Staying Power: The Joys and Challenges of Historic Homes

Real Estate Agent with ERA High Pointe Realty

Real estate professionals like to offer as many kinds of properties to prospective customers as there are different personalities of buyers. And few real estate properties have more personality than a historic home.

By the standards of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, any structure at least 50 years old may qualify for historic-landmark status. This is determined by a home or other building's demonstration of particularly significant architectural features or now-rare styles, or its role in important past activities or events (famous inventions, once-pivotal industries, presidential birthplaces or visits, etc.).

To be sure, such homes present many challenges. The older the house, the more likely certain toxins will be present that aren't in newer homes (such as asbestos and lead paint); these will have to be dealt with. And restoring the historic character to a possibly-neglected house can be a costly and time-consuming effort.

But there's much to be said for the personal satisfaction of remaking a house by your own effort, and restoring an example of America's past that can help keep us mindful and proud of our heritage. Also, where there are historic homes there are likely to be whole historic neighborhoods, which preserve and offer to the homebuyer just the kind of old-fashioned community qualities that today's home-seekers are craving and today's developers are trying to re-create.

If your home is on or considered eligible for local, state or national registers of historic places, various rules will be in effect for building materials, renovations, and uses of the structure which most fit the historical period in which it was built. Although these requirements can be an inconvenience, many states offer tax and other incentives for owning and rehabilitating historic homes found to meet historic-preservation officials' criteria. And owners of homes on government registers of historic places still have broad latitude in selling, altering and using their property.

Before buying such a home, you'll want to check into several factors to determine whether the investment you're making in history is the right one for you: What laws apply to local historic buildings and districts, how much restoration does the house require, and what contractors are available who are knowledgeable about handling historic homes are a few of the major questions you'll want answered before making a commitment.

A qualified real estate professional can help guide you through this rewarding but complicated area. The sales professionals of ERA Real Estate have a special edge through an association with the National Trust for Historic Preservation: In the ERA® Historic Real Estate Program, ERA associates can take a course that certifies them in recognizing and appreciating the diverse styles of historic homes, and understanding the challenges faced and advantages available to customers wishing to buy and sell such properties. These professionals are recognized by the National Trust and listed on its Web site.

Proper preparation and the right professional expert can help ensure that your historic home will give you nothing but happiness to look back on.


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