Top Things We Miss About Old Houses

12 07 2010

Hey, my house had one of those! (© Steve Lovegrove; Library of Congress)

Hey, I remember that!

For anyone lucky enough to own an old house, quirky features such as a hand-cranked dumbwaiter, gurgling radiator or shutters that actually work may be a part of everyday life. For the rest of us, such details now exist only in memories of visits to Granddad’s. The passion for old houses can start at an early age, as evidenced by all the letters and e-mails that This Old House readers sent in recalling special details from homes they knew as kids. In fact, it makes us wonder what today’s kids will talk about tomorrow — the silence of radiant heat?

Deep front porches

“My grandfather built my childhood home in 1936. Its front porch was 10 feet deep and ran the length of the front facade. It was a great place to play as a child and a great place to gather with the family.”

—Michael Purnell, Springfield, Ill.

Wooden screen doors

“I miss our old wooden screen door and my mother yelling, ‘And don’t slam the’—BANG!—’screen door!'”

—Hank Kennedy, Goffstown, N.H.

Milk-bottle boxes

“The house I grew up in had a metal milk box that held four milk bottles in an exterior wall. It had doors on each side — one was for the milkman to deliver freshly filled bottles and pick up empties, and the other opened into the kitchen.”

—Susan Allen, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Floor registers

“In the floor of my old bedroom there was a heat register. It had an iron grate you could pull out and then peer into the room below you. Mine looked right down into our living room. Perfect for Christmas morning.”

—Kate Craney-Welch, Wauwatosa, Wis

Deep overhangs

“The thing I miss most about old houses is the eaves. Before air conditioning, the eaves extended far out from the roof on all sides to protect the house from the summer sun. Lying in bed at night when it rained, I could hear the water dripping off the roof. It was such a comforting feeling.”

—LaureL Glasco, Newport News, Va.

Dumbwaiters

“Our dumbwaiter took up the space of a chimney, but it sure was useful for moving laundry and trash to the basement and food and dishes to and from the kitchen.”

—Joan Phelps, Hot Springs, Va.

Steam radiators

“When I remember the 100-year-old Minnesota house I grew up in, the thing I recall most fondly is the old-fashioned steam radiators. In winter we used to come home after a freezing-cold day of ice skating, take off our mittens and socks, and drape them over the radiator. I can still smell the damp wool. Radiators make old houses feel so warm and cozy.”

Article By Connie Roth-Ames, Salem, Ore





July Market Report

11 07 2010

This report is brought to you by Keller Williams.





Real Estate Deal-Breakers that shouldn’t be.

11 07 2010

Read Article Lending From A Loan Officer's Perspective

Purchasing a new home can be a very stressful experience. Most people are making the largest single purchase of a lifetime when selecting a primary residence. In addition to the monetary implications of such a large purchase, the actual process of buying a home contributes significantly to this stressful event of purchasing a home. Especially in today’s markets, buyers must be well informed and have a good understanding of a property’s underlying value before making the purchase decision. Prospective buyers saw real estate values plummet across the country during the mortgage meltdown.

Even in a difficult market, once buyers are able to select a residence that meets their personal and financial criteria, it is important for them to remain diligent until the property closes. Buyers should not let the home of their dreams escape them over minor differences during the buying and negotiating processes. Let’s examine some of these minor roadblocks and maybe you will be able to overcome, or at least recognize, them when you decide to purchase your dream home.

Aesthetics
Prospective buyers should not let minor aesthetic differences hinder their big picture view of their dream house. If appliances or the decorative theme are not up to your expectations, keep in mind that most of these things can be easily modified over time.

Perhaps more important when viewing the interior of the home is to check for overall structural soundness and try to focus on potential rather than current appearance. So, how do you do this? A good strategy is to secure a licensed home inspector prior to closing on your deal.  The inspector will provide a detailed analysis and cost breakdown on actual required repairs. Depending upon which state you reside in, the home inspection can be part of the actual contract. The home inspector will assess every aspect of the home’s interior and exterior. The inspection findings may be legally used as leverage in the home buying process:

If the cost of repairs exceeds a preset dollar amount, the contract can be revoked if that is explicitly stated in your contract. For example, if the home inspection requires $8,000 worth of repairs for “structural soundness,” but your contract states that you will not purchase the home unless repairs are below $1,000 then you have legal recourse for getting out of the deal. Typically, you are responsible for the non-refundable cost of the inspection, but most people are willing to incur that cost in order to save thousands of dollars down the road. The idea here is to focus more on the integrity of the home itself as a first step rather than your distaste for the current interior design or décor.

Sweat Equity
Buyers should not get discouraged when their potential dream homes require some old-fashioned manual labor to get it up to their standards. Real estate professionals refer to this as “sweat equity.” Sweat equity is a time investment by the potential buyer to clean, redo and repair the potential property once the purchase is complete. Rarely are homes purchased that require no effort on your part. New construction is perhaps an exception, but a poor real-estate market can be littered with short sales and foreclosures – many of which are neglected, vacant properties. Also, many purchases are older properties with excellent construction characteristics but needing some “elbow grease.”

Similar to the aesthetic differences mentioned above, leveraging resources such as a licensed real estate sales person or family and friends is a good first step. Licensed realtors are likely to point out things that can be accomplished by the typical home buyer versus those things that would be better served with professional assistance or advice.

Conclusion
Purchasing a home is a long-term investment. The process of buying a home can be taxing. Many of today’s homes will be purchased as short sales or bank-owned properties. These distressed properties typically will take longer to close than the traditional, seller-owned properties. Remaining patient and diligent and not letting minor repairs or a few thousand dollars in price will likely pay dividends for years to come. 

Article by Stephan Abraham

Article from Investopedia