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Old 28.06.2021, 12:52
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Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

After years of looking for something “normal” in this crazy housing market, we have finally found something we would like to put an offer on.

But there’s a catch - the house is on a private street and this street needs renovation. Street needs to be made wider to fit two cars and new plumbing for the whole street (10 houses) needs to be redone. As the partial owners of this street, we would need to share the cost.

Agent is not able (so they say) to tell us if costs are going to be in tens or in hundreds of thousands CHF. Is there any way to find out? I’m pretty sure projects like that should have budgets... is this something a bank would be able to investigate while they do a property appraisal?

I find it strange they expect someone to put a bid and then not know how much additional mortgage we need to take out.
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Old 28.06.2021, 12:56
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

No idea about the cost in Switzerland, in Germany it depends on how many meters your house has at the road and it can easily be VERY expensive.



You could ask your bank if they have any experience or call your Gemeinde. They must have planned this and have an idea of the cost already.
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Old 28.06.2021, 13:01
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

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After years of looking for something “normal” in this crazy housing market, we have finally found something we would like to put an offer on.

But there’s a catch - the house is on a private street and this street needs renovation. Street needs to be made wider to fit two cars and new plumbing for the whole street (10 houses) needs to be redone. As the partial owners of this street, we would need to share the cost.

Agent is not able (so they say) to tell us if costs are going to be in tens or in hundreds of thousands CHF. Is there any way to find out? I’m pretty sure projects like that should have budgets... is this something a bank would be able to investigate while they do a property appraisal?

I find it strange they expect someone to put a bid and then not know how much additional mortgage we need to take out.
I would contact the neighbours to get a real idea, since this would have to be voted on you can get an idea of how soon this might happen. If there is disagreement it could drag on for years.

Realistically it could cost far more, possibly double than any projection, unless firm current offers are on the table. The sellers will likely have been slowing down the process or maybe selling as they can not afford the costs involved.
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Old 28.06.2021, 13:10
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

Have you requested the meeting minutes of all the previous neighbours association meetings? Such discussions should be minuted by the building management, and as a potential buyer this info should be made available to you.
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Old 28.06.2021, 13:34
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

Definitely speak with your potential neighbors. These kinds of things can be very expensive, but in our neighborhood (similar situation), everyone has contributed a small fee per year to a collective account that has been maintained for just such a situation. Over 10 years said account probably has enough to redo the road when the time comes. We didn’t know this going into it since the road for now suffices, but it’s good to have that security now that we probably wouldn’t have to pay much if anything for the resurfacing. It’s definitely worth finding out if there is a similar situation for the neighborhood you’re looking at.
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Old 28.06.2021, 15:58
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

How long is the street? it definitely should not go into the hundreds of thousands. My family has a similar situation and they paid 12K for their plot, but they managed a big discount. As others have said, you should speak with neighbours but I would honestly be surprised if they charged more than 50K per plot.
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Old 28.06.2021, 16:45
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

Just keep in mind: even if it were a public street you would generally be asked/required to contribute. I had the privilege of paying around CHF 25'000 when the street was redone in my neighbourhood albeit for quite large plot (the costs are distributed along the various plots adjacent to the street).
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Old 28.06.2021, 16:54
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

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But there’s a catch - the house is on a private street and this street needs renovation. Street needs to be made wider to fit two cars and new plumbing for the whole street (10 houses) needs to be redone. As the partial owners of this street, we would need to share the cost.
It's not just the costs involved, it's also about getting people to agree and actually go and do it without people rolling back on their previous decisions and so on. Everyone one of the ten own a bit of the street and even if the other nine agree one can bring this kind of thing to a halt.

In our case we lived on a private street and all that was needed was for us to do one complete round of maintenance and then the community would take it over. It took seven years! One old fart kept agreeing and then rolling back on it. The only reason it came to a conclusion was because the old boy died.

I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. You don't know what the state of play is and what the costs will be nor how long it will take to come complete.
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Old 28.06.2021, 17:50
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

The street below my appartement needed the same thing and for a stretch of 180m or so the commune charged 1.8M if I remember correctly. This cost was paid by a developer who needed the upgrade to build a block 300 meters behind this street.

When I wanted to buy a undeveloped plot which just got a permission to build, there were no electricity, water, sewer below the plot but the closest house which had was 60m away. I was quoted 180k from the commune to connect the plot to the existing grid.

So expect cost in the 100s of thousands depending how many owners there are. Also if there is a project there must be an estimate and budget for the works. Maybe current owner cannot afford it or wants to shift the cost to the next person.
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Old 28.06.2021, 17:55
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

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...I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. You don't know what the state of play is and what the costs will be nor how long it will take to come complete.
+1. Solid advice.
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Old 28.06.2021, 19:12
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

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How long is the street?
How long was the street you paid 12k? how many years ago? 5?50?
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would honestly be surprised if they charged more than 50K per plot.
So you expect to have renovation of a street serving 10 houses to be done for 500k. At current costs, for that amount you can have 50m. Of bicycle path. Which makes 5 m of bicycle path for each plot. Not bad, but it seems to me these plots will be quite narrow !
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Old 28.06.2021, 19:12
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

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After years of looking for something “normal” in this crazy housing market, we have finally found something we would like to put an offer on.

But there’s a catch - the house is on a private street and this street needs renovation. Street needs to be made wider to fit two cars and new plumbing for the whole street (10 houses) needs to be redone. As the partial owners of this street, we would need to share the cost.

Agent is not able (so they say) to tell us if costs are going to be in tens or in hundreds of thousands CHF. Is there any way to find out? I’m pretty sure projects like that should have budgets... is this something a bank would be able to investigate while they do a property appraisal?

I find it strange they expect someone to put a bid and then not know how much additional mortgage we need to take out.
After a year of looking why would you find somewhere both perfect and without any problems??

The agent is useless by the way…
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Old 28.06.2021, 19:18
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

Just say no to everything proposed.

Tom
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Old 28.06.2021, 20:39
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

Thanks for the comments and advice! I will definitely ask again the agent and the gemeinde regarding the project costs. I don’t want to disturb the neighbors just now as I am sure they don’t want to be asked these questions by every potential buyer. But will ask for the minutes from the meetings - current owners should have them - I’m not buying this “we don’t even have a rough estimate” narrative.

When it comes to rolling the decision - I think this is exactly what was going on. Current owners refused to pay for the renovation as there’s nothing wrong with the road. But some of the neighbors had water damage to their house due to outdated water supply. So my first idea would be not to try to prolong it as next time it could be “our” house. But I guess the current owners decided they would rather sell, so this makes me think that the cost is quite high (100k-200k, road is cca 350-400m, I assume there are cca 18-20 owners as some houses are multi family).
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Old 28.06.2021, 21:31
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

Generally, unless all say "YES", the answer is "NO".

Tom
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Old 28.06.2021, 22:18
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

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....I will definitely ask again the agent and the gemeinde regarding the project costs. I don’t want to disturb the neighbors just now as I am sure they don’t want to be asked these questions by every potential buyer. But will ask for the minutes from the meetings - current owners should have them - I’m not buying this “we don’t even have a rough estimate” narrative.
This part raises a little red flag, for me. If you buy into this community, then you will, necessarily, have to deal with these neighbours, at the very least during the voting.

If I were considering buying such a property, I would walk up and down the road, and choose two which look opposite, by some criterion. For example:
  • looks eco-green alternative with bicycles vs. has several large cars in the driveway
  • garden wild, woolly and adventurous vs. manicured lawns
  • house in need of repair vs. sturdy, clean improvements.
The people at the ends of each such scale are the ones who, potentially, will be least in agreement with each other about any topic on which the whole community will need to vote.

They are the ones I would speak to over the fence, or ring their bells and tell them that you're considering buying. I would do this especially since the agent already doesn't seem really forthcoming with the info. I'd ask themhow long they've lived there, whether they feel settled, who they would like to see move in to the place that's up for sale, and whether this is a nice little community. Try to keep the conversation going, and listen closely.

Last edited by doropfiz; 29.06.2021 at 14:24.
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Old 28.06.2021, 23:31
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

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Thanks for the comments and advice! I will definitely ask again the agent and the gemeinde regarding the project costs. I don’t want to disturb the neighbors just now as I am sure they don’t want to be asked these questions by every potential buyer. But will ask for the minutes from the meetings - current owners should have them - I’m not buying this “we don’t even have a rough estimate” narrative.
This has the potential for some expensive lessons…

The point of a private road is that the geminde have no interest in it and the two people you are relying on for information have a vested interest.
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Old 29.06.2021, 01:51
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

We owned a property on a private road and there was no fund whatsoever. The private road had 6 owners. At the bottom of the road there was an old swing set which no one used as all the kids were much older. We suggested the area be used for something else (covered bicycle parking) but of course not everyone agreed and nothing was done.

When it snowed it was a mess as there was no one hired to clear the snow. The others didn't think it was necessary to hire someone.

As the road was sloped, kids in the area liked to use it for skateboards, etc. It was dangerous for cars driving up. When I suggested a sign to indicate it was a private road, others disagreed on the need.

I was very glad we sold the house. I could only see more aggravation in the future. For me unless there is 100% transparency on the current situation, I would steer clear.
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Old 29.06.2021, 07:58
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

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When it snowed it was a mess as there was no one hired to clear the snow. The others didn't think it was necessary to hire someone.
.
Actually you reminded me….

The old boy on our road would not agree to paying to paying the geminde for having the road cleared in the winter either. He did not go out to work so there was no problem! He would not agree to us paying his share and even wrote to the geminde telling them they did not have his permission to clear the road.
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Old 29.06.2021, 08:20
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Re: Buying a house on a private road (maintenance costs)

I would be very cautious about this. Costs for such things can go crazy very fast. I have one reference point to share; we damaged a piece of road during renovation of a property (a tracked vehicle rotating on its axis and ripped up the surface). The damaged area was 9m2 and the cost for this repair was approx 10k CHF.
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