So you’re in the market to purchase a home and have found the historic property that you love. You’re ready to put in an offer. What’s next? As a Realtor, here’s some food for thought before you even get into the thick of the negotiations with the seller.
First things first. What constitutes an historic home? Technically speaking, an historic home is a property that has been deemed so by the National Register of Historic Places or by a local historic board because of its architectural significance, the fact that a historical figure resided in the dwelling, or the dwelling itself has some link to a historically important event. Not so technically speaking, a property that is over 50 years of age falls into the historic bucket. People are drawn to historic homes because of their beauty, the attention to detail, the unique design elements, their locations, and the fact that the structure has stood the test of time. However, like anything in life there are pros and cons that need to be considered when entering into one of life’s biggest financial investments. Start with the obvious things:
- Easements/Restrictions: Find out whether or not your property has any easements placed on it at either a local, state or federal level. Once that is determined, if you have any plans to renovate or add on to your historic property do your due diligence upfront by speaking with an architect, builder, or local zoning board official on the ins and outs of renovating a home in your desired location and any possible restrictions. Make sure you know which entities you will have to deal with making alterations to your property this way expectations are set appropriately
- Historic Experts: If you see any potential structural deficiencies you definitely want to call on a licensed structural engineer or a licensed architect both of which should carry up to date insurance. Crawl spaces, basements, and attics are areas where the dirty secrets of all buildings lie. If you see ceilings sagging, wavy rooflines, or water in the basement your best bet is to bring in a professional who can accurately assess what is going on and how much it will cost to provide a permanent fix
- Property Inspections: Make sure that you engage an inspector who specializes in historic properties and knows what to look out for such as knob and tube wiring, asbestos insulation, and lead paint so that you don’t get stuck footing the bill for unexpected remediation costs later down the line. If you already have a homeowner’s insurance policy call your insurance broker to see if they will have any issues insuring your new, historic home and or if they have any restrictions or issues you should be aware of. Lastly, engage a local lender who knows the area and has a list of local appraisers who know how to value your potential property paying attention to the historic value, construction, and condition
Now lets get to the positives! Main street revivals and preservation efforts are sweeping the US, which suggests that economic growth and new businesses are right behind. In many towns and revitalizing urban neighborhoods there are tax incentives for purchasing, restoring or renovating a historic house or basing your start-up in a downtown main street business district. Check with your local officials to see if your property is eligible for these state and federal credits but Main St. wants you!