Home Buying in Bellevue>Question Details

Sandeep, Home Buyer in Bellevue, WA

Does age of the home matter?

Asked by Sandeep, Bellevue, WA Thu Mar 27, 2008

My wife and I are planning to purchase a house i the next few months in the Seattle/Bellevue WA area.

The one question we are wrestling with is how much does the age of the home matter in the buying decision? Clearly newer is better than older, but how much far back can we go before the risks outweigh the benefits? And what can we do to mitigate the risks associated with buying an old home?

Would greatly appreciate some advice on this...Thanks in advance.

Help the community by answering this question:


Often a "newer" home that is 8 to 15 years old is reaching the end of the life expectancy of some of the major expense items. An 18 year old home with original roof, hot water tank, heater, etc. may not be as good a choice as a 25 year old home with a new roof and all new systems replaced in the last five years.

There are different issues with different ages depending on the type of pipes used during the time of its construction. Sometimes older is better if the newer one used pipes or electrical that were only used for five years or so before found to be faulty and replaced with better materials in houses built after that five year period.

Better to not restrict to certain age criteria, but to get a thorough inspection that points out the specific defects of the materials used during the time when that house was built. Very old homes in Seattle have clay sewer pipes, for example. Tree roots can penetrate the clay and become a very expensive problem to resolve. Some may have been replaced making that particular "old" house much better than others.

Newer is not always better than older. Often you run into a house that was built with much higher standards than new homes in the same price range today. Pick an area you like and then the best house in the area for you. Going to where a new home is often will put you into a place you don't want to be. Choose area first.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008

I think there are pros and cons to both old and new - New homes can cost more up front, but the ongoing maintenance of them is usually less for a while. New homes also offer the nice wide open floor plans that we all love so much, although that is possible to find in an older home as well - especially one that has been remodeled. An older home usually has a larger lot size as builders build more houses on smaller lots in most cases now..

I personally like a house built in the 1960's through 1980's which has been remodeled in a well established neighborhood with mature landscaping and a good foundation. I also love the classic older homes all through out Seattle, but acknowledge that many of the systems in them should be upgraded.

If you are going to go back in the early part of the twentieth century, then be prepared to deal with plaster walls instead of sheet rock every time you hang something. Also remember that anything built prior to 1978 will have the risk of lead based paint in it. On the other hand, many new construction projects have formaldehyde products in it - unless you decide to buy something which has been green built.

In any case, as advised below, get an inspection for both old and new! Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 4, 2008
Have you started looking at homes yet? You will quickly get a gut feeling for homes that are well-put together, and homes that are slapped up or held together with duct tape & baling wire.

There are good and bad home of all ages. Start looking and you'll see what I mean!

Talk to some agents--maybe at open houses--and see who speaks well on the subject, or shows you things in the house that are good or not-so-good. Also try to talk to some inspectors.

One of the finest homes I sold was a 1901 construction, 2 story with a full above ground basement, that had been moved from its original site. The construction was super--huge redwood beams, big joists and studs. The plumbing needed updating, but the house was so solid!

One of the worst homes I was involved with was a 1980's house. Everything was on its last legs--the roof, the siding, the gutters.

A house is basically 4 walls, a roof, a foundation, and a furnace. If these are good--and the water and sewer--then the age is not so critical

Best wishes--let me know how this works for you!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
I would not make age too much of a factor in your home search. I have sold homes that are 80 years old which have been built better than anything today. The most important thing is to make sure you have a good qualified inspector go over everything before you buy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 27, 2008
I don't think newer is always better. Floor plan, lot size, location and school district all come into play. An older home with a nice floorplan and larger lot can always be updated. A new home on a tiny lot will always be on a tiny lot.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
Make sure when you purchase the home, think about the resale value. If you are purchasing a house that is 30 years old, and you want to live in there for another 10-15 years, what would be the selling power of the almost 50 yr old home. Would you buy a 50 yr home right now? On the other hand, always consider a neighborhood as some great locations (like Green lake) feature older 100yr old homes. And, they sell quicker then newer construction!

Vera Brodsky
Remax Eastside Brokers
Bellevue WA
206 412 7792
Web Reference: http://www.verabrodsky.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
Thanks a ton to all of you for your very helpful responses...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 12, 2008
Brand new homes fetch a premium. With that exception the bigger issue is condition of homes. Any home can attract more or less attention based on its condition and the perception that expensive repairs will be needed in the future. Old homes can have a great deal of charm particularly if they are situated in an established neighborhood. Bottom line is taste. What do you as a seller want in a home? Do you like the "feel" of an older home, or that of a newer home. Taking condition out of the equation, it is purely a matter of taste. I agree with Steven. Take a look at a variety of homes. You will quickly learn which styles tug at your heart strings and those that make you want to run back to the car.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 4, 2008
Age does matter but you have to take each home on a case by case basis. I think you'll find it extremely helpful to visit a variety of homes of varying vintage. There are pluses and minuses to all homes no matter the year. The more homes you visit the better prepared you'll be to determine what is best for you. Having an inspection done on any home you purchase will mitigate the risks. It's well worth the money, even on a brand new home!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 4, 2008
I would never limit your search to a certain age of a home. Some older homes have had work done to bring them up to current standards and are really nice. I have seen new homes that looked great, then had inspections done and found a ton of things the subs have missed. Don't limit your search. You will find you have more to look at in the long run. Happy House hunting.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 30, 2008
Great advice, Ardell.

And I would stress again that most new or newer construction does not come close to the quality of materials and craftsmanship found in many older homes. The systems can and/or should be upgraded and thoroughly inspected: plumbing, roof, furnace, windows, electrical. As previously mentioned it is the "effective age" of the home that is important. Also, I highly recommend a sewer scope that views the pipe out to the street. The sewer us usually the last upgrade that happens to an old house.

The advantage of older homes is that they have settled and seen plenty of use so with a good inspection, you can tell how well they are holding up. After the builders warranty expires in the first year of ownership of a new home, it's possible to discover you have bought a lemon.
Web Reference: http://www.HomeHounds.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
I believe in 2002 they started making builders put double payne windows in homes so that they are "energy efficient" You may want to check with your local Builders Association to see what standards they have for energy efficient homes. Also, inspections is a must when you are purchasing an older home. Inpsections can save you a headaches and a lot of money in the end. Again, not sure about your state, but if the cost of the repairs is a certain percentage of the home, then you can negotiate more off, or cancel the contract.

Again, always good to check with your local builders assocation.

Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
Age always matters, but more importantly the "effective" age matters more than "actual" age. What this means is that a home may be 50 years old and be in excellent condition with an effective age that is much less because the owners have not only maintained the home but have regularly updated and upgraded the home so that there is not functional obsolescence. On the other hand, there may be a home that is 10 years old and not be well-taken care of and have an effective age much older. Obviously, if a home has been completely gutted and re-habbed it may have an actual age that is much older, but be effectively new. Each home should be viewed with this in mind.

Risks can be minimized by making sure that you have a good property inspection completed. Normally your property inspection will reveal if you need further testing, for which you many need a mold inspection, a radon inspection, or a lead paint test.

Good Luck with your Home search. I hope this information helped!

Heena Roy
Web Reference: http://www.HeenaRoy.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 27, 2008
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