Used homes have many great features:
- Used homes are generally less expensive than new homes. As a rule, folks who bought houses years ago paid less for their homes than developers charge to build comparable new homes today.
- Asking prices of used homes are generally much more negotiable than asking prices of new homes. Sellers of used homes don't have to protect the property values of an entire development.
- Used homes are usually located in well-established, proven neighborhoods. With a used home, you don't have to wonder what the neighborhood will be like in a few years when it's fully developed.
- Used homes have been field tested. By the time you buy a used home, its previous owners have usually discovered and corrected most of the problems that developed over time due to settling, structural defects, and construction flaws. You won't have to guess how well the home will age over the years.
- You should still have it thoroughly inspected (inside and out) by qualified professionals before you buy it. The last owners may not have had the time, desire, or money to fix problems. They may also not have been aware of hidden problems. Be sure that the home meets today's building codes; doesn't have environmental, health, or safety hazards; is well insulated; and so on.
- Used homes are "done" properties. When you buy a used home, you generally don't have to go through the hassle and expense of buying and installing carpets, window coverings, and light fixtures. The work is already done and everything is generally included in the purchase price.
- Buying a used home may be the only way to get the architectural style, craftsmanship, or construction materials you want. Perhaps you want plaster walls, parquet floors, stained glass windows, or some other kind of materials or craftsmanship that is unaffordable, if not impossible to find, in new homes.
Like new homes, used homes also have some disadvantages:
- Used homes are generally more expensive than new homes to operate and maintain. Some used homes have been retrofitted with energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. The older a used home's roof, gutters, plumbing system, furnace, water heater, appliances, and so on, the sooner you'll need to repair or replace them.
- Before buying a used home, ask the seller for copies of the last two years' utility bills (gas, electric, water, and sewer) so you can see for yourself exactly how much it costs to operate the house. If the utility bills are horrendous, ask your property inspector about the cost of making the house more energy efficient.
- Used homes generally have some degree of functional obsolescence. Examples of functional obsolescence due to outdated floor plans or design features are things like the lack of a master bedroom, one bathroom in a three bedroom house, no garage, inadequate electrical service, and no central heating or air conditioning.
- You may be attracted to an utterly charming older home in a lousy neighborhood. Even though you may be able to ignore graffiti on every wall, will prospective buyers be equally tolerant when you are ready to sell? Remember: "location, location, value."