When my husband and I found our “new” older home, we weren’t even actively looking. You see, I have an obsession with old farmhouses and historic older homes. For fun, I look on real estate apps and day dream. While day dreaming a few months ago I came across a property and fell in love. I asked our realtor to show it to us. It had a ton of character and had just the right amount of land. As soon as I walked through the front door I knew I wanted to call this place Home. But, there are a few things to consider and questions to ask before buying an older home.
Buying an Older Home
The home we are buying was built in 1908. With all the character come a few challenges and I wanted to share our experience with those of you so you can consider the risks before buying an older home.
They say that buying a home is one of the most stressful things in life and I totally agree. This will be the second home we have purchased in 6 years and I hope it will be our last. I am in no way trying to convince my readers not to buy a new home, I just wanted to share some tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way and things to consider before taking the leap!
Things to Consider Before Buying an Older Home
The first to consider is of course the age of the home and the utilities. Meaning, is it gas? electric? fireplace? This home has all 3. Before we were very far into the financing side of things and during our “option period” we wanted to have everything checked out that we could so we would know what we were getting ourselves into.
We contacted our local propane company and had them come out to make sure there were no leaks in the propane lines. This was an added expense on our part. Repairing lines from the tank to the house is not cheap. At this point we should have filled the tank to test the propane heat, which we didn’t. Lesson learned because this was an additional expense later to test. Come to find out, the heater needed some repairs to work properly. Glad we did this because moving into a home in the end of December with no heat does not sound like my idea of a good time.
Hiring Inspectors When Buying an Older Home
We also had an electrician out to look at the wiring in the home. This is SUPER important because rewiring a home is also very expensive. The upstairs in our home had been updated but the downstairs needed a few updates. I was so happy to hear our homes wiring had been updated as an entire rewire just isn’t in the budget. Super old wiring is a major safety hazard and you want to make sure this is taken care of prior to moving in.
We also had to have the house inspected. Now this is required when buying a home for lending purposes but we went ahead and had this part done before the lender even asked for it. Again, a lot of this stuff was done while in our option period so that we had the option to back out should the house need too much work. Something that is often the case when buying a 100 year old house.
This property has a well for its water supply instead of city. We had a well company out to test the well head and pump to make sure that it was functioning properly. New pumps and wiring for a well head can cost a lot. The main issue we will have is the bladder and holding tank. In order for there to be enough water pressure, you have to have a big enough holding tank for the pressure. This is something we will have to upgrade shortly after moving in. Just another expense.
Appliances Needed In An Older Home
If you have all electrical appliances and the house runs on gas, you may have to purchase a new dryer, stove etc which will add to your initial expense when moving in.
This home has been sitting vacant for over a year and when you have a well, natural bacteria is usually present. But, on a home that has set this long, it can build up in the pipes. In our county we had to have the water tested for said bacteria (another expense) and the septic system inspected. The water came back with elevated bacteria levels (totally normal for homes that have been vacant) but this meant we had to have the well treated and then tested AGAIN at our cost. Another expense.
An appraisal was ordered by our lender but was paid by us. Price of appraisal can be high as we have technically two houses on this property, which also had to be inspected , well tested, electrical inspected.. You see where I am going with this. The cost adds up quickly.
Having a plumber out to check all your pipes is a great idea. Older homes usually have cast iron plumbing and with the slightest vibration, they can crumble. If you’ve ever had to update plumbing on an entire house you know that it’s not cheap. And no one likes to go without hot showers, or a dishwasher or clean laundry.
Speaking of dishwashers……. This house doesn’t have one. (insert sad face here). The kitchen is tiny and has limited cabinets. So immediately I know that a kitchen reno is in the near future which means a lot of money and living in a constant state of construction. It’s not my favorite but it will be necessary.
Love The Character in Old Farmhouses
This home has 2 fireplaces. These can be a HUGE safety hazard as many house fires are started this way. We had to pay for a chimney inspection and as I figured, they will need repairs prior to having fires. Normally this would be something we tackled later, but there is no central heat and air in the downstairs of this home so those fires are an absolute MUST. You give up a lot of modern conveniences when buying older homes but those can all be added later.
Selling a Home While Buying Can Be Stressful
During this process we are also selling our home. Which means showings, updates have to be made, scheduling. We have a buyer but there have been some delays. But, as of today, I finally have a closing date! We wanted to close on both properties the same day. There are many reasons for this but mainly to ensure that I wasn’t selling my house before I was for sure able to buy this house.
Have you ever purchased an older home? Would love to hear all about your experiences!
We also had to check with the county on property taxes. This is something to consider when figuring your mortgage on what you can afford. I would also call and get many quotes for home owners insurance. The age of the home can sometimes cause a longer underwriting review process and items like old dearborn heaters can cause the premium to increase.
A few added costs were mainly just the updates we had to do to our existing home to get it ready to put on the market. Because of all these expenses, I estimate we are at over $5,000 already. This is no small amount for a house that lives on a budget. It has been a stressful and expensive process but one that I know will be all worth it in the end. Here is an easy checklist to used when buying an older home.
What are the 12 items to look for when buying an older home?
- Fireplace Safety
- Home Owners Insurance Coverage and Cost
- Septic Tank Repairs
- Well Water Testing
- Plumbing Issues
- Electrical Issues
- Roofing Repairs
- Propane Tank and Lines
- Foundation Issues
- Central Heat and Air Repairs
- Appliance Replacement
- Mold and Mildew
Be sure to follow along on social media for more inspiration.
Thanks so much for stopping by today! It always means so much to me to have you here.