Should You Buy an Old Home?

Mike Kalis, CEO of Marketplace Homes, shares some of the expenses you should know when looking to buy older homes. The verdict? Do your research before jumping in.

QDT Editor
3-minute read

These are some of the expenses you can plan for, but what about the surprise ones that rear their ugly heads when you least expect it? This is the fun part of older homes: the unpredictable misadventures that fuel a lifetime of dinner party conversations.

You may face some unexpected challenges, including:

  • Rewiring a century-old property that’s not set up for modern technology
  • Discovering a happy family of pests living rent-free in your basement, followed by plugging the holes they’re coming and going through
  • Replacing non-standard-sized windows and doors with more expensive, custom-made products
  • Resolving property liens from the previous owners’ unpaid water and home improvement contractor bills
  • Decades worth of mold and mildew polluting the air
  • Lead-based paint, asbestos, or any other relic of outdated building codes

None of these problems are insurmountable individually, but if you don’t do your homework, your older home can provide a costly combination of expenses that will have you swimming in a vast sea of bills.

Cutting those energy costs should be your top priority—many of the issues I’ve mentioned stem from leaks, holes, and other inefficiencies. Put insulation in the attic and walls, buy a new door, put new caulk around the windows, and insulate every area where air, water, or pests can get in and out.

Be sure to quickly address any foundation issues—these are also a root cause of water-related damage and structural issues. Make sure the home is thoroughly inspected and that you have a clear, accurate list of every single current and potential problem. Don’t forget to also check the radon levels of the home. You can even consider talking to people living nearby to see whether they have any insights on the house. They may know things about the house you’d also like to know.

Old homes are like newborn babies. They’re cute and charming, and people love them, but they’re also high-maintenance and very expensive to maintain.

Like parenthood, make sure you’ve done enough research before jumping in.


A speaker for home builders and one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ “Top 20 in Their 20s,” CEO Mike Kalis has led Marketplace Homes to being named American Business Awards’ Real Estate Company of the Year, one of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s “50 Companies to Watch,” and Inc.’s 189th fastest-growing company in 2012.

Homes image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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