If you’re looking for a unique home full of charm, you may be considering buying a historic house. It could help you connect with the past and maintain the neighborhood’s character, but it could also cause a lot of headaches.
What Is a Historic Home?
The National Park Service maintains a list of houses that have been designated as “historic” because of their age or architectural style, or because they’re significant for other reasons. For example, a house may be considered historic because a famous person once lived there or because it was the site of a notable event.
When you’re looking at a house, ask the REALTOR® if the neighborhood has been designated as historic. If it has, homeowners need to adhere to strict rules to maintain the appearance of the neighborhood. Some people appreciate the rules, while others consider them too restrictive.
Reasons to Buy a Historic Home
A historic house can be an excellent choice if you’re looking for a home with a story to tell. You might be excited by the prospect of living in a house that was once occupied by someone you admire or that was a part of history, or you might marvel at its unique architecture. You might choose a historic house so that you can play a role in maintaining the heritage associated with it.
Some cities and states offer tax incentives or lower interest rates to people who purchase historic homes. These measures are intended to help the owners restore or maintain their houses and preserve the character of historic neighborhoods.
The biggest downside is that historic homes often require a lot of repairs. You might have to deal with anything from a roof that needs to be replaced to faulty electrical wires to damaged pipes to mold to asbestos. You could encounter all these problems and then some.
Before you buy a historic home, have it inspected by a professional so that you know exactly what problems you’re facing. And be sure to consider whether you can afford to make all the necessary repairs. Also think about whether you’d be able to live in the house during renovations or if you’d need to make other arrangements, and ask yourself if it’s worth all the trouble.
Insurance costs for historic homes can be much higher than rates for typical houses. Many insurance companies don’t offer policies for historic homes, so you might need to purchase insurance from a company that specializes in historic properties, which often charge higher rates.
Think It Over Carefully
You may fall in love with a historic home because of its charm or its story, but before you rush to buy it, be realistic. You might be able to turn the house into your dream home relatively inexpensively, or you might be overwhelmed and regret your decision. Find out exactly how much work the house needs and think about whether the money and time you will need to invest is worthwhile.