The 15 Most Charming Historic Homes on the Market Right Now

Photo: Harvey Meston/Getty Images

What was once old can be new (or hip) again. It’s the same with old houses. Today, we find older, historic homes appealing for a lot of reasons. For starters, buying an older house curbs further suburban sprawl. It also helps us document our complete history—ventures like the Texas Freedom Colonies Project offer a more accurate and multilayered version of the past that’s more inclusive of Black settlements. But perhaps the major reason old houses are popular again is that first-time home buyers like millennials and Gen Z are buying historical houses in greater numbers.

And for good reason: These dwellings tend to be way more affordable. “It’s not that uncommon to see a very large home of 5,000 square feet built in the early 1900s that is livable for $300,000 or less,” says Lucas A. Neuffer, founder of Instagram account Historical Homes of America. “I just shared one yesterday.” According to the Bank of America Institute, older millennials especially face significant financial burdens these days. So it’s no wonder that two thirds of new buyers in 2023 said they surfed real estate market apps with a set budget in mind.

Which brings us to the popularity of Instagram accounts like Cheap Old Houses. The house listings posted on the account are all for sale, and most are priced under $100,000, with a max of $150,000. “Millennials and younger people, especially, feel priced out of the housing market,” says Elizabeth Finkelstein, a preservation expert and founder of Cheap Old Houses. “Cheap old houses offer another pathway.” Since the start of the pandemic, the account has gone from 75,000 followers to 2.6 million, then went on to become a HGTV show, and now a glossy coffee table book as of last October.

Beyond just being a cheaper option, older houses allow many of us to hop on the DIY historic home renovation bandwagon and fulfill our wildest HGTV fantasies. Since Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition premiered more than 20 years ago, a litany of other fixer-upper series has followed, inspiring millennial and Gen Z viewers to imagine themselves easily making over a house. According to a study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, people under the age of 35, “the group most likely to undertake improvement projects themselves,” spent $24 billion on house renovations between 2015 and 2019. That’s a lot of money used to replaster deteriorating walls or drop in new wood to prop up rotting porches.

But to the experts, that’s money well spent. In fact, the irony is that anyone buying a cheap older house could later turn a profit if they choose to resell the home. “Correctly restored or rehabilitated places hold their value,” explains Kelee Katillac, interior and architectural designer and preservation consultant. In her new book, Historic Style, she offers inspiration and guidelines for how to stay true to one’s personal style while honoring a home’s history. “Don’t change historical windows in shape, pattern, or size. You will be destroying the history of the place and harming your investment,” Katillac says. “We see that historic properties that are structurally honored maintain value.”

So, ready to find your own historic home? We spoke directly with the founders of Cheap Old Houses and Saving Old Houses to ask which recent historical homes listings have them excited and why.

Elizabeth Finkelstein, @cheapoldhouses

How do you determine which homes you’ll feature on your IG feed?

Any house could be “cheap,” but what we’re really on the hunt for and what we share are houses that, beyond meeting our maximum price tag threshold of $150,000, are still showpieces for historical style and craftsmanship. These homes are steals precisely because you would pay many times more in today’s dollars for a mansion with leaded glass windows, intricately carved wood cornices, vintage bathroom tiles, and more. But on Cheap Old Houses, we find the diamonds in the rough that just need some TLC to sparkle once more.

What are some unique homes you listed recently you think people should check out?

It starts with the expansive porch, and it just keeps getting better! Not all cheap old houses are dilapidated fixer-uppers. This West Virginia home is lovely as is!

The original woodwork, still unpainted, and the vintage hearth tiles—for just $89,000!—demand a triple take.

Some cheap old houses were something else first, like a library! This is the kind of property rebirth and transformation we’re always eager to see someone take on.

Vintage kitchen built-ins, original staircase…. It’s a winner!

Folks have gone wild for this beauty and now that it’s had a further price reduction, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before it finds its new steward to revive this jewel. That staircase curve is irresistible!

This house is so unique; right out of a fairytale!

A perfect example of a purchase price—just $69,000!—that leaves you plenty of budget for updates and more!

We subscribe to the belief that “Tudor is cuter,” and this only proves our point! For only $69,900!

Scott Reed, @savingoldhouses

How do you determine which homes you’ll feature on your IG feed?

Saving Old Houses was created with the goal of sharing the potential of those historic houses considered by many to be “too far gone,” and saving as many as we can along the way. I focus on featuring old houses that need restoration or that are somehow endangered, yet still have much of their historic character intact. Drawing from a background in architecture and historic preservation, I highlight what makes each house distinctive and the possibility of exciting discoveries waiting to be found. For those houses that are a little more, shall we say timeworn, I am always sure to point out that a hole in the roof doesn’t necessarily mean the end, especially for an old house that was built to last. Original details and intact features are definitely a plus; and those listings that are endangered, (mis)marketed as “teardowns,” or that I am working to save from demolition, always go to the front of the line.

What are some unique homes you listed recently you think people should check out?

This circa 1870 Gothic Revival has a few Craftsman-period updates but so much original character!

The Old Turtle House is exemplary in every way. Really, this is the stuff of dreams!

The circa-1845 William H. Mason House is a tour de force of American Gothic Revival detail, and it is FINALLY on the market!

This circa-1890 Richardsonian Romanesque mansion is truly a masterpiece; an absolute tour de force of Victorian style.

I’m speechless! (Almost) inside and out, this circa-1870 Second Empire is dripping with wonderful detail AND potential!

I love just about anything with a tower, and this circa-1872 Second Empire is a dream fixer-upper, ready to restore!

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest