Old homes—the hardwood floors, the gingerbread scrollwork, the crown molding. Oh, if they only made them like they used to! Charms may abound, but there are intrinsic drawbacks with age. However, with the right preparation, the benefits of buying a historic home—defined here as 75 years old or more—can outweigh the liabilities very quickly.
Updates. When buying a historic home, go over the record of updates (if any) thoroughly. Has the electrical system been upgraded from fuses to a breaker box (at least 100 amps)? Has the cast-iron plumbing been replaced with PVC (where and when)? And what about insulation and R-value? Houses built before the mid-1940s typically had little or no insulation in the walls, so find out if any has been added during remodels or blown in behind the original plaster.
If any or all of these items have been updated, it will greatly increase the comfort and value of your home. Ask about them!
Water damage? With age comes entropy, which can mean water seepage over time. Make sure windows, floors, gutters, eaves and roof valleys are free from old (or new) water damage and ask to see records of repairs of any past damage.
Historic value. Ask your agent for a record of the home’s value the past 30 years. Most historic homes increase in value over time, of course. However, in older areas of town, that trend may slow significantly, depending on the condition of the home or the neighborhood.