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Cheap Old House

It’s that time of year when journalists and bloggers make predictions about design trends, the economic outlook and customer behaviors. We look into our crystal ball and go on record with what we see ahead. But my crystal ball is murky. When in doubt, I turn to the research.

My rear view looks better than expected. After spending twenty-one days a month traveling in 2019, I wondered why I owned a house I rarely used. But in COVID 2020, there was no place to go but home; I was glad to have one. The Home Group, which is comprised of PERIOD HOMES; NEW OLD HOUSE; OLD HOUSE JOURNAL; ARTS & CRAFTS HOMES; TRADITIONAL BUILDING plus cooking, gardening, woodworking, and other home hobby media, had unprecedented audience growth in 2020, including magazine subscriptions, YouTube subscriptions; web traffic, e commerce; social media engagement, and online education attendance. We ask ourselves, is it us? Or is it COVID? How long will this last? predicts another 7% increase in home sales, 2021. The remodeling market now exceeds $400 B. Home prices are up too, a projected 5.7% increase this year. In some resort towns, 2020 prices went up 20%, as buyers from around the world bought remote, luxury homes sight unseen. Commuting constraints lifted for workers who seized the opportunity to live and work wherever they pleased.

According to the National Association of Realtors research: “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends,” home buyers between 25-40 years old make up 38% of home purchases. New homes are expensive: the median cost is $335,300. Pre-owned homes are a better deal, even though they need fixing up. The median price of an existing home is $245,000. The NAR reports that half of 25-40-year-olds are buying old houses, those built before 1957. “The largest generation in history, millennials, will continue to shape the housing market as they become an even larger player. The ability to work remotely was a factor prompting many millennials to buy a home in 2020.”


This data convinced our TRADITIONAL BUILDING and OLD HOUSE JOURNAL editorial team to launch “Finding Home: Buying and Renovation 2021,” a new magazine, Instagram, web, and YouTube platform for the new generation of home buyers and first-time renovators who are active now. Editorial Director Patricia Poore says, “They’re not buying trophy houses, they’re buying old houses. Existing housing stock provides the most affordable options, in the most desirable cities and suburbs. These newbies are looking for guidance: about financing, home inspection, budgeting and rehab or renovation. They care about the character yet demand modern comfort. And they know that recycling old houses is sustainable practice, which is very important to them.”


Patricia and her editors will emphasize renovations and upgrades which preserve historic character, whether Victorian or mid-century Modern…which is an emerging theme in blogs, books, and T.V. shows. “These new homeowners take on light to moderate D I Y (demolition, painting, floor refinishing/replacement, choosing products). They upgrade the kitchen and probably use contemporary colors and furniture.”

Through the haze in my crystal ball I see a relevant new magazine on newsstands in July 2021.

U.S. Census Bureau
The National Association of Realtors

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