With new-construction homes flooding the market lately, it may seem like buyers are favoring newer houses over older homes. But actually, if you're a first-time homebuyer, it pays to consider an older house as you go about your search. Here are some of the pros and cons you'll encounter when buying an older house -- and some of the specific issues you'll need to keep on your radar should you choose an older property to call home.
What are the benefits of buying an old house?
Buying an older house could wind up being a smart real estate move. Here some of the pros:
- A lower purchase price. Older homes tend to cost less than newer ones because they're less updated -- and in some real estate markets, less desirable. Generally speaking, a newer, modern house that's the same size as an older one in the same area will cost more.
- Lower property taxes. Newer homes tend to have a higher assessed value than older homes. As such, their property taxes tend to be higher. With an older house, you might pay a lot less property tax than someone around the corner whose home is similarly sized, albeit more modern.
- A larger property. Older homes were generally built at a time when land wasn't so hard to come by and therefore have larger yards. Thanks to overdevelopment, a lot of newer homes sit on smaller lots so that more properties can be crammed in.
- Solid construction. Many newer homes are built with inexpensive, builder-grade materials. The result? They're not as high in quality. That doesn't mean they're not structurally sound (if they weren't, they wouldn't pass inspection), but rather that with a newer home, the kitchen cabinetry might be cheap and therefore splinter or warp after a few years, and the floors might get scuffed up more easily. With an older home, the materials used are often designed to last and better withstand wear and tear.
- More character. A lot of the newer homes being built today are somewhat cookie-cutter in nature -- they tend to look alike and have the same features and feel. Buying a house that's older gives you a chance to score a unique home -- one that has a lot more charm than the newer properties on the market.
What are the drawbacks of buying an old house?
On the other hand, there's a downside to buying an older home:
- Outdated features. An older home may come with aging appliances and a heating and air conditioning system that lacks energy efficiency in a very big way. The result? Higher utility bills for you. You may also find yourself grappling with unreliable plumbing, which could substantially impact your quality of life.
- Safety concerns. An older home might lack features that make it a safer place to live. For example, outdated electrical wiring could constitute a fire hazard. And while that's bad by itself, it could also result in higher homeowners insurance premiums for you.
- Aesthetic issues. An older home might feature lime green cabinetry, mauve carpeting, and wallpaper that makes you want to scream. And while aesthetic issues are usually fairly inexpensive to address, they could still be a hassle to deal with after you move in.
- A closed-off floor plan. Newer homes tend to feature open floor plans that give a roomier impression. Older houses, by contrast, tend to have more defined spaces. That's a good thing if it aligns with your style, but a bad thing in that it often makes a house seem more cramped.
- Trouble with resale. Many buyers today prefer newer houses. If you buy an older home, you may have trouble unloading it when you find yourself ready to sell.