When I first started writing for our website I focused on the most affordable homes. I wanted my target market to know that I’m looking out for them by minimizing their monthly payment and securing a nice well built home with a predictable monthly payment and minimal maintenance fees. Typically these are block construction homes built on slab, located in a non-flood zone and built in the 1950’s.
These 1920’s bungalows are typically more a “labor of love” with more extensive maintenance but if you take care of the major items the costs can be negligible and the return on lifestyle opportunities can be enormous.
I’m starting to branch out a bit because like myself – my target market is getting older, making a bit more money and focusing on homes that they truly want instead of starter homes where finances are the deciding factor. If you’re at that point in your life where you’re in the market for exactly what you want – a forever home with plenty of charm then this article is for you.
There are all sorts of issues that can arise in a 100 year old home however it’s amazing how many of these homes have been taken care of. Most of these have been treated as homes and updated accordingly as opposed to a quick flip with the cheap Home Depot finishings. The dramatic rise of property values in this city has allowed many people to borrow against their mortgages and update their homes properly before selling.
Some bigger issues you need to keep an eye out for with these 1920’s homes are – outdated electrical, older plumbing, foundation issues with piers that need to be rebuilt and of course termite damage.
Foundation problems are not an insurance issue however it’s definitely possible to negotiate a seller credit or price reduction so you can take care of it after closing. Termite damage is similar – some lenders require a clean WDO (Wood Damaging Organisms) report to close. In that case we could need to get the seller to agree to tent the house or sometimes it’s allowed to let us set it up after closing within a certain time period.
The nice thing is – some of these things can be negotiated when under contract since homes in Florida need to pass a 4 point inspection to make sure they’re insurable. A 4 point inspection is to make sure the 4 major systems – Roof, Plumbing, HVAC and Electrical are all in insurable condition. It’s extremely important to have a knowledgeable inspector on your side so we can negotiate the proper repairs and prepare you for any issues that you may need to budget for in the future. I’m more than happy to refer my go to inspector when we’re under contract, I’ve been working with his team since I started in 2014 and always had great experiences.
With all that said, let’s get started! If you enjoy this article feel free to text me any of your questions here. We can also set up a time for a phone call if you prefer! OK here we go.
4. The Charm!
I never really experienced historic homes until I moved here. There is something slightly magical about a historic 1920’s home that has been preserved and/or renovated to reflect the feeling of a simpler time. These Craftsman style bungalows were built by people who took pride in their work. Instead of mass produced homes that have no character, these bungalows have intricate woodwork, built in shelving, typically front porches and many times a backyard that has great use of a small space.
I love when I see these homes decorated from a different time period. Clawfoot bathtubs, gas stoves, mosaic floor tiles and lots of windows are typically the norm however some people take it a step further to include furnishings that really reflect various parts of the 20th century. Some of my favorite homes have incorporated mid-century modern couches, open kitchen shelving to show off antique dishware, vinyl record players and various forms of art. All of which make these bungalows feel more like a cozy home than just a place to live.
3. The Neighborhoods!
St. Pete was originally built to be centered around the Downtown area. Our Downtown has only recently become a world class place to live and visit. How cool is it that our modern Downtown is surrounded by beautiful historic neighborhoods with mature trees and brick lined roads?
Since these homes are typically a labor of love, the people that own them seem to take immense pride in their ownership of these historic homes which are pieces of our cities history. I’ve found that some of the friendliest people live in these neighborhoods, possibly because they have local establishments included. Here’s some examples.
Old Southeast has a local neighborhood market and also a beautiful historic St. Pete restaurant – The Chattaway. They also have a community garden where you can rent out a plot of land and garden with your neighbors.
Old Northeast has The Old Northeast Tavern as well as a coffeeshop and pizza place located in the same plaza. Old NE is also a neighborhood that has a community garden and even a little free library which serves as a book exchange.
Historic Uptown only recently developed their commercial space. What used to be a run down laundromat is now home to a cafe, yoga studio, general store and next door is a converted garage which is now a restaurant – The Bier Boutique.
Both Historic Kenwood and Palmetto Park are walking distance to the rapidly developing Grand Central District where you’ll find most all of St. Pete’s breweries, a few wine bars, fun restaurants with large patios and even a dog bar.
Crescent Heights is home to one of the most beautiful parks in the city – Crescent Lake, which is the perfect place to go for a stroll, play some tennis or visit the dog park.
2. The Proximity To Downtown!
I had mentioned this at the beginning of the article – most of our best historic neighborhoods are within a mile or two of Downtown St. Pete. There is something to be said about not having to get into your car to go have fun. If you don’t have to commute from work you could essentially live here without a car. There are multiple grocery stores, small retail like Walgreens, probably over 100 restaurants with a few miles and lots of open space to get your exercise in.
I personally love biking through these historic neighborhoods. It’s the perfect way to experience these areas – lots of architecture to look at and a bit of breeze to keep you cool. You can reach pretty much anywhere in Downtown in under 10 minutes on a bike plus there are sidewalks, bike lanes and The Pinellas Trail to reduce your chances of getting hit by a car.
I will also mention there are other beautiful historic neighborhoods that aren’t super close to Downtown – Allendale and Jungle Prada come to mind. Allendale being a bit north which is close to all the conveniences along 4th Street and Jungle Prada which is on the other side of St. Pete – only minutes from the beach.
1. The People!
Like I said before – the people that live in these neighborhoods typically have pride of ownership in their homes. I have no data to back this but I believe that the vast majority of these neighborhoods are filled with owners instead of renters. These areas are more expensive which means that there’s more of the type of people who can afford what they want as opposed to investors looking to buy a property for a return.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with renters but neighborhoods become more established when there are people that are invested in being there for a long time.
On a similar note – what’s awesome about these historic neighborhoods is that many of them have legal rental units that have been grandfathered into the zoning. You can buy a home with a legal apartment to rent out and supplement your mortgage payment if you choose. These are sometimes referred to as “carriage houses” because back in the day some people would get around via horse and buggy and have their staff live in the apartment above the horse stable. In fact the first house I ever sold in St. Pete had this set up. There were still barn doors attached to the bottom level which was then converted into another apartment.
If you’re curious about the types of people that live in these neighborhoods, I’d highly recommend watching a few of these neighborhood videos that were commissioned by the city a few years back where they interview residents and give a brief overview of the area. I have them embedded into this article I wrote a few years back!
Like anything in life – you typically get what you pay for. When it comes to real estate, it usually pays to live in a location that’s important to you, even if that means a bit higher costs on upkeep and insurance for a historic home.
St. Pete is an amazing place to put down roots. If you plan on putting down roots here then you might as well get exactly what you want. I firmly believe that you can’t rush these things. I work with anyone which allows me to sometimes find buyers that find their home on the first try, or others who take much longer to find the right place. Either way, it’s the biggest financial decision of your life so you need to take however long you need to to get it right. You’ll also need an agent who is flexible enough to show you homes as soon as you can see them. This makes all the difference in the world when finding your home in this competitive market. It’s really easy to miss out on the right opportunities if you don’t have an agent that is ready to move as quick as you are.
With that said – In this market you will many times encounter multiple offer situations. Some of the most beautiful homes go under contract within the first day or two. There are certain tactics that I’ll advise you on in that situation to give us the best chance of winning the contract. We will help you prepare accordingly and suggest the best ways to write a strong offer when you find the house that you feel would best fit your lifestyle.
We are here for you when you’re ready! Feel free to text or call me to get this process started or leave your contact info below and we’ll reach out to you ASAP. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter here where we will send you a quick real estate update and links to our current blogs. Thanks for reading and have a good day!