With home prices and interest rates still at all time lows; many people are deciding that it is a great time to jump into the real estate market. There are many new homes on the market that are very affordable; however, some new homes do not have the charm or character of an older, historic home. If you are one of those buyers looking for a deal on an historic home, there are some things that you should know before you make an offer.
One of the advantages to an older home is the unparalleled artisanship. Many older, historic homes are very well made, some with amazing woodwork and detail that you will not find in a brand new home. Before you get wrapped up in the incredible craftsmanship of the home, you need to head straight to the basement to check the foundation. Any cracks or shifting in the foundation could turn your dream home into a money pit. If the foundation is not solid, your best bet is to find another home.
While you are in the basement, there are a couple of other things to check out before you head upstairs. Electric wiring and plumbing are two potential problems in an old house that could be very costly. Outdated electrical wiring is not only a huge expense to upgrade; until you do, it is also a fire hazard. Many older homes still have the original plumbing. Make sure that you check the pipes in the basement for corrosion or leaks. Mineral buildup over the years can also be an issue. Find out ahead of time if you will have to incur the expense of updating the wiring and plumbing.
Some of the things that can give an older home character can end up costing you a fortune. Old radiators may be nice to look at, but they may end up costing you a fortune in your heating bill. While you are looking into the heating system, you should also take a close look at the furnace to make sure that it is in good working order. Learn how the whole system should work and the fuel it consumes to help you decide whether the existing system will work for you, or if repair or replacement is a better option.
Probably the most expensive thing to have to replace in any home is the roof. Whether you are looking at an historic home or a newer home, if the roof is more than 10 years old, chances are that you will have to replace it while you own the home. Check the attic thoroughly for any leaks or water damage, and look for obviously loose or missing shingles, falling gutters, or other roof issues.
A home inspection should uncover many problems before you close, but not all inspectors are up for the task of an older home. Find an experienced inspector, and provide him or her with detailed instructions or concerns. Most inspectors are quite willing to provide some extra scrutiny if you tell them where to look. If you have any reason to suspect specific issues, consider bringing in a HVAC specialist, plumber, or electrician to fine-tune the inspection. Being aware of what you should know before you buy an old house can save you a great deal of time and money.
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About The Author: Tom Davidson is the acting Director of Sales & Operations for Colibri Real Estate, LLC. Since 1996 the companies under this banner have offered online real estate licensing and insurance licensing courses as well as online real estate exam prep and insurance exam prep.