose any “material defects that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of the property or an unreasonable risk to the people living in the home.” So coming clean about the haunting wasn’t even required. Do your research first, and make sure your agent has as well.

Deathly deeds?

Curious to know if anyone ever died in a home you’re thinking of buying – or the home you live in now? Apparently, a lot of folks would like to have that information. If the spirits move you, visit DiedInHouse.com, a site that will dig up the dirt on any decedent in your dwelling. For $11.99 per search (bulk discounts available), you’ll get a report on natural or accidental deaths, suicides, or murders at a specific address. For good measure, the report throws in any meth lab activity or fire-related incidents. Then you can rest easy – or not.

Monstrous inside and out

Monstrous homes don’t appeal to everyone, but here in Southern California, large homes continue to sell fast. Here are a few listings that should receive their fair share of trick-or-treaters soon – if they can get past the private gates.

Malibu | $53,000,000

Plenty of room for family and friends in this nearly 9,000-square-foot oceanfront estate. “It’s like living within a three-dimensional painting,” the home’s Malibu-based architect, Ed Niles, told Los Angeles Magazine.

Pasadena | $19,280,000

This stunning Mediterranean luxury estate boasts seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a magnificent 18-foot-high foyer with chandelier and grand double staircase, huge yard with pool, and a five-car garage.

San Marino | $15,800,000

The main residence and the satellite building comprise 13,000 square feet of living space on 2.74 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds with a hiking trail and majestic oak trees. This gated compound features six bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, three garages for eight cars, chauffeur’s quarters, gym, pool/spa, lighted regulation-size tennis court, and two fountains.

Ojai | $6,000,000

This ranch and its four residences are situated on three parcels totaling approximately 560 acres surrounded by Los Padres National Forest. It’s all set amid a private wildlife refuge that includes hiking trails, hundreds of fruit trees, a trout stream, two ponds, outdoor living areas, an aviary, and a fenced corral.

Where to get really spooked in Southern California

There’s no lack of haunted homes, cemeteries, buildings, and other sites in Southern California. Some are open for tours, others are barely kept secrets. This site gives directions to quite a few of them, along with a bit of history, and comments from visitors. Note the cluster of homes and theaters in the Hollywood and West Hollywood areas. Could it be the ghosts of celebrities past whose egos just weren’t ready to bow out yet?

 

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