Millennials are Finally Buying Homes — and it's Through Instagram, of Course
Millennials are notoriously behind when it comes to buying a home. But one Instagram account may be helping to change all that.
Cheap Old Houses is an Instagram account featuring historic homes that cost no more than $100,000 to buy. And Millennials are finding these "cheap old houses" in smaller towns to be rather enticing in the age of coronavirus and remote work.
When Business Insider's Libertina Brandt interviewed Cheap Old Houses' founder, Elizabeth Finkelstein, early this year at the start of the pandemic, the Instagram account had 750,000 followers. Today, it has 1 million.
Finkelstein told Benowitz that her follower count has doubled twice its typical rate per week, but that the growth during this time doesn't surprise her. "You get this kind of feeling of escapism. It's the perfect storm of emotions," she said.
She added that the site helps make homeownership more attainable for Millennials, many of whom have plenty of time on their hands during quarantine for restoration projects.
But while the houses come cheap, the renovations don't. One 27-year-old Benowitz spoke with said she paid $18,500 for a Victorian home in West Virginia, but estimates her renovation budget to total $125,000.
Cheap Old Houses is actually an offshoot of CIRCA, a listing website for historic houses. Finkelstein told Brandt that she and her husband, Ethan, came up with the idea for the site after her parents had difficulty selling their old home and after she and Ethan struggled to find listings when they wanted to buy a historic home themselves.
Finkelstein said she wanted to bridge the gap between younger generations and historic homes. Building a strong social media presence was one way she thought she could do that, and that's how the Instagram accounts for both circahouses, which boasts 213,000 followers, and Cheap Old Houses were born.
Finkelstein told Business Insider's Brandt that she built a massive combined following across both accounts by posting frequently.
"That's really how you find out what your audience likes," she said. "I did CIRCA for several years and I realized what kind of houses people are most interested in."
The recent flood of pandemic followers certainly signals she's reached her goal of connecting Millennials with historic homes.