Fleeing New Yorkers Seek Homes With Old-World Charm

Many Big Apple residents are leaving the concrete jungle to purchase charming historic properties far out in the countryside.

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While many home buyers are moving away from city centers during the pandemic, New Yorkers specifically are showing an interest in rural locations with older homes that have character and charm. Sales of homes built more than 100 years ago in the New York area climbed 16% between 2019 and 2020, according to data from realtor.com®. The median sales price of these types of homes is $236,000.

“The biggest ask right now is ‘something old with character.’ Newer homes have none of the richness or the stories of something built in 1814,” Adam Carroll, a real estate professional with Compass in New York, told the New York Post.

Buyers are finding that an older home in need of improvements may be a better deal financially. For example, a trending Instagram account called @cheapoldhouses, which is run by Elizabeth and Ethan Finkelstein, spotlights historical properties on the market for less than $100,000.

However, remodeling experts warn buyers to be aware of the costs of renovating older homes. For example, restoring floors, fireplaces, and windows in older homes to their original glory can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Robert Khederian, a real estate professional who is renovating an 1821 brick rowhouse, told the Post that every historic home has different needs, but many people budget about $300 to $400 per square foot and $10,000 per fireplace when renovating.

Home buyer Stephen Simcock was drawn to older homes and purchased a 170-year-old waterfront property in the Hudson Valley area about four months ago. “You have to go in understanding that the [mortgage] payment, taxes, insurance—they’re just the starting point,” Simcock told the Post. “It’s a five-year project, probably, though I’ll get it 80% of the way there in a couple of years. The last 20%? Oh, you never quite finish that.”

Source: “An Old House Sales Boom Means Expensive New Headaches for Buyers,” The New York Post (April 1, 2021)