There can be great appeal to buying an old home. If properly cared for, a home built decades ago may boast features that are hard to find in newer builds: thick walls, original hardwood flooring, high baseboards, stained glass and other unique decorative features.

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According to John Oborne, owner of Oborne Contracting Inc., in Richmond Hill, Ont., there are pros and cons to purchasing an old home. Ultimately, deciding if an older home is right for you will depend on your needs, your lifestyle, and your budget.

For a buyer interested in unique style and classic design, an older home tends to be more attractive. “Generally, people are buying older homes because of the architecture,” Oborne says. “The exterior provides the character of an older home, which a lot of people like, and allows you to do any kind of interior work you like, such as incorporating contemporary styles.”

Greenery and outdoor space is another attractive feature. “You’re getting a lot of greenery with an older home. You’ve already got landscaping established. With a new home, you don’t,” Osborne says.

Living in an established neighbourhood — with parking, paved roads, and nearby amenities — may also be important to some buyers. Moving into a new build may mean putting up with months or years of construction in your community.

But taking advantage of an older home’s perks may come with high maintenance and renovation costs.

“There are issues with older homes that you’ll have to address,” Oborne warns. “That could be anything to do with updating the house, such as repairing an old roof or dealing with older infrastructure of the home, such as outdated plumbing and electrical wiring.”

Older homes also tend to be a lot less energy efficient than new builds. Buyers may want to factor in the cost of replacing old windows and doors to improve efficiency.

A home inspection is required before purchasing a home and can help reveal any potential issues. “The inspector should be independent of the selling agent and the purchasing agent,” Oborne points out.

He recommends that buyers also have a reputable contractor join them when looking at older homes.

“The contractor’s time will need to be paid for, but the right person can provide valuable information about the integrity of the home and a realistic estimate of any costs associated with purchasing the home. Knowing this up-front, can potentially save the homebuyer from unexpected financial strain” Oborne says.

For more information on whether an old home or a new build is right for you, pick up a copy of the the fall 2013 issue of Genworth’s A Better Way to Homeownership.
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The Pros And Cons Of Buying An Older Home

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