Buying Historical Homes

The allure of historical homes is timeless, drawing in buyers with the promise of living amidst rich stories and architectural legacies. From quaint cottages nestled in centuries-old neighborhoods to grand mansions echoing the opulence of bygone eras, these properties offer more than just a place to live—they offer a connection to the past. However, beneath the charm lie unique challenges and considerations that every prospective buyer must navigate. Exploring the intricacies of buying historical homes unveils a journey through time, where preservation meets modern living, and history intertwines with the present.

What is a historic property?

The National Register of Historic Places grants this designation based on three key criteria:

  1. Significance: Historical properties often have connections to significant events or figures, providing insights into the past, including archaeological finds.
  2. Age: Generally, historic properties must be at least 50 years old, although exceptions may apply for exceptionally valuable historical sites.
  3. Integrity: Despite their age, these properties must maintain much of their original appearance and character.

Meeting these rigorous criteria underscores the need for specialized knowledge and expertise among owners, buyers, and real estate agents involved in owning, buying, or selling genuinely historic properties.

Benefits of Buying a Historic Property

Unique Historical Charm

Owning a historic home is an exceptional experience that combines historical beauty with modern comforts. It allows history enthusiasts to immerse themselves in their community’s past and explore its heritage.

Community Preservation Commitment
Residing in a historic neighborhood extends beyond friendly neighbors; it encompasses the preservation of the area’s unique character and historical legacy. Residents in these districts share a commitment to maintaining the unique charm, even if it means making sacrifices for the sake of preservation.

Potential for Higher Property Value
Well-maintained historic homes in preserved districts often see greater appreciation in property values compared to newer homes. The appeal of these neighborhoods and ongoing revitalization efforts contribute to this trend.

Financial Support for Renovations
Financial concerns about renovating a historic home can be alleviated by exploring available grants and loans. First-time homebuyers can check for general grants, while contacting the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) can provide guidance on historic home renovation assistance. Additionally, programs like the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) from the National Trust for Historic Preservation offer tax credits for rehabilitating historic buildings, with potential tax relief through historic preservation easements.

Downsides of Owning a Historic Home

Stricter Regulations: Historic districts often have stringent rules for renovations, which can be more restrictive than homeowners associations’ guidelines.

Complicated Renovations: Renovations in historical homes require permits and reviews, prolonging projects and adding costs.

Costly Repairs: Authentic materials for repairs can be expensive, and maintenance must meet community standards.

Uncertain Investment Return: Resale value can fluctuate based on upkeep and buyer preferences.

Financing and Insurance Challenges: Securing loans and insurance for historic homes can be more complex than for newer properties.

Wondering if a historic home’s for you?

Buying a historic home means becoming a custodian of its history, preserving its unique character and quirks that may come with inconveniences like small rooms or uneven floors. Adhering to specific guidelines set by local preservation offices or town regulations is crucial, as modifications are often subject to review boards’ scrutiny, similar to homeowners associations’ rules. Sharing the home’s story and pride of ownership with the community through events like fundraisers or tours adds to its special significance and community value.

If you prefer modern aesthetics and want to freely renovate without restrictions, a historic home may not be the best fit. These homes require meticulous upkeep and often come with tight limits on modifications, such as restoring original features instead of adding modern elements like big windows or sliding doors. Additionally, maintaining a historic home can involve legal or architectural processes for approval, which may not align with a desire for hassle-free renovations. However, uncovering and preserving a home’s history can be a rewarding aspect of owning a historic property.

In conclusion, deciding whether to buy a historic home requires careful consideration of your lifestyle, preferences, and willingness to preserve and maintain its unique character. While historic homes offer a connection to the past and a sense of pride in ownership, they also come with responsibilities and potential limitations on renovations. By weighing the pros and cons and understanding the commitment involved, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your values and long-term goals. Ultimately, owning a historic home can be a fulfilling experience for those who appreciate its historical significance and are prepared to embrace its challenges.