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Buying an Older Home? Watch Out!

Posted by Mary O'Neil on December 7, 2016
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Wanting to buy an older home? Watch out! Some older homes may look beautiful, but great staging and antique charm can be hiding costly issues!

In my experience, it’s the little red flags that sneak up and rob you blind before you can close the front door. Some issues may come up in a home inspection, but usually aren’t deemed serious enough to prevent purchasing the house. So do yourself (and your bank account) a favor and look out for some of these problems

older homePrior Renovations

Wait, renovations are a good thing, right? Well, they can be if they were done properly. However, if you buy a home where the contractor cut corners during the work, that renovation can haunt you and your checkbook. If you have bathroom renovations for example, and find out that the plumbing wasn’t properly inspected after a prior renovation, you can find out that there are problems… the hard way. If you do fall in love with an older home that has had recent renovations, consider having a structural engineer come out and give everything the all-clear.

An Older HVAC or Hot Water Heater

If your home inspector notes that either of these items are older and might need to be replaced in a few years, imagine the worst-case scenario: that they need to be replaced within 12 months. Time and time again, older appliances give out before expected, meaning they need to be replaced weeks or months after moving in, hitting you hard in the bank account. One $700 trip to Lowe’s later and you can have hot water once again, but it should prove a valuable lesson about factoring expenses for older home appliances into your budget. That $700 isn’t so bad, but an outdated HVAC? $6000.

Bad Insulation

It’s an unfortunate fact that many older homes have poor or, in some cases, no insulation. This means that your electric bills are massive during months with extreme temperatures. You might say you’re okay dealing with it for now, based solely on the prohibitively pricey quotes you’ll get for either removing drywall and laying down a layer of fiberglass insulation or pumping in blow-in insulation. If you find little to no insulation (or if temperature bills seem pricey for the home), make sure to ask for concessions at closing.

Ancient Wiring

Unless the wiring in your home is faulty and/or poses a major fire risk, it will likely come up during your home inspection as simply a soft recommendation—e.g. “We suggest you replace the current electrical system” or “We suggest you have an electrician examine your wiring.” Don’t let this give you a false sense of security just because it won’t cause a problem with the sale! Listen to that advice. Some types of wiring can be ridiculously expensive to replace, and having electricians come out to fix problems piecemeal can quickly add up.

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