Raj, Home Buyer in Franklin, TN

Buying an old house??

Asked by Raj, Franklin, TN Sun Jan 25, 2009

1. How safe is to buy an old house?
2. Is there a checklist to look for with increasing number of years the things we needs to look for while buying an old house?
3. What is the fees a realtor charges for helping you buy a house and how is the fees structured?

Help the community by answering this question:


Hello Raj,

First of all, when is a home considered old? I've seen homes that were built in the 30's and 40's that were probably built better than a lot of the new cookie cutter homes built within the last 5 to 10 years. Each home has to be judged on it's individual merits.
When buying any home, I strongly recommend having it inspected by a competent licensed home inspector familiar with older homes.
As far as what agents charge to help you buy a home, is another question. Normally the agents commission is paid by the seller out of the sellers proceeds at closing, however, you might be responsible for paying a commission to your agent in the even he negotiates the purchase of a "for sale by owner" property when the seller is unwilling to pay a selling commission, but that should always be disclosed up front prior to you completing the purchase.
Why not visit my website in order to gain answers to some of your questions and concerns. I've provided you a link below.
Have a nice day, and let me know if I can answer any of your concerns or questions.
Web Reference: http://www.BobTrewyn.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009

A home built in the 1990's is actually considered to be newer construction. When you said old-I thought you meant really old. Like 100 years old :)

None of the horrors that I mentioned previously would apply to this age of home.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 26, 2009
1. How safe is to buy an old house?
To some degree, it’s as safe as the home inspects – regardless of age. Brittany’s comments are an excellent way to look for warning signs. I’d add maintenance to the equation as well. Some homes have been kept in immaculate shape through the years, while others have been let go – accelerating the effects of aging on a home. You may want to discuss this with a local inspection team AHEAD of time as they can alert you to local factors to Franklin area homes (ex: soil conditions, known pests, typical aging trends).

2. Is there a checklist to look for with increasing number of years the things we needs to look for while buying an old house?
Yes. A good place to start is with the State of Tennessee’s Residential Property Condition Disclosure. This form is an attempt to warn potential buyers what the age of the home, and its parts, might be. Using a blank copy of this form, you might begin to see what areas of general concern to begin with for your checklist. If you would like this e-mailed to you, please click on my picture and let me know to send it your way.

3. What are the fees a realtor charges for helping you buy a house and how is the fees structured? Brittany’s answer here is a good explanation on what you can expect. Each agent may vary.

Will a house built around 1990 - 95 be categorized as old or new?
This has typically come down to personal preference for my clients. Still, if you are looking for the latest in floor plan design, and kitchen or bath finishes, chances are these homes will feel a bit dated or old (vs new). If you are more familiar with older style homes and LOVE the charm, then the 90s homes will probably fall in your new category.

To get an idea of which homes you might be considering, do you mind me asking what homes you have considered online already (neighborhoods or specific homes)?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 26, 2009

First of all, when choosing your inspector, hire a structural engineer. The fee will be slightly higher, however it will be worth the extra cost.

Key items to look for when purhasing an older home-

1. Knob and tube wiring-see how current the electrical is. Make sure this is up to date with 3 pronged, grouned outlets and GFCI's in the baths and kitchen

2. Basement-typically they are not in as perfect condition as new homes. There may be termite damage which is common in old homes. Termite inspection is a definite must.

3. Lead paint-especially with old wood windows that have been painted.

4. Poorly insulated-keep in mind when budgeting your price point. Utilities will be higher on an older home.

5. Copper plumbing and cast iron-main sewer lines. Updated plumbing is something to keep your eye out for.

6. Asbestos materials-sometimes used in flooring and other building materials.

Regarding realtor fees, in my area the buyer broker is paid by the seller as a percentage of the sale price. Custom is 3% in my market, but may vary in yours. Here is how it works:

Seller contacts a listing company (lets say Remax in this example) The Remax listing agent signs a contract with the seller agreeing to market his/her home for a percentage of the selling price. (typically 5-6%) The Remax agent puts the property on the local MLS, puts a for sale sign in the yard and begins advertising the property. The agent offers a buyer broker on the MLS half of the fee they are getting from the seller (typically 3%) to bring a ready, willing and able buyer to the closing table.

The buyer is not responsible for paying any fees to the agents involved.

I hope this helps :) Good luck with your purchase! Older homes have alot of character and are actually built quite well in comparison to newer construction.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 25, 2009
For a home built in the 1990s, it might help if you can find out if the heating/air unit, water heater, and roof have been replaced or their age as you're looking at it. A look at the current owner's property disclosure will help a great deal to see what repairs they have made on the house, which your realtor can get for you. Some of the bigger items just mentioned may have plenty of years left, but sometimes they'll start to wear or break down by this point. If you know one of them has been replaced, that is one less thing you'll have to replace down the line! These are things you can get an idea of before the offer.

You won't know the true condition of the house until the home inspection, but sure, look it over for anything obvious to you. When you find a house that is right for you (and family), and have reviewed the property disclosure, you'll make your offer contingent upon a home inspection. You should also ask for a repairs allowance that accounts for some of the unknown issues you'll have to address when you make the offer. After the inspection, you'll pick the most important items on the list that fall within the repairs allowance limit for them to have fixed. Sometimes, they'll fix it or just credit you for you to have it fixed yourself. If the house is basically falling apart and has major issues, you will be able to terminate the agreement and move on to the next property. It's important to remember that every property will have items come up on an inspection report, even new homes. So talk to your inspector and get them to explain the issues to you so you can get some tips and pointers in maintaining your home.

Most realtors who represent you as a buyer do not charge for their services. Their services are usually paid by the seller of the house you buy. You will need to clarify that with them when you begin working with them.
Web Reference: http://homenashvilletn.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009

Thanks for the elaborate reply.
One more question:

Will a house bulit around 1990 - 95 be categorized as old or new?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 25, 2009
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