What to Do When Buying an Older Home

If you’re a buyer in today’s real estate market, an older property may catch your eye. It’s no surprise when that happens, because older homes can have charm and architectural features that newer homes often don’t offer. They can also be built with the kind of quality construction that you sometimes don’t find in modern homes, and older properties often have mature landscaping that adds value and convenience. Should you consider buying an older home? Here are some things to know:


For sale sign outside of home.


According to the United States Environmental Protection’s website, epa.gov, there is a good chance that homes built before 1978 have lead paint. The site says that deteriorating lead-based paint that is peeling, chipping, or otherwise damaged is a hazard. Surfaces that children can chew or those that get a lot of wear can pose particular dangers, such as windows and window sills, doors and doorframes, and stairs, railings, banisters, and porches. The Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of lead-based paint in housing in 1978, which is why houses built after that year don’t likely contain lead paint. While sellers are required to disclose any known lead-paint in the home, you may want to have a lead paint inspection if you notice any deteriorating paint.

Homes built before 1980 may also have asbestos. According to epa.gov, asbestos-containing materials that aren’t damaged or disturbed are not likely to pose a health risk and usually should be left alone if in good condition. However, remodeling or renovating can disturb and release asbestos fibers. Exposure to asbestos can increase the risk of developing lung disease. Asbestos can be found in attic and wall insulation, vinyl floor tiles and vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives, roofing and siding shingles, textured paint and patching compounds, walls and floors around wood-burning stoves protected with asbestos paper, millboard or cement sheets, hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material, oil and coal furnaces, door gaskets with asbestos insulation and other materials. If you plan to remodel or renovate an older home and you’re concerned about asbestos, you may want to contract a qualified asbestos inspector. If asbestos is found, a qualified asbestos contractor can remove the materials.

Find out what kind of electrical wiring the house has, especially if it’s more than 30 years old. Your home inspector should be able to check visible wiring and the electrical panel, but you may also want to hire a qualified electrical technician for a more extensive inspection. When you tour the house, look for signs of electrical problems such as flickering lights, too many extension cords, or burn marks around outlets.

In some states, sellers must disclose any mold or fungi issues. While mold problems aren’t limited to older homes, it’s a good idea to look for signs before you make an offer. Some indications include a musty or mildew odor, dark spots on walls and ceilings, water leaks or standing water, water damage or marks, condensation, and high humidity. You can have the home tested for mold, and mold remediation specialists can give you an idea of how extensive a problem is and what it will cost to correct.

If you’re planning to remodel or renovate an older home, make sure you have an accurate estimation of what the collective costs will be before you go through with the purchase. It can be easy to get carried away with plans and ideas about how you can improve the space, but you don’t want to bite off more than you can comfortably chew.

An HSA Home Warranty can be especially beneficial when you’re buying an older home and may be concerned about the age of covered home system components and appliances. With HSA protection, covered items will be protected from many malfunctions caused by normal wear and tear for the duration of the contract, helping to protect your household budget from the costs of repairs or replacements. You’ll also have a reliable resource to call in the event of a covered problem.  Visit onlinehsa.com or call 800.367.1448 for more information.