Love this local landmark? 5 reasons to buy an old house
Old homes have charm, character, and craftsmanship that fill some people’s heads with dreams of historic homeownership. Drive through any older neighborhood to see examples of homes that have time-tested materials, unique features, and a sense of significance that newer homes can’t match. While newly built homes feature more electrical outlets, modern amenities and glossy finishes, for many homebuyers these features do not compare to the long-term vision of owning an older home. The good news is that the benefits of historic or older homeownership are more than just a dream. Before you make the move and sign a contract, take a look at some of the real-life perks of buying an older home.
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Location is the most important aspect to consider when purchasing an older home. Most are located in well-established neighborhoods with advantages such as mature trees and proximity to commercial areas and shopping centers. Living in an older neighborhood also means that the cost of infrastructure has already been paid for, often resulting in lower mortgage payments for residents who don’t have to resort to new storm drains.
However, research local trends to ensure that property values in the neighborhood are stable or increasing. When a good neighborhood turns into a bad neighborhood due to job loss and crime, home values can decline.
Related: 10 things preservation experts wish you knew about your old home
Large lot size
Older homes often come with additional land. As land values rise, these lots can be more desirable than the homes they stand on. A townhouse in a desirable location may need a million-dollar renovation, but since the land is valuable, the investment will be worth it. It’s common to see older homes in places with a high cost of living, such as New York City, that have been in the same family for a few generations. Eventually, when the home is sold, it needs a complete renovation, including framing, plumbing, and electrical. However, since the location is so desirable, the opportunity to leverage the initial investment with some sweat equity is real.
Related: 9 Resources for Finding Amazing Old Homes for Sale
While kit homes are popular because of nostalgia, many older homes offer unique layouts to their addresses. Owners of older homes enjoy distinctive design and architecture, unlike new construction where the floor plan is likely to be the same as many of the neighbors’ homes. From sectioned rooms, which are making a comeback now that our love affair with open floor plans is coming to an end, to high-quality finishes, older homes have features that allow homeowners to express their unique style.
Unfortunately, some older homes lack a cohesive aesthetic design, which can make it difficult to renovate and reuse. Be wary of mismatched materials or additions that can be expensive to restore.
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Finding a home that is a historic landmark is an opportunity to not only make a profitable investment, but also invest in the history of your community. Maintaining such a home is a journey that can be fulfilling. Homeowners can apply to have their home added to the National Register of Historic Places if the property is of historical significance or if it is a prime example of specific architectural styles or cultural turning points.
Your home does not need to be designated a historic landmark to be historically significant, although the two often go hand in hand. For example, if a famous rock star, author, or actor grew up in the home, the value goes up regardless of style or condition. Paul McCartney’s former home is nothing special, but since the former Beatle grew up there, it’s priceless and has been restored to how it looked during his childhood. Investing in a home of historical significance means that the property is likely to retain its value and appreciate more than other nearby homes.
Related: 6 Old House Features That Are Coming Back in New Buildings
Restoration rather than renovation
If tearing down walls and vandalizing kitchens isn’t a fun idea for homeowners, renovating an old home may be a better option. The difference between renovation and restoration often lies in the extent of the changes made. The idea behind the restoration is to preserve the home’s original floor plan and aesthetic. If an old home is full of millwork and ornate, handcrafted flooring, it would be wise for the homeowner to salvage, clean, and restore it. This process helps preserve the home’s character and value as a historic property.
However, the cost of renovating a home can be expensive and must make financial sense. “Reclaimed wood looks great in some older homes,” says John Walker, a real estate agent with Deacon & Hoover in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “But it’s expensive.”
For homes with historic status, you will have to adhere to strict building codes that protect their integrity. They usually cover the building’s aesthetics, such as window casings, brickwork, shutters, roofs, steps, and doors. In most cases, historic homes need to stick with period finishes, but there are experts available to guide you as you make these meaningful choices.