Look at the structural integrity of the home, what type of plumbing does it have (materials used), and what condition is the electrical in? What condition is the heating/cooling in?
i would then set aside moneys each month for unexpected repairs.
There are additional inspection techniques and tools that can be used such as optical cameras that can scope underground sewer lines for cracks or damage. Old wires might have been compromised by rodents. I've seen 20yr old homes with a 220 power cable eaten completely through by rodents. They ate the plastic casing.
Home inspections are usually considered "general" inspections. Meaning they dont look at every little thing. They are there to get a general sense of the condition of the home. That is why I would set up a repair fund for an older home.
Additionally, we also have a list of great handyman helpers if you would need one. They are very reasonably prices.
Bottom line: Get a respected home inspector that will give you a good idea of the general health of the home. Make sure you get the main systems of the home in good repair (roof, heating cooling, electrical, and foundation/structure). Have a home repair budget and/or update account. This type of account will also help you keep the home updated for a better resale value.
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In short older homes in the right neighborhood can offer a great deal and real charm to the interested buyer. If I can help please feel free to contact me.
If you know what to look for, or work with a real estate agent that does, you can enjoy living in your 1970's built neighborhoods.
Turning your Dream into an Address
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
I have seen many older homes (1970's is not old) that were in perfect condition, classic designs, if you will. I have also seen newer homes that were not maintained and were falling apart.
The only real issue is do you like the styling of the older home or do you prefer the newer styling or recent homes?
I do think that if you're going to be in a newly constructed house short term that your expenses may be lower - aside from all the tweaking that you have to do inside and out - and spend money on - when you're the first owner. That being said I think that new construction often isn't as good as older construction and if a 40-year old house is in good condition it isn't necessarily going to need constant repairs.