How to market and sell vintage homes

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Do you list older homes in your community? If so, some of them have a history that could help you sell them.

I realize that some people are only interested in “new” and don’t give a hoot about who lived in a home in the past. But those aren’t the people who will buy your late 1800’s or early 1900’s home.

They’re the ones who might wait until the contractor puts the finishing touches on a brand new home in a historic homebrand new subdivision. So don’t worry about them – they aren’t your customers anyway.

Those who do love old homes are quite often fascinated with the history behind them. So do your research and tell the story in your marketing materials. If you’re in a small community and have a local newspaper, you might even want to run a block ad with a short version of the story.

It might read something like “Historic Watson home now offered for sale. This home, built in 1898, was home to Jeremy Watson, his wife and 8 children. Mr. Watson was a prominent member of Mytown society in the 1890’s and early 1900’s, and the Watson home was the scene of grand balls – as well as some “grand brawls.” Visit for the rest of the story.

Yes, even people who aren’t interested in a home will follow the link and read the story – because people love stories.

But that’s a good thing. They’ll be more people who know your name and know that you do your homework!

If the current owners don’t know the home’s history, ask them to pay the small fee to have the title company trace it back to the beginning… when it was first constructed.

Find out who owned and developed the land, who was the architect who drew the plans, who lived there first, and who has lived there since.

Once you have the names, go to the library and see what you can learn about those people. If your own family has lived in the community for a long time, go to your oldest relatives and ask them what they remember – it might help in your search.

Almost anything you can learn will be interesting to the kind of history buffs who will love your listing.

You may learn that the lady of the house taught in the one-room school until she married the banker. Or, you may learn that the former occupant was one of the town’s “Founding Fathers” who bankrolled much of the town’s development. You might even find out that it was owned by the local madame!

While you’re at it, look into the builder. Was he a significant member of society in those days? Did he build many of the town’s historic homes? Did he have a reputation with a bit of “flavor?”

More and more, we want to connect with the past. So give your potential buyers a connection they simply can’t resist.

P.S. The photo here is the former Kaiser home, where my Grandmother stayed during the school year back when she was a child in the late 1890's, and which has now been relocated and turned into the town's museum.



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Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Hi Marty, great advice. You're so right, older homes, places interest many even if they're not thinking about buying the home in the photo, they will follow the link to learn about the history. Give consumer what they're hungry for!

Jan 06, 2017 12:05 PM #1
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Marte I love old homes and they were my first love when I first started buying homes and rehabbing.  I once sold a old home on acreage and it had a tiny 760 sf house as well. Turns out it was a Sears Catalog home and I absolutely marketed it as such. It was so cool!!

Jan 06, 2017 02:31 PM #2
Alexander- Slocum
Premiere Property Group, LLC - Vancouver Washington - Vancouver, WA
Realty Team- Vancouver WA Real Estate

Hi Marte, some of our favorite listings have been from the 1890's or early 1900's.  Their character, style and materials used - especially Old Growth knot-free wood can be very appealing.  Thanks for your tips!  John and Kat

Jan 06, 2017 04:09 PM #3
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

This makes a lot of sense since I also sell a few of these and it sounds much like what I do.

Jan 06, 2017 04:18 PM #4
Lauren Williams, CPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

And I'm sitting daydreaming of some little Arts & Crafts cottage in the Pacific Northwest...  

Jan 06, 2017 07:51 PM #5
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

Great advice.  I currently have a few properties with antebellum homes, dating as far back as 1810 when this part of Georgia was just getting settled.  With my passion for telling a good story, its natural to bring these old homes to life!

Jan 06, 2017 08:14 PM #6
Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

I often sell homes that have a good story to tell.  Never thought about it as a way to market.  Thank you for the idea.

Jan 07, 2017 04:26 AM #7
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

People love a story and every home has a story or two. Great advice for marketing older homes and rarely see it done in our area which is filled with historic homes.

Jan 07, 2017 07:08 AM #8
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

I love history and you are right, Marte, I would click to read the rest of the story. I like to be in the know even if I am not in the market.

Jan 07, 2017 01:42 PM #9
Donna & Larry Johnson
Keller Williams Real Estate - West Chester, PA
Chester & Delaware County

Great advice! Their is always a story with older homes. Make sure the public knows what they are.

Jan 08, 2017 08:45 AM #10
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Donna & Larry Johnson - Sometimes those stories are pretty interesting, too!

Jan 08, 2017 09:56 AM #11
Theo Shaw
Baird & Warner Residential Real Estate - Evanston, IL
Serving Evanston, IL & Beyond

I sold an extremely charming house last year that was built in 1950--I know, not THAT old--but it had the original kitchen and baths and basement with a bar in it.  I just knew that there was a buyer who would buy it for it's 50's charm.  And the house DID have a story, which I used in my marketing.  It had been owned by well known classical musicians.  The buyers turned out to be musicians who kept the 50's charm and filled the house with Mid-Century furnishings and music.


Jan 08, 2017 02:57 PM #12
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Antique homes are a lot like antique furniture in that the history helps make them more valuable, whether monetarily or just to fall in love with!  Great post!

Jan 11, 2017 07:42 PM #13
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Yes Jan Green - for those who love history and "old things," knowing the provenance makes them more valuable.

Jan 12, 2017 09:35 AM #14
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