I love working with first-time buyers. Sometimes I feel like HGTV Property Sister. I can see the potential in the older homes. It is not easy to convince someone looking for a new house with all of the bells and whistles to consider looking at a 1960’s rancher. Last month I showed a 1957 rancher with parquet floors and a half wall at the front door where people add some greenery. We are pretty sure there is a little asbestos on the floor. The walls were painted neon and the carpet was at least 50 years old. Most people would not even consider it. I can see all of the potentials in making it into a perfect house for a family with little expense. Most of the work is cosmetic and can be done by the new owner. It is amazing what even paint can do to a home.

As I walk through each room, I decide what I can physically do and what I need to hire a professional for. I make mental notes in each room to the less expensive fixes. Oftentimes old homes need fresh paint, new light fixtures, and new molding. These are all inexpensive and make the room look much better. When it comes to the kitchen, check out the cabinets. Can you paint them? Do the doors match? If the doors are broken or do not match, consider new doors rather than cabinets themselves. With a couple of coats of good quality paint and new hardware, they can look brand new. Cabinetry made back then was made out of real wood! You could update with a new countertop. If you don’t like the footprint – find more cabinets to add in with the old. You can find them used if you would like and get the same matching doors for them. Add a new sink and faucet to make it really sparkle. You may be able to clean the original sink if it is still in good condition. Add the fresh coat of paint on the wall and swap out the lighting. The bathroom is a little more work if needing updating. Toilets are too expensive, but tubs, tiles, and counters can be pricey. I have seen many bathroom counters made out of old dressers fitted with a sink bowl on top. It gives lots of storage in the drawers and can be a do-it-yourself project. The tub can be resurfaced if you don’t want to replace it. The bathtubs from the time period are cast iron and very heavy. Reglazing can be a perfect solution if you are not changing the footprint of the room. This would just leave the flooring. You can hire out to get it re-titled or give it a try yourself.

Ideally, you would DIY as much as you can and hire out for things like plumbing, structural, and electrical. Yard sales are a fantastic DIY shopping experience. When people upgrade/update they want to clear out the old to make way for the new. The prices can’t be beaten from yard sales (in-person and online). Whatever your wish list is in your first home, please consider an older home in need of a little love. These older homes were built to withstand time. They just need some TLC and a new owner who cares about their new home.