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Between the unprecedented seller’s market that was spurred by the pandemic and the now sky-high mortgage rates, many of us have been forced to reconsider spending our money on older, outdated 90s houses. While you may not be getting the new custom home of your dreams, you may be surprised by the benefits of owning and living in a 90s home!
If we’re talking about the average suburban home in a second-tier city, such as Charlotte, North Carolina or Columbus, Ohio, a home built in the 90s typically has more property than a suburban home built today. There are a few reasons behind this, but chiefly it’s the cost of land paired with the exponential growth of these cities. To put it simply, metropolitan areas are running out of space – but that’s a win for you! Here in Charlotte, new build lots are generally 0.15 to 0.2 acres whereas it was not uncommon to find 0.3 to 0.5 acres in the 90s.
Prevalence of 90s Houses
It’s no secret that the 1990s marked a period of economic expansion in the United States. This economic prosperity, coupled with an increase in immigration, set the stage for the apex of suburban sprawl in the U.S. These factors, along with others, culminated in a suburban residential construction boom – meaning there are plenty of 90s era homes to go around!
Mature Trees and Landscaping
To me, nothing is more depressing than the landscaping of a brand-new housing development. I understand, trees don’t grow on trees…or wait, do they? It’s not even the waiting for trees to grow part that really bothers me – it’s the downright disrespect that builders get away with – two small trees and a bush per house? Move to a neighborhood established in the 1990s, there will be no shortage of shade trees and hedges, unless of course you’re in the dessert.
Now hear me out on this one – I know I’m deviating a bit from the pros and cons of 90s homes – but a pool is technically part of the home. Not all 90s homes have pools, but there is a higher probability that a home built in the 1990s (or before) will have a pool than a new home, unless you had one installed. And to top it off, you did not have to buy the pool in the backyard of your 90s house! This is just something to consider when you’re down and out about not being able to afford a new house.
A Clean Slate
If you’re a DIYer like myself, an older home is an opportunity to sharpen the skills and create a masterpiece! Chances are your floors need replaced, bathrooms need remodeled, kitchen need updating, lighting needs updated, walls need painted, and exterior doors need to be replaced. Yeah, that sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But could you imagine a life where everything was done already? Ugh. Yeah, while these can be some downsides of buying a 90s home, it can also make it easier for you to execute your vision. You should also use these as negotiating points when buying the home!
More Bang for your Buck
Depending on your city and area, you may find that you can afford more home if you stick to houses built in the 90s. Newer homes tend to be in demand – many people like the convenience of a completely new home, and they will pay top dollar for just that. If you’ve read this far into my article, maybe that’s not you? I could be wrong though. Buying a 90s house can be a big win for some, especially those with a family. I do recommend ensuring that the mechanicals (HVAC, water heater) are in good working order before you buy though. These items can be quite costly if you need to replace at the same time.
Did I mention that I was going to talk about some negatives as well? For starters, many homes built in the 90s still have original, or at least heavily aging HVAC systems. It’s not uncommon to see 25+ year old air conditioners in the southeastern U.S. The home I bought had just this – and 3 years into ownership, I had to replace the entire HVAC system. I knew this was coming, but it still hurts the pocket. Do your due diligence when buying a 90s home and understand what the repairs will cost down the road.
Wall to Wall (old) Carpet
There’s a good chance your 90s home still has 90s carpet! That sounds gross… and it is, I know from experience! But again, with the clean slate – you can now put heated tile in your kitchen, or vinyl plank throughout to mitigate the damage your dog does! You have to stay optimistic here if you want to own a house!
Worn Out Windows
Old windows are not only ugly, but they are inefficient as well. It’s estimated that up to 30% of your heating energy is lost through windows. Comparable losses are experienced in the summer as well with the added heat from sunlight radiating on windows. It may be time to replace those old existing windows in the name of saving your hard-earned money! Windows can be quite costly as well, so if you’re in the market for a 90s house, know what you’re getting into.
Already Own a 90s House?
If you already own a 90s house, most of this probably sounded redundant! That’s ok though, maybe you have some ideas of your own you’d like to share? Please comment on this post and let us know what you think. And while you’re at it, take a look at “Updating a 90s Home” to help get you inspired and motivated to bring your 90s house into this millennium!