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Should I Buy an Older Home?


There’s something about historic homes that’s quite appealing.

How many people have paced this floor? What events happened here? You can just imagine the years passing, while the old house still stands right where it always has.

It’s a charm, a certain majestic air, which new buildings just can’t replicate. But if you’ve never bought an older home before, you may not know what to expect. Some people assume that a historical home will be falling down around their ears, while others picture a grand sanctuary where they can recreate a moment in the past.

The truth, of course, depends on the condition of the house you purchase. First Bank takes a look at the questions you should ask yourself before you buy.

How much work are you willing to do?

This is probably the most important question. Old plumbing, rotten floors, asbestos, and other issues may take weeks or even months to repair or renovate.

Obviously, you’ll want to bring the house up to code and comply with safety standards, so make sure you hire a competent home inspector who can tell you what you’ll need to replace right away and what will need to be fixed down the road (more on that below).

If you’re looking for something that’s move-in ready, an older home is probably not for you.

What’s your budget?

All that work won’t come for free. If your budget precludes the hiring of contractors and professionals, you’d better be sure that you’re willing and able to do the work yourself.

Historical homes often have outdated wiring and plumbing, and they may not have any heating or air conditioning, so it requires some specialized knowledge to bring it up to today’s standards.

You don’t want to take on more than you feel you can reasonably afford. The only thing more stressful than undertaking a huge home renovation is undertaking a huge home renovation while you’re worrying about money.

What does the inspector say?

Your home inspector is your new best friend when you’re looking at historical homes. Make sure you go along on the home inspection, take notes, and ask every question you can think of.

If possible, hire a home inspector who has experience with historical homes, as he or she will have a better idea of what to be on the lookout for. Pay particular attention to the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, roof, and foundation, as these are all areas that tend to need major (and costly!) repairs.

If you have the time, skills, and money to invest in a historical home, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Before you move forward with a purchase, check with the National Register of Historic Places to see if there are any restrictions on how you can renovate your historical home. You don’t want to purchase property with plans to expand the square footage or alter the exterior, only to find out that it’s protected or restricted.

If you decide to buy a historical home, there are grants and programs that First Bank can help you apply for to aid in financing your renovations. Contact a First Bank representative when you’re ready to start the house-hunting process or apply for a mortgage, and we’ll guide you in the right direction.

Work with a local mortgage specialist

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