For some home buyers, a home older than a certain date is automatically off the table. But for others the more history a home has the more interested they become in placing a bid. If you are in the latter camp, this article is for you. Owning a historic home isn’t for everyone and there are a few things you should know before beginning your search.  

One disappointment for potential homebuyers can be the limitations historic districts or easements put in place. They can limit what you can and cannot do aesthetically to your home such as paint colors and architectural changes, especially to the front of the house. If you find yourself dreaming of new siding colors, tearing down walls or building additions to make the house “just right”, you may find yourself disappointed. These are common changes that don’t go beyond the drawing board due to limitations in place and can even bring down the value of your home.   

On the plus side, because of these rules in place, the area probably has an active neighborhood association. You can expect well taken care of homes on your street that stay authentic to the historical charm you so love. You’ll have a community to turn to when you’re looking to gain knowledge on renovating and repairing your home. Chances are pretty high they have had to make similar repairs and know the best contractors in the area or where to source materials you’ll need.

And this is great because you’ll want to be prepared for repairs throughout the years to maintain your home. When renovating it’s important that you use the right materials as not doing so could damage your home in the long run if they don’t play well with your home’s existing infrastructure. For this reason, you’ll want to hire historic home specialists and preservationists when it comes time to make repairs.

In historic homes, repair bills can add up especially if you’ve taken on a “project” home. Take your current and projected income into consideration and if you’ll have the ability to keep up with costs. No one wants to live in a permanent construction zone and this can very well be the case if you run out of funds. You may want to consider an FHA 203k loan, aka a rehab mortgage, to help cover these costs especially any large ones you’ll need in the beginning. Some states also offer grants and tax deductions for repairs and maintenance on historic homes.

For each home you consider, hire an inspector that specializes in historical houses and therefore well versed on what to look out for and what the common (and uncommon) warning signs are. Be on the alert for asbestos, mold and lead paint especially if you have or plan to have small children. And know when to walk away, homes with structural issues are usually not worth their while and the issues you’re sure to have with time.

Purchasing a historical home is more than just a buying a house. It’s buying a piece of history with memories imprinted into its floors and walls. It is for this reason you also want to ensure those memories are not toxic or unsafe for your family. This house buying, perhaps more than any other, is one best-given plenty of time to find “The One” that’s perfect for you.  

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