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The pros and cons of buying an old house

There’s something about old homes that just capture onlookers’ attention. Maybe it’s the intricate details, quirky charm, historical aesthetic, or architectural designs. Certainly, the old-growth lumber and handcrafted trim work are coveted features. Whatever it is, new homeowners everywhere seem to be investing in older properties and renovating them. But some are running into high costs for utility bills, complicated renovations, and outdated safety regulations.

If you aren’t sure what to look for when buying an old house, you’ve stumbled upon the right article. Join us as we outline the pros and cons of buying an old house, so you’re more prepared to determine if the pros outweigh the cons. To begin, let’s start with the positives!

The pros and cons of buying an old house

The pros

Timeless craftsmanship
Ever walk into a new home and notice every room looks the same? The phrase “they don’t make them like they used to” comes to mind. If you dislike the copy and paste suburban homes that are emerging at a rapid pace, then buying an old house may be for you. It’s rare to find a new property today with the same architectural uniqueness as homes like the Victorian, Craftsman, and Tudor. But old homes offer more than just curb appeal and character. The quality craftsmanship and interior design of older homes are often unmatched.

Time-tested structural integrity
Determining whether or not a new home will withstand extreme weather, floods, earthquakes, landslides, and other naturally occurring events may be difficult, but a home that has been standing throughout the past century has proven its stability. Obviously, the structure will need a professional evaluation to determine its current status. Still, there is some comfort in knowing that an old home has proven the test of time.

Lower price point
This may not come as a surprise, but buying an old home can be less expensive than buying a new one. The cost to repair or replace worn or outdated materials will often contribute to its lower price. Today’s market further intensifies this discrepancy as new construction is priced even higher due to the ongoing pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and rising construction costs.

Fully fledged landscaping
One special attribute of old homes is their mature landscape, diverse plants, and often large, spacious yards. Contrary to this, new homes will have young plants, which take time to develop into privacy hedges, interesting design features, and shade trees. Also, due to the high cost of land and development today, the outdoor space of a new home is often smaller, and many homes are built close together with repeated features and landscaping. To some of us, the unique and diverse landscape of an old property can bring a sense of memory of bygone times to the space.

Detailed history
When it comes to the pros and cons of buying an old house, don’t underestimate the value of a home’s purchase history. This information can show you the property’s appreciation value over the years and help indicate if the house is a viable long-term investment. In fact, there is plenty of information available online that can detail the history of property taxes, easements, right-of-ways, building plans, permits, and even old photos. On the flipside, newer homes offer little to no historical information to help make an educated decision.

Developed neighborhoods
Remember, the value of your home is also reflected in its location. Older houses tend to be centrally located and have more established communities. Often, this translates to long-running neighborhood events and the ability to walk to conveniences like grocery stores, restaurants, libraries, or even a theater or community center.

The cons

Utility bills
The materials used in homes today are more energy efficient. With more than half of utility expenses spent on heating and cooling, you’ll want to use energy-saving appliances and top-of-the-line insulation methods to help retain heat or air conditioning in an older home. Without any modern renovations, an older home will tend to have significantly higher electricity and gas expenses.

Smaller floor plans
As society has evolved, homes were built larger with open floor designs. Older houses tend to have steeper stairs, smaller closets, less storage space, narrow doorways, and in general, less open living space. If you’ve ever tried moving a couch into an older home or apartment building, you fully understand the complications this can pose. Of course, many homeowners have had great success with opening walls to connect rooms and create more modern open concept living spaces.

Necessary renovations
Logic says that when you buy an older home, it will be made of older materials. Unfortunately, old homes often come with many projects like updating electrical and plumbing systems and repairing rotting wood on door and window frames, to name a few. Having a clear understanding of the repair costs can help budget and plan for these renovations.

Outdated safety regulations
Building codes have changed over the years, so what was once considered safe 50-75 years ago may not be up to today’s standards. That means older properties may contain asbestos material, lead paint, and lead plumbing pipes. Stairways may not be safe for children or the elderly. Garage designs may allow car exhaust into the living space. Electrical systems may not adequately protect you from shock danger or structure fire. Because of these potential risks, it’s wise to get a professional home inspection to give you a realistic idea of the extent of renovations the home will need.

Know what you’re taking on before you buy

In closing, we hope the information and resources provided in this article are helpful in your consideration of purchasing a charming old home. Remember, an effective way to measure the pros and cons of buying an old house is to get the home inspected by a licensed professional – like Zoom Home Inspections. If you’re looking to schedule a home inspection in the Seattle area, click here to book your appointment today!