Tips for Purchasing an Older Home
Buying an older home is quite different than purchasing a newer home. The
rewards of an older home are numerous, but some special care should be taken.
For example, few new homes have the atmosphere of warmth and rich ties to history
that older homes offer. However, owning an older home can require extra work
and money to make it safe and keep it in good condition.
While it is true that
with an older house it is possible that you will need to forego some of the
more modern home components. However, many homes in our older neighborhoods
have actually had major upgrades and include gourmet kitchens, energy efficient
heating and cooling systems, and spa-like bathrooms. Therefore, as you look,
donít assume that you will need to sacrifice all the modern amenities that
new homes offer.
We hope you find the perfect house for you and your family. The tips below will help you make the best decision for your individual goals:
1. Get a home inspection before you make an offer
It's agreed that all home purchases
involve emotion at some point, but the buyer of a new home or one that is in
very good condition can also justify the purchase with the logic that the major
components are up to date or perhaps still under warranty.
That may not be the case with an older home. So, one of the most important and tangible issues
you'll need to deal with is the condition of the home which includes the age
of its electrical and mechanical systems.
An inspection, which usually costs from $250 to $400 depending on the size and special features of a home, will
find serious and not-so-serious defects with a house. Once owners know these
problems, they can either address them before allowing the home to be shown
or reduce the asking price accordingly.
An inspector who has experience inspecting older homes is recommended. They should look for evidence of lead based paint
and radon gas as well as determine the condition of the electrical system,
plumbing, roof, foundation, windows, heating/cooling system, etc.
Although home inspections for newer homes are common after the property goes into contract,
in the case of an older home, we recommend getting an inspection before an
offer is made to avoid major price renegotiations later.
2. Ask for improvements and repairs
In today's market, it not at all uncommon for buyers to expect a seller
to upgrade an older home's electrical systems and plumbing as well as replace
an old roof, outdated furnace and/or inefficient air-conditioning systems.
Donít be afraid to ask for these items to be done prior to the purchase or to negotiate a lower purchase price.
Asking for a home warranty that covers repairs for a year or more after the sale might
be reassuring, but make sure you read the fine print. Many warranties do not
cover any damage that occurred prior to the purchase of the home (which greatly
reduces their benefit for older home buyers).
3. Do some research about the home and its location
Many older communities have commissions or architectural
review committees that regulate what improvements can be made and how. Homeowners
in Victorian Village, German Village, and Italian Village, for example, will
need to get approval to change the exterior paint color or to replace windows
or roofs. Get a written copy of the most recent regulations before making your
Although a home may have been built in a residential area at the turn
of the century, things could have changed in the last hundred years and that
home might be sitting on a lot that is now zoned commercial. Find out.
Double check the 'legal use' as recorded with both the county and city. It is not
out of the question for a home to be listed with the county auditor as a 2-
or 4-family, but still recorded with the city as a single family residence.
If so, have the seller get the legal documents changed to avoid a potential
snag in closing process.
Become familiar with the federal, state, and local
regulations related to historic preservation. Find out if any grants for the
restoration of older homes are available.
4. Ask the seller to provide you will all the history they know about home
Having a history is not essential, but it is very interesting, may be useful if you ever remodel, and is easier
to get from the seller before you make the purchase.
Histories can include everything from the type of home and how that type of home served society at
that time, to who lived there, to what changes were made to the home over the
Getting histories can be a challenge, but there are ways that don't
take a lot of time. Check with Government offices, the local library and the
historical society. Use city directories that go by street names or addresses
to find out who lived in the house and from what dates. Look up local "TAP" records
to see when the house was connected to the local water system for running water.
Details such as when the porch was added, or when the outhouse was torn down and replaced
with indoor plumbing, will make you feel more a part of the home's history.
If you search on the internet, you'll find hundreds of articles and research sites
geared toward helping owners research the history of their home. You'll also
find companies that will provide histories of homes for as little as a report
fee to as much as $400 for a leather bound copy.
If you have more questions, please contact us. We will be happy to serve you!