Finding And Buying The Perfect Antique or Old Homes For Sale

Recently updated on January 13th, 2023 at 09:19 pm

 

Buying old houses is an investment. You might like older properties because they’re more unique than the modern, cookie-cutter builds springing up across the country.

You might like the history within the walls or feel drawn to certain eras of architectural styles.

Some people like buying antique homes to renovate and restore, bringing them back to their original glory. This can even be profitable if you can find an old home that is for sale at a cheap price.

Regardless of your intentions with antique houses, you first need to find the old properties for sale before you can buy it.

You can spend time looking up certain areas’ property information to see the age of each house, or you can streamline your search specifically for old houses for sale.

For people local to the area, it’s always worth driving around and looking to see what houses are on the market. That gives you a feel for the neighborhood or historic district so you can see how the old house fits in.

You can see different aspects of the house’s curb appeal when you’re literally standing on the curb.

However, it’s not always possible to drive around an area you like and look for houses on the market.

You might not have the time, or you don’t live close enough to make a trip out to scope the neighborhood. In that case, you can shift your house hunting online.

11 Best Old House Websites

If you can’t see the town’s historic district in person, there are several great websites where you can look for old houses. These are the 11 best places to find old houses for sale.

1. Local MLS

The local MLS is the multiple listing service in your state, county or even town. If you’re looking for homes in an area where you don’t currently live, you can still access the MLS for that location through real estate agents IDX websites.

The MLS pulls data from local or regional records about homes currently on the market. The details included in this information give brokers and agents what they need to know to help sell a house.

To obtain direct access to the local MLS, you need to have a real estate license or partner with someone who has access. If you’re interested in old houses, you may want to obtain a real estate license if you are going to be buying for investment purposes.

Although partnering with an agent can help in many ways. You’ll get access to the MLS, but you can also bring them on to help your housing search.

The agent will have local, insider information and tips and tricks about searching for old properties and making an offer.

Read More About The Local MLS


2. Zillow

picture of zillow.com which can be used to search for old houses for sale across in all 50 states.

On Zillow, you can search by location, then further refine your search by selecting how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want, the type of building, square footage, lot size, and, most importantly, the year built.

You can even choose other features, like a basement, how many stories, views, and amenities.

The option to select the year built is a huge time saver when using Zillow.

Instead of combing through all properties in an area and clicking the listing to read the details, you get a smaller results pool of properties you’re sure will interest you.


3. Realtor.com

picture of realtor.com a website that has old houses for sale

Realtor.com is a site that pulls information from the local market. Once you choose your location, you can refine the search by price, type of building, number of bathrooms, and other features.

You can look for houses based on how long they’ve been on the market, which can help you leverage a better deal.

Most importantly, you can choose the home’s age. A feature like this one ensures your results only include houses that are old or antique if that’s what you’re looking for.

You can also specify what type of amenities you want and what type of heating and cooling is in the house, saving you some time.


4. ISoldMyHouse.com

picture of isoldmyhouse.com a real estate listing website that features old or antique home for sale

Of course, we had to put our website on the list. Despite our name, ISoldMyHouse.com includes listings of homes for sale. You might have to comb through the results to find old and antique houses because we are not a dedicated website for finding old houses for sale but a lot of our home sellers use our website for this purpose.

You can see what houses catch your eye from our search results, check out our homes for sale here.


5. Circa Old Houses

Circa Old Houses is as close to in-person house hunting as you can get. Their gorgeous website has bright, attractive photos of the newest listings on the homepage.

You can browse that way, and don’t miss your chance to sign up for their newsletter and get old houses emailed directly to you.

If you prefer to make the most of your house-hunting time, you can streamline the search with their features. Narrow the field according to factors like:

  • Country
  • State
  • Architecture style
  • Minimum and maximum prices
  • Minimum and maximum acreage

You can also browse according to locations, either on the state listing page or the interactive map of houses for sale. Canadian real estate is on the Circa Old Houses site, and properties up for auction are too.

You can narrow your browsing focus if you’re looking for a certain type of property regardless of location. The site subdivides listings into bed and breakfast properties, fixer-uppers, luxury homes, and mid-century modern houses.

If you’ve ever wanted to live in a converted lighthouse, school building, or church, Circa Old Houses has a category for those. You can find unique conversions and live in an unconventional house.

For those wanting antique and historic houses, you can browse all listings on the National Register of Historic Places.

These homes are incredibly valuable, and you often get financial benefits when you choose to restore one.


6. Old House Dreams

picture of old house dreams website

The layout and design of the Old House Dreams site properly transport you back in time while giving you the modern convenience of house hunting online.

The site has stunning listings on the homepage, but you can also search by entering minimum and maximum for years, prices, square footage, and acreage.

If you prefer to browse, you can narrow the field by state or region, period or era, styles of architecture, architect, and other features. You can even check out international properties.

Old House Dreams has several categories to browse if you’re unsure what you’re looking for, but have a general idea. Categories include houses under $100,000, fixer-uppers, and homes on the National Registry of Historic Places.

One unique feature of Old House Dreams is their listing of endangered properties. These are homes at risk of developers or complete demolition. Who knows, you could be the one to save an at-risk property!

Time capsule houses and offbeat listings are a great way to expand your concept of old homes. You can see houses built and decorated during a specific historical time and completely embody that era.

Offbeat listings include converted churches, schoolhouses, and banks.

While you can see many listings on the Old House Dreams homepage, you’ll want to sign up for the newsletter to ensure you get to see every property available.


7. Historic Properties

picture of historic properties website

The stately layout of the Historic Properties website might make you think of traditional real estate companies, but all listings here are historic, as promised.

Right on the homepage, you can search for your ideal property by specifying factors like:

  • Architectural period
  • Building type
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Region
  • Price range
  • Acreage
  • Condition

These options ensure you’re making the most of your time by showing you properties that fit your parameters. If you’re unsure of what you want, you can also browse all available listings.

You’ll see a photo of the house, its location, price, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. If something catches your eye, you can click on the photo to see the full listing.

Historic Properties also gives you the option to list your house. They have three listing types at affordable rates, so you can showcase your house to the target audience.


8. Antique Homes Magazine

picture of antique homes magazine website

Antique Homes Magazine caters to old house lovers who want antique homes. The traditional real estate definition of antique refers to a house built before 1920.

On this site, properties might be completely restored, or in need of some care, so you can search for the type of home you want to live in or work on.

Because the antique housing market is more limited compared to old homes in general, the options are naturally narrowed down for you. When you select the dropdown menu to choose a state, the site only populates states with active listings.

A feature like this saves you from choosing a state you’re interested in, only to find out in the results that no homes are available.

As with other sites, you can limit the results by specifying details like price range, how many bedrooms you want, and the style of the house. If you have questions about styles, the historic style guide outlines the qualities of each era.

You can also find resources like craftsmen and artisans who have skills in era-specific restorations. Having access will help you restore antique homes to their full glory once you invest in the property. 


9. Old Houses

picture of old houses website on a laptop

Old Houses’ website indeed features old houses, but they also have listings of houses that don’t quite fit the bill. If you go by the standard real estate definition, an old house is 50 years old.

Old Houses has some listings that aren’t quite 50 years old, which will give you access to some properties you wouldn’t have seen on other sites.

Houses on this site are for sale, rent, or up for auction. They add new listings daily and make it simple to sell your own old home through their platform.

If you’re looking for a venue for a wedding, party, or event, you can even search for event venues on Old Houses!

As with most real estate sites, you can search by location, price range, size, and year built. You can also browse within particular categories.

If you’d rather work with an agent, you can connect with one directly through the Old Houses website.

In addition to house listings, this site has resources like restoration information, era-specific artisans, antique dealers, and style guides for specific time periods.

You can also find recommendations for magazines, documentaries, and books about old houses.


10. Cheap Old Houses

picture of cheap old houses website

The creators behind Cheap Old Houses wanted to help people realize that the dream of owning an old house wasn’t restricted to those with millions to spend on a property. Every house on their site is for sale at $100,000 or less.

The site started as a passion project, and it was actually only an Instagram account. The account grew in popularity, so the couple behind the scenes decided to upgrade to a website to help other people buy old houses without breaking the bank.

Over time, they came out from behind the scenes to star in an HGTV show about cheap old houses!

You can see some listings on the website and Instagram profile, but you need to subscribe to the newsletter if you want the best deals.

You can choose the category that suits your interests, like the cheapest houses, farmhouses, or international houses. 

If finances aren’t that big of a deal, you can look for houses that are affordable but over $100,000. The most expensive properties rarely top $250,000, so you’re still getting a good deal with these properties.

You might have an interest in all categories, so you can get a discount bundle newsletter subscription. Yes, you have to pay to subscribe to the newsletters, but the fee is a drop in the bucket compared to how much you’ll save by investing in one of these cheap old houses!

You’ll also save time you’d normally spend searching on your own, so it’s worth it.


11. Historical Homes of America

picture of historical homes of america website

You could spend hours on the Historical Homes of America homepage, looking at the top five featured properties. The detailed information gives you a broad overview of the property while the photos scroll by. If you’re interested, you can follow the link to the listing details.

The homepage also features a few of the newest listings so you can see what’s added to the market each day. If you prefer to be more proactive with your search, you can check out the homes for sale by region, including:

  • East Coast
  • Central USA
  • Western USA

The blog page, entitled America’s Historic Homes, has regular updates about unique listings, mansions, and properties in New York City. 

If you’re looking to sell a historic property, you can list your home on Historical Homes of America. They offer several different packages to help you sell your home.

You can choose to create your own listing or let the data from your realtor or Zillow listing auto-populate. That streamlines the selling process for you, making it even more worth the investment for the listing.

With an audience of over 20,000,000 followers, sellers will get the broadest reach with this outlet. Plus, knowing that the site gets that much traffic helps buyers feel confident they’re seeing some of the best historical homes on the market.

FAQs

You know 11 great sites for finding old homes, but you might need more information before making this investment yourself.

Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions to ensure you know everything you need to buy an old house.

What makes a home old?

You might wonder if any house that looks dated or dingy is old, and while it might be, that is not enough to make it old. The general rule in real estate is that any house that’s 50 years or older is old. Antique houses are any built before 1920.

Regardless of whether the house is old, antique, or just looks extremely dated, the conditions can vary. You might buy an antique house in beautiful condition because the owners kept up with it. You might find a house built only thirty years ago looks decades older, just because of the state of the foundation, roof, or walls.

You can look up the house’s data online, either through the county’s property assessor or sites like Zillow and Redfin. They pull data from other sources, so the information should be accurate.

What are the risks of buying an old home?

When you’re buying an old home, you should look out for several issues. Things like foundation problems, a deteriorating roof, and outdated electrical outlets and fixtures might be apparent when you’re touring the house.

You can feel if the foundation seems unsteady or is sloping inside the house. You can also look from the outside to see if the house looks even or is sinking on the foundation. Foundation problems are major repairs, often costing as much as $5,000. If you can do them before you move into the house, it’s less intrusive, but it’s still a big investment on top of the house itself.

The roof’s condition might be visible if shingles are missing or askew. Reshingling a roof isn’t too expensive, but if there are further problems in the roof or gutters, you’ll spend closer to $8,000 to bring everything up to code.

Outdated electrical outlets and fixtures can vary in terms of repairs. Many fixtures, like ceiling lights or bathroom lighting, are easy to replace on your own with some DIY tips online. But wiring from 50 years ago is drastically different from the wiring today. It’s worth replacing to prevent fire damage and to keep your house energy efficient and only costs about $1,000.

Some problems with an old house aren’t visible to the untrained eye. You’ll want to get an inspection to find these issues before you make an offer:

  • Hazardous building materials
  • Toxic air quality
  • Plumbing problems
  • Old mechanical equipment

Old homes, especially those built before 1978, most likely contain asbestos and lead-based paint. A professional inspection will find traces of both. You can’t just paint over lead paint to lessen the damage, so you’ll have to pay a professional to remove it completely. This can cost close to $3,000.

In the past, builders used asbestos as insulation. It can cause respiratory problems, including lung disease, so you want to get it removed as well. It’s commonly found around old pipes, in the walls, and in crawl spaces or attics. Depending on how much asbestos is in your home, it could cost anywhere from $2,000 to $30,000 to have a professional remove it.

Radon and carbon monoxide are odorless gasses found in older homes. Radon comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil and can get into the foundation of your home. It causes lung cancer with exposure over time. Hiring a professional to eliminate radon costs about $1,000.

Carbon monoxide comes from a gas leak in the stove, oven, dryer, or HVAC system. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes dizziness and headaches and can lead to death. Buy a carbon monoxide detector at any home store for less than $20 so you’ll know if there’s a leak in your home.

Plumbing problems can range from lead pipes to corroded pipes, both of which leech harmful substances into your water and can break down or burst. Old homes surrounded by trees are at risk of roots growing into the plumbing system, which can cause a backup or low water pressure. Depending on the cause, replacing your pipes could cost $2,500 to $15,000.

Old houses usually have old methods of heating and cooling, unlike the HVAC systems you might be familiar with. Some old houses use furnaces or boilers to heat the home and might have window air conditioning units instead of a whole-house system. Another piece of mechanical equipment that you might notice as outdated and inefficient is the water heater.

You can test these systems when you’re touring old houses by seeing if the rooms heat evenly or listening for a noisy furnace or water heater. Check for humidity in the rooms or puddling around the water heater to determine efficiency.

What are the pros and cons of buying an old house?

Despite the possible problems mentioned above, there are some pros to buying an old house. The architecture is something to appreciate when cookie-cutter homes are the new norm. You can find stunning Victorians, Tudors, and Colonials if you’re open to buying an older house.

Old homes also have mature landscaping. You can hang a swing from a big, sturdy tree. Bushes and flowers have grown over time with good care, so you’ll get a beautiful landscape just outside your door.

Depending on where you’re buying, it can also be more affordable to buy an old house. New houses often offer top-of-the-line appliances and customizations, so you’re basically paying to make it yours. If you’re willing to live in a previously-loved house, you could save as much as 30% when the market is good.

However, there are still some cons to buying an old house. Besides the risks mentioned in the last answer, older homes often have higher maintenance costs. They don’t have the same insulation as newer builds, costing you more in heating and cooling bills. You’ll also most likely put some money into repairs and upgrades to make it comfortable.

Old houses are often smaller and more enclosed than newer builds. A modern home has high square footage with open floor plans. Older homes, on the other hand, have less square footage and have more closed-off rooms than open areas. The rooms and closets are also smaller and the ceilings are lower. You usually can’t create open floor plans due to historic guidelines.

You need to consider your needs and aesthetics when weighing these pros and cons to figure out what type of home is best for you.

Are antique homes a good investment?

Antique homes are good investments because historic property can appreciate in value. The value can be higher than surrounding homes, simply because the home is antique. This value is rarely affected by standard markets since antique homes are often located in historic districts.

If you buy an antique home, you can carefully work to restore it to its original glory. For your time and effort, you’ll be able to sell the house at a higher price. Before you make any changes, you’ll have to contact the local historical society. They might have certain restrictions in terms of the house’s features, especially outside cosmetic procedures and even paint colors.

While you might have to give up some of your personal aesthetic to adhere to the historical society’s guidelines, you’re getting benefits from them in the long run. Since your house is a historic property, they most likely help your home retain its value.

You can also benefit from the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program. It offers a 20% federal tax credit to people who own, preserve, and rehabilitate historic properties. You’ll have to put money into the house to get the benefit, but it’s a nice advantage to a process you’re most likely already committed to on your own.

How do I sell an old home?

Selling an old home isn’t too different from selling any other type of property, though competing against modern builds can be tough. If you’ve kept up with maintenance, the age of your house matters less because it’s in such good shape. You can get an inspection before you put the house on the market to make sure you catch all potential problems.

Curb appeal is important, so go to the sidewalk and look at your house. Does it look attractive and inviting? Make notes to fix anything that detracts from the home’s charm. Reshingle the roof with shingles that make a statement. Paint the shutters and mount them securely so they stay even. Prune your trees and bushes to make the landscape look clean.

Stage the house in an attractive manner. Just because the house is old doesn’t mean the interior needs to look formal or stuffy. You can show personality and use pops of color to draw attention to the space or the unique windows. Try to detract from things that have gone out of style, like popcorn ceilings, and help the buyers see the potential in the space.

Are older homes harder to sell?

Older homes can be harder to sell. Some people think it’s worth it to spend a bit more and get a brand-new house, even if they’re missing out on the charm. Other buyers don’t want to have to deal with the historical society’s restrictions on renovation if the home is antique. They might also think an older house hasn’t been properly maintained.

But you can use a lot of the older home’s appeal to sell it to others. Play up the home’s unique features. If the house has a widow’s walk or a secret door that was a pass-through for the milkman, highlight this for buyers.

People love quirks, and they often feel drawn to these attributes because they’re so rare in modern-day builds. They might remember similar things from their grandparent’s home during childhood visits and feel drawn to the house.

Historic properties are worth bragging about as well. That tells potential buyers that the owners have kept the house in good condition and the value will rank higher than other homes in the area. For buyers looking in a certain location, knowing they won’t have trouble reselling the house can make all the difference in a deal.

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