ALL AROUND | Random Musings


by | ALL AROUND, Random Musings | 0 comments

Buy an old houseYou have decided that you want to buy a historic bungalow. Not surprising! They are America’s favorite house & are highly suited for anyone who values comfort, history & fellowship.

Bungalow neighborhoods tend to be friendly & inclusive, attracting creatives, academics, singles & families of all shapes & sizes. This will benefit you in the buying process.

I am going to assume that you have already decided in which area of the U.S. you want to live. You are focusing on a specific, locale & need to choose a house, a neighborhood & perhaps a city.

Since this article is a how-to, I’m going to write it in sequential order. Just in my head it’s longer than I usually prefer, but buying a house is a huge investment financially & emotionally so I am reluctant to omit anything.


1. Save your pennies so you have a nice stash for a down payment, any needed repairs & a little left over to keep the stress at bay.

2. Clean up your credit. The higher your score is, the faster & easier it will be to obtain a mortgage loan. A high score can lower your interest rate. Loans are all about trust. The less risky you appear, the more they want to give you $$$. This is a good article by a credit reporting company that might help you.

It’s also a good idea to learn to live within your means & may just be the incentive you need to do something about raising your income &/or relying less on that credit card.

3. What is your budget? When you are buying an old house your budget may need to include restoration funds. You also must consider the cost of insurance, which can be more difficult & pricier to obtain on an old house & as with any house, taxes. Some states have tax breaks for certain historic properties so this is something that you will want to research.

Many old houses come with old trees which can be expensive to maintain or remove. You need to figure this expense into your planned budget & you should consider getting an evaluation from a certified arborist as part of your inspection contingency.

4. Get pre-approved by a lender. I’m going to let the experts tell you what you need to know. (I am neither recommending this company nor am I not recommending them. I just thought that what they have to say is informative.)

5. Are you wanting a turn-key property or do you envision yourself rescuing a house from the ravages of time?

Should your choice be turn-key you need to be aware that a clever flipper can make the worst house look all shiny & new. In many states, if someone has not resided in a house, they have no obligation to disclose any defects.

A warning- falling in love with a house can make you abandon all plans & good sense. There is nothing more likely to turn a mild-mannered homebuyer into a knight in shining armor more than walking into a distressed old house & deciding that it’s HOME. I think that this is a good time to suggest that you read my article which helps you sort out what type of house will actually make you the happiest before you go looking to buy a historic bungalow.

6. Find a qualified home inspector. Usually the home inspector is secured during the frantic time between getting a signed contract & closing. Please line up a home inspector who knows old houses before you need one.

Understand what the general inspection will & will not tell you. Read my article on home inspections here & watch my curated videos on inspections here. The videos walk you through several inspections so that you can understand what you can expect from a general inspection & how you can benefit the most from it.

How do you find a qualified, old house inspector?

Bungalow Heaven Pasadena home tour7. You will probably narrow down a couple of neighborhoods that seem attractive to you. Most of these old neighborhoods have neighborhood associations (not homeowners’ associations. These are voluntary & focus on building strong communities.) Google the neighborhoods & look for upcoming association activities. You can attend these events & let people that you meet know that you are looking for a house in their neighborhood. They will welcome you warmly!

These get-togethers provide a good opportunity to inquire about local Realtors. You want to research any names that you get & also look for them in online listings in the neighborhood (including sold properties.) If they are trusted by the locals, they will usually have a nice inventory.

You can have meet’n’greets with these preferred Realtors by asking them to show you properties. From these encounters, you can see what kind of service they deliver & whether or not you mesh with them.

Check out their reviews online. Are the attributes that are mentioned important to you?

8. At the meetings you can also ask people for inspector recommendations. (Honest, these old house folks live to talk about their houses.) Check out the reviews of recommended inspectors & interview a couple of them. You want someone that you can trust for their competence, service & integrity. Yes, the Realtor who represents you will recommend inspectors too & you can just add them to the list. But ask before you are under contract.

9. Many cities have historic preservation advocacy groups. They can usually refer you to Realtors, home inspectors & tradespeople. My list is woefully incomplete but you can get an idea of what they do.

10. KNOW THIS! When you set out to buy a historic bungalow, there is no one house for you. You do not need to feel that you must have any one house or your life is ruined. Before I found the Hare House, I had my heart set on another wonderful bungalow that had a fraction of the character & many more issues. It was newly under contract & I was very, very, very hopeful that the deal would fall through. My Realtor pressed me to keep looking & I found my beautiful 1910 Craftsman & instantly forgot about the other one & wrote an offer on the hood of her car.


I saved the best for last. Get yourself educated on old houses. Yes, I am biased, but I recommend that you read my blog from cover to cover, click all the external links (then come back!) watch all the videos that I have curated just for you, study my Pinterest page & read all the books I recommend.


Old typewriter


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