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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Top Places to Buy an Old House

This Old House magazine is always searching for great places to buy old houses. In the July issue, the magazine identifies 12 neighborhoods nationwide that it considers the best old-house neighborhoods in the United States.

The winners were chosen because of their architectural diversity, the preservation momentum in the area, and neighborhood amenities, including walkability, services, and the level of community. The magazine also identifies dozens of other good neighborhoods.

Here are the magazine's top 12:

Centre Park Historic District, Reading, Pa.: five-bedroom townhouse can be purchased for about $60,000, a large Queen Anne for $135,000, and a mansion for less than $600,000.

Hampton Heights Historic District, Spartanburg, S.C.: homes range from $50,000 for a 1930s Arts and Crafts fixer-upper to $250,000 for a restored Queen Anne.

Galena, Illinois: a Greek Revival or Second Empire home can be bought for as little as $130,000.

Kempton's Corners, New Bedford, Mass.: prices run the range in this area, starting at $180,000 and then running as high as $800,000 for a Victorian.

Old Louisville, Ky.: a rehabbed manse might cost about $275,000, with prices topping out at $800,000.

Pleasant Ridge, Mich.: prices range from the low $100,000s for a modest bungalow to more than a million for a big Colonial Revival or Tudor.

Victorian Flatbush, Brooklyn, N.Y.: fixer-uppers are available for $600,000 to $900,000; a restored home will run you upward to a million or more.

Albany, Ore.: home prices in Albany's national historic districts range from $90,000 for a run-down Italianate to $400,000 for a fully restored one.

Georgetown, Texas: price tags on fixer-upper bungalows can be purchased for as little as $90,000; grander homes can run in the millions.

Centralia, Wash.: homes in the Edison District range from $250,000 for an 1,800-square-foot Craftsman to $600,000 for a massive Queen Anne.

New Castle, Del.: a brick Federal in good shape will run you $385,000, while large historic homes with river views cost close to a million.
Washington, Ga.: Antebellum mansions run as low as $350,000, while a 2,000-square-foot Victorian cottage might go for $130,000.

Long-time readers might know that I live in an old house (1885) in Milford, MI, which I consider to be one for the best places for old houses in our area. Our old houses run from $110,000 for a basket case that needs lots more than a little TLC, up to $400-500,000 for our biggest mansions that have been thoroughly updated. Our village's walkability score is great, with a quaint downtown and great restaurants.

Other good places to look for old houses locally are Birmingham and Northville (a bit pricey), downtown Farmington Hills (also pricey), Holly (many homes need a lot, but the stock is good), Howell (same comment as for Holly), and Brighton (same comment as for Holly). A bit further out, Fenton and Linden have some nice old homes, along with many dumpster queens.

In my travels, one place that I thought had great old houses is Savannah, GA. The problem is that they are almost all well over a million dollars now. I suspect the same is true in Charleston, SC, too.

I've got some good information about buying old houses on my Web site - - as well as links to lots of sites with helpful old house information. Send me an email or give me a call if you're interested in an old house in this area.

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