While buying an old home comes with some downsides, there may be an unexpected bounty waiting for the diligent homeowner — gold and other valuables are sometimes hidden and then forgotten in various nooks and crannies. That’s right, according to GoldRefiners.com, it’s not uncommon for people to leave behind valuables due to illness, death or simple forgetfulness.
Keep in mind that the older the home, the less likely people had the kinds of storage that most of us take for granted today, said Jeff Johnson, a real estate agent and acquisition manager of How To Sell House Fast.
“There was little to no concept of storing valuables in safes or banks a couple hundred years ago. So, the only place where individuals could store items was a discreet area in their home,” he said.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common places to check for treasure in your old home.
Behind Loose Bricks
Johnson said, “Stashing gold, or other expensive items behind loose bricks around the fireplace was common in olden days.” So, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find some hidden treasure behind a brick wall in your home. He recommends you tap on the walls; a hollow sound may mean that there’s something behind it waiting to be found.
Another common place to hide valuables is under floorboards, Johnson said. “Sometimes, people even had a door under the floorboards that led to a secret basement. So, you can search for crowbar scars or other signs that may indicate the floorboards were pried open previously.”
Additionally, small valuables could have slipped accidentally between floorboards, according to Leonard Ang, the CEO of iPropertyManagement.
“Rings, earrings, cufflinks, and pendants on slim chains are all the kinds of things that could slip through the cracks in a floorboard, bounce down a staircase into some obscure corner, or slip right into a heat vent. The big advantage of searching in this way is that it avoids the obvious.”
Check for hidden valuables in the tanks of toilet seats, said Tim Schroeder, licensed realtor and owner of Agent Marketing Essentials. “They are a perfect spot to find something in old homes because people could keep an eye on it.”
Another place people tend to hide valuable possessions was the basement walls, Schroeder added. “Check for loose bricks to find gold jewelry or money hidden behind them.”
Old, built-in cabinets might also have hidden compartments, Schroeder said. Knock on cabinets to listen for hollow hiding spaces. “They are the perfect place to find ancestral jewelry.”
Inside Hollow Beds
Andy Kolodgie, real estate expert and owner of Sell My House Fast said when it comes to looking for valuables, he’d think like a James Bond villain and go where they would go: to hollow beds, particularly old ones.
Kolodgie added, particularly for small or thin items like cash or jewelry, “You can embrace optimism and look for gold behind tacky wallpapers and loose bricks. If Al Pacino can hide his safe behind a fake wall in ‘Scarface,’ then why can’t normal people?”
Buried in Flower Gardens
Lastly, Kolodgie said “a creative way to hide your treasure” is to bury it in a garden. “[The garden] makes the house look beautiful, even though no one can see it. You can dig the whole yard to take home some gold — if found — or some flowers.”
Under Paving Stones
The heavy stones people lay down for paths in gardens or around the house are another likely source of hidden treasure, said GoldRefiners.com. Not only are they heavy to lift, deterring a casual thief, the owner of the valuables could have buried them deep in the soil below.
Fireplaces, Siding and Couch Cushions
There are numerous places to hide valuables, said Dustin Fox, realtor and owner of Fox Homes. “Some common places for hiding valuables are behind wallpaper, inside couch and chair cushions, or behind loose bricks around fireplaces. People also like to hide valuables under steps, siding, and shingles.”
Under the Bath
In older properties that have yet to have a bathroom upgrade, you often find baths with acrylic side panels, said Liz Hulz, real estate expert, investor and the co-owner of The House Guys. “Inauspicious as they are, the panels are mostly overlooked. Easy to remove and with plenty of space, they provide a safe and invisible storage spot to hide treasures.”
Hulz added, “The kitchen has a lot of opportunities for hiding away valuables but there are two spots that were ingenious. Checking the dimensions of cupboard interiors can give away the location of a hidden spot at the back. Another interesting spot in the kitchen is behind the skirting board.”
Not every hiding spot is a mystery, according to Jasen Edwards, editor at Agent Advice. “I personally know someone that stores all their gold coins and bullion bars in their bedside cabinets. I find it astounding that many people choose to keep their prized possessions in the most glaringly obvious places. They feel it helps them to sleep at night.”
Inside Chicken Coops
According to GoldRefiners.com, another place to check for unexpected treasure is inside old chicken coops — even better if there are still chickens in them, which make a great distraction from hidden valuables.
Outhouses or Barns
What better sleight of hand for hiding something you don’t want found than a stinky old outhouse? Before you demolish one of these on your property, do some investigating (carefully). Similarly, old barns are often full of hiding nooks, from floors to lofts to animal stalls.
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