Tips for house hunting in a historic district

March 23rd, 2017 5:48am
Purchasing any type of home can be a difficult process, but securing  a property in a historic district can present an additional layer of challenges.

Purchasing any type of home can be a difficult process, but securing a property in a historic district can present an additional layer of challenges. Although their charm and curb appeal can't be beat, historic properties and neighborhoods come with plenty of red tape.

If you're hoping to settle down in one of the Houston real estate market's lovely, in-demand historic residences, here are a few important points to keep in mind throughout the shopping and purchasing process.

Check historic status
If you have your heart set on owning an authentic historic home, it's crucial that you do your research. There are many older properties out there that boast vintage details and old fashioned architecture, but aren't officially registered as historic properties.

Porch recommended searching addresses of potential houses in the National Register of Historic Places, a database of homes that have been deemed historic because they are located in historic areas, were designed by well-known architects, were inhabited by famous occupants or were the location of a prominent historic event. If you're interested in learning more about why a residence has earned historic status, the source recommended looking at its deed trust, bringing the address to a local historian, or checking with local government institutions that may be able to provide you with information.

Know the restrictions
To preserve the integrity and traditional appearance of historic properties and districts, there are many rules surrounding alterations and renovations. Depending on the home you choose, you may be prohibited from painting, adding on to, or tearing down any portion of the property, explained Bob Vila. In addition to ensuring a house maintains its historic value for future owners, these regulations are in place to keep historic districts from becoming too modern.

Of course, old houses are often in need of repairs. Keep in mind that when the time rolls around to restore certain elements of your home, you may need to consult with local agencies or preservation groups, and they may require you to secure official work permits.

While investing in historic real estate may seem like giving up creative control over your home's aesthetics, remember that these homes offer a lot of enticing craftsmanship, materials and unique details you simply can't find in new properties.

Do a thorough inspection
The hunt for a historic home that fits your needs can be strenuous, but don't let the difficult search process push you into making a purchase before you have the opportunity to conduct a professional inspection. Older homes are more likely to need fixes or contain quirks that you may not want to take on.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recommended making a list of features you'd like an inspector to focus on, which should include facets like windows, chimneys, roofs, foundations, porches and plumbing systems. While surveying the home, be sure to take pictures of any damage you see so you can keep track of potential problems.

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