Is a Historic Home Right For You?
By definition a historic home is often any home over 50 years old. In my imagination it's any home older than I am. But what is important to understand is that there is a difference in a historic home and a designated historic neighborhood.
National historic districts offer some potential tax benefits and a certain prestige for properties located within their borders, but they offer no protections for homes. Homes can be remodeled or torn down without needing permission to do so.
Local historic districts, however, offer protection for the properties in that neighborhood. Their exteriors cannot be altered or torn down without permission from the local authority, which locally is the Historic Preservation Commission, a part of city government. This ensures that if you own a property in a local historic district you will be surrounded by other properties that will be preserved and protected.
If you want to have the ability to remodel to your heart's content a designated historic district might not be for you. If you still want a historic home there are many in the city that are not in historic districts that are over 100 years old.
Many people want to be a part of a historic community but are not sure they are ready to take on the responsibility of a historic home. If that's the case there are newer "old" homes that are available that fit into the neighborhood seamlessly but offer the features often only found in new construction. You can even have one built, using one of the builders familiar with the specifics of historic requirements.
If you're really up for the challenge you can restore a home that needs anywhere from a cosmetic facelift to a complete redo from studs on out. Renovation financing is what most people turn to because you can roll the cost of the restoraton into the mortgage along wtih the purchase price of the home and payments don't begin till you have a Certificate of Occupancy.
Navigating all these options takes local knowledge and experience. That person should also have relationships with lenders, inspection companies, insurers, and the rules set up by the HPC. It makes sense to use a real estate professional who lives in and understands all these nuances and can help you make good decisions throughout the process.