I love historic homes. I always have. Buying an old house had always been a dream of mine but when the time came I found out that there were a lot of details I hadn’t thought about. I’m so happy to partner with Capital One Home Loans to share some of my experiences in the hopes that it helps those of you who are smitten with the idea of historic home living. I know it’s a little different from what I usually write but keep in mind that old houses often have awesome kitchens!
This is my old house. We think it was built in 1910, the date on the first picture. In 1950 it was cut in four pieces and moved 30 miles to the current location. During the move it lost some of it’s character and charm… as well as the roofline.
Don’t Give Your Heart Away When Buying an Old House
Every time I see an old house I fall in love — it doesn’t even matter what condition it’s in. I once fell in love with an old house that I was considering buying and went to look at it with one of my sons on a windy day.
“Isn’t this beautiful? Original wallpaper from 1885!”
“Ummm, mom? Did you notice that the original wallpaper is flapping with each gust of wind that hits the house?”
Be aware of the little things. An old house can quickly turn into a money pit if you aren’t’ careful. Not everything is as obvious as wallpaper flapping in the wind. That brings us to hint number two.
Get Two Separate Inspections
Hiring licensed home inspectors isn’t cheap when you are buying an old house but it is important. Old houses have lots of cracks and oddities and a good inspection can point out potential problems that you hadn’t thought of. I once bought and “tried” to restore a 1915 bungalow with original light fixtures, windows, and the most gorgeous tiled fireplace you’ve ever seen. What I didn’t know is that when I had the house leveled the fireplace hearth would drop slightly and leave a gap between the beautiful wood floor and the gorgeous tile. A one inch gap. The fire place would need to be either removed or lifted.
Two inspections mean that something that might not have been caught on the first one has a good chance of being caught on the second one. That means you won’t have unexpected expenses. Well, you will have unexpected expenses because that’s part of owning a historic home but you’ll have less of them.
Make sure that the inspector checks for bats, rats and mice, and other inhabitants that could be difficult to remove. For example, bats have to be removed in a specific way and it can be very expensive. We had raccoons living in the walls, y’all.
Another thing to consider is the wiring, plumbing, and other necessary technology. Old houses usually mean old wiring. We’ve pay for the highest speed Internet available and it’s still often a problem connecting and getting from site to site.
Homeowners Insurance Can Be Astronomical
First of all, insurance companies don’t like to insure old homes. It can be tough to find an insurance company that will issue you a policy. Once you do find one, and it’s likely to be Lloyd’s which is government run I think, at least here in Texas, it’s going to be crazy expensive especially if you insure for replacement value. My heart pine floors are worth something like 400.00 a square foot and they are not easily replaceable. The insurance company knows that and the check I send them every month reflects that.
Call around as soon as you even start thinking about buying an old house.
It Can Be Hard to Find Replacement Parts and Repair-people
There are very few people who have the knowledge to repair a 100 year old house in an authentic way. It is also tough to find antique tiles that match those two cracked tiles on the fireplace or find a new pressed glass cover for the light fixture in the front parlor. You learn to do a lot of things yourself, you spend a lot of time on old house websites, and you learn to love your house despite the glaring half-finished projects.
Financing an Old House
Believe it or not, not everyone finds joy and value in historic homes. Many people wouldn’t even consider buying an old house. You may have as many problems finding financing as you do finding insurance. Make it easier by planning ahead.
- Talk to the company you’d like to finance your home even before you start looking. Talk to them about your desire to own a historic home and the location you wish to buy in.
- Find out if there are deed restrictions or historic designation regulations.
- Try to get a pre-approval so that you know what you can afford to buy. Remember that you’ll likely need to spend money on repairs and restoration after you move in.
- Find out what your property taxes are going to be.
- Make sure your financial information like credit history and income is up to date and you have all of the paperwork you’ll need.
- Get an appraisal and have it, as well as your inspection report, in your hand when you are ready to apply for your home loan
It Doesn’t Have to Be a Pain
Capital One has launched a new way of handling home loans. The coolest thing about it is that you can pre-qualify for your home loan from your computer, smart phone, or iPad! You can even upload documents, track the progress of your application, and work with a dedicated loan officer. That’s going to make it a much friendlier process!
To celebrate the launch of their new digital and personal experience, Capital One Home Loans is partnering with Jillian Harris and Todd Talbot, stars from HGTV’s Love It or List It, Too, to host a free and open-to-the public Open House event on Saturday, December 12 at the Stonebriar Centre mall in Frisco, TX. During the event, they’ll share do-it-yourself tips and tricks for simplifying the entire home buying and owning process. For more information, visit SmartHomeLoans.com
You can get a head start on some of that information by using online tools like this mortgage loan calculator.
I really love my old house despite a lot of work that’s left to do. If you are an old house kind of person then nothing will keep you from getting one but it’s good to know what to expect going into it.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.