While no two real estate transactions are identical, buying an old farmhouse is an entirely different undertaking than purchasing a regular house. Would-be buyers should carefully consider a variety of details before deciding to purchase a house that requires this much work.
Evaluating your needs and long term goals can help lay the foundation for your potential farmhouse purchase. With a little thought, self-reflection, and understanding of older real estate, you can successfully purchase a farmhouse that fits your budget and needs. But first, you’ll want to consider a few factors and weigh the pros and cons of a purchase like this.
An old farmhouse will have an old structure. As houses get older, things start to settle and warp. While this isn’t all bad, it can cause some pricey damage and unsafe living conditions. Some farmhouses have been around for over 100 years, so you’ll need to make sure you’re getting one that has had some repairs done since its completion date.
Some things to look out for are droopy roofs, uneven floors, and large cracks in the foundation. Also, be on the lookout for insects like carpenter ants and termites. Seeing these insects might mean there’s been damage to anything made out of wood in the house.
Wiring and Electric
In almost any house that is older, the wiring is going to be a bit off. Some older farmhouses don’t come equipt with electricity or running water when they’re sold. Or if they do come with electricity it has cloth-covered wire, which can cause an electrical fire.
You’ll know it’s the right time to replace old wiring when there are scorch marks on terminals in switches and outlets, missing or damaged insulation, and any other condition that might expose you or your house to a live wire.
If it turns out the roof on the house is old and was never replaced, it might mean you have some water damage on your hands. While a little water damage isn’t going to make too much of a difference, a large amount can ruin the foundation of the house.
You’ll be able to spot water damage on the walls by seeing if there are any water stains. If you find unusual stains on the ceiling, walls, floors, or near windows, you should take them seriously. This is especially important if you’re purchasing an older house.
Inspect the piping in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and basement for corrosion around the pipe connections, leaks, or water stains. You should also inspect the caulking around the bathroom fixtures. Missing or loose caulking can indicate water seepage.
If you’ve ever bought a house before you know how important home inspections are. They bring to light all the issues of a house that aren't seen by the untrained eye. Home inspections are going to be crucial when purchasing an old farmhouse. Unless the home has been frequently maintained and kept up to code for the last 100 years, odds are there’s a lot going on within the house.
Home inspections aren’t too expensive. The average home inspection costs around $315, with small homes under 1,000 square feet costing as little as $200. Larger homes over 2,000 square feet will run $400 or more. Radon or mold testing will cost extra, but will typically cost less if you purchase them with a home inspection.
Repairs and Upgrades
If you've completed your home inspection you’re probably aware of what needs fixing and upgrades. Depending on how much the seller is willing to cover, you might have a decent amount of work to do.
Let’s start with one of the two most common remodeling projects chosen by homeowners. The average bathroom remodels costs $10,341. Most homeowners spend between $5,955 and $14,827. You can spend as little as $3,500 to $7,000 updating the essentials in a small or medium-sized bathroom. On a large or master bath, you could spend up to or beyond $13,000.
On average, a kitchen remodel costs $23,516 or $150 per square foot. Most homeowners spend between $12,559 and $34,746 or $75 to $250 per square foot. The total expense varies depending on the size of the space, the quality of materials, and whether you change the layout of the room.
This means these two projects alone could cost you as much as $36,515 for two rooms in your house. When you look at older farmhouses, take these costs into account and decide if having an older house is going to be worth the amount of money and time spent fixing it up.
Hire an Experienced Real Estate Agent
At the end of the day, your best bet is working with a Clever Partner Agent who knows the local market and can find you the best options at a great price. They’ll also be able to guide you through the home selecting process and help you find an old farmhouse that makes sense for your budget and lifestyle.