Historic Homes: Buy with Your Head as Well as Your Heart

Old metal - iron, handle on a wooden door.

Historic Homes: Buy with Your Head as Well as Your Heart

I’d like to recommend a few real estate-related movies that you may find both entertaining and instructive if you:

A) are considering the purchase of a historic home
B) have ever struggled to maintain budget and dignity while
making home improvements, and/or
C) enjoy classic movies and schadenfreude (the German term
for the sadistic pleasure one receives from witnessing the troubles, failures
or humiliations of others).

If, however, you have already made the recent purchase of a historic home, I recommend you skip this article in favor of reading any other section of this paper… even the obituaries.

First, let’s review “George Washington Slept Here,” a 1942 comedy movie based on a hit Broadway play. It stars comedian Jack Benny, Ann Sheridan and Hattie McDaniel, who is famed for her Academy Award winning role in Gone with the Wind.

When Bill and Connie Fuller (portrayed by Benny and Sheridan) are forced from their Manhattan apartment because their pet dog Terry (aka Toto from the Wizard of Oz) destroys an expensive rug, antique collector Connie—to her husband’s surprise and chagrin—buys a dilapidated, 200 year-old country house that George Washington purportedly slept in.

Slapstick hilarity ensues as the couple struggles to address desperately needed but seemingly endless home renovation needs while striving to avoid bankruptcy and foreclosure.

This movie is strong with schadenfreude and made me laugh out loud. Apparently I never tire of watching Jack Benny unexpectedly fall through rotten flooring, even though this would be horrific in real life.

A few years later, in 1948, the comedy film “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” was released. The movie, which stars Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, is based on a true story that was turned into a bestselling 1946 novel, and the film was a box office hit upon its release.

The plot is similar to “George Washington Slept Here,” except this time it’s the husband’s bright idea to purchase a historic home. Jim Blandings (Cary Grant), is an advertising executive who lives in cramped
quarters with his wife Muriel and two daughters in a tiny New York apartment with one small bathroom.

Muriel wants to knock out a wall and remodel their apartment for $7,000 (about $80,000 in today’s money), but Mr. Blandings balks and instead gets excited to purchase and “fix up” a dilapidated, leaning, nearly 200-year old farmhouse on 35 acres in Connecticut.

The couple subsequently learns that the Revolutionary War era home is structurally unsound (which anyone but them could clearly see with a single head-tilted glance) and must be torn down.

Already invested and committed, the Blandings react by hiring an architect to design and supervise the construction of a new home.
This results in mounting pressure and skyrocketing expenses. According to Wikipedia: “From the original purchase to the new house’s completion, a long litany of unforeseen troubles and setbacks, including digging a well, beset the hapless Blandings and delay their moving-in date,” causing Mr. Blandings to seriously question why he ever wanted to live in the country in the first place.

Do you see the real estate theme emerging here? Either way, let’s consider one final exhibit: the 1987 romantic comedy “Baby Boom,” staring Diane Keaton.

Keaton plays J. C. Wiatt, a driven Manhattan career woman who, despite her summa cum laude Ivy League MBA education and shrewd business acumen and experience, reacts to a series of unforeseen circumstances by deciding to trade her yuppie New York City ways—and her glass, leather and chrome-filled high rise apartment—for an old Vermont country “estate” on 60 some acres, which she buys sight-unseen and without inspection.

She subsequently discovers that the country house is riddled with unexpected problems including a bad roof, a dried up well, and failing plumbing and heating, which drive her to the edge of a nervous breakdown.

While all these movies have Hollywood happy endings, it seems people have an enduring fascination with the trials and tribulations of those who purchase and love older homes, which often require ongoing love and attention. This theme has been the basis for bestselling novels, popular Broadway plays, and numerous box office hit films.

And the fascination continues with no end in sight. Consider that “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” has already been remade twice, first in 1986 as “The Money Pit,” starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, and again in 2007 as “Are We Done Yet?” starring Ice Cube.

So what’s the bottom line?

President Harry S. Truman once said, “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own.”
Similarly, as a homeowner, it’s only schadenfreude and humorous when it’s someone else—not you—who is struggling to maintain budget, dignity and sanity while stepping through rotted floorboards and making seemingly unending home improvements.

Many of us—especially in New England—are drawn to historic homes, which can be beautiful, alluring and unique. But acknowledge that historic homes can also require unconditional love and ongoing maintenance. Remember that “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” was based on a true story. In that story, Mr. Blandings’ friend and lawyer chastises him for buying with his heart rather than his head.

Historic homes can offer charm, character and history that many find lacking in modern construction, but if you want your historic home story to have a happy ending, don’t be a reactionary buyer, like the characters in these films. It’s easy to fall in love with a historic home, but use your head as well as your heart. Expect the unexpected when looking to invest in a historic home. Maintain a budget for things like replacing old roofs, furnaces and more. And before buying a historic home, be sure to retain a qualified home
inspector who has experience with older houses. Don’t be afraid to shop around before choosing an inspector. My favorite inspectors also have prior backgrounds as builders.

If you need help buying or selling a home, historic or otherwise, give me a call. My job is to turn “This Old House,” into “This SOLD
House!”

Brent Metzger | NH Realtor | Roche Realty Group, Inc.Brent Metzger is a Realtor® with Roche Realty Group in Meredith. He can be reached at (603) 229-8322 or brent@rocherealty.com

To learn more about the market for new and historic homes in the Lakes Region, visit www.Rocherealty.com.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on reddit
Share on pinterest
Picture of NH condominium home with pool

Affordable Housing is Always in Demand

There’s a lot of talk lately about the lack of affordable housing in the Lakes …

Read More →
Kitchen renovation

Small Improvements Make a Big Difference

During this past spring and summer, a large number of homeowners throughout the Lakes Region …

Read More →
Sales Volume and Prices of Luxury Homes Raising Nationally

Sales Volume and Prices of Luxury Homes Raising Nationally

Many national headlines are talking about the booming high-end vacation home market, in addition to …

Read More →
Support Small Businesses

Are we seeing a retail apocalypse?

During this past summer, I have been talking mainly about the exploding residential real estate …

Read More →
House and cash on a balance scale

Tips for Buyers in a “Seller’s Market”

We are currently experiencing a strong seller’s market here in the Lakes Region. 2020 has …

Read More →
Randy Miller Joins Roche Realty Group

Randy Miller Joins Roche Realty Group

Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc. with offices in Meredith and Laconia, is …

Read More →
Picture of a carpenter working on a floor

Lakes Region Construction Activity Update

It has been a wild summer out here in the Real Estate industry!  I thought …

Read More →
The Opera House in Laconia NH

The Vision behind the “Opera House” Renovation: Revitalization of the Lakeport Area

There is a lot of excitement brewing in the Lakeport area! Previously shuttered for decades, …

Read More →

Roche Realty Group Sells Trustworthy Hardware Building

Laconia – Tom Drouin of Roche Realty Group represented both the Seller and the Buyer of …

Read More →
Highland Ridge

Strong Demand at Highland Ridge With 20 Home Sales.

Sales of newly constructed homes throughout the Lakes Region have been very brisk the past …

Read More →
Hikers overlooking the lake in New Hampshire, voted "Best State to Live in America" in 2020.

New Hampshire Leads the Pack Again!

New Hampshire Leads the Pack Again! A recent article on moneywise by Esther Trattner showed …

Read More →

Hot Markets Around Lake Tahoe and Lake Winnipesaukee

I was reading a recent article on CNBC by Robert Frank the other day where …

Read More →
NH River Kayaking

Rolling down the river

A month and a half ago, we had a fun kayaking trip down the Merrimac …

Read More →

Historic Landmark is a Focal Point of Windward Harbor on Lake Winnipesaukee

Visitors to Lake Winnipesaukee have long recognized the special qualities of Windward Harbor. Its deep …

Read More →
South Down Shores on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

How Did South Down Shores and Long Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee Get Started?

When construction started in 1981, Laconia’s South Down Farm offered an ideal picturesque setting for …

Read More →
Balmoral on Lake Winnipesaukee

Four Season Living at Balmoral on Lake Winnipesaukee

There are so many water-access communities in the Lakes Region that provide great memories. Let’s …

Read More →

An Overview of Governor’s Island on Lake Winnipesaukee

Find Governor’s Island Homes for Sale The Lakes Region is known for its abundance of …

Read More →
Suissevale on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Suissevale: A Desirable Community on Lake Winnipesaukee in Moultonborough

When you navigate the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, there’s 71 square miles of water and 274 …

Read More →
Gunstock Acres in Gilford, NH

Gunstock Acres in Gilford: A Popular Water Access Community

Find homes for sale in Gunstock Acres We have so many interesting communities in the …

Read More →
The docks at South Down Shores in Laconia

The Impact of Second Homes in the Lakes Region

As I drive around the Lakes Region during this period of social distancing, I’ve been …

Read More →
At the top of Piper Mountain, New Hampshire

Hiking in New Hampshire

Hiking is an excellent (and free!) way to stay in shape, and the awesome feeling …

Read More →
Wolfeboro NH

Thankful to be Living in New Hampshire During This Difficult Period

All of us in the Lakes Region have seen a tremendous impact to our lifestyles …

Read More →

How we are embracing technology to continue to serve our clients and customers during this COVID-19 outbreak

The fast-spreading Coronavirus has created an enormous impact on all of us. Draconian measures to …

Read More →
Roche Realty Group Meredith Office

Roche Realty Group Reports Sales of $130.4 Million for 2019

Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc with offices in Meredith and Laconia, has …

Read More →
Kevin Shaw Realtor

Kevin Shaw of Roche Realty Group, Inc. Produces $36.6 Million in Sales for 2019

Laconia, NH – Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group with offices in Meredith and Laconia, …

Read More →
Warming feet by a fire at home

Home and Holiday

If you think about it, many classic Christmas songs (and movies) are centered on the …

Read More →
Thanksgiving for NH

Thanksgiving for New Hampshire

We have so many reasons to be thankful to live in New Hampshire. I have …

Read More →

There are many reasons to live in New Hampshire

It is said that the three most important words in real estate are “location, location, …

Read More →

2019 Parade of Homes to be held October 12-14

Get inspired this weekend with the latest in building trends and innovations! The 2019 Parade …

Read More →
White Oak Motel and Lakefront Cottages Sold

White Oak Motel and Lakefront Cottages Sold

Holderness– The White Oak Motel and Lakefront Cottages located on White Oak Pond has recently …

Read More →

Lakes Region real estate activity for the first 8 months has been strong

Article by Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group.    Real Estate activity for the …

Read More →

Historic Homes: Buy with Your Head as Well as Your Heart

Historic Homes: Buy with Your Head as Well as Your Heart I’d like to recommend …

Read More →
Northeast Storage has purchased a commercial building located at 57 Reservoir Road.

Northeast Storage purchases unique Reservoir Road building in Meredith

MEREDITH — Northeast Storage has purchased a commercial building located at 57 Reservoir Road. Tom …

Read More →
111 Church Street, Laconia

Former Lakes Region mental health building listed and sold by Roche Realty Group

LACONIA — Rick Hagan of Roche Realty Group in Meredith, NH represented the seller, Lakes …

Read More →

Live where others dream of vacationing

https://youtu.be/7G5Z4QRBzzc Weirs Beach is a recreation destination with something for everyone, including beautiful lake and …

Read More →
Gilford, NH landmark former restaurant sold

Former well-known restaurant in Gilford recently sold

Gilford, NH – A local Gilford landmark built in 1975 and operated as a restaurant …

Read More →
Lakes Region NH

Tips for buying a home in the Lakes Region

New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is an amazing place to own a home, whether it’s your …

Read More →
South Down Shores, a gated community on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Kevin Shaw of Roche Realty Group Inc. Produces Over $20 Million in Sales For 1st Half of 2019

Laconia- Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group Inc with offices in Meredith and Laconia, …

Read More →

Lakes Region full throttle during Motorcycle Week

You can already feel the area rumbling with visitors and activity this week as the …

Read More →

Is home ownership right for you?

There are advantages to both buying and renting, depending on your current lifestyle and financial …

Read More →

New Hampshire Ranked #2 Best State in the USA for 2019

The good news is out! New Hampshire as a state performed exceptionally well in a …

Read More →
explore nh lakes

Winnipesaukee Waterfront Sales Activity Spring 2019

The weather is getting warmer, the “Big Lake” is thawing out and the real estate …

Read More →
searching for homes on the internet

The homebuyer’s online search is like online dating

Searching for homes online can be a lot like trying to find love through online …

Read More →

The Importance of Getting Pre-Approved for Your Home Mortgage

If you want to be an attractive buyer in a competitive housing market, you’ll definitely …

Read More →
Lake Winnipesaukee, Moultonborough, NH

Moultonborough homes sold at highest prices, fastest pace ever

It’s a historical time to sell a single-family home in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. Data suggest …

Read More →
For sale by owner sign next to a house

For Sale By Owner? The facts about risk and reward

If you’re trying the “For Sale By Owner” (also known as FSBO/fizbo) approach to selling …

Read More →

What to do if your listing expires

Expired listings are a frustrating reality in real estate. If you want to change the …

Read More →
Meredith, New Hampshire

Window of opportunity open for Meredith home sellers

If you own a single family home in Meredith and have been waiting for a …

Read More →
Gilford, NH

It’s an unrivaled time to sell your single family home in Gilford

If you own a single-family home in Gilford, it’s an unequalled time to sell. It’s …

Read More →

Why it’s a great time to sell your home in Laconia

If you own a single-family home or condominium in Laconia, it might be a great …

Read More →

Leave a Comment