Tips for Buying an Older Home

What kind of loan should you get?

An older home that needs extensive renovations may mean extra repair costs. If you don’t have cash on hand, you may need to look at special loans that include repair expenses. Read: 10 Things I Wish I Knew When Buying My Older House. Another option is to secure a separate home improvement loan after you have purchased the property.

What’s the cost of living?

Should the home require extensive work, you must determine if you can live in the home during renovations or if you will need to rent a place until the project(s) are completed. While there are usually other rooms that you can live in temporarily, if the renovations are excessive, it may not be good for your health to live around the paint chips (older homes almost always used lead-based paint), and other hazardous materials. See: 5 Things to Look Out for When Buying an Older Home – US News. Nothing is more important than your health, and you should not sacrifice that; not even for a dream home. 

Are there any historical limitations?

If you purchase a historic property, you will have to make sure it is not protected by any regulations or preservation requirements. These requirements often limit the type and amount of work that can be done to the home. This is often something that many homebuyers do not look up; and it can be a costly mistake, as you will have to edit, or completely un-do it.

What kinds of repairs does it need?

When considering an older home, look closely to identify all potential issues. In addition to the obvious items, you may find some hidden internal problems, as well. For more information: Pros and Cons of Buying an Older Home – Before making a purchase, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect the home to pinpoint any possible problems. Be on the lookout for: 

•Foundational issues
•Heating & cooling system issues
•Any rotting wood and/or termite problems
•Faulty wiring
•Structural issues 
•Plumbing issues
•Roof & gutter problems
•Poor insulation
•Doors & windows that need repair or replacing


Once you have identified any issues with the home, you will have to decide if you can and will do the work yourself or if you will need to hire experts. In certain situations, you will be legally required to have a licensed contractor perform the work. It’s also important to get estimates on the work before committing to the house so you can decide if the property is worth the expense. This may include getting an appraisal based on the current state of the property and its expected value after the renovations are completed. 

Safety first

Many older homes used lead paint and insulation that included asbestos. These two serious hazards must be dealt with by professionals if they are found during renovations. Also, if you know the hazards exist, you may be legally required to disclose those facts if you ever sell your home.

Have you budgeted?

When looking at buying an older home, you must decide how much you can afford to invest in renovations. Create a budget in case repairs are more than expected or other issues are found.

Staying true to the architecture

To get the most value out of the property, consider how you can make updates while still retaining the home’s character. This may include decorating as well as making structural changes. The choices you make can affect the resale value and the ability to attract buyers. Buying an older home can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. The key is to plan ahead, know your budget and be prepared for the unexpected.


  1. Katherine

    Be verrryyy cautious when buying an older home. Even the inspectors might miss something. Older, historic homes are beautiful, and should be preserved. However, they should be preserved by those that can afford them. If all you can afford is to purchase the home, plus the expected expenses to fix it, you shouldn’t buy it, because you need also be prepared to spend a lot more on the problems you aren’t expecting, because they are there.

  2. Ryan L

    I have a great tip for buying an older home…DON’T! When I say “older home,” I mean a home that is 15+ years old. You don’t have to buy a brand new construction home. But what you don’t want is a home that has old insulation, and hasn’t been updated in years. For example, even something like plumbing issues can run you a few grand. Don’t buy a lemon house.


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