When to Buy an Old House

Buying a used home can be appealing. 

Those ’70s Oshawa bungalows are spacious, with lots of room for your family to grow — and they still look good after all these years. 

Watch out. Your used home could be hiding a secret.

Quick Read

Why buy a used home

Signs a used home is outdated

How age affects your mortgage

a man looking on his laptop deciding to buy an old house

Looks Aren’t Everything

Kicking the tires on a second-hand car is like buying a used home. You can replace the Moto-Master tires on your SUV, but what’s happening behind the scenes is another story.

Surface appearances aside, changes going on all around you may be bringing down the value of your used home, and reducing its life expectancy. Banks call the aging out of a used home its remaining economic life (REL).

Is Your Old Age Home Ready for Retirement?

Like a crusty co-worker who’s been around forever, that used home you’re eyeing so fondly could be ready for retirement. Creaky floorboards, aluminum wiring — the signs are all there, when you know where to look. 

Resale homes can be a great value. They’re often cheaper, built with old growth timber that resists warping, and on larger lots in established neighbourhoods with mature landscaping.  

They can also present legal challenges for buyers.

  • The new, homeowner-installed chandelier could be a fire hazard.
  • Termites, asbestos, radon, or lead-based paint can add thousands to your costs.
  • The backyard paving stones may be hiding an oil spill. Then there’s the aging septic system.
  • Be ready to take down the kitchen addition if it was built without a permit.

Nine Signs Your Home is Stuck in the 70s

The orange shag carpets may be in the recycle bin, but you know your home is stuck in the ’70s when:

  1. The master bath is a two-piecer, three with a corner shower in upscale ‘hoods.
  2. A mint green ring circles the Pink Champagne tub like the rings around the planet Saturn.
  3. The living room ceiling has the swirly plaster thing going on.
  4. The 9×9 kitchen floor tiles are lifting and the underside is black (could be asbestos).
  5. The foundation has a diagonal crack to rival a Diane von Furstenburg wrap dress.
  6. The platform bed carpet matches the Laura Ashley wallpaper and they’re avocado green.
  7. Hey, you’ve got wooden countertops! Beats that plastic tile trend.
  8. Instead of a media room, there’s a conversation pit.
  9. The entrance hall has a smoked glass mirror. Smokin!

Keeping Your Old Home Young

Just as the rubber trim in your car wears out, homes need a regular checkup. The chance to upgrade and redecorate is all the more reason to buy a used home. Unlike new construction, you won’t have to feel guilty about spending money on cosmetic finishes you prefer.

A resale home’s age and condition may even affect getting a mortgage. Most homes have about 60 years of economic life, less for major parts like roofs that typically last about two decades. 

How Your Used Home’s Age Affects Your Mortgage

When you take out a mortgage loan, your lender will appraise a home’s condition based on how long it will be before expensive parts like siding, electrical wiring, or plumbing need replacing. While they may be costly, major upgrades keep an older home new and allow you to take advantage of any savings you might make by purchasing a fixer upper.

To get an idea of a GTA home’s effective age, hire a certified home inspector to assess the REL. For instance, if you plan to finance a home that is 35 years old, remember it has a REL of 25 years (35 + 25 = 60 years) before substantial repairs are needed. A mortgage lender will look at what repairs the home has had already to decide whether to offer you a 25-year amortization period or less. 

Comparing Your Treasure to Heritage Homes

So how did real estate buyers get a mortgage for an historic farmhouse when your ’70s treasure is more contemporary? Upgrades to a heritage home can renew its financial worth. When a home is in its original state, your lender may require more down or decline to finance the home’s full purchase price. There’s a reason home buyer DIY disasters are so popular on TV. Let that be a warning to get that 70’s home you are intent on buying properly inspected before you sign on the dotted line.

Why You Need a Real Estate Lawyer

Hiring an Axess Law real estate lawyer ensures the “subject tos” in your offer to purchase are thoroughly reviewed. We explain terms and conditions in the agreement of purchase and sale and protect your buyer’s right to cancel. 

How your offer to purchase is worded could matter if you can’t get mortgage financing in time to close the deal. Our real estate lawyer can advise you on if the deal falls through who keeps the deposit.

Ever bought something you regretted? Real estate deals are like that. Without a lawyer, you may get more than you bargained for if you try to back out. Our affordable real estate lawyers can:

  • review your agreement of purchase and sale
  • transfer the title to property you buy
  • explain uncommon items found on title to the property, such as easements or restrictions on the use of the property
  • confirm zoning bylaws for intended additions or improvements
  • finalize mortgage and payment arrangements
  • and much, much more.

We explain all the steps in buying a resale home and finalize the paperwork for you. You could say Axess Law takes the stress out of one very important transaction.

Affordable Legal Services, Anywhere in Ontario

Access lawyers for less in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, or anywhere in Ontario when you buy, sell, or transfer property. Axess Law’s flat fee real estate lawyers are affordable, and our rates are all inclusive (excluding taxes, disbursements, and third-party charges). Axess Law offers you only the legal services you absolutely need. Your final invoice includes no surprises or hidden charges. Your itemized statement of adjustments is explained when we deliver it, and we answer any questions you have about it.

Use a virtual real estate lawyer

Get Real Estate Advice Before You Buy a Used Home

Our real estate lawyers can review your agreement of purchase and sale to find out if you are covered for age-related problems. Bring your agreement to meet with an Axess Law lawyer via video call or in person. Online video conferencing is available day or evening, at your convenience, 7 days a week. Call toll-free to our 1-877-552-9377 lawyer line (647-479-0118 in Toronto) or use our online booking form. Licensed real estate lawyers can consult with you in person at any of our conveniently located Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa law offices

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s real estate law services.