Things to be Aware of When Buying an Older Property

40. Things to be Aware of When Buying an Older Property
s1homes welcomes David Rowand of 
Cairn Estate Agency in the second of two guest blogs.

Period properties are often highly sought after. Whether it’s a classic rural cottage or Edwardian terrace; original features, quaint settings and a distinct sense of vintage style mean they’re often snapped up quickly.

Whilst it’s tempting to put in an offer quickly when you see a beautiful older property, it’s equally important to think with your head, not your heart. It’s all too common for people to think they’ve got a great deal on an older house, only to discover the property has countless problems to contend with!

Here’s a list of some of the more common issues to look out for.

Things to Look Out for When Purchasing an Older Property

  1. Damp.

    When you view a property, it’s tempting to keep your focus at eye-level. Instead, look at the ceiling. Damp often manifests itself as tell-tale patches along the ceiling or around the window-frames. It also causes wallpaper to ripple and peel, so check this too. Look out for mould and signs of rotting, as this will indicate just how serious the problem is.

  1. Condensation.

    As you’re exploring the house, run your finger along the window. If it feels wet, this is a sign that the property isn’t well insulated and may get cold in winter. It could also be a sign that the window needs replacing. For one average replacement window, expect to pay around £500.

  1. Cracks.

    It’s normal for older properties to have a few cracks on the wall – and more often than not, this is a surface crack in the plaster, rather than a serious structural issue. However, larger or deeper cracks should never be ignored, and you should arrange for a surveyor to assess them.

  1. Central heating.

    If it’s an old property, it may have an equally old boiler, which may need replacing. A quick look at the boiler should give you a clue about how old it is, but it’s also a good idea to look at the radiators to see if any of them need updating. A new boiler can cost anything from £1,500 upwards, so it’s important to check it.

  1. Wiring.

    Wiring is a trickier aspect to assess at a viewing, as it’s mostly internal. Light-switches and plug sockets will give you an idea of when the wiring was last updated in the property.

  1. Structural damage.

    You’ll need a surveyor to assess the property for structural problems. However, at the viewing, you can certainly get a good idea of whether or not you’re likely to encounter any major problems. View the property’s exterior. Do any of the window-ledges appear to be bowing? How does the brickwork look? These factors will give you valuable clues. Don’t ignore the problem – structural damage can cost thousands to rectify.

  1. Rot.

    Rot is a fairly common problem in older properties, particularly on external window-ledges, beams and timber. Wet rot can occasionally be dried out, which isn’t so expensive, but dry rot needs to be eradicated completely, and can cost thousands to fix. Look out for spongy, damp-feeling timber, fungal growth on any exposed woodwork, or dry, crumbly timber.

  1. Leaking pipes.

    This is particularly prevalent in kitchens and bathrooms. Generally, leakage is fairly obvious (look for damp stains in ceilings and on floorboards), but sometimes, leaky pipes are concealed in kitchen units and under baths!

Asking Questions

Remember, the viewing is your opportunity to not only scrutinise the property, but ask questions too. The agent showing you round the house should be equipped to answer all your questions, and if they don’t know the answer, ask them to ask the current owner. This is your chance to figure out if it will be a worthwhile investment or cash sinkhole, so take it!

David-Rowand-Cairn-circleAbout Cairn Estate and Letting Agency

Founded in 1999, Cairn is now a team of specialists in residential property investment. Managing Director David Rowand saw that his estate agency clients could benefit from more than sales or purchase advice and help with negotiation. Property assets could deliver more return with the right development, refurbishment, letting management and property maintenance programmes. Cairn began as a property company, developing and selling on existing properties. Now it works mainly with investor clients – sourcing, developing, managing and selling residential investment properties to maximise return for their owners.

Leave a Reply