Is Buying a Historic Home for You?


These days a lot of home buyers prefer a house that looks modern. With the craze of modern designs and features, these types of houses are often sought after by many people and come off the market much quicker. However, while these houses fit some people, others love the idea of owning something more vintage, especially if it comes with an interesting history with it.


If you are into historic homes and want to own one, it is important to note that it will need maintenance on a more regular basis due to its age.  The exception, of course, is if you you want to renovate and update. In either scenario, of course you need to be prepared for broken pipes, leaks and a lot of other major flaws in the foundation, structure, and finishes. If you’re still on board to search for your dream historic home, there are some other things that should be understood and we’ll go through those together.


Imposed Restrictions


A lot of towns in the United States have planning and zoning commissions within their neighborhoods. This is to help preserve and protect the remaining historic homes within it. Because of this, renovating and rebuilding or altering a historic house requires approval or at times bureaucracy. For example, if you are planning to buy a house that is roughly one hundred years old, you may not be able to repair it as to how you like it because of the planning and zoning commissions. That alone gives you and idea on how serious  you would be if you were to own a historic home. A factor in what is “allowed” is whether the home is considered a landmark by governmental entities. Because of that restriction, repairs can take longer and would even be more expensive. Always consult with an architect when moving forward with owning and updating a home in this situation.


The Expenses of Restoration


Let’s be real, restoring a historic home is expensive from the get go. For example, a Victorian-era house was made with materials that are no longer available. Many more of those types of houses were built in the middle and late 19th century that would have been made with rare materials that will not be easily found today. It is challenging to restore a house with materials that are not equally comparable to the original, and that can often result in having to completely redo rather than restore. An additional element that can be expensive is the ornate details found in them such as the tiles used, wooden carvings, crown moldings and the light fixtures. It could get expensive if you want to track down the original materials or something from that same time period, and often that requires purchasing from overseas which is an additional and usually pricey expense. 


Repairing Can Be Time Consuming


The time it takes to repair a home like this is often why people opt to purchase a new home. The appeal of being able to move in right away – to avoid further expenses – is very strong. Buying a house is expensive by default, but there will be a larger financial cost for something that is historic. Being aware that the repairs are not always quick fixes and could take a long time is a major factor. There have even been instances of homes being in constant maintenance, so the job is not necessarily ever done. 


Pros and Cons of Buying a Historic Home


Like many kinds of homes, buying a historic home has its ups and downs. If you want to know if it’s a good idea to do so, here are the pros and cons of buying one:




  • A historic house certainly has its charm and character. Buying an old house with good history is like stepping back in time. It’s well-thought decor and design is something that a lot of people appreciate. From old fireplaces to antique chandeliers to unique doorknobs and knockers, owning a historic home is certainly something to be proud of.
  • You help in keeping the memory of the house alive. Buying a historic house is not only a good investment, but it is also a big help to the community or neighborhood you are living in. In many ways you are preserving not only the house’s history but also the community’s. 
  • Historic homes are packed with history, of course. A historic home is not only charming but it is also a place where an interesting story happened. It could be a house where a president was born or it used to be a place owned by someone very rich. Each house has its story to tell and if you are a big fan of history then you will definitely enjoy owning one that has a good story to tell. 
  • The architecture is one of a kind. A lot of old houses have very rare features that you cannot see with other houses. Take a look at houses that were made during the Victorian era, you can always tell that they are a Victorian house because they were built in a specific fashion. You cannot find houses or homebuilders that make them the way they used to. That being said, houses with Spanish, Colonial, and Federal styles all have very remarkable curb appeal.
  • A historic house is an investment. Buying a house is an investment, but buying a historic house is something much more. Studies show that houses with history have higher value in the long run. Not only that, a lot of local or state governments offer tax incentives to the owners or lower their loans in order to help restore it. 




Of course, it’s not all sunshine and butterflies when you own a historic house. It does come with its own set of difficulties so you have to be ready too:


  • For starters, it is very expensive to maintain. You might have the money today to buy that historic house and maintain, but it is important to be aware you will likely need a constant cash flow to keep up with the home. That is why you have to really think it through before you purchase one otherwise, it will just go to waste or time, money, and resources.
  • When it comes to Insurance, it is expensive to insure a historic home. Why? This is because many insurance companies don’t cover the type of coverage you need for the house. This means you have to get a historic property insurance which is one of the most expensive insurance policies you can get. Not only that, since historic houses are often old, there could be a lot of repairs to do so this could mean skyrocketing monthly insurance payments.
  • You have to follow the planning and zoning laws required by the town or local government. This is given to preserve the historic value of the property. So you can’t just renovate on your own or according to your wishes. There are rules to follow and they’re not always that easy. 
  • There are often more problems at hand than expected. Sure, the house may look okay on the outside but many old houses have other problems. There could be mold growing or even asbestos. Some old houses have termites which can ruin hard wood and the foundation. So before you take on a historic house, make sure to have it inspected by professionals thoroughly. Keep in mind that some old houses like that are not preserved properly so unless you are willing to take it and do the renovations, you have to make sure that the house is safe to live in.


Is It the House for You?


Buying a house that has contributed to American history is very exciting but before you do, make sure to weigh the pros and cons. If you have nothing to fear, money isn’t a problem and the good elements of the house outweighs the bad…then buying one is a good investment to make. It could be a costly investment but one that is very worth it in the long run so best of luck and enjoy the process!

Categories: Buying a Home

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