"Opportunities abound for those wanting to purchase an historic home, but so do questions about the soundness of the investment," says Jack Pearce, ABR, Broker of RE/MAX Valley Real Estate, Boardman, Ohio.
Before making an investment in history, RE/MAX Valley Real Estate recommends that potential home buyers consider these questions:
Knowing what to look for is an important first step. "Potential buyers should understand that there are significant differences between an historic house and a new one," Pearce says.
"Before purchasing a historic home, you will want to research just how much restoration is needed and how much the restoration will cost. That includes, of course, uncovering any possible environmental problems not typically found in new construction such as the presence of asbestos or lead paint."
Knowledge of any structural problem and the time and money needed to fix it should not only influence the decision of whether to buy, but also how much to offer. In some cases, the seller may be required to undertake some of the work as part of the purchase agreement.
Yet the advantages of owning a historic house often outweigh the work that goes into finding and securing one. There is a rewarding sense of history in the unique detailing and meticulous craftsmanship found in historic homes as well as the satisfaction of restoration.
"There may also be financial benefits for a historic home owner," explains Pearce. "Those benefits range from reductions in property taxes and adjustments to assessed value, to state income tax credits and property tax freezes for qualified rehabilitation and restorations."
The National Trust for Historic Preservation reports that 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws that provide individuals with incentives for owning historic properties.
Not every old home is historic. "A historic house is an example of the cultural or physical development of a community, state, or the nation due to its architecture or association with an important historical figure or event," Pearce says.
If a home does qualify as a historic property, then it may be listed individually or as part of a historic district. The listing of a building or district in the National Park Service's "National Register of Historic Places" provides public recognition of its importance, but will not interfere with an owner's right to alter, sell, or determine how an individual property may be used.
"A local or state government housing preservation organization usually will assist owners who want to pursue a historic designation," Pearce says. However, even if the historic building meets the designation criteria, it will not be listed if the majority of property owners in a district object for whatever reason. In this case, the building is put on an "eligible" list should the objections be overcome in the future.
For more information on historical properties, contact the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Offices at 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 342, Washington, DC 20001-1512.
For a list of professional real estate buyer representatives, please contact the Real Estate BUYER'S AGENT Council, 430 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611; phone (toll-free) 800-648-6224 or direct 312-329-8656.
Jack Pearce is one of more than 40,000 members of the Real Estate BUYERS AGENT Council (REBAC) of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® , who have attained the ABR®, Accredited Buyer Representative, designation. As the world's largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer, REBAC is "The Voice for Buyer Representation," with more than 44,000 active real estate professional members of the organization throughout the world.