Real estate is rife with euphemisms. And just like there is always at least a whiff of truth in stereotypes and cliches, the same can be said for most of these often hilarious, primarily sales-oriented descriptions. In reality, there is a fine line between antique and old; charming and weird; rustic and dilapidated; small and cozy; and so forth. One person’s trash is usually just that: trash, not another person’s treasure.

In the majority of relatively older homes, the problems are not physically hidden, but mentally hidden. In other words, you might not see them if you don’t know to look specifically for them. That’s where we come in and, as real estate experts, open up your eyes and help them focus on some simple, “what-to-look-for”, suggestions. Let’s keep it simple and start with five.

1. Begin at the beginning: the foundationFixer-Upper Real Estate Image

Once you find out how old a home is (10, 15, 20 years old), you can make a relatively safe assumption that its foundation is the same age. A home’s foundation is its skeleton. If any part of it is cracked or broken or shows signs of mold, it could foreshadow costly repairs in the very near future.

2. Plumbing

A large number of old homes will likely still have cast-iron pipes traversing its mostly hidden insides. Cast-iron pipes collect minerals over time, which can lead to corrosion, which can lead to constriction and leaks, which can lead to expensive repairs or replacement of your entire plumbing system.

3. Determine the age of the electric wiring

If the home is old enough, it might still use the outdated knob-and-tube wiring system. These can spell not only incredibly expensive rewiring projects, but also pose a serious fire hazard.

4. Up on the roof

Most contractors worth their salt will tell you that replacing a home’s roof is one of the costliest repair projects of them all.

5. Ensure insulation is up to date

Remember when asbestos wasn’t akin to a swear word in our collective lexicon? It actually used to be a good thing, providing a heat-resistant, fireproof insulating material for pipes, brake linings and electrical systems. Now that we know its health-related shortcomings, asbestos has all but disappeared from the earth. The point here is that home insulation is impacted a great deal by changes in technology. And regardless of the weather patterns where you live, you need to know the age, type and efficiency of your home’s insulation.

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This is filed under Home Buying.

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