Things To Know Before Buying A Historic Home

If it’s always been your dream to own a historic home, you may be eager to sign on the dotted line and begin on this exciting adventure with your realtor. However, there are a lot of essential things to know before purchasing a historic home. As you plan potential renovations, maintenance, and more, it’s important you understand exactly what goes into buying a historic home.

What is a historic home?

The first question you need to answer may seem simple: what is a historic home? Historic places must meet stringent requirements in order to be registered in national, state, or local registries. Not all old homes are classified as historic homes. As you explore properties with your realtor, here’s a list of criteria you can use to define a “historic home:”

  • The home must be at least 50 years old.
  • It also must satisfy one of the following:
    • Be connected to significant individuals.
    • Hold importance through its connection to historical events.
    • Exist as a display of a particular building style.
    • Provide or is expected to yield important historical information.

When a house meets the requirements to be officially designated as a historic home, it must be preserved. This means any work affecting the exterior of the home will likely require special permits. Your realtor can help you determine which houses are classified in the historic category.

Research Restrictions & Regulations

Historic homes are incredibly characteristic and charming, which is part of what draws people to them in the first place. However, there are often certain regulations you must follow when renovating or altering these structures. Depending on which historical district your house is located in, this often means there is a lot of oversight involved in any kind of alteration. Some state and local districts also enforce community guidelines, meaning you’ll have to practice regular upkeep in accordance with local standards.

Renovation Length & Cost

Months and even years can be added to a small construction project when time-consuming processes are introduced to ensure the integrity of the project. Often, this involves consultations with architects and historical experts to determine the impact on the historic home. You may also need to purchase historically authentic materials or other supplies, which can add to your final renovation cost. When renovating a historic home, patience is key. It’s important to be prepared for some bureaucratic headaches if you see renovation as a future possibility.

Are you making a good financial investment?

It can be tricky to determine whether or not a historic home is a good investment in the long-haul. Owning the property can be expensive and hard work, but for these same reasons the resell value may also increase. It all depends on how much effort you’re willing to put in. Properties that are well cared for and preserved historically are likely to sell for much higher prices.

A lot of other factors determine the return value on your historic home as well, such as which historic district you are located in and the state of surrounding properties. However, a designation as a historic home correlates positively with an increase in property values nationwide. Just remember, some investment may be required in the renovation and home improvement department.

Research any Financial Perks

When you own a historic property, you may be eligible for a small amount of financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and tax incentives. Local governments and private organizations sometimes offer special arrangements to ease your tax burden while preserving the historic value of your home. It’s a good idea to check out what incentives you may be eligible for before closing on a historic home.

Financing & Insurance Can Be Challenging

When buying a home, a historic property presents more opportunities for snags in the buying process. Insurance companies may be hesitant to provide you with a policy due to the expensive cost of home renovations. It may also be more difficult to schedule an appraisal, and lenders may be hesitant. However, there are several options out there to help you finance your purchase. There are even some insurance companies that specialize in insuring historic homes.

Get an In-Depth Inspection

The last thing you want is to discover an unpleasant surprise after you’ve already purchased your new property. Home inspections are customary before any purchase, but they are especially important when it comes to historic homes. It’s wise to get a detailed inspection by an expert, as a standard home inspector may not be used to older properties. If the home you’re interested in is a fixer-upper, it’s also a good idea to invite a structural engineer or contractor to take a look at the property. This way, you can ensure that your renovation plans are workable structurally.

A Realtor to Help You Find a Historic Home

If you’re looking to buy a historic home in Boston or the greater Boston area, Coleman Group is here to help. A mother-daughter led team of professional real estate agents, we specialize in matching each client with the perfect home. Contact us today to learn more about how our realtors can help you in your search for a historic property. 

Henry Mason

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