Beloved ‘Cheap Old Houses’ Instagram Account Now an HGTV Show
With the real estate market hotter than ever, it can be difficult for potential buyers to imagine finding a home with good bones, history and character, all for less than $ 150,000. But these affordable, diamond-in-the-rough residences are exactly the kind featured on @CheapOldHouses, an Instagram account and subscription newsletter created by husband and wife Elizabeth and Ethan Finkelstein. (You probably recognize Elisabeth’s name — she is a long-time contributor to Country life and our favorite hunter from old house real estate ads!) “We both grew up with old houses in our lives, ”says Elizabeth. “My family arranged an 1850s Greek Revival and Ethan spent his summers in a 1700s house on the 200 acre family farm in New Hampshire. We both still love a good repairman and have always kept our eyes peeled for them. “
The couple launched their Instagram account as a pet project, a place to show homes for sale that need a little attention but are bursting with potential. “We wanted more people to see the amazing details of old homes that can be overlooked when the ads don’t have professional photography,” says Elizabeth, who has a master’s degree in historic preservation. “It was important to us that these special homes were found by the right people. Instagram is full of ‘after’ photos, and we thought we would bring ‘before’.” The account quickly found an audience of historic home enthusiasts (Jennifer garner among them) and reached 1.6 million followers, a number that is sure to grow with the premiere of their new HGTV show, also titled Cheap old houses.
The season sees Elizabeth and Ethan scour the country in their vintage “Old Blue” truck in search of the best inexpensive old houses on the market today. In each episode, the couple walk through two real estate gems, exclaiming over architectural landmarks, sharing the history of the house, and, useful for those new to renovating, imagining ways to restore each property using 3D graphics. “For me, a big old house still has a lot of original details, even if they are not in good condition,” says Elizabeth. “It should look like a time capsule.”
In each episode, the couple also visit homeowners who have already restored their own properties to learn more about the process and see the end results. “What we’re hoping to do with this show is introduce viewers to the real amazing people who are saving their money to work on these houses piece by piece,” Elizabeth said. “It’s so inspiring.”
“At the end of the day, the people who restore these places are also investing in more than just the old houses,” Ethan adds. “They are committed to the communities and local businesses around them. During filming, we discovered that historic homes are a great connection – everyone has an old house in their life that they love – and that is so much fun to see the country through those eyes. “
Cheap Old Houses will air Monday, August 9 at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV and can be streamed via discovery +
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