How old is old when it comes to a house?

I grew up in a house in the midwest that was built in the early 1800’s.  I guess that’s why I laugh when a buyer tells me a house built in 1988 is too old. 

old-houseThe house I grew up in on Lincoln Street in Waukegan, Illinois had a cellar, complete with dirt floor.  It had a coal bin with a shoot that led from the outside into the cellar so that the coal burning furnace could be stoked in the winter, until that was changed over to an oil furnace.  I still remember the oil truck coming to fill up the tank.  The cellar was shallow so that you had to bend over ever so slightly when you went down there to do the laundry.  It was creepy.  I miss it.

Now I live in a “newer” house in the Chandler / Sun Lakes area.  Had it built in 2002 because I wanted a new house too.  But I miss my old house.  I miss the smell of wood.  I miss the plaster walls and old crown moulding.  And, I even miss the way the living room sloped downhill.  I had a battery operated walking doll that could never walk in that room.  She always tipped over like she was just a little drunk.  Good times.

Most buyers looking for a home in the Phoenix Metro area want a stucco-sided home with a tile roof.  More and more buyers want a home built some time after 2000, although I have represented a number of buyers who appreciate the character of an older home and are not interested in wide open rooms with high ceilings.  This probably dates back to the stone age as some preferred cave dwelling while others lived under the trees.  Or, maybe not.

Old houses in Phoenix, aren’t really old in the Midwest or East Coast way.  Oh, there are old homes, but they’re typically an historic oddity if they were built any time before the early 1900’s. 

The oldest home in Phoenix is probably “Lord” Darrel Duppa’s home that was built between 1868 & 1872.  It’s located at 115 W. Sherman Place and is open for visitors on Sundays from 2-5pm, Nov- May.  See what I mean?  Nobody’s doing laundry in this house. It’s a museum.  My whole block growing up could be a museum with this philosophy.  But then Darrel Duppa was a celebrity of sorts.  He was a founding father of the area and actually named “Phoenix”, “Tempe” & “Kyrene”.

There are homes in the historic district of Phoenix which date back to the 1920’s or so.  Most of the homes in this area are nicely renovated and maintained but come with a premium price when sold. 

As for the newer homes that most buyers want, I personally think a home built during our housing boom 3-5 years ago was more than likely built lightning fast, with little attention to detail.  BUT this IS a newer home that would meet with most buyer’s approval. 

If a home has been taken care of and kept up to date mechanically and cosmetically, it’s going to be more sound and less of a headache in the next few years than a home built more recently.  A newer home that has not been taken care of is likely to be a money pit waiting to happen and this is a feeling that’s almost tangible as we walk through the 100’s of bank-owned homes that have been used and abused by their former owners.

So how old is old?  Just like everything else, old is relative.  I’ve never felt old but my grandson recently told me his teacher was old…but not as old as me.  Hmm..now where did I leave my cane?