For many Americans, the lure of historic homes is strong. Home decor shows often paint the idea of an updated historic home as an attainable real estate goal. While the charm of historic homes is difficult to find in modern construction, many of the small details of historic homes (wainscot paneling, decorative crown molding and more) have been introduced into late architectural design but with modern twists.
Even though historical design elements are easily translated into modern properties, real historic homes still draw buyers and history enthusiasts. There is a number of criteria to be met to qualify a property as ‘historic,’ creating difference between ‘historic’ and ‘old’ properties. Whether you’re in the market for a historic home, or in search of the charm and character of an old home, there are things you need to know before you purchase your property.
Historic districts hold many historic and older homes, but within these districts, there are restrictions on what you can do with your property. Homes within historic districts are likely to have to abide by a set of rules for exterior updates (meaning paint colors, window types, etc.). While this may seem to limit expression and creativity, the bright side is that other homes and properties have to follow the same criteria, meaning all homes will have similar exterior features. It’s also important to note that there is more chance that a state or local historic registry will have restrictions while districts on the National Register of Historic Place will not have restrictions.
Historic properties have stood the test of time because they are generally structurally sound. But this is not the case for all of them, and time can take its toll a property. If you have a dream of buying a “fixer-upper” historic home and updating it, practice caution. Updating, renovating or remodeling historic or old homes can be extremely costly, especially if the property is in ruin or hasn’t been cared for over the years. A regular income or extensive budget may be needed based on the amount of work to be done; it is also possible to receive a grant or tax program through a state historic preservation office, although not all states offer such programs.
Historic homes can also come with historic or out-of-date construction materials: bad electrical wiring, outdated plumbing, smaller doorways or alcoves that won’t accommodate modern appliances and furniture, lead paint, asbestos, and a number of other things. If you’re not ready to potentially address all of these issues, an old or historic home might not be the best choice for you.
Restrictions can come in a number of formats, from limits on renovations to finances. It is uncommon that additions are allowed on historic homes. Windows, shutters and roofs generally have to mimic the original design style of the property. Living in a historic neighborhood can mean higher taxes than a neighborhood outside of a historic district, and sometimes it can be difficult to get a general mortgage loan for a historic or old home (especially if it isn’t in the best shape). Home insurance can also be difficult to obtain, as the home may need many costly repairs or replacements of historic elements that might not be easily acquired. If the home is not on a state or local historic registry, it’s usually easier to get home insurance if an owner can update the property.
Old and historic homes are something to appreciate in our country. They are a reminder of often forgotten time periods, and for many history enthusiasts their history, and their architecture, stand as a testament to today’s generations of what once was in the U.S. If you have a desire for a historic home, take some time to research your local historic property market and talk to other historic home owners to get a better idea of what goes into these gorgeous properties.
If you are looking for a historic home call Karin Zeigler, RE/MAX Professionals at 360-870-6249