The oil systems usually last forever but may not be the most efficient or what you want. Bring in not only a home inspector but a general contractor to get detailed estimates on any work you want to do to bring the house up to your standards. You can then decide what your best price is for the house and if you have the funds or the desire to tackle that project. There are some loan types (FHA 203K) that will allow you to finance the cost of any improvements right into the loan. And it doesn't have to just be functional stuff. Want granite countertops or wood floors? They'll consider that too!
An old oil furnace providing baseboard heat is a great way to heat a home. It provides moist healthy heat so no need for a humidifier or constantly replacing filters in the furnace. It is true that the oil tank can be a big liability if it has leaks or is not pressurized properly.
It also depends on the neighborhood conditions and whether or not there are other homes selling with similar heating systems. As a licensed realtor and a certified appraiser, I would be happy to review the neighborhood sales for you and see what heating systems other homes in the area are using.
Lastly, you would need to get the oil tank inspected regardless of the as-is sale to protect yourself from a leaky nightmare.
Please let me know how I can be of further assistance.
REALTOR / Certified Appraiser
Long and Foster, Inc.
You certainly need to be prepared to replace the oil furnace with a newer oil furnace and by all means "Buy" a home warranty.
The serious issue for you is the oil tank, is it below ground or in the utility room or the garage? If the oil tank is below ground the tank absolutely should be inspected for leaks. A oil tank inspection costs $450.00 and it a pressure test of the tank. If the tank fails the pressure test Maryland
EPA is called and the fun begins.
RE/MAX Realty Group
Generally speaking, this is one of the best systems available if in good operating condition.
I wouldn't necessarily rule out the home because it has this type of system. If it's in good working condition, then you may really enjoy this type of heating. On the other hand, if it's in poor condition, the cost to repair could be a lot more expensive. And retrofitting older houses to accommodate a common forced-air system (with an air handler, furnace/heatpump and ductwork) can be prohibitively expensive.
Good luck with your purchase.