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How to's and money-saving tips from resident homeowner and mortgage professional, Cathy West

Buying an old home means investing in charm in history. However, antique houses aren't right for everyone.

Reasons to buy an old home

When shopping around for a place to live, homebuyers might take the neighborhood, aesthetic and features of a home into consideration. One factor that might seal the deal or scare away prospective buyers is the age of a home. Many people view older homes as a challenge and a steal, while others see these properties as a red flag. Deciding if you should purchase an old home depends on a variety of factors, including a look at the benefits and drawbacks of aged properties.

The median cost of a new home in Jan. 2018 was $329,600, according to the United States Census Bureau. This contrasts the median price of an existing home during this same month, at $240,500, as reported by the National Association of Realtors. Buying an antique house might seem like a cost-effective solution, but with all expenses taken into account, buyers might not make much of a profit off an older property.

What to watch out for in older homes
One reason many homebuyers are hesitant to pursue an old home is the risk of outdated systems. Central air, furnaces, plumbing, electrical components or roofing that haven't been upgraded in a long time can be problematic in older homes. Bankrate noted components that haven't been updated in over a decade to be considered in the pricing of the home. Buyers should add these replacement costs into their budgets if they decide to purchase a house.

The pros of buying an old home
It is important to note some common features associated with older homes. As the expression goes, "They don't make them like they used to." Aged properties tend to have mature landscaping, like vast trees and shrubs. They might have larger yards, as land was cheaper years ago. Older homes may have more character than many new houses in town. Victorians, Tudors, Colonials and other antique styles are unique and charming.

Another substantial benefit of buying an old house is how established the neighborhood is.The Balance contributor and real estate broker-associate Elizabeth Weintraub said older areas are less likely to undergo zoning changes than newer areas. This mean the area probably won't make any possibly undesirable additions to the neighborhood, like chain restaurants or factories. Older properties tend to be situated closer to the center of town, which could potentially put buyers within walking distance of schools, restaurants, shops and supermarkets.

The cons of buying a new home
Purchasing a charming old house can come with some burdens and drawbacks. For instance, older homes tend to have smaller closets, garages and bathrooms than houses built in the last two decades. Old houses are generally more compact than new ones. Perhaps new homes' larger sizes are to accommodate more material items and larger family sizes of the 21st century. Since the foundations and floors have aged, the house might require more maintenance, such as keeping the floors from sloping and the chimney from corroding. Unless the previous owners took it upon themselves to renovate the home's interior, buyers might need to upgrade the kitchen to keep it from looking antiquated.

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