Tips for Buying an Older Home
Mar 30, 2018 11:00AM ● Published by Kerri Regan
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This Old House
By Kerri Regan
THE BENEFITS OF BUYING an older home are certainly plentiful – established neighborhoods, mature trees, unique architecture. With a little legwork, you can help ensure that your quaint investment doesn’t end up being a money pit.
• Second opinion: Getting two home inspections is never a bad idea when it comes to buying an older home. Home inspectors are trained to find things you might have never noticed. Your real estate agent should have recommendations, but you should also interview them, check their references and look at their online reviews. They should also be willing to let you accompany them on their inspection.
• Mouse in the house? Rats and mice can wreak thousands of dollars’ worth of havoc on a home. If there’s evidence of rodents, take a closer look to ensure there’s been no damage to your ducting, insulation and the like.
• Water = woes: Check for roof leaks or mold, because water problems can grow very quickly.
• Hidden hazards: Lead (paint and plumbing) and asbestos were common in building materials decades ago. If the house has lead pipes, find out what it will cost to replace them or install a water filtration system.
• Energy efficiency: Older homes may not have the high-efficiency windows and insulation that keeps your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Will your hard-earned dollars be leaking through inefficient windows and walls? Ask your utility company what the house’s average utility bill was for the past year, and you’ll have a general idea of what you’ll be paying. Good news: Utility companies usually offer rebates when you make your home more energy efficient.
• Measure, measure, measure: Major appliances were smaller in the good ol’ days. If you’re attached to your refrigerator, washer/dryer and the like, bring your tape measure to ensure they will fit in your new space.
• Plugged in: Today’s kitchens typically have counters full of energy-draining appliances and devices, in addition to your refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher – drawing far more electricity than our parents’ or grandparents’ kitchens used. If you don’t want to blow a fuse every time you turn on your blender while the microwave is running, make sure the kitchen is wired for today’s electrical demands.
• Firm foundations: Are there major cracks in the foundation, dry rot in the studs, moisture damage? These common issues can be extremely costly to repair. If you see cracks in the walls, doors that don’t latch correctly or windows that are stuck, you may be looking at an underlying structural problem. •