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Better to buy a newer or older home?

 
 
sozobe
 
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 06:49 pm
I like old houses. A lot. I've never in my whole life lived in a house made after WWII, and I adored our last 2 houses; a 1929 bungalow in Pasadena and our current 1900 Victorian farmhouse (style) in Chicago. The Pasadena house was SOLID, and I wouldn't have minded buying it, but this one has all kinds of little quirks, renovations that weren't done that well, etc., and I'm happy that we rent it rather than own it.

We want to buy our next house, and since there is some possibility that we will need to do so by the end of the summer, I've started researching. My eye is always drawn to the older houses, 1900-1935 or so. It's a new thing to think of being responsible for every leak in the roof and furnace problem. Not to mention lead paint, lead pipes...

But the new houses I look at are a) boring and b) from what I understand, not that well made. Like, a house built in 1999 may be in better shape than one built in 1900 if we buy it in 2003, but we'd want to live in the house for a looong time, and the one built in 1999 is likely to be in much sorrier shape, all things being equal, by 2053 than the one built in 1900. (If you follow...)

Any thoughts, experience, advice?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 10,600 • Replies: 89
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 06:58 pm
I've only bought one house, and it's an old one (old for these parts, i.e., early 20th C). I think you know the answer you seek, sozobe: an old house, all the way. Sure, you have to have it checked out, but that's the case any time you buy a home. Good luck!
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 07:02 pm
Can you give me any details on the checking? Who does it, how to find that person, how to know if that person's reputable, etc.?

Thanks!
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Letty
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 07:06 pm
ah, yes, sooz. Nothing is more comforting than an older house. You can feel the ghosts and smell the past. Do that, neat thing, while you are young.

with love to you, your husband, and your sweet baby.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 07:11 pm
with an older house (which i prefer) serious inspection by a professional needs to be made of major structural components such as foundation, roof, plumbing, wiring, as well as how much needs to be done to bring it up to modern codes. if all is well or manageable then the older house will outlast almost anything newly built.
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quinn1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 07:12 pm
Home Inspectors:

www.aahi.com
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 07:14 pm
Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

(Sweet baby is getting BIG, though. Today, she pulled the papers out of my inbox and strew them all over the floor. I looked at her sternly and asked who made the mess. She said, shaking her head quite earnestly, "It was not me." No? Then who was it? "I think... I think... I know! It was you!" Rolling Eyes)
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 07:14 pm
Yay quinn! Thanks!

Oh. But they don't have anyone listed for Minnesota. Sad

Is that what they're called, though? Home inspectors? How do you know who is trustworthy?
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KYN2000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 07:24 pm
Hi sozobe

I often wonder whether in the year 1929, the people who moved into the Pasadena house, were also concerned about buying a "brand new" house.

In 1929.....were older houses, better?

A rhetorical question, to be sure....but.....

I am sure that at the turn of the century here in the USA, people were wishing that "new" houses could be built the way they were built in Rome two hundred years before.

Yes, I am wandering, a bit.

As a Realtor (for the past thirty years), I will tend to offer a couple of basics:

Where is it?

Is it real damn old, and smack dab in the center of Town, in Nantucket?

Buy it!

Is it brand spanking new overlooking (set back) from the ocean in La Jolla (not on the beach)? Buy it!

(Avoid direct beach front property, like the plague: global warming)

Is every other property within eyesight, of what you are considering, something you would give your eyeteeth to own? Buy it!

Costruction? Yes "old"...."charachter"....."workmanship"....all of these do mean a lot, but a brand new home built by skilled people, and located just right.....beats "old" any day.

The Parthenon, sitting next to "nightmare" neighbors?

Run like hell!

Sozobe, If I may not have helped in the least.....go with your instincts!
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 07:26 pm
I much prefer the charm of an older house but they can be a bear to live in. It's the classic house hunter's dilema. Older houses seem to have the charm and the house and yard are established. Newer houses seem bare and to clean but they are much more efficient and have all of the modern necessities built in.

The house I owned up in Maine was built circa 1890 and until after I worked on it the last rewiring job had been done in the 1940s. There was one phone jack in a hallway closet and one electrical outlet per room. It had little to no insulation in the exterior walls and the foundation was stone and leaked constantly. The furnace was deepression era as well. But it did have beautiful oak woodwork and floors, 8 foot ceilings with crystal chandillers and real plaster walls.

The house I owned in Oklahoma was built in 1992 and was your standard brick-faced rectangle but there were electrical outlets every 6 feet along every wall, multiple phone jacks in every room, prewiring for cable TV in every room, it was well insulated and had a very efficient furnace and AC unit. What it didn't have was a single tree in the yard, no distinguishing character, no "flair".

The trick is finding an older house that has been modernized already or that you can fix up or find a newer home that you can add the charm to. You have to decide which is easier for you to do.
0 Replies
 
gezzy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 08:03 pm
Sozobe
Check the yellow pages on line for home inspecters. When you hire one, which is a must when buying any home, just ask them for their certification papers and you can always check them out with the better business bureau. I love old houses myself and maybe you can find one that has already been brought up to date.
I'm going to go check the yellow pages for you to see if I can find you a home inspector, so I'll be back ;-)
0 Replies
 
gezzy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 08:09 pm
Here is the Minnesota yellow pages. I couldn't check for inspectors myself because I don't have the name of the city you're moving too.

http://www.50states.com/yellowpages/minnesota.htm
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 08:20 pm
i'm a fan of older houses/ homes.
my mother kept wondering why i couldn't buy a nice condo with my money, when i bought my house (it's from about 1905 -15). too much work etc. then my dad pointed out that they bought the house they've been in for nearly 40 years brand-new, and there was something to be fixed all the time there as well. the doorframes weren't finished, there was a door missing (or something like that), then there was ...

you've got to know what makes you happy. i know that i'm not comfortable where everything is at right angles. of course, this house could use a few more right angles, but i love it anyway. it felt like a home to me right away, where new houses/apartments/condos feel like temporary accommodation no matter how long i'm there.
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Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 08:23 pm
Minnesota!?! Oh my! We need to get that Midwest gathering scheduled soon!

Regarding old vs new houses, it's an age old debate. Old houses that were built well and don't have a lot of poorly done renovations are wonderful. If you have enough money you can bring them up to date. On the other hand, new houses that are not the cookie cutter type can be nice and energy efficient, too.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 10:23 pm
Thanks, guys! Big smooches to gezzy for getting the yellow pages. It would be Minneapolis if anything happens with the job my hubby applied for. (Swimpy, remember the very similar discussions about Madison last year? Oy. We'll see. E.G. just got back from giving a talk at Stanford and evidently they like him a lot there, too, and they own a bunch of residential land around the campus that has houses which can only be sold to professors, and costs are kept down... we'd pretty much ruled out Stanford because of how expensive it is. Complications, complications.)

KYN2000, great to see you here, thanks. I will prolly have a zillion questions for you.

ehBeth, yeah, I don't like things to be too matchy-matchy and perfect-perfect. Minneapolis has all of these old houses with perfectly gorgeous wood built-ins -- bookcases, mantels, china cabinets, etc. And stained-glass windows. And fireplaces! Lots of fireplaces.

Tried to link to some pics but they were HUGE or the links didn't work, so verbal description will have to do it.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 11:01 pm
Not quite on the subject of old vs new, but read Home Buying for Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown. The title is kind of insulting, but it's informative and highly informative.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 11:14 pm
I mentioned to E.G. that I started this thread and he got out a book I forgot we had, that is along those lines (different title, escapes me now) and looks very good. Thanks for the tip!
0 Replies
 
gezzy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 11:16 pm
Sozobe
I love those built in, stain glass windows and fireplaces as well ;-)

I hope you find that home of your dreams :-)
0 Replies
 
gezzy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Feb, 2003 11:23 pm
Here you go Sozobe. Since you gave me the city, I did the search.

http://www.qwestdex.com/servlet/ActionServlet?pid=bresults&vertical=&from=0038847116&resultform=basic&city=MINNEAPOLIS&dir=1233&inRegion=true&state=MN&metro=false&hdg_val=Home%2B%2526%2BBuilding%2BInspection%237585%23home&Submit.x=24&Submit.y=9
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Feb, 2003 10:10 am
(peeking in, may be in a similar situation soon...)

Any of you old home buying veterans want to share which renovations ended up being the most costly? (Fer instance, rewiring doesn't seem all that bad to me -- run it behind the baseboards if they're there -- but a couple of my friends were electrician's kids when I was growing up, and they had a goodly amount of money, so labor might be very expensive... Anywho, you probably get what I'm asking: what problems proved the most costly for you?)
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