Older and more established neighborhoods often have beauty that is a site to behold. Large trees keep homes and streets shaded from the hot summer sun. The architecture may be historical, eclectic and seasoned with character. Homes may feature many modern styles with amenities while retaining the original charm and mature setting. Established neighborhoods near the central of a city tend to hold their property value.
Older homes can be fantastic but there can also be some drawbacks to watch out for:
Up Keep - Older homes typically come with a certain level of necessary repair. Wiring may be dated, ungrounded, or made of undesirable material no longer used. The telephone jacks may not accommodate highspeed data demands. Materials used for plumbing may have eroded, compromising the safety of water. The foundation itself may not be as thick or rigid as newer structures. The specifications for cement composition have advanced in the last several decades. Although many older homes have had their roofs repaired or replaced, some have gone without any maintenance. A/C units, water heaters, air ducts, household appliances can all be dated and in need of replacement.
Lead Based Paint - If the home was built prior to 1970, there is a high likelihood the walls contain lead based paint.
Efficiency - Many older houses do not adhere to current energy efficiency standards of newer constructed homes. These homes may have single pane windows, minimal or trampled down insulation, leaking ductwork, inefficient a/c units, water heaters and appliances.
Kids - This aspect some buyers don't initially consider, but in many established neighborhoods, there are more empty-nesters than new families. For most parents, having nearby children for their child to play with can be a critical factor in deciding where to live. Some older neighborhoods have turned over enough to provide a good balance of both.
Quality of Renovations - If an older home has been fully renovated the concern often is whether the renovation came with warranties. More often than not the work was done by a multitude of independent sub-contractors. Even if a general contractor was involved, there's no guarantee they are still in business.
Even with the drawbacks, an older home may still be a perfect fit. In order to protect your investment approach the purchase of an older home with eyes wide open. Look for defects. Discoloration of walls can signal internal water damage. Top to bottom vertical cracking of the drywall can signal a cracked or compromised foundation. Lights flickering while testing out appliances may signal a substandard electrical source. The absolute best way to navigate these waters is to get a thorough home inspection by a well regarded inspector.