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A Complete Guide to Buying a Historic Home

Monday, May 27, 2024   /   by Teresa Pileggi

A Complete Guide to Buying a Historic Home

A Complete Guide to Buying a Historic Home

Owning a historic home is not all about having an old roof above your head. It is about owning a home with a unique backstory and attractive aesthetics that distinguish it from other houses within the neighborhood. However, unlike regular or new homes, buying a historic home comes with considerations and challenges that you must be aware of beforehand. 

So, does the watercolor art at Colborne Lodge or the ancient architecture on Adamson Estate appeal to you? 

Do you also want to own a home with the 1900s Victorian design within the Great Toronto Area? 

While this might sound like a rewarding experience with a glimpse into

the area's history, the truth is that it is always a challenging journey. Therefore, here is what you should know about historic homes before buying one

What Defines a Historic Home?

A historic home, or heritage home in Canada, is any home that is vital to Canadian history or culture. Some states designate historic homes based on their ages (50 years or older). However, in Canada, the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture designates historic homes based on cultural significance. That means there is no age requirement for a home to be designated as historic.

Another thing to note is that the Ontario Heritage Act provides the criteria for a home to be designated as heritage before it is added to the Heritage Register. Some of the criteria that the home must meet include:

? It must have a design or physical value due to its unique or rare craftsmanship, material, and contraction, and it must display a high level of technical achievement.

? It must have a historic value due to its association with a specific event, person, or institution with a community significance.

? It is a landmark. 

Is Buying a Historic Home Worth It?

Buying a heritage home can be your lifetime achievement, especially if you love owning one-of-a-kind property. However, in some cases, the decision may be costlier, considering the complexity of the ownership process. 

Therefore, before buying a historic home, you need to ask yourself questions like:

1. Are you ready to adhere to strict guidelines?

Historic districts have pre-set guidelines that dictate the changes you make on your property. While some districts may have minimal oversight, others have strict rules that limit you to the old architectural and historical features. You need to familiarize yourself with these guidelines before deciding to pursue your dream.

2. Are you ready to preserve the character?

Becoming a new owner makes you a steward of the home's history. That means you need to preserve its ancient features and history because they are part of its historical significance. This includes leaving the small rooms or wood floors the way you found them, even if they seem inconvenient to you.

3. Can you share your home with the community?

Most historic homes are used for philanthropic purposes like hosting community fundraising and open house tours. As a new owner, you should be ready to receive visitors frequently who want to have a piece of the community pride.

4. Are you ready for meticulous maintenance costs?

Maintaining a historic home is not like a regular or new house with modern materials or appliances. An old house can cost a lot of time and money to renovate and maintain.

Additionally, most local jurisdictions may require you to maintain the house on a tighter schedule than you are comfortable with. Others will require an appointed architect or lawyer to be involved in the modifications.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Buying a Historic Home

Owning a historic home brings you close to the district or national history. The property also gives an unmatched makeup that has stood the test of time without falling. 

Therefore, among others, here are the key benefits of buying a historic home:

? It adds you to a community committed to history preservation: After buying a historic home, you become a dedicated neighbor and steward of the community's history. Even if it denies you certain property rights, you will be proud to be part of a group that values history.

? You can get financial assistance for renovations: During the buying process, you can look for state-specific assistance for historic home renovation. These include the Heritage Tax Rebate Program, which helps homeowners recoup the costs of maintaining the property's historical significance.

? Higher return on investment: A well-maintained historic home in a developing area with increasing property values is likely to have a higher return on investment. The home is also likely to hold its value even when the market slumps. Unfortunately, like any other risky investment, buying a historic home comes with its drawbacks.

These include:

? Strict restrictions: Some historic districts have strict regulations that determine the home's architectural compatibility and historic sensitivity. These can make your buying process complex and daunting.

? Costly and frequent repairs: Historic homes may require frequent repairs to preserve their architecture and history. Some of the historically authentic materials needed to repair such houses are also rare and expensive, making the overall costs beyond some buyers' reach.

? Unpredictable return on investment: Historic homes in less-maintained districts may be less attractive, which reduces their resale value. Moreover, costly and frequent repairs and strict pre-set guidelines can scare away potential buyers, endangering your investment.

? Difficulties in home financing and insurance: Some lenders shy away from historic homes, while others find it difficult to schedule home appraisers. Similar to home insurance, some insurance companies can hesitate to agree on a homeowner's insurance or make it expensive.

Tips For Buying a Historic Home Buying a historic home is like acquiring any other property, with a process that starts with the mortgage pre-approval to the closing table. However, considering how tricky the transaction can be, it is wise to have a few tips at your fingertips. 

These include:

? Compare several historic homes: Take time to tour several open houses to pick the right architectural style and interior layout. Comparing different homes also gives you a clear picture of which pre-set guidelines you are comfortable with.

? Schedule home inspection: A historic home can have many not-so-obvious issues that you cannot identify yourself. You can protect yourself from such issues by hiring a home inspector with experience in historic homes and including an inspection contingency clause in your offer.

? Be aware of the maintenance and renovation costs: After home inspection, you can research maintenance and renovation costs to avoid surprises after closing the deal.

? Review the entire historic property: Some historic homes can also have attached structures that contribute to their historic significance. These include spring, smoke, tenant, and carriage houses. Remember to review the entire property and not just the primary home.

The Bottom Line

Owning a historic home offers you a unique privilege over a regular homeowner. That is because you become part of the local or state history and get to enjoy more tax benefits. However, making this decision requires an extra level of caution due to strict regulations and the risks involved. Therefore, before buying a historic home, ensure you research and understand all the benefits and drawbacks you are likely to face.

Pileggi Real Estate Team - eXp Realty
Tom Pileggi, Broker
P.O. Box 1665
Holland Landing, ON L9N 1P2

Information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Data is deemed reliable, but is not guaranteed accurate by the MLS®. Copyright 2024 Last Updated June 18, 2024
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