10 reasons old houses are a good investment in any kind of market

1.    There is a finite number of them, unlike new construction that just keeps on sprawling.
2.    They are getting rarer. There will never be a glut of old houses on the market.
3.    They are solid. There’s no comparison between plaster lathe walls and sheetrock, or wide-board plank floors and glued-on squares of oak ‘parquet.’
4.    They are built to last. They’re made out of stone and brick and actual timber instead of plywood and 2x4s and god knows what kind of composite and manufactured materials.
5.    They have already passed the test of time by lasting 150 or 200 years through all kinds of weather.  Ever notice how, in a hurricane, it’s the cheap new construction that gets destroyed, not the historic houses?
6.    They have“detail.” Moldings, baseboards, panel doors, plasterwork, marble fireplaces, turned staircase balusters.
7.    They are generously proportioned.  High ceilings, big windows, wide hallways.  (Unless they’re cozy cottages, with smaller rooms and low ceilings to prevent heat loss.)
8.    They’re greener than new houses. Just the act of re-using an old house instead of building or buying a new one saves tens of thousands of dollars, plus energy and resources. Most new construction materials are full of chemicals.
9.    The places where the housing market has tanked are those where the housing stock is made up of new homes, in the fastest growing cities of recent years, like Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego. It’s not just the mortgage situation, but also the fact that the buildings themselves have no intrinsic value.
10.     Old houses have barely suffered in the recent market downturn. It’s the new crap that’s taken a beating in the market.

That last one is based on anecdotal evidence.  Can anyone supply hard evidence of #10?  Or more reasons why old houses (given a decent location) are a good investment in any market?

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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12 Responses to 10 reasons old houses are a good investment in any kind of market

  1. Joseph Borker says:

    Lovely site, Hope there are many more posts to follow since Carol and I love old houses and like to see other people’s experiences.

  2. cara says:

    oh, there will be many more! stay tuned!

  3. susan fox says:

    Just a note to say how much I enjoyed “touring” your site and reading the blogs.
    Best wishes for a wonderful 2009.
    A fellow field editor,

  4. cara says:

    Why, thank you, Susan! The blog will be updated daily, so keep coming back!

  5. adi says:

    is this the Cara Greenberg?

    i still have mid-century furnitures lying around my Hudson’s townhouse. and i have to say they look fantastic in the victorian setting.

  6. cara says:

    Well, there are other Cara Greenbergs out there, believe it or not, but I am the one who wrote the book
    Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s
    I love modern furniture in old houses, too. You’ve just given me an idea for a post, thank you! Send a picture of your house if you want to (my e-mail address is on the ‘Contact’ page).
    Thanks for commenting, Adi. Keep checking in!


  7. Cara,

    You have some beautiful and very interesting content here. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. Keep ’em coming :)

  8. cara says:

    I’m glad you stumbled upon it too, Amber, and thanks for the shout-out!

  9. My mom gave me cascara when I was a kid and said that it was for my own good. I am glad to get my fix on old houses. You are doing and writing about the same things I am very interested in. I am here on the North fork and in Real Estate and also run a B&B. I look forward to your entries.

  10. cara says:

    Thanks for your comment, Wilfred – glad you found my blog. Ha, yes, I found out recently that the bark of the Cascara Sagrada tree is a natural laxative!

  11. KansasKate says:

    #10 is certainly valid where I live, and I think historic homes are holding their value in many markets precisely because of points #1-9.

    And to add to your list: Old homes are often on lots with well-established trees for shade. Sure, you can build a new house and unroll an instant sod lawn… but try transplanting 5 or 6 century-old trees.

    So glad I found your blog. Love it!

  12. cara says:

    Welcome, Kate, and thanks for your comment. Good point about the mature trees. Easier to take them down, if need be, than put them up!

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