Are you considering buying an older house, either because you love the era or because you need the space for your Sandwich Generation multi-generational family? These can be wonderful investment properties / homes, especially in this market. Fixer-uppers are often great ways to save money and the older the house, the more likely you are to find a fixer. Just make sure you go into this with your eyes wide open. This is especially true if you are buying it as-is.
- Follow all the usual and practical steps like getting a good home inspection from a reputable company.
- Consider buying a home warranty even if the seller isn't offering it. In order to save your valuable time and money, I'd recommend the extended coverage, at least for the first year.
- Be aware that, with an older house, even if it passes inspection the warranty company may disallow certain repairs. Read your warranty carefully and if you are concerned a problem might not be covered, see if you can get a couple of free estimates from various companies first. If you then discover the problem is covered, that's great. If not, you'll be ahead of the game with the estimates done.
- No matter how tight your budget is, try to allow a few days to clean, do basic repairs and move some items in BEFORE you move your family in. Otherwise you, your aging parents, and your kids/grandkids could find yourselves in your new-to-you home with no heat, no hot water, and no energy to want to deal with it. (Yes, this happened to good friends of mine. 🙂 )
- If you're planning on sharing this house with an elderly parent, be sure there is a bed and bath on the first floor for them. While many aging parents can still handle the stairs, you will all be caught off guard if they get sick. Trust me, those stairs will seem like a million miles long with a sick elderly parent and no first floor accommodations.
- If there will be young children/grandchildren living with you as well, look carefully when you are in the market as house buyers. See if the house offers enough separated areas to give your elderly parents and your kids/grandkids at least a tiny space away from each other. At the end of the day, everyone's nerves will appreciate that. Many older houses do offer that, but I've seen plenty of other homes that have lots of square footage due to huge rooms. But there's not that many actual rooms to give elderly parents some much needed privacy.
- Elderly parents can sometimes be a bit unsteady on their feet. Many older houses are a bit uneven when it comes to the flooring. When you are making up your "house buyers" list, make sure you keep fall protection at the top of the list.
- Check the surrounding neighborhood thoroughly. Make sure it is a safe environment for the wee ones to play in and has a good area for senior parents to walk in. Check the sidewalks for adequate width for wheelchairs, trikes, and scooters. As with any house purchase, it's always wise to visit a house you are interested in several times during both daytime and nighttime hours to get a true feel for the neighborhood. Talking to neighbors can be helpful too. You probably won't get the full scoop, but you might learn some valuable tips that can help you make your decision. Checking the internet for any Megan's Law violaters in the immediate area is also a wise idea. I usually go to Google and type "megan's law AND State" (putting in the name of the state you will be living in where it says state 🙂 ).
As Sandwich Generation senior home care givers and grandparents, we wear a lot of hats and have to juggle more needs than most. Hopefully this list will give you, as house buyers, a good starting point for house hunting with an emphasis on a big, older house. If you have more ideas, we'd love to have you share them. Also, be sure to sign up for the free SandwichINK Real Estate Info email so you'll get the latest info and resources direct to your email. 🙂