Many times, buying an older home can be like buying a “diamond in the rough.” And of course, many times it just seems rough! Why would anyone want to buy something covered with layers of old paint and grime, outdated floor plans, possible plumbing and electrical problems, and possibly 1970’s gold foil wallpaper? The answer is (drumroll please) …. INSTANT EQUITY!
Don’t get us wrong, some older homes are only suitable for the BDS (Bulldozer Solution). They don’t have anything particularly charming about them, they have HORRIBLE floorplans, and they may have serious structural issues. These homes still can be values, though, if they are priced below lot value in a nice neighborhood and you are interested in building a home, especially if they have something going for them like an existing set-back that is more than current zoning allows. In these cases, you can sometimes tear down everything (check with the city, of course!) but one wall and legally “remodel” the place, getting significantly more square footage on a tight beach lot than you could have otherwise. I have one client who did this and ended up with 2 feet times 25 x 3 stories which was 75 more square feet than her otherwise tiny 30 x 45 square foot Manhattan Beach Sand Section lot would allow. This may not seem like much, but it bought her the luxurious Master Bath she and her husband wanted, allowed the extra powder room on the living area, and gave her ground floor the ability to have a guest room and bath that would have been otherwise impossible.
Many older homes, however, aren’t total losses. For example, in order to get Veterans Administration loans following World War II, homes had to have wooden floors. Homes built before plywood was invented in the 60’s often have beautiful solid oak floors that can be restored to their original glory.
In some cases, the older style homes were well designed and solidly built, but they lack some of the modern amenities that today’s buyers expect. Well, you can add those! Sometimes a master bedroom can be “bumped out” to add a nice master suite. If the floorplan is ok, maybe just the fixtures and appliances need to be replaced with more modern looking ones. Sometimes knocking out a wall between living and kitchen areas can open up the rooms for a more open and modern “great room” feel. Often, opening up the ceilings to the attic rafters can add a sense of volume that makes small rooms feel larger, and it doesn’t cost very much to do this.
Lauren and her architect husband have a lot of combined experience in “flipping” homes, and we can help you visualize what kinds of changes you can make to take an ugly duckling and discover the swan. We will pass on our contractor discounts to you, too, and can help you find all kinds of contractors that we have found are reputable and reliable.
So don’t be afraid of the older home — it is often the one that turns out to be the most charning and unique on on the block!