Posted on November 20, 2015 - 12:28 PM
by Gary Kubovcsak
5 Tips for Buying or Selling a Historic Home
November 13, 2015 | Matt Lemmon
Historic homes are not for everyone. They often are found in older neighborhoods, sit on smaller lots and, in many cases, need more work to ensure they stay in top condition.
However, for the right buyer, a historic home is very desirable. The architecture is usually amazing, floor-plans are unique, and they are typically very centrally located. Add in the fact that they are often very good investments, particularly in improving neighborhoods, and no Realtor should ignore historic homes altogether.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when helping a client buy (or sell) a historic property:
1. Know what makes a home "historic"
Remember: "Old" does not necessarily mean "historic." The National Register of Historic Places defines a historic property as at least 50 years old, have been studied by archaeologist or historians, be significant to the area in which it was built, or have housed a famous person or persons. It also must have been preserved - or have retained its original features - that are true to the time period in which it was built. So, no stuccoing over lovely old stone is allowed, no matter what that owner thought in the '90s.
This isn't easy home-ownership, particularly if a lot of improvements are needed. Making upgrades, while keeping a home's "historical" status intact, can be complicated and expensive, sometimes prohibitively so. A buyer really needs to have a desire to live in not only a specific neighborhood, but a specific property, before taking on the challenge.
The older the home, the greater the chance it has serious structural problems, including foundations, load bearing walls, plumbing, etc. Retain the services of a qualified inspector who specializes in older homes. It might cost more, but it might save you money, too. Any repairs that are necessary should come with estimates from qualified contractors. And, in the end, if you aren't satisfied with the integrity of the house or the seller's willingness to address problems, walk away.
On the positive side, don't skip your homework on financing. There are many programs available, including tax credits and low-interest loans, for historic housing.
All previous advice applies for sellers, too. If your client is selling a historic property, help them emphasize the home's history in their marketing materials. Obviously they should be aware of the structural needs of - and improvements made to - the home, and be responsive to any questions or requests on the part of potential buyers. Sellers should also be well-versed in the many financial incentives for purchasing historic homes, as such programs can greatly increase the number of potential buyers.
You're closed! Your clients are in! Now it's time to decorate and show off the great home you're going to so much trouble to own. Houzz.com has a wonderful gallery of photos that show off older homes' most charming features, including magnificent newel posts, kitchen brick, quirky staircases, arches, small (but functional) bathrooms, and more.
Savings based on comparison to paying a 6% commission.
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