Although it depends on who you ask, it’s safe to say that the real estate market is not doing well. It may seem counter-intuitive, but now is a great time to buy. But rather than look to the high-rent district or take on the headache of buying a foreclosure, you may want to consider investing in an old house, which comes with a variety of benefits over newer homes.
Below are some of the main reasons why you should invest in an older home:
- More character. Older homes possess a certain character that you just won’t find in new cookie-cutter models. It could be a hand-carved staircase, a farmhouse sink, original stained-glass windows, or a classic fireplace. These are all features that you most likely won’t find in modern houses. There are even stories of people buying and living in renovated church homes.
- Solid construction. Let’s face it - homes just aren’t built the way they used to. An older home will typically have thicker walls, and framing built with old-growth wood. This means that the wood is denser and more sustainable. Also, doors are generally made from solid wood and come with hardware built to last.
- Old-school savings options. My sister owns a house that was built in 1885, and she has something called transom windows over her internal doors. These are basically small windows that can be opened and closed and can greatly improve the air flow in the home. This allows you to take full advantage of the natural breeze, thus lowering energy bills. And while some older homes don’t come with centralized air-conditioning, you can use window units and just cool the rooms you use the most.
- Better price. Since older homes are generally not as popular with buyers as newer homes, you may be able to get one for a cheaper price. Plus, they are often larger than recently built homes. If square footage is important to you, an older home may represent a relatively affordable way to get more.
- Transportation savings. Older homes tend to be located in urban neighborhoods. So along with getting a deal on the price of the home, you can also save on transportation. These neighborhoods are generally within walking distance of grocery stores and other businesses.
- Tax breaks. Depending on the locale, your new home may qualify for certain tax abatement programs. These programs essentially waive or reduce certain city, school, or property taxes over an extended period of time.
While there are certainly benefits to purchasing an older home, there are some important things to be aware of. First, they can be more expensive to heat and cool, especially since they’re larger than your average home. Next, the wiring or plumbing may be outdated, and upgrading these items to meet building codes can be costly. Also, any specialized features of the home can be expensive to repair.
If you’re considering an older home, definitely invest in a certified home inspection by an inspector experienced in evaluating old homes. If you’re willing to deal with these potential disadvantages, you may just find yourself a unique older home at a great price with plenty of personality.
What are your thoughts on investing in an older home?
David Bakke lives in Atlanta and writes about financial topics like real estate, home improvement, and budgeting on Money Crashers Personal Finance.