Written by Diane Malagreca / NYS Licensed Associate Broker of Ditommaso Real Estate.
Every buyer has a dream home in mind, but the buyer who wants to purchase a historic home has a vision of the future and also the past history. Some buyers happen upon a historic home by chance, others by decision. It is a decision based on a love of history, architecture and perhaps being an “old soul”. Some of the features of historic homes are cornices, stained glass, lattice windows, pantries built in the wall, window seats that bring us back to days gone by. Also, floor to ceiling windows and paneled shutters. A buyer must either have the resources to make changes within the parameters of a landmarked home or be very skilled at restoration themselves. This will be a work in progress and there will always be something to attend to.
Savvy buyers might consult with an architectural historian or a building conservation expert. Some might plunge right in and make an emotional decision without consulting these experts. Most buyers look for good bones but are willing to make changes. Some will even lift joists and fix structural issues that may arise. A smart decision would be to hire an engineer that has an extensive knowledge of historical homes and will know exactly what to look for. Bear in mind there may be electrical, plumbing updates and interestingly enough I had one couple tell me about “powder post beetles” that existed from the time the home was built, a serious issue to tackle. The definition of a “powder post beetle” is a small brown beetle whose wood-boring larvae reduce wood to a very fine powder. Not something a new homeowner wants to hear……………….
Some buyers will be attracted to tax incentives offered or lower interest loan options and grants available. Most buyers want to purchase in an area that lends itself to historic homes, but some are more interested in the school district, what the area offers their family and convenience to the workplace. An established neighborhood may be a draw to some or some may prefer a more rural area. Buyers should research a landmarked property and understand that they have to maintain the original integrity of the home. This may be as simple as using the same paint colors or it may mean restoring the exterior, or restoring a cupola which is a small, most often dome-like, structure on top of a building. Often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome.
There are many advantages to purchasing a historical home. Such as unmatched architecture, it can serve as a place for public functions such as wedding or tours. Also valuable outbuildings that may come with the home such as a caretaker’s quarters, stable etc. The disadvantages of owning a historical home are costly restoration, possible structural issues, hazards like mold or lead paint, upkeep and maintenance costs and of course adhering to the strict guidelines, rules or restrictions.
The history of the home is often an appeal to most buyers. So an historic home is going to appeal to those who have a love of history and architecture. There is nothing more charming than a home that has features of yesterday and beckons us back to a simpler time. With this an owner will feel the warmth and keep the love in an older that it so justly deserves. However, this gives an opportunity to buyers to have their heart in the history of the home and a chance to preserve a precious gem for future generations.