Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through links on this page, I'll receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!
Are you on the market to buy a house? Congratulations! It’s an incredibly exciting and stressful time. There’s so many different options on the market from new builds, to newer houses, to older fixer uppers what you choose to look into would be based on your budget and the individual features of the houses in your area. In general though I thought it might be helpful to list some pros and cons to buying an old house in case you find yourself considering purchasing an old gem of a property.
Usually older houses need some work to be brought up to our modern technologies. People who own these houses know that their house is more of a fixer upper than others because of today’s standards and you can find these houses priced as such.
The exception to this would be those beautiful old houses that have been maintained through the years.
In Massachusetts, a lot of houses are very old. We had a small budget, but had we been buying the house with the intention of remaining a two income household we could have purchased a gorgeous Victorian for $190,000. It killed me to not go to a showing at that house!
Old houses hold a lot of history, you never know what you might find hidden in the floors and walls.
We discovered newspapers from 1949 that were used as underlayment in our bedroom during a previous renovation. We also have an abandoned outhouse in the basement and found an old hole under the wallpaper in the bedroom where we believe a heat stove used to be.
It’s Not Cookie Cutter
When you buy a newer house the floor plan and features are all pretty basic. Old houses hold a lot of character. You might have a sitting parlor.
My favorite part of our house is wood details. The doors, window frames, and stairway post are beautiful solid wood. I want white trim for a modern look, but am really hard pressed to mess with any of these original features.
New houses tend to have very open kitchen plans while older houses had rooms for specific functions. This can be a plus if you’re looking for a formal dining room or like the charm of a proper parlor.
This is where the house price might end up being a wash depending on how much work the house you are purchasing needs.
Bringing a house up to your standards can be costly. We bought our house with a rehab loan to help pay for some of the more immediate needs of the house right away. The cost of the renovations should be taken into consideration when comparing house prices.
When watching house hunting shows, I notice that a big reason people like the new build is for the cleaner feel. This isn’t an aspect of the house buying process for me, clearly I bought a house from 1900, but I know that for some people having a house that is completely fresh is important. You are unlikely to find crisp white walls and trim ready to add your finishing touches.
Past Renovation Fails
If the house is old enough you’ll be able to see renovation fails of the decades. Our house has decades of different visions that never quite got completed. The original floor plan has been completely changed, rooms were moved, additions were added, there’s layers of wallpaper and flooring. To get the house you envision, you might find you have to gut the place and start from scratch.
If you intend to buy and old house please remember you won’t be the last person living in the house. Don’t create renovation fails of your own for the next owners. Taking the cheap and easy way out may work for you, but the next owner will have to deal with tearing up layers of your crappy mistakes to bring back the original charm of the house.
Try to keep the original spirit of the house when at all possible. By all means bring it up to code and modern standards, but don’t destroy all of the beautiful character traits that the house has held for decades. The next owner will appreciate the few elements of the house that have lasted through the years and made it to them.
Extra bonus if you treat your old house well and renovated it with respect, it could pay off big when it comes time to sell in the future.