I moved into a 1962-era neighborhood of Fremont back in 1989. We were immediately drawn to the â€œestablishedâ€ feel of the neighborhood. The house wasn't spectacular by any means: 1,700sf with a 2-car garage, burnt orange rugs, avocado-colored oven, hot pink and lavender painted bedrooms, gold drapes, drain-rock landscaping, a termite-devoured fence propped up by weathered 2x4â€™s, and a apple tree so tall that by the time the fruit hit the ground the apple looked more like a pancake. However, this house quickly became a home as my future wife and I added our own accents. We were in our late 20's back then and we were quickly adopted as "the new kids." Eventually, we realized that the neighborhood was too good to leave and actually remodeled our home from its spec-house size of 1,700sf size to 3,200sf. We have never regretted that decision.
Today, we all look after each other. I have the keys to many of my neighborâ€™s homes in case of emergency. We often stop to talk to one another as we come back from work or see someone in their front yard. We pick up each otherâ€™s newspapers when on vacation and if thereâ€™s ever a problem with a leaking faucet or leaning fence weâ€™re all quick to lend a hand.
In short, I would highly recommend that you consider an older home as part of your â€œnewâ€ home search.
Steven A. Ornellas, GRI, ABR, e-PRO, CMPS, RE Masters, MBA
REALTORÂ® / Mortgage Banker-Broker / Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist
Steven Anthony Real Estate & Financial Services
Expect Excellence. Get What You Expect.â„¢
We live in a home built in 1968 and we love it! Perhaps itâ€™s the fact that we are a short distance from a lake. Or that mature trees surround us. Our 10,000 square ft lot is certainly a plus. Or maybe itâ€™s that we are a long ways away from highways and railroad tracks. And being in a good school district certainly helps!
Most new homes are built in â€œin-fillâ€ locations. This means that the property has not been built on until recently because of various constraints the property may have had. Such as proximity to railroad tracks. Or industrial zones. You get the idea. And in order to get the most â€œbang for their buck,â€ most new home builders are building multi-level homes on the smallest lot they are allowed. This means very small back yards, no room for a pool in many cases, and you can usually poke your neighbors with a stick. And see in their windows. And hear them sneeze.
I donâ€™t like the idea of having to walk down the street to the combined mailboxes to get my mail â€“ I love it being delivered to my front door. And there is no question for UPS of Speedy Delivery â€“ they just leave it at my front door.
I love the fact that I can make modifications to my older home to make it uniquely mine â€“ many new homes are built on pre-stressed slab foundations which cannot be altered without serious consequences or extreme cost. Trussed roofs also make modifications unlikely. And even if you wanted to expand, in most cases, there is no room on the tiny lots of new homes. Most new homes also come with an HOA and the associated fees. There are restrictions about what you can and cannot do â€“ including, in many cases, the color you can paint the exterior of your home. And thinking of parking your boat on your lot? Wonâ€™t happen. Plan on storage fees for any recreational vehicles.
New homes have advantages â€“ they are NEW! They come with 10-year warranties. They are like a new car â€“ gotta love that new smell! If you get involved in the purchase of a new home before it is buildt, you can select upgrades and ridiculously inflated prices to make the home â€œyours.â€ They also have vaulted ceilings (expensive to heat in the winter), large expanses of glass (costly to cover) and lots of wasted space. Parking for guests can often be an issue as well.
The last item is the â€œquaintâ€ factor â€“ new homes ainâ€™t! I love driving through older neighborhoods â€“ especially in establish communities such as the Oakland hills, San Leandroâ€™s Estudillo Estates or Fremontâ€™s Niles communities, to name a few. Alameda has some wonderful houses as well. The homes have something you canâ€™t buy in todayâ€™s new home market â€“ character! And, because many of the older homes are still occupied by folks whoâ€™ve lived there for many years, you get a stability to the neighborhood that cannot be found in newer developments. And some of those old homes with character have residents who are characters in their own right!
Baths, kitchens, etc. can all be upgraded in older homes. Make sure you get comprehensive inspections and estimates, then set up a plan for upgrades over the next number of years â€“ and then enjoy the benefits of living in an older home!
The downside, obviously, is that the roof is 20 years old and may need replacing in the next 10 years or so (I always have my clients have a roof, chimney, and home inspection, along with the termite/dryrot inspection). Another downside is that maybe the kitchens and baths haven't been updated, and while they are functional, they aren't usually to today's appearance standards. (But then you get to pick out what you want, yourself.) There may be more maintenance things that come up in an older home, but you will know what you are getting into with the home inspection.