Old homes often have a unique and endearing charm.

4 things you must do when buying an older home

Some of the most charming homes in Australia were built before 1940, when land was abundant and carpenters revealed flourishes of skill, adorning doorways and roofs with spectacular designs. Fast-forward to 2016 and homes have transformed. The focus is density, efficiency and cost-effectiveness when building and thus most houses no longer have that old-world charm. Understandably, you may be seeking a home with such endearing and classic features.

Furthermore, according to the Grattan Institute, a house being detached is in the top five most important features that people look for in a home. Older homes are most often detached, meaning they may be a smart option for buyers looking for a more space, or a yard for the kids to play in.

As lovely as such homes can be, they can come with serious problems that drain bank accounts and max out mortgages quicker than you can say termites. If you're considering buying an older home, read on to discover a few tips that will help make sure your investment is a comfortable classic, not a dilapidated money pit.

Spend time in the property before you buy

When inspecting the property, take your time and don't feel like you need to rush to appease a busy owner or estate agent. Feel free to take up to an hour, to really look closely at each and every bit of the home. NSW Fair Trading recommends checking that doors and windows open and close easily, as if they don't, the home may be degrading structurally with age.

Have a close look at walls, roofs and showers to search for mould, and indicators of dampness, the presence of which are a warning sign for any home buyers.

While you may feel awkward doing so, flushing the toilet and running taps is a good way to quickly check that the plumbing is in working order. Lastly, keep an eye out for obvious signs of structural damage such as cracks in walls or rot in floorboards. If you spot something particularly bad, you may be able to decide not to buy the home on the spot, saving you the cost of inspections.

Have a close look at walls, roofs and showers to search for mould, and indicators of dampness.

Get a building and pest inspection

If everything is to your liking during your personal inspections, it's time for the next step. Termite infestations are particularly common in older homes and can cost up to $5,000 to treat, according to the Australian Pest Control Association (APCA). Problems with the building's structure, on the other hand, can cost hundreds of thousands to fix.

The APCA states that a pest inspection should cost between $250 and $350, while a building inspection report should cost roughly the same.

$700 is a small expense for peace of mind and confidence in your investment. If you don't take these precautions before you buy, you may discover that your home is a termite-infested, leaky lemon when it's far too late.

Seek help from a buyer's agent

Older homes have their own personalities, each with different charms and potential problems. A Cohen Handler buyer's agent will know the signs to look for when spotting such problems, and have extensive experience helping people just like you into charming villas and bungalows, minus the issues.

Additionally, a buyer's agent will be able to assist you in every stage of the purchase, advising you against potentially risky properties. If issues are spotted during inspections, you'll have a professional negotiator on your side to help make sure you get the best deal possible.

Let Cohen Handler help you on your search for the perfect villa and you'll be strolling around on hardwood floors and gazing out of stained glass windows in no time.

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