Real Estate Investors Share What to Consider When Buying Older Homes

  • Massachusetts-based investor Dana Bull owns seven investment properties built between 1780 and 1920.
  • Although there are advantages to buying an old private house, there are also challenges.
  • Know your area and research plumbing and wiring before you buy.

Dana Bull likes old houses.

“I’m a collector,” the 31-year-old Massachusetts-based investor who owns seven investment properties built between 1780 and 1920 told Insider.

She works full time in real estate in various capacities. She is a licensed agent, real estate consultancy and coach, and in 2022 launched a course dedicated to investing in small multifamily properties.

Bulls like old houses for many reasons.

“They are unique and charming,” she said. “I like that they represent something bigger than me. It outlasted all the different ones.” She also appreciates how they were made and the materials used by previous builders: Now. “

They have also made good investment properties.

Bull earns well from her 22-unit real estate portfolio, and working is technically optional, she said. She was able to maintain the position of her early 30s without feeling like she had to compromise on her lifestyle. ”

An insider has confirmed Bull’s property ownership and 2021 earnings, which she doesn’t want to disclose.

One of the perks of buying an older home, she explained, is its location. She has beautiful trees and a larger lot, while the developer is now cramming a larger house into a smaller lot. ”

Additionally, older properties may have something of historical significance. For example, it may have previously been owned by or helped design it by a notable person. “The story you weave helps increase the value of the property,” said Bull.

Of course, there are challenges with buying older properties as they tend to require more maintenance and upkeep. Based on her experience buying homes up to 240 years old, Bull advises at least what she should consider before buying anything more than a century old.

Know your neighborhood and pay attention to how properties are arranged

Before we start looking inside the old house, we need to consider the general location.

Are you purchasing in an area with many old folk houses? Or is your neighborhood mostly made up of newer homes with a few older homes scattered about?

This is important to consider for several reasons.

“In certain areas, older properties can truly be community gems,” Bull said. They are exclusive, unique, and perks.

If you’re buying in an area that consists mostly of new homes, and the residents aren’t necessarily thrilled with the older properties and don’t see age as a value, this is a “make money along the way” case. is. So,” she pointed out. In other words, you can get older properties in neighborhoods with lots of newer homes for pretty cheap.

Dana Bull

Bull owns 22 rental properties in Massachusetts.

Courtesy of Dana Bull

Another thing to consider when buying older in a neighborhood that consists mostly of newer buildings is that the professionals you might hire to do the maintenance may not have much experience working in older homes. It means that there is sexuality.

Older homes tend to require more maintenance and upkeep, so having reliable electricians, plumbers, and structural engineers on the team is important, Bull said. In areas with many older homes, it is easy to find contractors and professionals with such experience. ”

You also need to consider where the house is located on the site.

“Because of the way the town was built, many of the older homes are on busy streets,” explained Bull. You may see old houses pushed up against the main street, or facing the main street, you took a wrong turn.” “You have to decide whether to buy a house on the main street or buy a house on the street.”

Pay close attention to expensive infrastructure items such as plumbing and wiring

Once you’ve considered your home’s surroundings, you can zoom in and start looking at the property itself.

Plumbing and wiring are the most critical infrastructure items to pay attention to, Bull said.

As for the plumbing, you should check if it is cast iron. “Cast iron was popular in her early 1900s, with a statistical lifespan of about 100 to her 120,” she explained. So if you’re seeing a house with cast iron pipe, that pipe is likely at the end of its life. “It’s no fun having to replace it.”

Also, using cast iron in housing is no longer the code, she noted.

As for wiring, most older homes have an outdated type of electrical wiring called knobs and tubes, which can be a potential safety hazard.

“Remediation can be very costly, and insurance premiums can be high,” said Bull. “The tricky thing about knobs and tubes is that a lot of them are behind walls, so you don’t have a good way of knowing how much is in there, how active they are, or how much they cost. Please upgrade until it starts.”

There are some workarounds. You could cut some holes in the wall and send your camera inside to have a look around, but there’s no perfect solution.Cost to own. There may be some, but the wiring is unknown and can be unsettling for some people.

What are you can The best thing to do is make room in your budget for expensive, worst-case scenarios.

One of the properties Bull bought happened to have all the knobs and tube wiring that wrapped around the gas lines and was very unsafe, she said. Because I got a very good deal on the property and it was part of my overall budget. ”

Whether you’re buying an old or relatively new machine, it’s important to be contingency-ready for any maintenance issues that may arise.

“Even in new homes where you’re not the first owner, random big-ticket items that shouldn’t be broken can break,” she said. It could be the AC unit in your old house, you’re just out of luck.”

One last thing to consider before buying an old house is that it’s never perfect. “And you’re going to drive yourself completely insane trying to perfect it. Buyers understand what the boundaries are between what they find attractive and what they’re concerned about.” It’s important to.”

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