More buyers considering older homes in Madison County, mirroring a nationwide trend

Jan. 19—ANDERSON — When he decided to buy his first home, Grady Roaten knew what he was looking for.

Having rented a house in Pendleton's sprawling Summerlake neighborhood for two years, Roaten was ready for a bigger yard and a greater sense of privacy — even if it meant forsaking some of the amenities that came with his newer house there.

"My intention was certainly to find an older home," he said. "I prefer quality built, brick-style, stone-style ranch houses. That's what I grew up in my whole life. I appreciate the structural integrity of the older homes. I know there's work involved, but I have a contracting business on the side, so the work of an older home didn't scare me."

Roaten and his real estate agent, Heather Upton, looked at several houses in and around Anderson before he settled on a home on the city's north side.

"The price they were asking, with the repairs I'm capable of making, really makes this house an appreciating asset for me very quickly," Roaten said.

Upton, who owns the Real Estate Pros of Keller Williams in Pendleton, said she and other local real estate agents are seeing more buyers like Roaten. Although newer residential units continue to rise in Pendleton, Lapel and other areas in southwestern Madison County, the pace of that construction isn't keeping up with the volume of older homes hitting the market elsewhere in the county.

According to data from MIBOR, approximately half the 250 homes on the market this week in the county are at least 70 years old. That figure is far above the statewide median age of 45 years, according to a recently released study by Construction Coverage, a California-based company which publishes research and tracks trends in the construction industry.

Several factors are driving the trend of increased competition for older homes, according to industry experts. But Upton believes that list begins with and circles back to one thing: money.

She pointed to data from MIBOR which shows that the average sale price last year for homes in the county built before 2010 was $186,275 — considerably lower than the typical price floor for newly constructed homes.

"Those homes are going to need a little bit more work," she said, "but with new construction, locally in Madison County, you can't get into anything for under $300,000, so that pushes a lot of those entry level buyers — or just buyers in general — out of the market, because of affordability."

Prospective buyers considering older houses, Upton said, need to answer some pointed questions early in the process. Seller disclosures and other listing information need to be scrutinized and vetted thoroughly with a firm budget in mind, she noted.

"This is a limited, more competitive market," she said. "If you want a turnkey, move-in ready (house), that's going to be much, much harder to find in that (lower) price range.

"It's a matter of just bringing reality to their minds to alleviate any frustration," she added.

Mortgage arrangements that include additional money to cover the costs of updates and certain types of remodeling are coming back into demand, Upton noted. She said certain repairs and other issues are often negotiated before a home is inspected, which can also make an older dwelling more of a possibility for some buyers.

For Roaten, 34, the house he settled in checked most of the boxes on his wish list. It's closer to his job at Nardco Heating and Air, and for him, it offers potential to be a long-term home.

"I'm still single with no children, so I couldn't tell you it's going to be a forever home, but if I got married in the next year and had a kid, I would absolutely live here as long as I could," he said. "It's a lovely house. It's a quiet little neighborhood. I would have no problem raising a family here."

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