While the age of a home denotes how long the structural members have been in place, the actual number of years means little or nothing. As with humans, age is relative; and sometimes a fifty-year old home is in better condition than one that is only a couple of years old. Rather than age, the important aspects are determining whether or not the home meets your needs, confirming its condition and having it in a convenient and desirable location.
There is one area where age may help to point out potential problems and that is in being aware of construction or materials problems associated with a particular time frame. The existence of lead paint, synthetic stucco, defective siding materials or other potential hazards can often be identified if the age of a home is known.
A popular category of used homes are those homes known as “fixer-uppers.” These homes may need a new roof (an easy repair which, unfortunately, frightens away many potential buyers), new siding, kitchen and bath upgrades or the replacement of heating, plumbing and electrical systems. Some homes may even require that significant structural repairs be completed before they are safe to occupy.
Ads for such homes are sometimes misleading, and the agent’s or seller’s description of needed repairs is often far from complete. Buyers interested in such homes should proceed with caution. While wonderful opportunities exist for those who are knowledgeable and willing to tolerate the hassle and expense of serious home repair, horror stories abound; and a few such homes are truly, “money-pits.” Many times buyers discover that their anticipated budget will be decimated by undisclosed problems.
If you do plan to purchase a fixer-upper, make your offer to purchase contingent upon an inspection and your receiving acceptable bids for the work needed. With these homes the inspection process is especially critical. You may even wish to get separate inspections for the structure (from an engineer) and inspections for the mechanical systems from certified contractors (HVAC, electrical, and plumbing). Then, get comprehensive QUOTES, not estimates, for all repairs. Also, check with the local building authority; depending upon the repairs needed, you may need to bring the repaired areas into compliance with current building codes.
If this sounds complicated and confusing, it is. Fixer-uppers can be disastrous to relationships, to budgets and to your sanity. However, they can also be challenging, rewarding and just plain fun. Your task is to make an informed purchase based upon your knowledge and your willingness to deal with the problems involved.
However, buyers should be wary of making additions or upgrades that would price a home above the market. While you may find the changes desirable, you’ll be less likely to recoup your investment when it’s time to sell.
And unless you are familiar with the remodeling and repair process and have the time, patience, and ample funds, “fixer-uppers” may not be for you. Never purchase such a home without seriously evaluating both the expense and the “hassle factor.”
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Originally posted at: www.TheHousingGuruBlog.com - The Age Factor in Homebuying