Picture of a old home with tips before buying an older home.

What You Should Know Before Buying an Older Home

Kevin Johnson Buyer Advice Leave a Comment

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Does the thought of buying an older home, a local piece of history entice you?  Are you interested in the historical architecture that only older homes offer, but concerned that buying an older home means more money in renovations and repairs?  Here are a few suggestions on what to look for when buying an older home.

  1. Knowing now is better than finding out later – It can be tempting to fall in love with the structure of the home, minimizing any repairs or upgrades.  Don’t do that.  It’s critical to keep the blinders off and know exactly what the home needs before purchasing it.
  1. Older versus modern home plans – Think about how your family uses space in your current home and take this into consideration when thinking about whether it will accommodate your family’s lifestyle.
  1. Closet space – Storage areas are better planned now, but back then closets were usually a lot smaller.  This is only a problem if you require more closet space, but realize that closet space is a desired commodity when selling your home later (if you choose to do so).
  1. Smaller kitchens – Older kitchens were closed off had no central heating.  Take this into consideration when deciding if you can exist with the layout of the existing kitchen, or remodel it.
  1. Behind the walls and in the basement – Heating, air conditioning, plumbing, wiring, fireplaces, roofs— you need to know as much as possible about when the home was built.  Be willing to ask questions and get answers.  If your Realtor doesn’t know, they should ask professionals who do.
  1. Air-conditioning and heat – Find out the age and whether central heat and air have been installed. The climate you live in will determine whether you need to invest in installing central heat and air if it has not already been installed.
  1. Plumbing and sewage – Older homes could have cast iron pipes which are known to have leaked or corroded over time.  The fact that they’re underground piping, they can’t be easily seen and evaluated for wear and tear.
  1. The roof – In the interior, look for signs of water damage on the ceilings and walls.  This will give you a good indication of the condition of the roof.
  1. Windows – Open the windows of any house you are viewing. Check to see if they are painted shut or have broken mechanisms.
  1. Lead paint/asbestos – Lead paint was outlawed in 1978. Homes built before that may contain some amount. Asbestos was no longer used after the 1970s. Ceilings, windows and walls may have lead paint while asbestos was used as insulation. There could be expenses to have these items removed or contained. Find out if the home contains either or both.
  1. Wiring – Older wiring in the walls may not be able to handle modern circuits and will need to be replaced if they haven’t been already.
  1. The basement – Look for evidence of flooding and observe exposed plumbing if it is visible.

It’s possible to buy a charming older home, just be clear on those things that need to be repaired and renovated and take that into consideration before putting an offer on the table.

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