What to Consider When Buying a Historic Home

This post is brought to you by the San Antonio Board of Realtors (SABOR).

Historic homes are sought after for all their charm and beauty, as well as their historical significance. Older homes have unique architecture that can transport future homebuyers back to a specific era of time. On the other hand, historic homes also come with particular issues that newer homes do not. So before you commit to owning a historic home, it’s key that you discuss it with your REALTOR® to see if it’s a right fit for you and your family.

Home inspection

Getting a house inspection during the home buying process is generally good practice, but it is especially important when buying a historic home. Knowing the condition of the home and being aware of any hazards before investing can save you a lot of time and money. A few issues home inspectors often uncover are structural damage, plumbing and electrical problems, and hazardous building materials. For example, older homes built before 1970 may contain asbestos within the construction since the material was commonly used at that time.  

Hiring an experienced inspector is a necessary expense to ensure the safety and value of your future home. Your REALTOR® will be able to provide recommendations of trusted home inspectors that they have worked with.

Repair expenses

Older homes have experienced the wear and tear of the passing years, so the need for repairs comes up quite often. Historic homes are made with materials or repair methods that are outdated. Repairs to an older home require a skilled craftsman with knowledge of how to keep the integrity of your home. A craftsman should be able to find similar materials or new repair methods to maintain your home’s charm. 

Depending on the age of the home, historic homes are usually built over wooden shafts that can warp with time and may need to be replaced. An observable indication of structural problems is wall cracks. Repairs on an older home are more costly, and this can drive up the cost of your home insurance. 

Renovation Restrictions

Historic homes are often located in historical districts that have their own set of rules that can limit the creative freedom you have in making changes to your own home. Owning a historic home is like owning a part of history and each city has a department of conservation in charge of preserving them. Any drastic changes or improvements could jeopardize the authenticity and lower the value of a historic home.

If you are thinking of making any large repairs or renovations on a historic home, make sure to file for the required permits from your local office of historical preservation or HOA before you start your project. San Antonio currently has 31 designated historical districts that must comply with preservation-specific development codes.

Financial Benefits

A benefit of taking on the responsibility of a historic home is that you can be rewarded for the preservation efforts you are making. If you are worried about taking on the financial burden of caring for an older home, you may be able to find grants or low-interest preservation loans to help pay for a portion of the repairs.

The City of San Antonio also offers tax exemptions on improvements to historic homes, such as electrical, plumbing, and roof work, as well as a 20-percent tax exemption for up to ten years to owner-occupied residences in new historical districts.

Another benefit? Historic homes appreciate over time, so if you decide to put it back on the market you are likely to get a nice return on your investment.  

Owning a historic home is an honor and a great responsibility. If you are interested in becoming a part of these preservation efforts, talk to a REALTOR® today. Looking for a home can be stressful, but our experienced and qualified REALTORS® are here to help make the experience easier every step of the way! Visit sabor.com for more information.