Demand for single-family homes under $100,000 and 100 years or older has remained steady year over year, according to Realtor.com, but the pace of sales for this niche market has gained momentum in the pandemic, following the national trend in overall home sales.
“In January 2020, the median days on market for these homes was 86 days, eight days slower than the same time in 2019. However, as of December, these homes were selling in 79 days, 10 days faster than last year,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, who added, it’s “an impressive feat considering the diligence required for purchasing one of these properties.”
Recent data provided by Zillow showed homes built before 1940 garnering nearly as many saves per housing unit as houses from the early 2000s.
Erin DiFazio, a broker with Chrome Realty in Sarasota, Fla., who specializes in historic properties, said she believed that more buyers now want homes that “reflect a more authentic self, individual character, and a bit of story.” The craftsmanship of older homes is often a primary selling point, she said.
While legislation pertaining to historic preservation varies from place to place, there are often specific incentives and protections for locally designated properties, including tax credits and exemptions, and flexibility in the building and zoning codes to preserve historic features. Insuring an older home, however, can be challenging depending on the state, Ms. DiFazio said.
“More and more first-time buyers are admiring what makes these homes timeless,” said Michael Robleto, a Los Angeles agent with Compass who specializes in prewar homes.
Many buyers are tired of the overtly neutral living spaces that seem ubiquitous in flipped homes, he said, adding that in addition to a potential investment benefit, the construction quality of older homes is often unmatched. “The old adage is true: they don’t make ‘em like they used to and you can’t rebuild history,” Mr. Robleto said.