3 Great Cities to Buy the Vintage Fixer-Upper of Your Dreams

Inspired by all our DIY ideas? America offers many established neighborhoods with old, charming homes in need of buyers who love the idea of a fixer-upper. And the plus side of buying such a home, other than the history and craftsmanship, is that often a fixer will cost you less to buy than its perfectly restored counter-part. Of course, fixing up a house isn’t cheap, but many cities offer special loan programs specifically to help buyers remodel an older home.

 So where can we find these diamonds in the rough? Here are three American cities for snapping up gorgeous fixer uppers for affordable prices.

1.   Atlanta, GA

Much of Atlanta’s architecture is post-bellum. After the Civil War, the city chose to veer away from typical Southern style to establish itself as the “New South,” opting for more modern design in much of its buildings. Because the Atlanta metro as a whole has been hit hard by foreclosure, your chance to find a fixer among Atlanta’s historic homes for sale is better than ever.  Check out the Old Fourth Ward!

Homes for sale in Atlanta, GA

The median asking price for the area is currently around $165K. Look for your favorite home on the MLS here.


2.  Reading, PA

Centre Park is a great place to find gorgeous old houses without the huge price tag. And the history of the area means you have many styles to choose from. When wealthy settlers began building their mansions in the late 1800’s here, they chose to mimic European manors and villas. In the early 1900’s, This Old House writes, “tradesmen and industrial workers followed, erecting Queen Annes and unique brick ‘Reading German’ houses, which are 2½ stories high with mansard roofs and large single dormers.”  Here’s a photo, also via This Old House.

Reading, PA homes for sale

The current median list price in Reading is around $120,000. You can check out the latest MLS offerings in Reading right here.


3.   Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

This metro area offers old homes , everything from old Colonials to sweeping farmhouses on huge lots (complete with fruit trees and vegetable patches) to restored condos in vintage rowhouses.  Here is one example,  built at the turn of the 20th century in Louisburg.

Homes for sale in Louisburg, NC

The median asking  price for homes in the Raleigh-Durham area in April 2012 is just under $215K. Fixers are often a lot less; start searching the Raleigh-Durham MLS here.

These are, clearly, just tiny sample-- almost any corner of the US has its historic homes. If you have your heart set on a particular place and you love the nostalgia of older architecture, and you’re not afraid of a fixer-upper, use ZipRealty’s home search feature to find your perfect home. Just click “show only” in the fixer-upper drop down menu. You could go further by excluding new construction and writing “historic,” “Victorian,” “Queen Anne,” “Craftsman,” “Farmhouse,” or any style of old home into a key word search.  And don’t forget: your agent too will know about such homes, often before they even hit the market.  In the meantime, visit the Federal HUD’s website to find out kind of loans and grants are available in each state for restoration.