Purchasing an older home has many benefits that are difficult to find in newer homes. One good example of this fact is that older homes often come with significantly larger lots, offering homeowners a much larger yard than they might find in a newer home. Larger lots and yards can also mean more play space for kids and pets, room to garden or have a work shop, and a well-established lawn filled with mature trees, bushes, and flowering plants.
Other benefits often found in an older home include a lower purchase price and larger room sizes. But along with all these advantages comes increased risk, due to the age of the structure and its systems. If you are interested in purchasing an older home, use these tips to help avoid those older homes that are likely to be or become too costly to repair or maintain.
Look for visual clues of potentially costly issues during the viewing appointment
Even first-time buyers can spot potential condition issues in an older home if they know what to look for. When looking at older homes, prospective buyers should be alert for condition clues such as:
- signs of rotten wood, including damaged siding and window sills, soft spots in wooden floors, and damage to siding, roofs, porches, and decks
- signs of foundation issues, such as significant cracking in concrete or masonry walls, cracking in basement floors, sloping or uneven floor surfaces, or doors and windows that do not open or close properly or those that look crooked in their frames
- moisture issues, such as wet basement floors or standing water, areas of erosion, or pools of standing water near the home
- potential mold and water damage, such as stains on ceilings, drip marks on walls or in attic areas, missing or damaged roofing, damaged guttering or downspouts, discoloration on walls and surfaces inside the home, and unpleasant odors reminiscent of mold or mildew
In addition to being observant during viewings, prospective buyers considering an older home should carefully examine any historical documentation available, such as past building permits that may be on file with county planning and zoning departments and historical listing and sales information.
Insist on adding both inspection and appraisal contingencies when making any purchase offer
Offers on older homes,especially those that have undergone renovations or had significant repairs over their lifetimes, should always include contingencies on both home inspections and the appraisal process to help buyers make a wise buying decision. If you are considering the purchase of an older home, take time to discuss your decision with your real estate professional before beginning your search. Your agent can offer you expert guidance throughout the process, including selecting the best properties, negotiating the purchase contract, and dealing with any appraisal and inspection issues that may arise.