The Trade Show Files: Considerations When Selling and Renovating Your Older Home with Tom Landry

With the 2019 Old House Trade Show rapidly approaching, we’re taking a moment to chat with a few REALTORS® participating in the show to get their perspectives on working with historic homes—and to learn about what buyers and homeowners might expect in the process of buying, selling, or renovating an older home. Read our conversation with Tom Landry below, of Benchmark Real Estate and CornerStone Building & Restoration. Both Benchmark and CornerStone are Preservation Sponsors at Landmarks, and the Benchmark team will be joining us as a Corner Sponsor for this year’s show.

Tom Landy of Benchmark Real Estate and CornerStone Building & Restoration

Tom Landy of Benchmark Real Estate and CornerStone Building & Restoration

Landmarks: Hi, Tom! How is the sales process different for buyers and homeowners when working when working with an older home? 

Tom: Buyers love older homes for their character, charm, unique architectural details, and history. When selling an older home, the marketing needs to prominently highlight these aspects of the property to tell its unique story, something we feel is essential to ensure buyers understand why the home is worth what we’re asking. This means researching the history of a home and understanding the significance and value of details like original molding, stained glass windows, or built-ins.  

To help us navigate buyer questions, we ensure we have a firm understanding of how any historic district or designation may impact the home’s value when determining a list price and to assist in future negotiations. In addition, completing property disclosures for an older home takes more rigor - and sometimes consultation with outside home experts - to reduce any surprises in inspections. And lastly, we often end up working with the seller to make updates and repairs before their home hits the market to ward off fears related to things like old wiring, mold, roof leaks or another one of the issues that commonly arise during the inspection of an older home.  

The Forbes-Webber House    in Portland, a historic home built in 1835

The Forbes-Webber House in Portland, a historic home built in 1835

Landmarks: Do you work with any interior designers to make the home ready for sale? 

Tom: Sometimes we do. It really depends on the condition of the home, the seller’s budget for repairs or edits to the home, and current market conditions. There is no limit to the renovations and upgrades that can be done to an older home, so there is always a debate about what level of changes are needed to sell for what the owner wants. Unless the home requires a major renovation, we tend to use home staging/decorating professionals instead to provide another informed opinion and ensure the home shows the best it can that first day on the market.  

Landmarks: You also own a restoration company. How do the historic elements of the home influence the renovation process?  

Tom: We always want to work around, preserve, and restore any historic features like built-ins, trim, fireplaces, mantels and windows for example. So, it becomes a balance between salvaging these details and bringing the home up to the standards of modern living. The vast majority of older home owners want modern and open kitchens and baths. When working within an older and more compartmentalized structure, this can prove to be a big challenge and often requires taking down walls, moving bathrooms, staircases, windows…you name it. This takes special care and attention to ensure historic details are preserved, which ultimately increases renovation time and price.  

Below: Before and after a CornerStone restoration project in Portland’s East End


Landmarks: What strategies do you use to make an older home like this more energy efficient? 

Tom: There are many things that can be done. Unless an owner has an unlimited budget (not likely), we always recommend a home energy audit to determine the best areas to focus on. This often includes installing interior storm windows, considering spray foam in basements and walls, adding supplemental heat in locations like bedrooms and kitchens, upgrading heating systems, and addressing drafty elements like pocket doors and fireplaces.   

 Thanks for chatting with us, Tom! To learn more about the real estate and renovation process as a buyer or homeowner, be sure to visit Benchmark Real Estate at the 2019 Old House Trade Show, coming up on March 30th and 31st in Portland.

Learn more about Benchmark Real Estate at and CornerStone Building and Restoration at