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Old 10-26-2017, 03:39 PM
Location: The New England part of Ohio
17,600 posts, read 21,783,211 times
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Originally Posted by NYCresident2014 View Post
I've lived in three homes in the past four years. One was built in 1925, one in 1976, and one in 1993. The home built in 1925 was by far the sturdiest; the 1993 home was the worst. You could have a conversation through the walls between rooms in the 1993 home. The home built in 1925 was solid; the lathe and plaster walls were amazing except that they gave me some issues trying to get wifi to spread through the house.

The home built in the 70's was a mix; not really a good layout but seems to have decent bones.

Long story short, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a 90 year old home. The one we bought had already had the major upgrades- copper plumbing, newer electrical, retrofit AC, and new roof, so that helped.
This has been my experience. Three homes - 1956, 1995, and 1926.

The worst and most problematic was the 1995 house.

In terms of an investment, people seem to fall into two groups - those who like "new construction" - homes that have never been lived in.

OR - Older homes with character and history.

Few people say "I really want a nine year old house".

With an older home, you have a captive audience when it comes to re-sale.
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Old 10-26-2017, 04:24 PM
1,528 posts, read 728,653 times
Reputation: 2062
Originally Posted by I love boots. View Post
In my defense we are told not to give out advice about home construction, but to advise clients to hire inspectors and seek advice from the professionals in that line of work.
I agree with you that it's not appropriate for an agent to advise on the specific condition of a home or to make specific determinations of how a house is built. However, understanding and discussing the general problems associated with a kind of house is no different than, for example, discussing the general merits of a one story vs a two story or of open plan living (things that are well within the comfort zone of agents but provide less value than deeper understanding of things that buyers may not be aware of).

For example, it's just fact that most masonry houses built before the 1920s (at least in my area) were built with solid wall construction and it's just fact that they potentially have the issues that I mentioned. An expert is needed to confirm the construction methods of a specific building and to what extent it suffers from the common ailments of that construction. Informing clients of these kind of things and being able to talk intelligently about it (without advising!) is not irresponsible or overstepping the bounds, in my opinion.

Agents seem to like to recommend inspectors but why would you trust an agent's recommendation for an inspector if the agent doesn't understand the nuances involved in a particular type of building. Selecting the best inspector depends on this. When I chose an inspector for that purchase, I interviewed a few and made damn well sure that the one that I chose knew about this kind of construction. I also made sure that the report he gave me (both written and verbal explanation) was done in the context of this kind of construction.

As lower cost real estate agents become more popular, full service agents will need to become much better informed and operate with a much deeper level of knowledge and understanding. I believe that consumer expectations will shift to drive this. In other words, full service agents will need to articulate and demonstrate the additional value that they add beyond discounters and showing a deep understanding of a client's specific situation is important in this. Just my views.
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Old 10-26-2017, 05:13 PM
Location: Phoenix, AZ
1,247 posts, read 483,654 times
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Originally Posted by deancare View Post
Is it a good idea to buy a 92 year old house now (no problems, passed inspection) and planning to sell in 30 years or later? Thanks in advance.
Rent a movie called The Money Pit.

Then decide.
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Old 10-26-2017, 05:26 PM
Location: So Cal
38,781 posts, read 37,960,929 times
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I personally wouldn't but a lot of people wouldn't mind. Most homes that old are laid out in crappy ways. The floor plans are weird looking. Some people call that character, I don't, LOL.

We watch a boatload of HGTV and for me just too much risk getting into something that old. Heck, I'd avoid if possible anything older than the 80's.
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Old 10-26-2017, 06:45 PM
938 posts, read 405,684 times
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Originally Posted by just_because View Post
My last house was built around 1900. It had an extremely thorough inspection and was in very good condition for a home of this age. Most of the stuff below is normal for that kind of house. It was a beautiful house but here are some issues:

-solid wall masonry construction (no cavity). does not handle moisture well (cavity in modern construction separates the damp outer wall from the dry inner wall). Uninsulated and cannot insulate without destroying the look of the house.
-original roof and very, very expensive to repair as needed
-replacement windows must be very expensive 'period' appropriate windows (per historic district laws but would do anyway to avoid destroying the look of the home). Original single windows produce loads of moisture
-dirt crawl space under original floorboards (designed for carpet). Very drafty and blows up dirt, dust and loads of spiders and slugs (gaps in wood can be 1/4 inch or more). Had it insulated at a very very high cost (adds little/no value to house). Floor had to be taken up to do it. Special breathable methods used (or you will be sorry).
-Plaster and lath must use special breathable paint (see above about solid wall) so that moisture can dissipate.
-Plaster must be repaired with lime and not modern materials or it will not breathe properly (see solid wall comment). Trademen who can work with lime are expensive and rare. For example, installing drywall or using it to repair interior walls that are on the outside of the house will create big moisture problems as it won't breathe.
-Many plaster issues cannot be properly repaired once the integrity of the keys are destroyed and entire walls (or worse, ceilings!!!) must sometimes be redone (very expensive to do right). For example, a water leak from an upstairs bath can create far more serious problems than a drywall house.
-A few fireplaces were walled up improperly and didn't breathe (moisture issues again).
-Repairs to pointing must be done with lime (not all had been done properly over the years). Modern cement mortar will destroy victorian bricks over time as it does not 'give' as lime does (or breathe). Bricks need to expand and contract or they will bust up and decay.
-Asbestos installed during the asbestos heyday
-Wood rot due to moisture problems (see solid wall construction)
-House lived through 2 world wars and went through all kinds of owners. Some cared for it properly and others didn't. Poor care and periods of nobody living there take a toll. I think many homes of that age have been unoccupied (unheated, not properly ventilated) for various reasons at some point in their lives.
-Victorian homes were designed to have fires going every day in the winter. Moisture is a problem when you don't have fires and you try to seal up the house too much.
-Moisture, moisture, moisture.

Just about EVERYTHING takes triple or more time to do and double or more cost. Aim to do one "simple" job and you do 8 because nothing is straightforward.

Agents should be aware of everything on this list if they deal in areas with these kind of homes. Sadly most will not understand any of this.

While it's true to some extent that older homes were "built better", they were built for different times (e.g. drafts were just a part of life, energy efficiency was not an issue, etc) and using different technologies and techniques. And in many areas, Victorian homes were slapped up very quickly with many corners cut.

Obviously my list above may vary depending on the construction method. And some may say that you can just throw up drywall on your walls and not worry about proper techniques. However, I believe that if you are going to buy a beautiful old home, it's your duty to take care of it properly and not do repairs that will compromise it. Repairs or remodeling that is not 'period appropriate' is one thing but often it's destructive and can hide many problems. Many tradesmen have no idea what they are talking about with old homes. They don't have the necessary skills or knowledge and will just suggest what they know and tell you that you don't need to do anything special. You need to be very careful with any advice you get from them and learn about everything yourself.
Excellent list and considerations. This is exactly why we are building a new and very solid house. I hate hate hate redoing other peopleís often shoddy work or worse, dealing eith s new maintenance challenge every season or two.

They can be charming and beautiful and oftentimes the location is worth effort, but I would sooner tear down or completely gut an old house than move in as is. We are so burned out from house projects it isnít even funny.
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Old 10-26-2017, 07:04 PM
10,415 posts, read 7,495,645 times
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Who conducted the inspection? The inspector working with the mortgage company? I highly recommend a professional contractor come through and take the time to inspect every aspect of the home. Are all the outlets working? Any evidence of moisture in attic/basement? The average homeowner can read a list of things to check but can they recognize termite damage from wood rot? Can they spot code violations that need correcting for safety's sake? Is the electrical system properly grounded? If there are issues that need correcting, those can be negotiated off of the asking price. imo
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Old 10-26-2017, 08:32 PM
Location: Raleigh
8,007 posts, read 5,304,066 times
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What good things do you expect to learn from repairing an old house that you could learn no other way?
If the answer is "nothing" then your path is clear. Buy something else for some other reason.
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Old 10-26-2017, 11:54 PM
6,308 posts, read 4,775,863 times
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I have a 123 year old house. It is beautiful but keeping it up takes a lot of attention and fair amount of money. It is small house in a wealthy, historic neighborhood so its resale value is pretty much assured - IF I maintain it!
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Old 10-27-2017, 02:47 AM
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I live in a suburb of NYC, and many of the houses here are 80+ years old. My current house was built in 1935 and it's awesome! Super adorable and cozy.

My last house in the same suburb (Baldwin, NY) was built in 1920! It was a good house but it was super tiny so we moved out (good for 2 people, a little too small for 4).

We still have the original 1935 Kohler Radiator!

P.S., it's funny seeing people here ask if 50 year old houses are OK when people around here are quick to buy 90 year old houses.
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Old 10-27-2017, 03:18 AM
23 posts, read 9,771 times
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Originally Posted by emotiioo View Post
Again, problems have a way of cropping up.

I bought a house a few years ago that had "new" heating, cooling, water heater, etc. etc. The house was 120 years old. I was assured that everything was great. The inspection was great.

Started renovating a bit and found issues that would not have necessarily showed up in an inspection. Plumbing sounds. Drainage issues during heavy rain. Then the water heater got recalled. I had a home warranty so it wasn't a huge deal, but you can never been 100% sure what you are getting. Its always a good idea to have a budget for "just in case" and a better idea to purchase a home warranty.

Older homes need more repairs than new ones. Period. I am not familiar with the "old neighborhoods are bad"-- many of the houses I own/have owned are in historic areas which require a certain level of maintenance. This can be more restrictive than an HOA, so its worth looking into.

I like the way old houses look. When compared with 90% of new construction, I find that I appreciate their character and aesthetic much more. That is the appeal for me on a gut level. If you can go either way you might be better off with a new house.
As I have said most problems have been fixed for now...

Last edited by deancare; 10-27-2017 at 03:40 AM..
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