Buying an old property

Published Jan 11, 2019 – 4 mins read

Many dream of owning an older property with period features in every room and an exterior that could be on a postcard. As pretty as the property might be in the photos it’s important to take a closer look when purchasing an older property.

Whilst the property’s history might be charming there could be factors that might prove costly in the long run. Knowing what to look for, what to ask about and understanding the maintenance required will allow you to buy a property without any unwanted surprises further down the line.

What to look out for when buying an old house

When viewing older properties try to establish original period features from modern look-a-likes. Whilst imitations may look pretty they’re not the real thing and won’t necessarily give you the authentic feel you’re after. It might be that the seller decided to cover the period features, so look out for signs of fireplaces being boarded up or suspended ceilings.

Whilst you can’t start ripping things off to check what’s underneath you can make a note and ask the seller for more information, if you’re interested in the property.

Be prepared for there potentially being a draught, the floors might not be perfectly level and there might be cracks in the paintwork. Not all cracks are a worry in older properties, some small cracks are to be expected, larger cracks may be a cause for concern. With properties that have been standing and lived in for over 50 years you should expect some wear and tear.

Questions to ask when buying an older house

Once you’ve found a property that you’re interested in it’s a good idea to do some background research on the property. Before a viewing you can take a look at the property’s history online to see when it was last sold, you might even be lucky enough to find some old photos which might indicate if any work has been done.

During your viewing take note of anything you see that has caused you concern or that you’d like to know more about – whilst the agent might have some of the answers there and then it might be that they need to ask the seller to confirm information.

Older properties have often had maintenance work completed already and anything serious would be found in a full structural survey and confirmed by the solicitors, however it might be useful to know if the current seller has done any work themselves and when it was completed, especially changes such as repairs to the roof, brick work and any extensions.

Buying an old property to refurbish

Whilst buying a property that you can make your own might be your dream, be aware of the hurdles that stand between you buying the property and completing any works.

You can do a lot of research before you seriously consider a property. As property finders we conduct thorough due diligence on all properties for consideration especially if our client is seeking a property to refurbish as any major works will likely require planning permissions.

Check to see if the property is within a conservation area and confirm if the property is listed – these are primary checks, more information would be found by the solicitor with finer details further down the line.

You can also get a feel for what’s been permitted in the area by looking at other properties in the surrounding roads or within the same building if you’re considering a property in a mansion block.

Employ specialist property professionals

It might be that the old property you’re looking at has been completely refurbished and as far as you can tell is in excellent condition. Despite the property looking immaculate, unless you are a professional property surveyor you’ll not see any potential issues. Although it might be aesthetically pleasing, looks don’t always tell the whole story.

We recommend all our clients employ the services of a property surveyor before purchasing a property, especially when buying an older property, it would be sensible to instruct a surveyor to complete a building survey.

They will be able to point out any issues, recommend works to improve the building’s overall longevity and highlight serious issues that need attention such as damp, subsidence or unstable walls.

Maintenance of old houses

The property you’re buying may be in great condition upon purchase but understanding the ongoing maintenance costs may save you from surprises in the future.

The chocolate box cottage with a thatched roof is a delight to look at but it may cost you a few thousand pounds per annum to keep it looking so wonderful. Original windows also require regular upkeep to ensure they don’t rot – many homeowners take the decision to replace windows with modern durable replicas which can be costly.

Running costs may also be slightly higher as older properties are not always as energy efficient as their newer counterparts, the agents will have an Energy Performance Certificate, it may be included on the property details, that can give you an idea.

Buying an old house

Whilst there may be hurdles and additional factors to consider, as property finders we often find properties with well-maintained period features to carry a premium price tag.

Quality refurbishments are exceptionally well received by buyers so it’s often a good purchasing decision if you’re concerned with future resale potential.

High ceilings, low ceilings, original cornicing, beams, small doorways with original latch doors, cross windows, sash windows, cast iron fireplaces, the list goes on and on of features that can be found in old properties.

Help finding a property

If you’re looking for an old property with period features and character our team of professional property finders can help with your search.

We’d be delighted to discuss your plans to purchase an older property, contact us to learn more about how we can assist.