5 Common Money Pits in Older Homes

Selling a good house in a declining neighborhood
Older homes can be found in abundance around America’s largest cities. Commonly close to downtown, older neighborhoods are filled with beautiful gems in the rough waiting to be polished. However, the charm of an older home often comes littered with money pits. Here are some common money pits to look out for.


FoundationCracks-400x300Old foundations have had decades to sink, crack, and shift in the ground. Fixing a foundation is much more labor intensive, and expensive, than nearly any other repair a home may need. On the bright side, fixing a foundation once should be plenty for most homes. The downside is that one-time fix will cost thousands of dollars.

According to the Foundation Repair Network, a typical foundation repair that requires hydraulic lifts costs between $10,000-$14,000. That kind of expense can blow through a refurbish budget quickly.  Another way to estimate costs is $150-$200 per post and posts are typically 3 feet apart along the edge of the slab.


If you talk to a real estate agent or developer at an open house, old windows give a home a lot of “charm factor.” Charm is Realtor speak for “looks kind of nice, but is expensive to repair so we are glossing over it.”

Old windows provide virtually no weather insulation or sound proofing, two very desirable traits in windows. Newer windows are double pained and keep your climate controls working as intended. Poor insulated windows leak heated and air conditioned air and drive up utility bills.

Sound proofing may not be all that important if you live in a quiet neighborhood, but even quiet blocks are occasionally disturbed by loud vehicles, airplanes overhead, and backyard barbecues. Better windows lead to a more peaceful home, but expect to pay big for the upgrade.


While you can ignore old windows, you cannot ignore bad plumbing. Older homes with original plumbing may be just fine, but often require regular maintenance and expensive repairs when something does go wrong.

A leaky pipe does not end when you fix the leak. Water damage can cause additional thousands of dollars of damage. In addition, old pipes may not have the capacity to meet the needs of a modern family home. Be sure to have the plumbing thoroughly inspected before buying any aging property.


Unlike windows, older appliances can be a positive feature in some instances. As the saying goes, “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

In the kitchen, older stoves and ovens are a bonus feature that offer both good functionality and a chic decoration style. However, older refrigerators and freezers are inefficient and lead to high power bills.

Outside the kitchen, your concern should be your furnace, air conditioner, and hot water heater. Modern versions are much more energy efficient and reliable. You don’t have to fix these right away, but if you buy a home with outdated HVAC and hot water systems, put them high on your list for replacement.  It’s a good idea to budget replacing a hot water heater every 15 years.

At the very least, have these inspected and serviced right away.

Detached Garages

Most new homes have a built-in garage. Older homes, however, often have a detached garage on an alley. Well maintained garages can be converted into a modern office, rental unit, or mother-in-law suite. Neglected garages, however, can be money pits.

Hire a Trusted Agent to Avoid Money Pits

Whether you are buying new construction or a 100-year-old home, a trusted real estate agent can save you far more than they charge. When you start your home search, start by looking for the best agent for your needs. For that, start your search at AgentHarvest.

If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.