Historic Homes: 7 Things to Consider Before Buying

In the first post of our historical series, we discussed some of the most well-known historic homes in Connecticut. This post will help you determine if buying a historical home is the right option for you.

Historic homes can be alluring, charming, and mysterious, and they can deemed historic by national or local standards. There are different reasons a home may be considered historic: it is in a historic neighborhood, a historical event may have taken place in the home, or the original owner may have been a prominent figure in history. The National Register of Historic Places lists the Nation’s historic properties. No matter what type of historic home you are looking at, there are both advantages and drawbacks. Here are 7 things to consider when you begin your search for a historic home.

1. Protecting and Living in History

Much of the appeal of buy a historic home comes from the chance to own a piece of history. Many want to be a part of preserving a home or property that is significant to the town or nation. Antique fixtures, intricate crown molding, and detailed fireplaces make it seem like you have stepped back in time. This emotional connection to the home, town, or historical significance draws in many homebuyers.

2. Restrictions on Updates and Renovations

If your home is registered as a local historic home, there can be regulations on what can and cannot be updated. Dennis Culliton, a board member of Guilford Preservation Alliance and owner of a historical home, says the restrictions aren’t as strict as you might imagine. In many towns, restrictions only deal with the exterior. “We were able to put in a 21st century kitchen in our home,” Culliton said. “We only needed permission for the windows.” He states that even with more in-depth renovations, most of the time there is an easy agreement between the historic commission and the homeowner.

3. Historic Districts Protect Value of Homes

Connecticut Local Historic Districts and Property Values, a study conducted by PlaceEconomics, shows that historic districts protects the property value of homes. Among other findings, the study shows that homes of similar size, age, and style were worth more in historic districts than those outside of the districts.

4. Thorough Inspections are a Must

Older homes can have a host of issues you won’t find in newer construction, such as an unsound structure, mold, asbestos, or lead paint. It is important to have professionals with historic home experience conduct inspections. From there, you may want to hire a contractor for estimates of upgrades. National Trust for Historic Preservation has put together tips for inspecting historic houses to help with the inspection process.

5. Tax Credits

Depending on where the home is, you may qualify for tax benefits or incentives for those that invest in a historic home, especially if updates are required to bring it up to code.

6. Community and Proximity to Town

Historic homes are some of the first homes built in a town, therefore, they are in close proximity to the town center, shops, restaurants, and schools. Walkability is a key feature for many historic homeowners. In addition, people living in historic districts often build a strong community. Historic homeowners have some similar interests, and want to keep the town’s history alive. Culliton said, “People make the conscious choice to buy a historic home. They move here from other places. They want to be here.” That type of community can be hard to find.

7. Costly Restoration and Hidden Issues

There are numerous benefits to owning a historic home, but it can be costly to keep these homes structurally sound and up-to-date. You may find renovations from previous owners through the years are not be up to code, and fixing these past repairs is expensive. In addition, it costs more for the general maintenance of older homes than newer ones.

For those who want the beauty that comes with owning a historic home, it is important to do your research. Connect with the town’s historic commission and hire professionals with experience in historic preservation to ensure you are keeping the history alive.

 

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