By Candis Meredith
If you’ve watched our show or read our blog, you probably already know that Andy and I bought our lovely home, Love House, one day before it was supposed to be demolished. Now, Love House wasn’t our first restoration, but it was definitely my boldest move. In fact, it’s kind of where everything started between me and Andy. Back then, we were just friends who worked together on restorations, and I was just a lady in love with a horribly neglected and abused house. I was willing to put everything into it, and it all worked out.
Looking back on how we managed to buy Love House in cash the day before it was supposed to be torn down, and how that quick decision changed the rest of my life for the better, I’ve been thinking a lot about how Andy and I choose our restoration homes today. While I definitely got lucky with Love House, luck doesn’t typically have a lot to do with choosing and buying houses to restore. If you put the time in and you know what to look for, you can definitely do it, too.
Don’t Just Rely on the MLS
The MLS is a great tool, and great real estate deals on distressed old houses do come up on there sometimes. But you could wait forever to find a house worth restoring on the MLS. Those deals show up once in a blue moon, and if you’re not right on top of them, they’re usually gone before you know it. Worse yet, they’re usually sold to people who just want to knock down those precious old homes and build really uninspired new buildings in their place.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t peruse the MLS regularly—after all, that’s how I found Love House—but it shouldn’t be your sole resource. If you want to find a house that’s worth restoring and you don’t want to wait years to get it, you need to branch out.
Use Your Hometown Knowledge
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But where? And how?” If you want to renovate houses in your hometown, think about the properties that you’ve had your eye on your whole life. Since I was seven years old, I knew Love House was something special, and that’s why I snapped it up (with no idea how I was going to pay $75,000 in cash) as fast as I could when it became available.
If there’s a house in your town that’s been abandoned or distressed for some time, look up the public records on the property. In those records you’ll find out who currently owns the property, and you can contact them to make an offer on the house. Who knows? They might be thinking about listing it or demolishing it, and you could save that beautiful house from destruction if you jump on the opportunity fast.
Take a Drive Around Town
If you don’t already have a property in mind, do what Andy and I do—go for a drive. Sometimes we pack the whole family up, and we drive around town, teaching our kids about the history of our area while we look for inspiring properties with their own histories. Sometimes we go on our own and make a date of it.
Whatever the case, we always take notes on the houses we see along the way. You’d be surprised at how many amazing properties you can find with houses that can turn into gorgeous restorations with a little bit of love.