How big is age of property a concern?

17 Replies

I came across a nice duplex built in 1885. The owner has done an amazing job keeping up with maintenance. It's very neat and clean and looks very modern from inside. I thought it was 20-30 years old. It also has nice cash flow. I'm not sure if I should be concerned about the age of the property. I will definitely do due diligence by having professional do house inspection as well but I'm confused. I would appreciate any thoughts.

What about the stuff you can't see?  Plumbing, wiring, foundation, and HVAC could be big issues you're not thinking about.  Energy efficiency can be a big deal as well.

Phillip Dwyer, Real Estate Agent in NV (#BS.0142939)
702-212-1912

Phillip, I'm hoping home inspection would uncover any such issues. Any other recommendations?

Find out the lead paint regulations in your area to see how it complies.  Here wood windows ,   which are common in  a house this age are an issue because painted friction surfaces fail the lead inspection for rentals.  I love old houses and hope this is not the case in your area but it is an issue around here.

Thanks for the tip. All windows are redone in last few years and there are no wood windows anymore.

@Ned Carey   is right on. I live in the northwest, and there are developments here with homes that are a year old and are maintenance nightmares. There are also homes here that are 100 years old and are pristine. The only two things that matter are; was it well built and was it properly maintained? Honestly, I'd never think twice about when a property was built, but would judge it strictly on my perceived opinion of the condition and a thorough report from a trusted inspector.

Corby Goade, Real Estate Agent
208-297-3010

I own properties from 1875- 1937. Once things are done correctly they last a long time. If the electrical has not been touched since the original install then you have a big job but then it will be good going forward. I find the older properties to be a unique niche as it takes a decent amount of knowledge to develop solutions to some of the issues these older properties bring up. Most of the older homes were over engineered however they also are more likely to have been abused meaning too many layers of siding or roofing or crappy electrical or plumbing splices here and there. It would be very rare to find a property built in the 1980s that has 3 layers of roofing on it but not uncommon in older properties. Get a good inspection and go through with them and ask a ton of questions. An inspector can miss things and it is my belief that you should really know what you are getting into on your investments...

@Kyle Hipp - I'm a newbie and this will be my first investment. I will try my best I can but the fact is I don't know much. Can you please share your experience in terms of what specific questions to ask?

Hi Rajeev

My experience of buying an old property -100 yrs old one is not great. High on repairs and many regulations to comply.

Thanks

Age is only a concern as it lends to condition of the house..are the walls breaking down? Foundation problems? Structure? if theyre good, so are you

Hi Rajeev,

As a home inspector, I would be looking at the following in a place that old:

Structure: what is the foundation made of? (Stone, brick, etc), is there cracking? Signs of leakage? Are the foundation walls bowing in? (Horizontal cracks are a big deal, vertical cracks not as much), condition of main beams (if it has wooden structural components, is there wood-destroying insect damage?), definitely get a termite inspection. They're cheap.

Plumbing: Is the pipe galvanized (silver) or is it copper? If galvanized, expect problems with pressure in the future, and expect to replace it, are there any improper connections (i.e. Galvanized to copper w/o a di-electric fitting)? Leaks?

Electric: Does the panel have fuses or breakers? If fuses it will likely need updating, panel have double taps (2 wires to same breaker)? Aluminum single-strand wire (fire hazard), is the wiring in the house modern (conduit/Romex sheathing vs Knob and Tube), are outlets grounded? Are there functioning Gfci's where needed?

HVAC: how old are the heating/cooling units? Do they function well? Does the furnace/boiler vent properly (to avoid carbon monoxide issues)? Is the fireplace/chimney in good repair and clean?

Interior: are windows old or newer? Painted with lead paint? If double pane are all seals intact? Do doors open and close as they should? Are there door stoppers?
Are walls and ceiling drywall or plaster? In either case, look for water stains/signs of mold. Are floors reasonably level? Is there significant settlement cracking anywhere?

Roof: how many layers? More than 2 is bad, 1 is much better, is it properly sealed? If flat, does it have proper drainage/terminating strips? Do the downspouts discharge near the foundation (aim for 3-4 feet away)?

Exterior: is the soil/ walkways graded away from the house? Damage to the siding? Soffit/fascia properly clad?

This isn't a complete list, but it should keep you out of trouble :) let me know if you have any questions.

Joe Ziolkowski
On Target Home Inspection
708-274-7279
www.OnTargetHomeInspection.com

Also good to confirm if it's an historical property, as that will change your renovation options/cost and may turn a deal into a dog. Especially your 1st time out.

Thanks Joe. That's great information. Much appreciated.

My pleasure Rajeev. I hope it helps with your inspector. Where are you buying?

My only real issue with old is location. Some of my favorite homes were the grand old ladies built in the late 1800's in the Bay Area. Never had any trouble selling one of these when I was done with it except my wife would go into the let's sell our place and move in here mode. She finally won once and I have to admit it was my favorite house of all time.

Of course price is a top factor, I need to buy at a price that will allow me to bring the important things current. But I loved the quality of building materials in many of these old homes and expect them to be there in 2114 and doing just fine, provided the planet is still here.

Originally posted by @Brian P.:

My only real issue with old is location. Some of my favorite homes were the grand old ladies built in the late 1800's in the Bay Area. Never had any trouble selling one of these when I was done with it except my wife would go into the let's sell our place and move in here mode. She finally won once and I have to admit it was my favorite house of all time.

Of course price is a top factor, I need to buy at a price that will allow me to bring the important things current. But I loved the quality of building materials in many of these old homes and expect them to be there in 2114 and doing just fine, provided the planet is still here.

 I just closed on a big Victorian duplex in West Oakland that was built in 1897. Already made it through 1906 and '89 earthquakes, and besides some TLC< the core looks great. Some of the 2004-2006 vintage builds are already starting to crack!!! They were building them as quick as they could find cheaper supplies and semi-experienced workers... Just don't make 'em like they used to!!

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.