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5 Considerations for Buying an Older House

Old home buying tips from ISB

Older homes come with charm, but also some unique challenges.

The great thing about the communities Iowa State Bank serves is their rich history. Burlington, Wapello, Morning Sun and Mount Union each have their unique places in the history of Iowa and have been home to people of all walks of life. A lot of this history has been preserved in buildings and homes throughout the area.


Many of these older homes are still in good enough condition to be lived in. There is a certain charm about a home that is part of an area’s history, but that doesn’t mean they are the best to live in. “Home Season” has begun, and as a community mortgage lender, Iowa State Bank wants you to be aware of certain items that need to be considered when looking to purchase an older home.


Is the foundation solid?

A solid foundation is important for a solid home. Inspect the foundation walls for cracks or chipping as these can be signs of foundation problems. In general, repairs to a foundation are expensive, especially if the house needs to be lifted off the foundation. Consult a mason or carpenter for additional concerns and estimates for repairing the foundation.


How old is the wiring?

Older homes originally had a knob and tube wiring system that works well, but it can be a fire hazard, especially in locations such as the attic. Additionally, the older knob and tube wiring system may not be wired to handle some electrical loads sufficiently which also poses a fire hazard. If you see the knob and tube wiring, consider the cost of updating the house’s wiring.


How old is the plumbing?

If the house still has the original cast-iron pipes, you may want to anticipate replacing them as they are subject to mineral buildup and leaks. Check the exposed pipes for any leaking. Unfortunately, the buildup inside the pipes will not be noticeable until your drains become slow.


How is the house heated?

Look to see if the house has an old boiler unit or forced air heat. Boilers, especially if it is original to the house, can be very inefficient and expensive to run. If the house has a forced air furnace, check the age of the unit and consider having a professional assessment on the furnace. Replacement of a furnace can also be very expensive.


What is the condition of the roof?

Check the roof and the attic carefully for leaks or rolled shingles. Replacement of a roof is considered one of the most expensive repairs on a house.


Getting an assessment by a home inspector is recommended, as they will help you check for many of the concerns of older homes. Iowa State Bank is your mortgage center with calculators, current rates and other resources. Iowa State Bank also has loan officers available to step you through applying for a mortgage, so give us a call or come by today to get started!

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