While every house flipping TV show is usually special in its own way, we can’t deny the genre’s popularity has caused many series to come and go without leaving much of a mark in people’s lives. Nonetheless, no matter how competitive the genre is these days, it’s certain that if a show is well-thought out and original, then it’s meant to become memorable.
Despite it being a recently premiered show, HGTV’s “Cheap Old Houses” fits the latter’s description well. Together, Elizabeth and Ethan Finkelstein search, explore and promote the best old houses in the US, always keeping in mind the preservation of their historical value, but making sure their potential to become a real and warm home is there.
Though only one season of “Cheap Old Houses” has aired so far, the fact that no news about its possible renewal has yet been announced have people wondering if the show has definitely ended. So whatever happened to it? Keep with us to know it all!
Was The Show Canceled?
Premiered in July 2021, HGTVs “Cheap Old Houses” was what every follower of Elizabeth and Ethan Finkelstein expected. With a fresh concept, beautiful historical houses and charismatic stars, the audience couldn’t help but fall in love with the show.
However, after the ten episode-long season wrapped up in early September that year, no further news about its renewal has been released, leaving the show’s future uncertain.
That being said, the Finkelsteins Instagram account still has the series’ promotional text on their biography, which despite not being that much, keeps our hopes of seeing the show back on air live. Nonetheless, only time will tell what will happen to it.
Though just one season old, the show has already taken the attention of big names in the media industry. Of course, not everyone is into old houses, but the passion and love for historical properties and the stories behind them is exactly what makes Elizabeth and Ethan Finkelstein’s show so alluring.
As Architectural Digest affirmed, “Old Cheap Houses” takes ‘a refreshingly different approach’ to the genre of home renovation shows, which for years has been more about ‘out with the old, in with the new’, leaving forgotten important aspects about the history of each house.
By setting their show apart from others, the Finkelsteins have found their niche on TV, in addition to helping their Instagram business of the same name grow rapidly. That being said, not everyone who watches “Cheap Old Houses” is necessarily looking to buy an historical house, but they’re people who are most-likely ‘interested in houses that are going to give them projects’, as Elizabeth describes: ‘Maybe they don’t have their dream kitchen on day one, but the closing costs are low enough that they can get in and save up for one.’
All in all, “Cheap Old Houses” is not the first show about buying properties that has aired on TV, but it’s special in its own original way.
What Is Their Business About?
While Elizabeth and Ethan have achieved huge fame thanks to their show, the truth is that HGTV’s “Cheap Old Houses” is only a continuation of years of work, effort and dedication that the couple has put into their business.
As it happens, the Finkelsteins’ Instagram account Cheap Old Houses has been catching the attention of not only fans of architecture, design and history, but also of those who are actually in need of finding a not-so-expensive home. On their Instagram profile, Elizabeth and Ethan continuously post their favorite old houses, which could be either on sale or bid, with the condition that the property’s market value must be $150,000 or less.
Though at first sight Cheap Old Houses might give off the impression of an agency, it’s important to clear up that their Instagram account and website are in no way selling these houses directly.
Their purpose is solely advertising the availability of these properties, always giving their followers the direct contact information of the real estate agents in charge of selling the houses – it’s unclear if the Finkelsteins receive any financial compensation for the promotions, but their home listing service is under paid subscription.
As the Finkelsteins state on their website, their purpose is to make people realize that they ‘don’t actually need to buy a million dollar house and go into extreme debt to live a satisfying and beautiful life’, and that’s inspiring enough for us.
Who Are Elizabeth & Ethan?
You’ve probably already assumed that the Finkelsteins are either fans of design, houses, history or all of these at the same time. While those assumptions are certainly true, Ethan and Elizabeth’s professional background goes accordingly with what they do in “Cheap Old Houses”.
A native of Queensbury, New York State, Elizabeth always had a thing for big houses and history.
Having studied Historic Preservation at Pratt Institute, her dream was always to buy a fixer-upper house similar to the one she grew up in. For his part, Ethan owns a popular digital design agency based in Brooklyn, New York City.
We could find many ways to describe how inspiring the Finkelsteins’ appear to us, on both the business and personal side. However, calling them dreamers who are ‘enchanted with the untapped beauty that is hidden in so many pockets of this country’ as they state in their website, is so much more accurate.
Unsurprisingly, years before the idea of creating the Cheap Old Houses Instagram account, the Finkelsteins already had enough experience with the real estate industry.
As it happens, Elizabeth’s dream of finding an historical fixer-upper home on sale took her to explore local New York City’s agencies. However, her lack of success at finding what she wanted through those websites eventually created an idea in her mind.
That’s how in 2013 she and Ethan ended up launching Circa Old Houses, a real estate agency specialized in selling historical houses in all price ranges. However, their agency isn’t simply looking for customers who want to spend their money on a property, they’re actually looking for buyers who want to preserve the history in these houses and give them love.
A couple of years later, Circa had grown enough for Elizabeth to start the agency’s blog series “Ten Under 50k”, on which she listed the best cheap historical properties she could find per month, though she didn’t expect her articles to become viral: ‘I stopped having to look so hard for these homes, as people started sending them to me,’ she admitted in an interview with Garden & Gun. It didn’t take long for her to grow attached to writing about these houses, eventually starting her Instagram account Cheap Old Houses in 2016.
The Finkelsteins’ dedication in creating compelling content for Cheap Old Houses eventually gained them a huge following online. That being said, it’s unsurprising that many specialized sites were looking forward to featuring the project, gaining the marriage huge fame long before the idea of creating a show about it even crossed the mind of an HGTV producer.
Starting with Jezebel’s famously describing Cheap Old Houses as ‘the Only Good Instagram Account’, and then passing on to Garden & Gun saying they are ‘inspiring people to drop everything and move across the country’, it seems that not many complicated adjectives are needed to describe how good of a job Ethan and Elizabeth are doing.
Other memorable articles about Cheap Old Houses were written by Forbes, BuzzFeed, Architectural Digest and Country Living, the latter to which Elizabeth contributes as a real estate writer.
However, if it comes to choosing the perfect way to summarize Cheap Old Houses’ impact, then Ethan and Elizabeth’s own description of ‘it started as an Instagram feed. Then it snowballed into a mass movement’, is the definitive one.
Why Is It So Alluring To Buy An Old House?
Not everyone needs to be an expert in architecture or have a top-notch taste to acknowledge the beauty of old houses. Even so, it’s one thing to love what is seen in “Cheap Old Houses” and a different one to actually buy one of these properties.
So what is it about these houses that catches the attention of people to the point of buying them? Elizabeth is convinced it has everything to do with the fact that people are changing their mindset, choosing the simple over the luxury, the tranquil over the busy, and loving the potential, instead of taking it for granted: ‘People are tired of living on the internet; these houses offer them the chance to do something tactile, to work with their hands,’ she told The Cut in 2019.
Finding an audience which appreciates the beauty of the details and the stories behind each house is important for the Finkelsteins, but making positive changes motivates them the most: ‘I feel like younger generations are starting to get wise to that, and starting to think about what ways to be responsible with the purchases that we’re making’, Elizabeth said in an Apartment Therapy interview, hitting the nail on the head of why people are buying these houses with that line.
What Happens After Someone Buys A House?
As you might have noticed, “Cheap Old Houses” isn’t your typical house-centric show. While other famous series in the genre have made a name for themselves due to their spectacular renovations, charismatic cast, or ability to make the best use of budgets, Elizabeth and Ethan have their own way of doing things.
Making use of 3D graphics and top-notch designs, the Finkelsteins show every potential homebuyer how their future old house would look if they take that big step. However, these designs are meant to give them an idea of the properties’ potential, but aren’t necessarily what the homeowners ultimately choose to do when cameras are turned off.
That being said, Ethan and Elizabeth’s mission of finding ‘preservation-minded buyers’ assure them the houses are left in good hands. However, keeping the details which make every historical property unique isn’t always a problem for the new homeowners, as their real challenge is to adapt to that new lifestyle.
As The Cut reported in 2019, the testimony of some former Cheap Old Houses’ customers proves that moving from a big city to a small town isn’t for everyone. Listing factors such as quickly-running gossip, lack of ‘phone signal, unexpected construction material prices, hardly-installable services, and even lack of privacy, it’s clear that buying an old house isn’t a bad decision, but is a choice people really need to think about thoroughly.
Did A Couple Lose Their Cheap Old House?
More often than not, old house buyers end up having happy stories about their newly-acquired properties. Other times, they struggle to keep them.
Nonetheless, Ethan and Elizabeth embrace these old house stories even when things don’t go smoothly. That’s the case of Blake and Britney Card from Wisconsin, who bought a 1800s house in Earlington, Kentucky.
Recalling the experience, it seems as if the house was calling for the Cards’ help. They had actually discovered the house by sight while visiting the town, finding it again after Cheap Old House later posted about it on their Instagram feed: ‘It was sitting there abandoned, it was like everybody kind of forgot about it’, as Blake told Parade.com.
Convinced the house needed help and not wanting to see it disappear, the Cards bought it for $15,000, mutually agreeing with the owner to pay $5,000 forward and then $500 monthly, unknowingly getting themselves into an almost impossible mission.
The cost of renovating their new 4,550 square foot house was estimated at $200,000 on the low, which isn’t surprising given the property has 22 rooms and six bathrooms. Seeing the difficulties in affording the restoration as a middle-class family, and with an impending demolition notice from the town’s attorney, the Cards started an online fundraising campaign. Unfortunately, a comment on the Cards’ Instagram account affirmed that the house was demolished in January 2021.
What Is Needed To Be In The Show?
While it’s still uncertain if “Cheap Old Houses” will be renewed for a second season, the lists of all the requirements one needs to follow, in order for their property to appear in the show, is still available on the Finkelsteins’ website.
The most important thing to consider before submitting a request is that the house needs to be old, but necessarily have historical value. The second requirement is that its market price must be under $150,000, besides needing to have at least three rooms ‘fully restored & staged/decorated’. Having a fully restored exterior isn’t necessary, but it must have some progress in that regard.
Being located in a big city or near the Finkelsteins isn’t necessary, as Ethan and Elizabeth often travel far to find their chosen houses. That being said, it’s unknown if the applications are still open, but you won’t lose anything for trying, and even better, you could have the opportunity to be in the show, when it hopefully returns.