Many many years ago, there were stately homes built around South Australia and from time to time they come onto the market and attract a lot of interest.
One thing we have noticed about such buildings is just because they were built back in our early history, it doesn’t mean the process of ‘building’ or ‘repairing’ is over, and when buying older homes it pays to heed advice from experienced conveyancers and consider title insurance.
In fact, if we inspect what new buyers need to consider when they are contemplating buying an historic home, there are insights that apply to all real estate investors.
Let’s turn the key and look at a few of them.

The wow factor and buying older homes

This week was another example of an article being written about a group of historic homes appearing on the market in Adelaide at the same time.

Of course, while it is in the interest of newspapers to write up stories about major advertisers like real estate agencies, there is no doubt many of us are intrigued by these glimpses into the stately homes that sit among us.

As was pointed out in the Messenger article, Our stately homes that have stood the test of time: 3 grand old homes for sale in Adelaide’s east, these homes involve historical figures and the current crop includes Norwood’s first mayor, Charles Bonney, and State MP John Langdon Parsons.
But while the historical and architectural aspects pique our curiosity, there are some realities potential buyers will need to address with their agents, conveyancers and other advisers.

Things that go bump after settlement

Perhaps the biggest fear that faces buyers of older homes is maintenance.

With contemporary homes there are standard intervals at which we expect maintenance will be needed but with homes that have been standing for a century or more, few of us have the experience to discern their status at a glance.

As a conveyancer who has handled more ‘files’ or transactions than he cares to remember, the two obvious things that I would suggest to a buyer of an older home (and to most home buyers) are:

  • Get a building inspection done
  • Seriously consider taking out title insurance

When it comes to building inspectors, my advice is to seek them out for important peace of mind, provided your inspector is qualified and competent.
As I wrote in House building inspections: A pest for home buyers or a prerequisite:

Unless you are qualified in the field, competent building inspectors who follow the Australian Standard, will apply special techniques to ‘see things’ most of us would miss and these oversights can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Title insurance covers you for claims that might arise after settlement, when issues arise due to non-compliant works or boundary disputes, to name a few. You can read more in Do you have title insurance? The $64,000 question for property investors.

In relation to older homes, I believe title insurance would be invaluable because these properties will be more likely to have had unapproved improvements carried out over the years, and may be much more likely to fall foul of fencing issues due to being in areas that were surveyed long ago.

Those two items will help mitigate your risk dramatically.

Buying into an historical zone?

And talking of long ago, one other factor for buyers of older homes to consider is council and state government zoning.

If your property is located in an Historical Zone from the council’s perspective, this might mean you’ll be restricted in things you can do to modify or ‘improve’ the property.

Again, having a trusted and experienced conveyancing team on your side becomes more valuable than ever when you consider venturing into the realm of character, historical real estate.

Photo: Castle Leslie by Sean MacEntee via Flickr