5 Things to Know About Buying Historic Homes

While most of us have likely visited a famous historic home or two, have you ever considered owning one of your own? You won’t find any in the suburbs, but if you are house-hunting in a historic city like Charleston, SC or Washington DC the opportunities are tempting.

Buying a historic home is not a decision to take lightly. Just because it ticks the boxes for things like price, size, and location does not mean it’s the right purchase if you are not specifically in the market for a historic home.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the must-knows about buying historic homes.

How Are Historic Homes Different From Old Homes?

Although age is a factor, simply being more than 50 years old doesn’t make a house historic. According to the National Register of Historic Places, it must retain its integrity i.e. look the same as it did at the time of construction. It also needs to have significance to historic events or people.

Let’s take a look at a few things to know about owning one for yourself.

1. Be Prepared for Strict Rules and Regulations

Historic homes and neighborhoods come with preservation ordinances. There are specific laws and surrounding exterior alterations of any kind. The permitting process can also be complex.

When you are ready to sell an older home, flippers often do an aesthetic makeover and quickly sell it again to turn a profit. Due to prohibitive regulations and red tape, this is not the case with historic homes. With that said, you will likely enjoy a higher return on investment when the right buyer does come along.

2. A Fixer-Upper Versus a Faller-Downer

For a property dating back hundreds of years, it is wise to call in an inspector as well as a structural engineer who specializes in historic homes.

If the home has not been well-preserved, consider if you are prepared to tackle hazards like electrical issues, pest and termite issues, mold inundation, asbestos, and lead paint.

3. There are Financial Benefits

On the plus side, even if your historic home is in disrepair you have access to designated financial resources.

Preservation associations provide modest contributions for the upkeep and repair of historic homes. More substantial financial assistance is available through state and federal loans, grants, and tax incentives.

4. The Interiors of Historic Homes are Often Mismatched

A home that is hundreds of years own has likely seen its fair share of residents. It’s not uncommon to find a bathroom from the 80s, a kitchen from the 60s, and an addition that’s only a few years old.

Some people view this as an element of character and charm to the home, while others find it bothersome. If you fall into the latter category, you need the time and money to do a full interior remodel.

5. You Become Part of a Larger Community with a Purpose

Most historic homeowners have a genuine interest in history and a sense of pride in preserving a piece of the past. You gain the opportunity to not only love your home but share it with others through tours and philanthropic good.

Historic Homes are a Labor of Love

Buying a historic home isn’t the right choice for everyone, but there is something special about preserving a piece of the past for generations to come. If you have the necessary resources, owning a historic home is an enriching experience.

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