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8 Tips for Restoring an Old Home

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage


8 Tips for Restoring an Old Home



It’s hard to argue that old homes seem to be loaded with a unique character, and each one is different.  Older homes have a charm about them that is almost impossible to mimic with a newer home.  The draw to restore old homes comes from these principles, and they are well-founded.  Even those who prefer newer homes to live in can’t seem to resist the “Before and After” looks of an old home restoration.  That being said, the task of restoring an old home isn’t for everyone.  However, if it is something to which you would like to commit (after much careful and realistic consideration), these tips may prove themselves helpful.



Remember: Restore, not Replace


An older home is given its character by its unique features.  The high ceilings, the crown molding of the cabinetry, the old brass door handles, the windows that stretch almost to the floor.  Your goal is to update the necessities but maintain the integrity of the old home.  Rather than replace those old windows with newer, more energy-efficient ones, consider resealing the panes or installing efficient storm windows to the exterior of the window frame.  Rather than buying new, more tightly-fitting and tidy wood flooring, consider sanding and refinishing the original wood floors.  The goal of restoring an old home should be to honor the home’s structure and character, while modernizing it through decorating, appliances, and energy efficiency.  Additionally, original doors and windows mean a lot to an old home’s value. 


Don’t Give in to Fads


Open floor plans are wonderful.  It’s no wonder that they came into the scene with a wave of popularity and have maintained that status for a long time.  When buying an old home, it can be tempting to knock down walls to give that old home an open floor plan… However, despite their seemingly never-ending reign at the moment, their time, too, will pass.  Open floor plans didn’t exist in most older homes, and, therefore, they don’t really do a whole lot to maintain the integrity of the old home. A great alternative to completely changing the floor plan is widening doorways between rooms.  Here, you can utilize almost all of your home’s original framing while giving the flow of the home a lot more flexibility. 


Save the Flooring!


If at all possible, save the original hardwood flooring that you found under the carpet in the living room.  Yes, it’s old, discolored, and possibly damaged, but it can turn out beautifully.  Regardless of whether or not you plan on hiring a professional to restore the floors for you, you should still have one come for a consultation.  Old carpet backing often contained asbestos, and you want to be sure that you don’t have any on your floors before you begin sanding. 


Clean the Tile


Before you go all-out on tearing out that old tile, give it a really, really good scrubbing.  It can be easy to look at old tile and think:  A. WOW- Outdated, and B. GROSS- Very dirty.  However, with the right cleaning supplies,  you can get that old tile to shine again, and after looking at the refreshed tile for a week or so, you may be struck with an amazing idea for a beautiful restored room!


Keep the Cabinets


It can be tempting for those buying an older home to want to rip down the old cabinets in the kitchen and replace them with tidy, clean, and fresh newly-made substitutes.  However, the melamine and MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) cabinets that are readily available are not made to last in the long-term.  Your cabinets, however rough they may look now, were made to last for many years. Strip them, sand them, and refinish them.  The work put in will pay off exponentially. 


Keep Counters Authentic


If you plan on updating the counters in your kitchen or bathroom, stick to a material that was available in the period your home was built.  A Formica kitchen top will not have been in a home that was built in 1902.  By using materials that were available in the time your home was built, even if the material wasn’t originally used in the home, you are keeping the time frame cohesive throughout the home. 


Refinish Sinks and Tubs


Just like with everything mentioned on this list, these things lend an awful lot to the character of your old home.  There are many ways that you can modernize a bathroom while maintaining an original restored sink and tub. A new coat on porcelain might cost a few hundred dollars, but it will cost less than gutting your entire bathroom and having a new bath/shower installed.


Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew


The thought of restoring an old home can be enticing to many individuals, but before you jump in to that task, be sure to do your research and due diligence.  A home with a good solid structure and that requires mostly cosmetic updates, though still very time-consuming and difficult, is worth restoring much more than a home with foundation or pest issues.  Before signing the paperwork, it’s a good idea to consult some professionals to discuss what exactly would need to happen for the changes you are wanting to make.  From there, you can better assess whether or not that particular home is right for you.

Overall, the main thing that a Buyer should be concerned with when considering whether or not to Buy an old home is honesty to one's self.  A buyer needs to be aware enough to realize that a project rarely gets completed without hiccups, and that there is a lot of work and time invested when re-doing an old home.  If it is something that you decide you are capable of, just remember to have fun while doing it!




Short Sales

by Andy Gotto

We've had a lot of questions about short sales and how they work so we here at the LFREG thought we might try to shed some light on the subject for the buyers who are contemplating buying a property in short sale status.

A short sale happens when a home must be sold and the seller owes the bank more than the home is worth.  The bank does not want to foreclose (take back) the property, so the bank agrees to take a lesser amount for the sale of the home than what they are owed on the property.  This is a type of what the banks call "loss mitigation."  If the property goes into foreclosure the bank incurs cost associated with possession of the property, and often the value of a home decreases after it sets vacant and without utilities and someone to properly love and care for the home. =)  So the bank cuts it's losses.  The "short" part of the sale is the money that the seller is short in paying off the loan. 

The timeframes on a short sale are usually anything but short. 

There are several reasons for the long time that it can take to purchase a home via short sale.  Let's go through a quick scenario of why it can take so long.  Say a seller borrowed $200,000 to purchase a home one year ago.  For whatever reason, (taxes, disrepair, an ill thought out home equity loan, market changes) let's assume the home is now only worth $170,000.  The sellers still owe $200,000.  So a Buyer comes along and offers $170,000 and the seller, knowing that the home will not sell for more, accepts the offer with a contingency of a short sale.  The seller with the guidance of the listing agent contacts the bank to inform them of the offer, and the ball begins to roll...

The bank must decide what the home is actually worth before they accept or reject the offer.  Generally this involves hiring a third party to do a mini appraisal or two on the home.  Sometimes these mini appraisals don't quite match, and the bank will solicit a third, or perhaps a full appraisal, basically they will do what it takes to determine the value of the home.  This can take some time.

Once the value is determined,the bank must then decide whether or not it is in their best interest to accept the offer.  When we say the bank, we mean the representatives of the bank, and banks have lots of representatives!  Sometimes we are even dealing with two banks depending on the type of financing.  It would be nice if every bank followed the same procedures for the process, but of course there are thousands of banks, and they all do things differently.  The bank reps make these decisions from desk hundreds of miles away, and the contract must cross numerous desks and departments before a final decision is made.

To complicate matters further, the number of these short sales have more than doubled over the last year.  While we do see more than we used to here at the Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group, we know that they are a very small percentage of our sales.  But to the people at the banks who handle these situations, the increase must seem exponential.  The banks are trying to expand their loss mitigation and short sale departments, but they aren't doing it as quickly as we'd like!

All in all, if you are going to Buy a home in short sale status, you will need a couple of things.  You'll need a good, experienced buyers agent.  We've got you covered there!  Next, you will need patience.  A short sale is not a good idea if you have to move in a certain time frame.  These things are typically done on the banks time frame, and there isn't much anyone can do to speed things along.  Believe me, we have tried! =) 

Feel free to get a hold of us here at the Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group if you have any questions!

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Contact Information

Photo of The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group Real Estate
The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group
Century 21 Advantage
103 S Main St
Columbia IL 62236
IL: 618.281.7621

138 Concord Plaza Dr
Saint Louis MO 63128
MO: 314.649.0221
Fax: 618.281.4311

Linda Frierdich is the area's premier real estate professional, offering services in St Louis, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Crestwood, Ballwin, Arnold, Fenton, Oakville, Columbia, Waterloo, Millstadt, Valmeyer, Dupo, Belleville, O'Fallon, Mascoutah, Fairview Heights, Smithton, Ruma, Hecker, New Athens, Edwardsville, Collinsville, Caseyville, Shiloh, Swansea, Monroe County, Madison County, St Clair County, and Randolph County.  Her team focuses on resale homes, new construction, first time home buyers, condos, farms, land sales, subdivisions, lot sales, single family, multi-family, commercial, foreclosures, bank owned property, military relocation, and building. This site offers options to search real estate in Columbia Illinois and other areas. We offer buyer and sellers services second to none!

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