Buy and Hold with Older Homes

15 Replies

I live in the Philadelphia area where the housing stock is pretty old. A lot of the homes are 100+ years old now. I'm 28 and thinking of buying a triplex that was built in 1910, I would ideally hold this property for the next 15-20 years. My concern is by the time I am ready to sell that the home will be almost 130 years old and the market for a home that old will be slim. 

The house has updated plumbing, electric, roof, windows, and all that but does anyone see an issue with a buy and hold strategy on older homes? 

@Max H. If the deal is good enough, I would stick with it and not worry about the age. Lots of people like older properties, built at time when craftsmanship was more so than it can be today. Plus you can add the "Historic" marker to the house, provided you maintain their standards. 

It really depends on the neighborhood. If it's an older home where most of the homes around it are newer builds, that may affect the future value. But if it fits in, and most of the homes are older, it will actually be a plus when it comes time to sell.

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All very good points. Thanks guys! 

@Max H. , a few points to consider.  One, Philadelphia is one of the original 13 colonies.  We have building here the original Quakers built, Besty Ross's house is still standing, and thousands of people walk through Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was created and the Constitution of America debated).  

Two, the homes built in the last Philadelphia housing construction boom (prior to this one) was in the 1940s.  These were neighborhoods such as Mt. Airy, Burholme, Overbrook, etc.  

Three, the advantage of purchasing in Philadelphia is while the housing stock might be old the bones are solid.  The home in Philly are brick and/or stone, plaster walls and hardwoods under all that carpet.  You can take a row home in Philly tear out the insides and rebuild new innards.  I am willing to bet that home we last another 100 years.

Four, Do an internet search on the Philadelphia Row Home manuel.  I think you will find this a available resource as you research Philadelphia area homes.

@Max H. Coincidentally I just bought my duplex that was built in 1910. It was in the sellers family for three generations and it seems like they took good care of it. The home inspection made me feel assured that the home was in good condition, many of the issues found were minor or cosmetic, nothing structural or safety risk. The housing stock in the neighborhood were of similar age so I don’t think it would be a problem come sale time.

Inspections are key to older homes including and especially on foundations/basements. Nothing beat old hardwood pine construction.

Hey Max,

I'm in NH and everything over here is that age! Don't let the number scare you, if everything is updated and your inspection is good that puts you in a great spot.

My company has an office in D-town (moved to Exton) but would love to connect next time I travel down there.

Originally posted by @Sung Park :

Max H. Coincidentally I just bought my duplex that was built in 1910. It was in the sellers family for three generations and it seems like they took good care of it. The home inspection made me feel assured that the home was in good condition, many of the issues found were minor or cosmetic, nothing structural or safety risk. The housing stock in the neighborhood were of similar age so I don’t think it would be a problem come sale time.

 Which  part of Philadelphia, if you don't mind sharing?

We Just bought a triplex in Germantown that was built in 1917. There were definitely issues but it had more to due with improper maintenance than age. The house is a stone face with red brick. It's SOLID. You couldn't afford to have a new home built like they were in the early 1900's It would cost way to much because of the superior quality and skill necessary to build that way. 

I completely agree with @Marcus Auerbach , I feel like you 1910 house will be around longer that a lot of new construction in Philly. As long as those home are well maintained they can last for centuries, Look to our cousins across the pond. They have houses for sell that were built in the 1600's!

Our foreparents didn't understand things like "usable life" and "planned obsolescence" when the built a house, they built them to last. The idea of knocking down a house and rebuilding would have seem completely crazy. And their material were different. They didn't have plastic or even steel. They had to build homes with the toughest stuff they had. In Germantown Philadelphia, the house are built with stone dragged from the Wissahickon. Thick heavy stone that would cost a small fortune to replace. Luckily they stay put. 

As for worrying about appeal to buyers. These homes have had occupants for 100 years. They don't seem hard up for new occupants. Meanwhile new construction luxury homes have exteriors that are rotting. 

http://6abc.com/home/troubleshooters-uncovering-co...

Originally posted by @Amia Jackson :

I completely agree with @Marcus Auerbach , I feel like you 1910 house will be around longer that a lot of new construction in Philly. As long as those home are well maintained they can last for centuries, Look to our cousins across the pond. They have houses for sell that were built in the 1600's!

Our foreparents didn't understand things like "usable life" and "planned obsolescence" when the built a house, they built them to last. The idea of knocking down a house and rebuilding would have seem completely crazy. And their material were different. They didn't have plastic or even steel. They had to build homes with the toughest stuff they had. In Germantown Philadelphia, the house are built with stone dragged from the Wissahickon. Thick heavy stone that would cost a small fortune to replace. Luckily they stay put. 

As for worrying about appeal to buyers. These homes have had occupants for 100 years. They don't seem hard up for new occupants. Meanwhile new construction luxury homes have exteriors that are rotting. 

http://6abc.com/home/troubleshooters-uncovering-co...

 That's because nothing is done for people anymore but for profit.

As many others have pointed out, it all depends on the building-type/construction. Many masonry buildings from the 19th Century that you find in the East Coast area (including Philly) will probably remain functional even after all of us die. Nowadays it's realistically difficult to build these buildings due to labor and material costs. 

Disclaimer: While I’m an attorney licensed to practice in PA, I’m not your attorney. What I wrote above does not create an attorney/client relationship between us. I wrote the above for informational purposes. Do not rely on it as legal advice. Always consult with your attorney before you rely on the above information.

Very insightful posts @Amia Jackson ! I am looking at an older 1800's Duplex in St. Paul so this helps ease my own hesitations as well!

@Amia Jackson love your point about planned obsolescence! So true when you really think about it! 

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