When the coronavirus global pandemic hit the world, homeowners did two things: either embark on a home improvement project or buy a bigger house that could cater to their "new normal" lifestyle.
Despite the economic crisis, some people took the opportunity to fulfill their lifelong dream of buying a house and become official homeowners. But instead of looking for a brand-new home they could call their own, most of the potential buyers are looking for old houses with rich architectural history.
According to Realtor.com data, sales of homes built more than 100 years ago increased by 16% in 2020. This record from the tri-state area is higher than the recorded number of buyers acquiring old houses in 2019. Interestingly, the sales of new properties in New York declined by six percent during the same period.
New York-based real estate agent Adam Carroll told the New York Post that more buyers are now looking for houses that fall into the category of "something old with character."
"Newer homes have none of the richness of the stories of something built in 1814," Carroll explained.
Cheap Old House "Enabler"
One of the culprits of this old house boom in the real estate world is the viral social media account @cheapoldhouses. This Instagram account highlights real estate listing of old properties for sale at $100,000 or less.
In just a short time promoting old houses, the said account now has over 1.5 million followers who share the same love for historic properties. The community is not only appreciating cheap old houses but also loves the idea of historic preservation and home restoration projects.
While there is nothing wrong with preserving history and restoring old but good properties, real estate experts warned about the serious financial responsibility this entails.
Just like what happened to 58-year-old lawyer Stephen Simcock, who purchased a 170-year-old fixer-upper home in Hudson Valley four months ago. While Simcock declined to reveal how much he spent for his newfound home, he admits paying more than three times the median listing price of $775,000 as per Realtor.com.
The new Barrytown, New York homeowner now boasts a 4,200 square-foot four-bedroom home with a solid historical background.
"In its various iterations, this house has been a store, definitely a hotel, maybe a brothel, a halfway house, a college dorm, and then a single-family house," Simcock said.
Before closing the deal, the lawyer said he knew he would have to add bathrooms, renovate the kitchen, and replace the heat-conserving windows.
"The goal is for it to become a really beautiful country house, having accreted so much charm over the years, but with more creature comforts," the cheap old house enthusiast said.
Just like other historic house lovers, Simcock is still not aware of how much he needs to prepare for the renovation/restoration project, but he has already braced himself for much bigger responsibilities like paying taxes and insurance.