Pros and Cons of Buying an Historic Home
From its quirky features to its charm, there’s plenty to love about an historic home. For those thinking of purchasing one, there is also plenty to consider. As anyone who’s watched HGTV can tell you, owning an historic home often comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. Following are some pros and cons about buying an historic home.
They offer plenty of character and charm. Stepping inside an historic home is a bit like stepping back in time. From the ornate fireplaces and antique door knockers to the intricate crown molding and vintage built-ins, there are so many fun details to love about an old home. It may even take months or years before you notice all of them.
They are packed with history. In addition to the charming characteristics, an historic home houses its own interesting history. Within the home’s walls have lived dozens of owners, all with their own unique stories. If you’re a history buff or someone who loves the idea of a house having “good karma,” you will love living in an historic home.
You are helping to keep history alive. By purchasing an historic home, you are helping keep history alive. Over time, you are sure to keep up with the home’s necessary repairs and necessary updates. You may even add on to the home or renovate its interior. When you make the home your own while preserving it at the same time, you’re breathing new life into an historic treasure.
They come in a wide range of stunning architectural styles. If a cookie cutter home isn’t for you, you’ll enjoy living in a house with a distinct old-world style. Historic homes are often constructed in beautiful styles representative of their moment in history and the images or memories they may convey, including mid-century, Georgian, Colonial, Federal, Victorian, Spanish, bungalow, Tudor, Farmhouse, Queen Anne and more.
You may get financial benefits. If you’re thinking about buying an historic home, state and local governments may offer you tax incentives or lower interest loans to restore these historic homes are just to purchase them. In addition, given that many historic districts require homeowners to keep houses looking a certain way, there’s a greater likelihood that the neighborhood property value won’t drop, and the neighbors will not be allowed to construct an absurdly ugly add-on to their house of do a scrap-off and build a modernistic home that does fit the neighborhood, which ruins the overall ambiance of the community.
Historic homes often require a lot of work. If you’re buying an historic home, you better have a toolkit ready. Given that most historic homes are at least 50 years old, they’re going to require a lot of work. From water damage and electrical issues to structural problems and termite damage, historic homes that have not been properly preserved will most certainly fall into disrepair. If you decide to take on this kind of historic home, just make sure you have the finances and the time to restore it properly. Full renovations could actually cost you more than what you paid for the home, so budget for that!
Designated historic districts come with strict rules. Perhaps the biggest con to owning an historic home is that owners must adhere to strict rules and guidelines laid out by local laws. That means owners may not be able to change or add-on to their home without the permission of the city. Having to cut through this extra red tape just to change a home’s exterior is the reason why many choose not to move to an historic district. To find out the specific rules of a designated historic district in your town, you can contact the city’s development office.
There may be mismatched renovations and updates. If multiple families have lived in an historic home over the course of 50 to 100 years or more, you can only imagine how many changes have been made to the house. From kitchen renovations to home additions, there’s a good chance at least some of the updates don’t match, especially if the repairs were made in different decades (think 60’s style kitchen with an 80’s style bathroom).
Your insurance may be expensive. Hate to break it to you, but if you’re buying an historic home, your insurance could skyrocket. According to an industry expert, many personal insurance companies do not offer the type of coverage you’ll need to insure your home, meaning you often have to go with historic property insurance, which can be expensive. Additionally, an older home with structural issues (old roof, outdated building materials) means your insurance rates could be higher.
You may have unwanted surprises. Think…asbestos, black mold, termites. To avoid purchasing a home with these issues, have an experienced and reliable home inspector thoroughly inspect the home first. Chances are, historic homes that have not been properly preserved aren’t up to code. Unless you’re willing to take on a project, you’ll need to ensure that the historic home is a safe place to live, at the very least.
For details on the difference between an historic home and simply an old house, contact the National Registry of Historic Places, which is managed by the National Park Service. Those who are considering the purchase of an historic home really need to do their due diligence and weigh the pros and cons carefully.