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.

  1. Follow all the usual and practical steps like getting a good home inspection from a reputable company.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 🙂 )
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. 🙂

What do you look for when you are shopping for a new home to buy or rent? Many people go house hunting without really stopping to think about their lifestyle needs.  I've learned it really pays to sit down and think about your most important needs and make a list. With that list in hand, it's much easier to find what I need when I'm out shopping to rent or buy my next house. As the years have passed, my list of requirements has changed dramatically. When we bought our first house, I really wanted a formal dining room. It seemed so elegant. We got it, but eventually we turned it into a computer room – a much more practical use of space for our growing family.

The second time we were in the market to buy property, all we really cared about was finding a home with four bedrooms so each of our kids could have their own room, as well as a family room that was away from the front door. Those were on the primary list, though we did have some other goodies on the secondary list. After weeks of searching we finally found a lovely one that fit the bill. It was great, we got everything on our primary list, several things on the secondary list and we loved it. That particular house had a laundry area in the family room, though, and I realized I really missed my separate laundry room.

The third time we moved I was older, my parents were older, and I knew that, due to my dad's Parkinson's Disease, they might move in with us eventually. Even if they didn't the new items were necessary for visits as well.

My list then included wider halls for wheelchairs, which meant measuring different sized wheelchairs – from a transport wheelchair to a motorized wheelchair. Grab bars were also at the top of the list. I put them in each bathroom and discovered they were quite handy for all ages. I also put a separate laundry room on the list, as it makes for a much quieter environment. With aging parents and growing grandchildren, any bit of quiet I could find was wonderful.

For this last move, to an area with a lot of basements, my senior mom and I developed yet a different list. We realized we needed at least one bedroom and one bathroom on the ground floor, along with the kitchen and a laundry room or laundry area. We also needed easy access to the outside that didn't require many, if any, steps and, ideally, sidewalks for our walks. One last item on the primary list was a third bedroom for grandchildren and other family members.

That proved to be harder than I thought in our new area. So many of the houses I looked at were either two story homes with all the bedrooms upstairs or they had a basement with the laundry room down a long stairway. We kept looking though, stuck to the list and did a lot of praying. God did, indeed, provide us with a lovely home in a nice neighborhood that exactly fit the requirements on the primary list. I'm back to having a laundry area again, instead of a separate room but I have much quieter appliances and the trade off has been well worth it. I'll just have to find a good laundry cart. I still don't have a formal dining room, nor do I miss it. Instead I have a great room that works wonderfully for grandchild visits and craft projects.

Having a list of very specific requirements really helps Sandwich Generation house buyers to find a home that will work well with aging parents and grandchildren. How about you? If you are currently looking to buy or rent a home, have you made a list of your primary and secondary needs for you, your senior parents, and maybe even grandchildren or children who are still at home? What's on your list?