Buying an older house can have benefits that a modern home doesn’t have. That said, it can also come with setbacks. Before you buy, it’s worth taking extra time to educate yourself and fully vet the property you are considering.
What are the pros of buying an older house?
- Price – Generally speaking, a new house of the same size and location costs more than an older one.
- Location – Older homes are often in neighborhoods that are closer to the city’s downtown area, or another area with restaurants / shops.
- Charm – Craftsman bungalows, Victorians and Tudors, there’s no denying that older homes provide a level of charm that modern construction often lacks. If you’re looking for a cozy, “homey” feel, an older home might just be the way to go.
- Known issues – With new construction, it may be more difficult for an inspector to catch problems, as the house has never been in functioning use before. While it’s true that an older home may come with more issues, it’s better to know about them upfront – which isn’t always the case with a brand new home.
What are the cons of buying an older house?
- Outdated building code compliance and other maintenance – The heating or plumbing systems in an older home can sometimes be so out of date that they don’t comply with new standards of the building maintenance code. Replacing these systems can be expensive. Make sure you know if your home meets building code compliance before you make an offer.
- Limited storage space – Modern homes are more equipped to handle the “stuff” we all buy in today’s world. Older homes often lack storage space, which is something to consider when house shopping.
- Landscaping complications – Older homes often come with older trees. And older trees often come with larger tree roots, which can cause landscaping issues.
Ready to buy an older house? Here’s what to do before:
- Get two inspections – Inspectors are only human, and there’s always a chance they miscalculate the severity of an issue, or don’t see something altogether. While it’s generally true that you can trust your inspector, iIt’s a good idea to get a second opinion when buying an older house.
- Check water filtration systems – Older homes may need a little extra attention on their water filtration system. Make sure the home has good gutters with downspouts that prevent water from gathering near the home’s foundation. It’s also worth checking for areas around the home where the ground is sloped and could potentially trap water against the home. If the foundation is stone, it’s a good idea to ask if it has been tuck-pointed recently. You may also want to ask if there any cracks in the foundation. Lastly, make sure the chimney has a good weatherproof cap to prevent water from infiltrating the home.
- Ask about lead paint – Many older homes still have lead paint. This is usually only an issue if the paint begins to chip, and it’s especially an issue if you have children living in the house. It’s often fixable, but something you’ll want to ask your inspector about before making any commitments.
- Ask about mold – Some people are more sensitive to mold than others, but mold isn’t healthy for anyone and certainly not something you want in your next home. Mold remediation can also be very expensive, so it’s important to unveil these costs before you buy.
- Check for leaks in the roof – Scan the walls for any evidence of moisture. An older roof is more prone to leaks, and new roofs can be very expensive – not to mention a pain to have built!
- Ask about animal infestations – Rodents, bats, or other critters, it’s important to know the history of your home – even if it’s something you’d rather not know! Bats can be an especially tough problem because some are endangered. There may be specific regulations on how to get them out of your home.