Christine Powers - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Cohasset



Posted by Christine Powers on 10/6/2020

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For those who embrace a sense of nostalgic charm, older homes have an undeniable allure. The yesteryear designs and attention to detail are often absent in new construction. As attractive as the idea of living in a glorious Victorian or period home may be, it’s also imperative that you take an extra-long look at older homes. While it’s true that many homes age like fine wine, some can turn to vinegar as well. Consider answering these three things before putting down 20 percent, securing a mortgage, and signing off at the closing.  

1: Older Homes Enjoy Better Quality Construction, But . . .

There’s a funny thing about the word “but,” that should prompt potential homeowners to sharpen their focus. It’s generally true that many older homes were routinely constructed with sturdier materials that are now considered “high-end.” In fact, structures built from the 1860s to 1920 employed lumber that is both thicker, and stronger by the square inch. The reason is that older homes utilized “slow-growth” timbers. Today’s wood generally comes from “fast-growth” trees. The wood density is vastly stronger in slow-growth, which is one reason many have stood the test of time. Now here’s the “but.”

Your ability to find slow-growth lumber would take a Herculean effort. That’s why it’s essential to understand that you may not be able to restore an older home to its original glory, only emulate it.

2: Homeowners Insurance Can Be Tricky With Older Homes

Take a moment and think about how you plan to approach your homeowners insurance to satisfy the lending requirements. Most people want to secure the least expensive policy, as long as it covers total replacement costs in the event of a natural disaster or fire. Therein lies the rub, “total replacement costs.”

A substantial difference exists between current building costs, and the revenue required to build a new version of your period home. The lumber already mentioned may not exist, and its modern-equivalent is generally considered a high-end material. Now add in unique architectural attributes, and you likely have a structure with a replacement value that far exceeds the average new construction costs.

In terms of your homeowners policy, it’s up to you to secure a quote from a construction outfit that specializes in older homes. Using that measure, your premium is likely to uptick. But unless you get full coverage, the coverage is likely to fall far short.

3: Older Homes Are Less Usually Expensive

Whether you have a passion for older houses or just want to purchase the maximum affordable living space, there’s plenty of good news. It may seem almost counterintuitive to old-home lovers, but the market tends to devalue them, much like automobiles. That depreciation can be a substantial perk as long as the house remains structurally sound and relatively unblemished.

Most people come to the real estate market with a set spending budget. The older home can deliver increased living space as well as a robust ambiance for less than its new-home counterpart. For those who simply adore older homes, it’s a lot like buying a fine wine or rare painting at a discount. What’s of primary importance when purchasing an older home is to follow through with a determined inspection that identifies any potential issues and conduct thorough due diligence before closing.




Categories: Buying  


Posted by Christine Powers on 10/20/2015

Many homes in our area have stories to tell. If you live in an older home, you may want to know its hidden secrets. You may have wondered who slept in your bedroom or when the home was actually built. Your home holds many clues to its history and its prior owners. With some detective work you will be well on your way to uncovering your home's hidden past. Here are some hints to get you started. Gather Information In order to get started you will need to uncover all of the information you have, you will want to gather your deed and title paperwork. Make note of the first owner, year built, and the year the original owner sold it. You will also want to know the names of all the owners, as well as the years they bought and sold the property. All of this information may not be available on your deed but you will be able to find it at town hall or the registry of deeds. You may find clues in the names of owners and years owned. Pay attention to details and look for clues. Some clues to the history of the home may be: a family that owned the home for a long time, multiple property turnovers and inconsistencies in property or land descriptions. Tackling the Records Wading through the mountains of information may be difficult but don't get discouraged. Information about your home’s owners will most likely be contradictory. Census records dating back to the year your house was built are likely available at your public library, a nearby university or your local historical society or museum. Review census rosters from the year closest to the one your house was built. Census records from the 1800s and early 1900s have lots of fun and interesting information and often include the names of all those living in a household at the time, their ages, occupations, places of birth, and sometimes more. You may also want to search for census data on the U.S. Census website. Getting Help Some of the language on deeds and title paperwork can be hard to understand put older language in the mix and it can be even more confusing. Ask friends who are lawyers, title-company employees or experts in historical documents for help. You can also turn to the internet for help. Use the internet to dig up any information you can find about the families who lived in your home, as well as the surrounding streets, neighborhoods, and landmarks. If prior owners of your home are relatives you can use genealogy web sites for research. Getting a Feel for the Times Read through newspapers from the year your house was built. You will start to get a sense of the historical times. Keep notes on everything you find that mentions your house and its occupants. In those times local papers covered social news of all kinds—dinner parties, haying trips, visits from out-of-town relatives—in addition to chronicling everything from world events to weather. They often covered construction of new homes, and may offer you information on where the builders got the materials used to build your house, why they made certain design decisions, and more. More Information For more information regarding researching homes you may want to try some of the books listed. American Shelter: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Home, by Lester Walker, Overlook Press, 1981 How Old is This House? by Hugh Howard, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1989 House Styles in America, by James C. Massey and Shirley Maxwell, Penguin Studio, 1996 Old American House, by Henry Lionel Williams and Ottalie K. Williams, Bonanza Books, 1957 A Field Guide to American Houses, by Virginia and Lee McAlester, Random House, 1984







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