Four Virtues of Older Homes

Part of the homebuying journey is deciding whether you would consider purchasing an older home. Older homes are undeniably full of character and charm, but are they a wise investment?

Here are four assets of older homes that you may not have considered: 

1. Location Appreciation

While it’s good to enjoy where you live, the appreciation of a home’s monetary value is also something homeowners hope to enjoy. One of the biggest factors that affects the value appreciation of a home is location, and old homes currently have a lot going for them. According to Zillow’s senior economist Aaron Terrazas, “Above all, the greatest indicator for a neighborhood that will one day strongly appreciate in value is the age of its housing stock. The older the average home is, the more likely a given neighborhood will see strong appreciation.” The main reason for this is that older homes tend to be located near city centers. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, urban and suburban homes in the U.S. used to be worth about the same on a per-square foot basis. Today, American urban homes nationwide are now valued at roughly 25% more than suburban ones on a per-square foot basis ($198 versus $156 per square foot).

2. Urban Forests

Over 130 million acres of America’s forests are located right in our cities and towns. Older homes in mature neighborhoods are likely to be located within these important tree networks. Studies have shown that mature trees clean the air, lower stress, and boost happiness. Trees are crucial for temperature control during the summer months and when located next to buildings or homes can cut air conditioning by 30% Properties with mature trees attract buyers, shoppers, and tenants and demand premium prices. A recent report in Arborist News showed that good tree cover increased property prices by about 7% in residential areas. (Plus, consider the birdwatching opportunities!)

3. Walkable Neighborhoods

Old neighborhoods tend to be more pedestrian-friendly than new ones, primarily because they weren’t originally designed to accommodate heavy vehicle traffic. Although most of us still rely cars for transportation, walkability still matters. Americans are increasingly choosing to live in areas where they can walk or bike to work or school as well as their favorite shops and restaurants. Convenience isn’t the only asset walkable neighborhoods offer. Streets Blog reports that since 2010, property located in pedestrian-friendly, urban areas has grown in value in every metro region in the country while properties in the less pedestrian-friendly suburbs have been depopulating. Walkability is such a desired asset that cities and neighborhoods across the U.S. are assigned a “walkability score.” You can check out your neighborhood’s or city’s score on www.walkscore.com.

4. Small Living, Big Yard

The square footage of older homes tends to be less than that of new constructions. However, the opposite is true for the yard. The median size of a new home increased from 1,938 square feet in 1990 to 2,300 square feet in 2016, but lot sizes during this same period decreased from 8,250 square feet to 6,970 square feet. The increased square footage of new homes is due in part to the decrease in cost of building materials. However, older homes are more likely to be located on larger property because the land they were built on was less expensive at the time. Aside from the benefit of a large, well-established yard, there are many other benefits of downsizing living space. If maintained and updated, energy systems can be more efficient thus less expensive in small homes as there is less home to heat or cool. Small homes take less time to clean and encourage simple living with less space for storing superfluous things. Many families choose smaller living spaces as a means to stay connected.

So if you love all the character and originality an old house has to offer, you can rest assured, older can also be wiser.

www.apartmenttherapy.com/real-estate-myth-zillow-talk-255963
www.realtor.com/advice/buy/why-buy-old-home-instead-of-new-one/
www.wri.org/blog/2016/03/3-cities-taking-urban-forestry-next-level
www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/oct/12/importance-urban-forests-money-grow-trees
usa.streetsblog.org/2019/07/09/footloose-walkable-neighborhoods-attracting-investments-while-burbs-die/
www.citylab.com/equity/2016/02/rise-of-urban-real-estate/470748/

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