Read This Before You Buy an Old House
Older properties now account for a large proportion of property sales, even if their share has fallen slightly in recent years.
You can either buy a new property or buy an old property, which has other advantages.
Good to know: properties are considered new for the first 5 years after being built. After this period, a property is deemed to be old.
1. The advantages of buying an old property
Here are the advantages of buying an old property compared to a new one:
– 20 to 30% cheaper than new property (for “equivalent performance”);
– a wider choice of properties than new-build properties;
– possibility of finding properties with a lot of charm (parquet flooring, moulding, fireplace, listed building, high ceilings, spacious rooms);
– the possibility of deducting from the sale price the fixtures and fittings present in the property (fitted kitchen, fitted bathroom, dressing rooms, cupboards, etc.) and, at the same time, reducing the amount of transfer duty to be paid;
– the possibility of buying in all neighbourhoods, even in large conurbations;
– proximity to amenities, which saves on transport time and associated costs;
– you buy an existing property: no surprises;
– quick availability of the property;
– possible increase in value, especially if you carry out work:
◦ the renovation work you carry out can be deducted from property income and sometimes subsidized by the government;
◦ possibility of significant capital gains in the long term: the property is likely to be in high demand due to its location and attributes, which are sources of uniqueness, according to the law of supply and demand at the time of resale.
2. Buying an old property: the major constraints
Buying an older home involves higher costs than buying a new one. For instance:
– Acquisition costs of 7 to 8% of the purchase price (as opposed to 2 to 3% in new construction) in the form of:
◦ registration fees (taxes);
◦ notary fees.
– Operating costs:
◦ high maintenance expenses (grooming, maintenance and refurbishment of buildings and equipment, bringing the lift up to standard, ageing and wear and tear of materials, etc.);
◦ higher energy consumption: older dwellings consume up to 2 times more heating than new buildings (see energy performance diagnosis).
– Possible renovation and customization works:
◦ work inherent to the presence of asbestos;
◦ work-related to the presence of lead;
◦ rearrangement of the layout or decompartmentalization of rooms (opening of the kitchen, annexation of the entrance to the living room);
◦ refreshing the paintwork;
◦ decorating the dwelling in line with current tastes;
◦ energy performance improvement works (changing windows, replacing the heating system).
Good to know: a house must be equipped with a heating system to be sale worthy. The lack of such a system, or the fact that it is out of commission, constitutes a violation of the seller’s responsibility to deliver, for which the buyer may seek compensation.
3. Precautions to take before buying an old property!
Older properties can sometimes hold surprises, so it is essential to take certain precautions:
– remember to visit the property several times before committing yourself, giving preference to different times;
– get the assistance of building professionals to identify defects (electrical installations, plumbing, heating, insulation of the building and the property, possible presence of humidity, etc.);
– check the compulsory diagnostics provided by the seller;
– check the mortgage status of the property;
– check for any unauthorized annexation of common areas;
– check that the surface area of the property mentioned in the preliminary sales agreement or the promise to sell agrees with the co-ownership regulations;
– for properties located in a collective complex consult:
◦ the co-ownership regulations;
◦ the descriptive statement of the division;
◦ the minutes of the last general meetings;
◦ the statement of charges for the previous 2 years;
◦ the building’s maintenance booklet, allowing future work to be considered;
– ask the town hall about the following:
◦ foreseeable developments in the area;
◦ possible easements;
◦ the possible right of pre-emption of public authorities;
◦ the local urban plan;
◦ any administrative injunctions to which the property may be subject (e.g. an obligation to renovate the façade).
Hope these 3 tips help you to make the right decision. Remember to share your experience in the comments below.