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Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

What to look for in buying an older home

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Buying an older home undoubtedly has its appeal. If you value character, charm and interior quirks that may not be offered by more modern, potentially pre-fabricated properties, then your search for a house may slant in the direction of longer-standing structures.

But there are certainly other factors to be considered and measures of precaution to be taken if that's the route you choose to go. While you're being romanced by the original fireplace inside or the wrought iron gate out front, remember to weigh the potential need for renovations through thorough home inspection services. Bear in mind, also, that structures built in the early 20th century - or earlier - were often subject to different standards for building code, and that securing the title on this home will be more important than ever given its extensive history.

All these questions can potentially lead to add-on costs, but that doesn't mean an older home can't be a worthwhile investment. A few other items to consider the following:

The guts of the home
Making sure a property is up to code entails quite a bit of upkeep, so it's important to consult with your real estate professional and home inspector throughout the process and ensure an understanding of the current requirements. Within an older home, compliance issues could arise from heating and air conditioning constructs as well as electrical wiring and the plumbing system. The ultimate goal is to make sure all of these are up to date, properly functioning and safe. There could also be a need for realignment in the chimney, fireplace or laundry chute - features that newer homes aren't necessarily equipped with - and so the cost and time associated with addressing such issues must also be absorbed.

The neighborhood and location
In a modern development, it's common for many of the owners to have moved in around the same time and for properties to be of similar, if not equal, value. Older homes present a more complicated picture of potential appreciation, which makes restoring and retaining the condition of the building that much more critical. Your new neighborhood may be rapidly gentrifying, with expensive condos and townhomes sprouting up along the same block and making your home and others look like dinosaurs. You can combat this trend by sprucing the place up from the outside, addressing any pressing structural issues and highlighting the unique amenities it offers. When assessing the work that needs to be done, however, remember to consider the logistics of your everyday routine. Not a modern washer and dryer in the home? Installing those appliances may become a priority if there's not a laundromat within short walking distance, or if visiting one isn't an adequate solution.

Furnishings and foundation
In the interest of maximizing the long-term value of an older home, your project timeline may feel endless. Prioritize the structural issues, such as electrical and plumbing updates, before worrying about what to do with, say, the grand piano that was left behind by previous owners or the stained-glass window at the top of the stairwell. You may also need to first address your surroundings - specifically any ancient trees whose roots are encroaching upon your house and threatening its foundation. Be sure your home inspector investigates whether your pipework or any other essentials are in jeopardy, because such an issue will need to be tackled right away.

Demand for older homes will never completely cease, but in order to maximize the functionality and potential return on your investment, you'll need to know what to look for. A extensive home inspection, followed by a clear outline for any renovation projects, provide a great start.