by Jacklyn Renz
The charm of history beckons you from that historic home of your dreams. Intricate trimmings, charming architectural detail, and a story behind a historic home make it an alluring package deal for buyers. Before you buy, however, take a second to think it over. Are there perks to purchasing these prized homes? What about any downsides? Here are some things to consider before buying a historic home.
Define the Home
Firstly, double check to truly identify whether or not the home is “historic”. You can officially check the historic status of the home with the National Register for Historic Places (NRHP), or a local historic board in your city. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources website explains that properties listed on the NRHP site “include buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture.” Anything from a time period’s unique architectural style, to a famous person once living in the home could land a house on the NRHP list.
Financial Ups and Downs
There are several county and state governments that offer tax incentives for purchasing one of these homes. The government wants to see these homes preserved. What better way to preserve history than to have a loving home owner that will live there and perform any necessary upkeep? Not all tax incentives are readily available to all historic home purchasers, though. There may be certain qualifications that must be met first. Also, some loans will offer lower interest rates for historic home buyers. Beyond the potential tax perks, check if the home’s neighborhood has tax downsides, such as higher property taxes. Additionally, lack of energy efficiency could affect monthly costs. Be sure to research past energy bills to get an idea of how much it will cost to heat and cool the home before you buy, as well as any safety updates or repairs that need to be completed before move-in.
Structural codes and health safety have gone through much change in the last decade, let alone in the last century. A thorough home inspection is a necessity before purchasing one of these beauties. We recommend a home inspector who specializes in historic houses. Many issues including asbestos, lead paint, or mold from poor air circulation could be lurking beyond the home's lovely looks. Beyond structural problems, there are many restrictions on home improvements. The main hope is to preserve the historic integrity of the house in its original form. This means no second stories, no added square footage, and no replacing the windows with energy efficient ones. If, for any reason, there are significant structural issues in the home, don’t be afraid to walk away. Issues in this type of property could end up costing you more than conventional remodels and repairs in a newer home.
You may be just around the corner from purchasing your own historic home. When you're ready, be sure to keep this guide close by. Draw from the wisdom of experienced realtors and homeowners to help make an informed decision. Happy historic home hunting!
sources: realtor.com, homevisor.com, georgiashpo.org