Some home buyers love new construction homes, which offer dozens of opportunities for customization that make the house feel truly theirs — but other home buyers crave a property with character and history.
Older homes tend to have a number of quirks that make them unique and exciting to own.
However, some of those quirks can be less than fun for homeowners to live with, let alone pay for into the future.
If you are considering investing in an older home, you should feel thrilled by the opportunity to live in a space so full of history and inimitable qualities — and you should properly prepare for the experience by knowing what you are getting into before you buy.
Be Aware of Common Drawbacks with Older Homes
You might see the transom windows, the sleeping porches, tin ceiling tiles and picture rail moldings and swoon — but these delightful cosmetic elements of older homes often blind homebuyers to issues lurking within.
Though not all older homes suffer from the same drawbacks, you should be aware of the most common issues you are likely to find in homes of a certain age.
Age is rarely kind to properties; time tends to reveal weaknesses in construction, show the age on once-trendy design elements and even make some features of a home unsafe.
Undoubtedly, identifying safety concerns should be a top priority, especially if you plan to move into your new-old property ASAP.
You should pass up homes that were built using hazardous materials or shady practices, like asbestos drywall, aluminum wiring or lead paint, all of which were once popular in construction.
Some issues related to safety can be fixed, like a crumbling foundation, but they will cost so much that such homes are typically not worth your time and investment.
You should also be aware that the purchase price is typically only the first expense associated with older properties.
To eliminate the unattractive and outdated features around your home, you will need to invest significantly in renovations.
Even if you are willing to complete projects on your own, you will likely end up spending thousands of dollars to bring an old home into the 21st century, so you should be willing and able to commit to that financial burden before you buy.
Schedule a Bevy of Home Inspections to Understand Each Property
Once you have an offer on an older property you believe to be worthwhile, you will have a brief period during which the homeowner permits you to conduct inspections of the home — and you should take full advantage of this window.
You should schedule many different professional inspections, to include:
- General home inspection. A general home inspector will give you a full report on the property and point you toward potentially greater problems, which you can then address with more specialized investigation.
- Pest inspection. These inspectors hunt for signs of different pests, which could be causing ongoing damage to the home.
- Electrical inspection. Electrical inspectors will help you identify what kind of electrical system you have and whether there are components that need updating for safety and efficacy.
- Plumbing and sewer inspection. Another element of a home hidden inside the walls, plumbing and sewage can seriously impact a home’s livability. Again, your inspector should tell you what kind of system you have and whether it needs imminent repair.
- Radon inspection. Some older properties were built on a radon field, which makes the air inside them toxic to inhabitants.
- Foundation inspection. Homes with foundation problems are all but doomed. You need to be confident that your foundation is sound before you buy.
Each inspection will cost you, but it is much better to know exactly what home you are buying than to blindly invest in a money pit.
Invest in a Home Warranty Alongside Home Insurance
Home insurance protects your property from unforeseeable catastrophes, like hurricanes and tornadoes, but older homes more often suffer from foreseeable disasters, like a leaky water heater that explodes and floods the basement or an old, weak roof that caves under a load of snow.
That’s why you need a home warranty in addition to home insurance if you are buying a home older than about 15 years.
Home warranties protect various systems around your home, like your appliances, your electrical system, your HVAC, your plumbing, your roof and even your pool.
If a system starts malfunctioning, you simply notify your warranty provider, pay a fixed service fee and enjoy covered repairs or even replacements.
Most home sellers of older properties offer one-year warranty coverage as a show of good faith, but you should look into home warranty prices to get the exact coverage you want and need into the future.
By knowing how to shop for an older home safely, you can protect yourself from various physical and financial downfalls. The right older property is out there waiting for you — you just need to go out and find it.