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The Pros and Cons of Buying an Older Home

Depending on your goals, they can be a great investment.

There are so many decisions you need to make during the homebuying process, like how much you want to spend, where you want to live, and the size of your next home. Another factor to consider is the home’s age. While some people prefer brand new constructions, others find charm in older homes. Which do you prefer? We weigh the pros and cons. 

PRO: Vintage Features

Old houses have charm that newer homes often lack. Namely, many new constructions may be built with more simplistic or modern ideas in mind. Unlike new homes, older homes are full of history. Some features characteristic of older homes include: dormer windows, bulkhead entryways, wooden built-ins, porticos, crown molding, chair rails, and exposed ceiling beams. 

CON: Lead Paint

According to the EPA, if a home was built before 1978, there’s a good chance there’s lead paint on the walls. If the home was built before 1940, that number jumps to 87-percent. The government agency states “lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning.” While deteriorating lead paint is a cause for immediate attention, the EPA says older homes that have been painted over with new paint are generally not an issue.

PRO: Wood Floors

They don’t make homes like they used to. When building a new construction, buyers can ask for features such as wooden floors, but they generally expect to dish out more cash, too. Alternatively, while some older homes have outdated carpeting, you might be surprised to find wood flooring underneath. A refinished wooden floor could turn a home from shabby to chic–and bump up its value, too!

CON: Less Energy Efficient

No one wants to pay a fortune for utilities, but unfortunately that’s sometimes the reality of an older home. In general, most aren’t equipped to be as efficient with energy as newer builds. Some examples of where this could pose an issue include: poor insulation, drafty windows, faulty electrical wiring, and outdated home appliances. 

PRO: More Affordable

One of the reasons so many first-time homebuyers are drawn to older homes is the price tag. While newer homes may offer more creature comforts and everyday luxuries, older homes are more accessible to prospective buyers with limited budgets. Many homebuyers are willing to purchase a fixer-upper to work on as they go, versus buying a completely new house and spending all of their money at once. The lower price tag also makes it a good investment opportunity.

CON: Renovation Costs

With an older home, renovations are not only likely, they’re sometimes necessary. Older structures are more likely to face structural issues such as a leaky roof or a cracked foundation. These types of monumental problems can be overwhelming and frustrating to manage, especially if the home has multiple issues that you need to address.

PRO: Better Location

While location is a matter of preference, older homes are more likely to be centrally located. Because space in more heavily trafficked areas such as the downtown are generally more scarce (and expensive), home builders tend to build new developments on the periphery of town. In contrast, older homes are generally where the majority of a town’s original development began, meaning they’re generally closer to restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. 

Looking for more tips on buying a home? Check out our comprehensive buying guide.

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Raquel Guarino

Raquel Guarino is a writer for Realty.com and Help.com. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.

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