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How Old is Too Old? 3 Things to Know When House Hunting

There’s something undeniably charming about driving past a home featuring stately Victorian architecture, or walking past a Craftsman-style home in the city that’s straight out of the early 20th century. Eclectic old farmhouses stir our sense of whimsy; it’s easy to daydream about a simpler time. Some homeowners prefer to build or buy a brand-new abode; others are hunting high or low for an older house with good bones and at least a few good decades (or more) left in it.

Buying a home is a life-changing decision, so it pays to examine every angle before you commit. As unique and cozy as older homes can be, there are certain challenges associated with renovating and maintaining them. Not to mention that your homeowners insurance rates may be higher thanks to the older systems inside.

Here are three things you should know while you’re house hunting so you can decide if vintage is the way to go for your next home.

Old Homes Need More Maintenance

A home you’re eyeing up looks good, but is it up to code? As Realtor explains, homes with outdated plumbing, heating or wiring may require an overhaul to bring them up to code. For the sake of energy efficiency, temperature control and weatherproofing, you may have to replace all the windows. Older fireplaces and chimneys may need work to make them safe.

Be sure you’re ready to invest in renovations beyond the sticker price of the home. Renovation fees can add up fast, and you may have to live elsewhere while they’re under way.

Historical Homes Come with Rules

Let’s say you love older homes... as in, significantly older. Historic, you might say. Homes in historic neighborhoods or with special historic status come with their own sets of rules for renovations.

CBS News outlines how one couple had to appeal to their local historical society for permission to incorporate their back porch into their kitchen. They received the go-ahead only after the society decided that the porch was an addition on the regular house, therefore fair game for changes. The couple also had to paint their home’s exterior in a historically accurate color palette. The couple admits that something as drastic as changing a front window would probably get denied.

The lesson: If you’re someone who resents strict rules, you will likely want to choose a home without historical restrictions on it.

Updates Can Earn You Insurance Discounts

There are ways to earn discounts on your homeowners insurance policy, and they go hand-in-hand with many renovations that owners of older homes may pursue anyway. Consumer Reports recommends the following:

- Smoke detectors, burglar alarms and dead bolts (5 percent discount)

- A sprinkler and rescue alert system (15 to 20 percent discount)

- A new roof made from fire- and impact-resistant materials (discount varies)

It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of buying an older home vs. a newer model. If you’re prepared to sink significant elbow grease and investment into fixing it up, it just might be worth it to have a one-of-a-kind home in an area you love.

Want to know more about homeowners insurance rates? CoverHound has the answers (and quotes) you need to make an informed decision. Explore your options today.

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