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Looking At Mid-Century Homes? 4 Tips To Pick The Right One

by Elaine Ryan

Mid-century modern style homes are a unique piece of Americana. Filled with distinct architectural styles and a minimalist look, they offer a homeowner a great way to buy a home with true character. But, if you're planning to buy one, it's important to know their special challenges. Here are the top 4 things to learn about your future mid-century house.

Learn the Architecture. Knowing what to look for in this style of home is key to finding the right one for you. For instance, while you may find that these houses have a smaller interior square footage, remember that they were designed to incorporate a lot of outdoor space as part of the living area. The visually interesting architecture -- filled with clean lines, flat roofs, and wood features -- should be embraced as a dominant aspect for future resale value.

Check It Out. Because real mid-century houses were built decades ago, it's vital that you have your property thoroughly inspected. Common problems often include aging electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems; lack of energy-efficient windows or insulation; and small (or nonexistent) garages. 

Decide on an Update Budget. In addition to the normal wear and tear that happens to a house over the course of its life, some of the great features unique to mid-century homes can be a problem for future homeowners. All those large glass windows and little wall insulation, for example, can mean a drafty house with higher electric bills. So you may need to add insulation where possible. In addition, the interior walls and room layout can often be a little old-fashioned, but they're easy to alter when desired. Be prepared for challenges like this by determining your ability to upgrade and modernize the house where it's needed. If your budget is too tight, you may want to have your real estate agent focus on more recent homes that simply mimic the mid-century style.

Research the History. Houses truly built during the mid-century era may have special requirements, such as historical preservation rules that limit alterations. They are also often built in areas overseen by community associations. But, on the upside, they may also have a very interesting -- and valuable -- historical story. Talk with your real estate agent for more information, but also be sure to visit city hall to learn about zoning, tax assessments, easements, and more.

Buying a mid-century modern house is a great investment in a property that will stand out from the crowd. It's sure to please your family and future homebuyers alike.