Looking For an Old House

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, In The News

I was reading an article today about a lady in California who spent 2 1/2 years looking for her “perfect” house to purchase. During that period she personally inspected 298 homes before she found the house that she considered to be the right home for her and her family. I felt sorry for her realtor, as it ended up that the house she purchased was through an agent other than the one who had spent so much time helping her look.

I got to thinking about how much has changed since I purchased my old house 20 years ago this month. Of course there was no Internet then, at least that I was aware of. We leafed through real estate magazines, stacks of them, and noted the old houses that were worth a look, and then would spend a weekend day driving the countryside searching them out. Of course that option is still available to people, but today most people can sit at their computer and do their research.

There are countless websites on the Internet now that specialize in old houses for sale. All you have to do is type in your state or zipcode to get a list of the old houses near your location. You immediately have descriptions, pictures, and sometimes a virtual tour to judge the home by. Some people choose to start at the other end, and simply list what type of old house they are looking for, and where they would like it to be located. There are numerous websites that put buyers and sellers together, so if you are looking for an old house in Kansas City, just describe what features you would like it to have, how old you would prefer it to be, and what area suits you best. Then just wait for the replies and filter through them. Looking for an old house in Newmarket, Canada? Just do the same thing, and wait to see what becomes available. The people looking in Canada had already searched the MLS, and were hoping for someone who might know somebody who might be thinking of selling.

It is really amazing to me how far we have come in 20 years. Then, after you find the old house you are looking for, you can use the Internet to find parts for it, or to read articles about how to do projects in an old house. If I needed an old tub, or old door knobs 20 years ago I was pretty much limited to looking in a reasonable radius around my town. Now, if I need a part for my old house I can sit at the computer, and search worldwide in a matter of minutes. How times have changed!


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  1. 4 Responses  to “Looking For an Old House”

  2. Hilary
    Feb 26, 2013
    I just bought a house, and I love it! The only problem: the toilets. Does anyone know where to get great toilets in edmonton? I never really thought I would be asking that question...
  3. Igloochic
    Aug 29, 2011
    I can feel for the woman. We looked for about two years as well, but zero'ed on the one we thought we were going to buy twice during that time. Both times the owners weren't really wanting to sell (estate issues with one, priced it to not sell and unrealistic sales price for the other). Our agents (we were looking in two cities) were patient and did try when we made our offers but the owners just weren't going to see their houses sell :) In the end we purchased a home we sourced on our own in a private sale over coffee. I felt a great deal of guilt over the agent issue but she's ok with it (or took it well like a business person). While we do have the net to rule things out, often times, for fixtures, fittings and the house itself, nothing is better than actually touching the thing you're going to buy is always the best practice.
  4. Aug 29, 2011
    That article was something else! I think that too many choices isn't a good thing - whether it's cereal, toothpaste, or houses. It make a person a little crazy. You're right though - the internet did give us such an amazing ability to find things. For years I was on a quest to find house banks that I collected - they were giveaways from banks and insurance companies. Hard to find so I was obsessed. When I found ebay in its very earliest days I doubled the size of my four year old collection in about two weeks. Somehow I don't think seeing close to 300 houses meant she got a better one in the end. Liz
  5. Ricky
    Aug 29, 2011
    We have access to so much information it's overwhelming! I sometimes wonder if people still know how to look for real books in a library, and if they will continue to teach kids how in school. Instead its teaching kids how google operates.