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Buying an Old Home – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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“Here lies Walter Fielding.  He bought a house and it killed him.”

– Walter Fielding, The Money Pit

With all of the charm and character old homes have, it’s no surprise that many buyers are in love with the idea of owning an older home and the Triangle area is full of them.   Elaborate scroll work, heavy oak floors, stained glass windows and much, much more…who wouldn’t be lured by the romance of such a property?  But, before buying an older home, there are a few things to keep in mind.

An Old Home is Just That – An Old Home

Unfortunately we can’t all stay young forever and the older we get, the more maintenance we require.  The same goes for an old home.  Older homes need more upkeep on a regular basis, particularly if the major systems of the home, such as electrical, plumbing, roof or HVAC, have never been replaced or updated.  When deciding whether or not to buy an old home, make sure you take into account the money that will need to be spent AFTER closing to repair and bring the home up-to-date.

Termites and Other Bugs

The older a home is the more likely it is to have seen some sort of termite or bug infestation, particularly if it was built before the days of treated wood and termite bonds.  However, this isn’t a reason to turn tail and run.  As long as you get a proper pest inspection, you can be fairly certain as to what you are getting yourself into and in most cases, anything that is present can be dealt with relatively easy.

Lead Paint 

If the home was built before 1978, chances are there lead paint is present somewhere in the home.  But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed if you buy the home.  Prior to 1978, the country was coming around to the realization that lead was indeed harmful and there’s a chance that lead paint was never used in the home.  The only way to know for sure is to do a lead based paint test.  And, if the test turns out positive, it’s not the end of the world.  There are companies that will properly and professionally remove any lead based paint and products in the home.  It is important to note that this isn’t the most inexpensive thing and therefore it needs to be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to buy the home.  It is always recommend however that regardless, proper ventilation and a mask be worn during any type of construction or remodeling project undertaken by yourself or anyone else.

Energy Efficient – Nope!

Unless the home has been fully updated with new windows, weather proofing and other systems, chances are you’re looking at a pretty energy inefficient house.  Therefore, your monthly bills are likely to be higher than a newer home of similar size.  Again, this isn’t the end of the world and it’s not a deal breaker.  You’ll just need to take this into account as a possible additional expense after closing.

The Foundation and Structure

It goes without saying that the older a home is, the more likely there is to be structural and foundation issues.  All homes settle eventually, so it’s not out of the ordinary to find issues with the foundation and structure of an older home.  It is really a matter of how big the issues are.  With time, engineering and design has greatly reduced the instances of foundation and structural issues, but older homes haven’t benefited from this knowledge.  Therefore it is extremely important to arrange for a structural engineer to inspect the home so that you know what, if any, issues you may be dealing with after closing on the home.

With all this being said, there is absolutely no reason to run from buying an older home.  Older homes can be great investments!!  With any real estate purchase you need to go in with your eyes open and have all of the information you need in order to make an informed decision.  And that is why you hire a real estate agent!  Have questions or need answers?  Contact me today!

Happy House Hunting!!

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