When I received the email from Vicki Jimpson-Fludd, a real estate agent with Better Homes & Gardens Rand in Briarcliff, to have my historic house listing in Ossining join a group of other historic houses in Westchester and Putnam Counties for a joint Open House tour on a Sunday in July, I thought it was an inspired idea. “Hey, wait a minute, I wrote back, “I’m the realtor with the PR background! Why didn’t I think of that?”
I immediately offered to volunteer my PR company to help promote the event and, working together, Vicki and I scored a huge public turnout for 18 different brokerage houses showing 40 historic houses on one day.
At my open house at 81 Glendale Road in Ossining, a 15-acre estate contiguous to Teatown with a home started in the late 1700s and totally rebuilt over the past 30 years, I didn’t have a chance for a breather. There were as many as three visiting parties at a time from start to finish. I heard similar reports from realtors at the other open houses.
It was interesting that the common thread among normally competing brokerage firms was the antique home, at best a quirky category when it comes to marketing and selling a home. It is a narrow category both in terms of those that populate the inventory and buyers who seek them.
If a historic home is considered to be one that is at least 100 years old – those that have survived storm, fire and general neglect – it would be difficult to surmise the percentage of inventory that exists overall, but just to get a sense of it, I happen to know that in my hometown of Yorktown, there are approximately 13,000 residences and of those, 206 homes were identified as those of “historical significance” in a survey done a few years ago. At the same time, I once heard it said that only about one to two percent of the population is interested in living in antique homes, so that would seem to even things out.
But matching those people to the available homes can be difficult when you factor into the equation that only five percent of homes and people are players in the real estate market at any particular time. Considering those loose statistics, it’s a wonder that anyone ever finds their way into an antique home at all.
As an observer of real estate trends from personal experience for close to half a century and as a professional for nearly two decades, my personal opinion is that in recessionary times when the market is generally dead, the market for antique homes is really dead as a doornail. It would therefore make sense to me that our being slammed at the antique home open house event augurs very well for the near future of antique homes in this improving market.
Further proof that the scenario for antique homes is improving involves my own antique home in Yorktown Heights, The Ebenezer White House, now utilized as an office building. (As an aside, many historic structures, because of their size and locations are adapted for either mixed or commercial use.) My home was on the market two years ago as the recession was bottoming out and only after a full year did I finally get an offer, but it petered out after a jerk of an inspector discouraged the buyer when he discovered a sill with rot, which I quickly set out to correct. But, nonetheless, the buyer panicked and fled.
However, surprise, surprise, just last week, at a time when the home is not on the market, my doorbell rang and a man with that familiar look of stars in his eyes asked, “Do you want to sell this house? I’ve always loved it. If so, I’d like to buy it.” Oh, my, what do I do now? Am I ready to let go?
If you’d like to meet Vicki or me to discuss the possibility of your future as a proud antique home owner, call Vicki at 914-410-0151 or me at 914-522-2076. Vicki also has a great blog about antique homes at www.rivertownscountryhomes.com.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com, and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.