Best Practices for Historic Homes with TJ Pierce and Michelle Drum


Today’s episode is all about historic homes. These homes have unique architecture and features that set them apart. Monica interviews two different guests about mid-century homes and antique homes. They share information about what REALTORS® should know when it comes to renovating and listing these properties.

TJ Pierce: Mid-Century Homes

Homes older than 50 years are now considered historic homes. These mid-century homes are homes that were built in the ’50s and ’60s, with the more technical definition spanning 1947–1972. These homes followed specific architectural trends (usually a ranch style home). These homes were built so people could stay in them for their whole lives and shared many common features. While the time frame is the biggest qualifier for a mid-century home, TJ shares some of the other common characteristics of these homes.

The architect is very important for mid-century enthusiasts. There are two different approaches: mass production and the nuance of an architect-grade home. Builders were putting up homes at a rapid rate for Vets returning from war, as well as more individualized homes for important people and the common person.

When it comes to renovating these homes, the best practice kind of falls on two different ends of a spectrum. Some people prefer an untouched home to re-enhance the original features, while others like to keep the structure but bring in new features. If you choose to renovate, you’ll get the best premium if you keep renovations era-appropriate.

Monica and TJ discuss listing these homes, and whether sellers should renovate before they list it on the market. There are many mid-century experts that can provide tips and ideas for ways to update your home appropriately. As REALTORS®, if you understand mid-century architecture or have an expert who does, it may be worth it to update it before listing. If not, it may be better to let someone else come in and do the work.

To market these homes, it may be beneficial to make some connections with other people who already market to the mid-century enthusiast community with other products. It’s also important to use the appropriate hashtags on social media. In many markets across the country, if you have a listing that has the mid-century style, find those experts and agents to network with.

TJ shares many resources that are linked below that provide great content on mid-century architecture and homes. He also shares why they started their company, and how they seek to help the people in their local market and across the globe.

Michelle Drum: Older Homes

This portion of the episode focuses on homes that were built in the 1800s and early 1900s. When looking for older houses, it really comes down to structure and stability. Some of the most important structural things to look for when listing an antique house are pest infestation and authentic features.

Michelle talks about her own home renovation property, and how she and her husband curated it to be as authentic as possible for the next generation. The story of a property is essential for REALTORS® when it comes to listing these homes. When people are looking for an old home, they’re looking for a story, not just a building.

As an agent, you can help buyers find the story by going back to look at the deeds or historians to see if you can give a name to the house. It will give it a complexity that other properties don’t have. Creating these connections between historians and agents can be very beneficial.

Michelle talks about some of the renovation/restoration considerations for older homes. When people want to update an older home with modern amenities, some of the most important things to consider are flooring and color schemes.

Michelle shares some best practices for listing an older home. The number of bathrooms is usually an issue — she recommends having an original floor plan, and also one with some proposed changes a buyer could make to make it more family-friendly. You may also want to get a quote for central A/C. Anything to get ambiguity off the table will help the listing. Antique houses can also be hard to photograph, so you want to make sure you consider room size, lighting, etc.

It is good to give some of the story in the MLS listing. You can share the rest of the story and history of the property at the showing. Putting your home on the national registry won’t necessarily increase the value. If a property becomes part of the city's historic register, it may increase the value a little bit.

Michelle shares some of the resources she has for people who want to learn about old homes. Most states have a Historical Preservation Commission, and you can also connect with lecturers and builders to learn more about the architecture and style of these older homes.

Everybody should find what they love, and really dig deep to learn as much about it as you can. This will bring in buyers and sellers for your career.

About TJ Pierce

TJ Pierce is the owner and team lead of a real estate company based in Boise Idaho called Mid-Century Homes. He is also a co-host to a podcast called Next Up — Mid-Century Homes, which focuses on the people, the places, and the work of folks that are making an impact in the world of mid-century design and architecture.

TJ and his team spend as much of their waking time as possible helping make mid-century dreams come true and you can find out more about their work on the web at or you can find them on Facebook and Instagram @boisemidcebturyhomes.

About Michelle Drum

Michelle Drum specializes in the sale of historic and coastal properties in Rhode Island. She lives in a nationally registered schoolhouse that she and her husband are always in the process of restoring. She puts her Ivy League education in Historic Preservation to good use helping buyers and sellers.

Mid-century Homes

Older Homes