Love historic homes? 5 things to consider before you buy.

Are you in the market to buy a home and words such as “charm” and “character” top your list of must-haves? Are you looking to feel connected to the historical events and people in a community? Do you get excited at the idea of owning a piece of Milwaukee history? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a historic home might be right for you.

If you are thinking of making a historic home part of your personal history, read on for five things to consider before buying a historic home.

  1. Historic homes attract attention from the community
    To be considered a historic home, a residence needs to be at least 50 years old and satisfy one of four eligibility criteria: be connected to significant, historical events; be connected to the lives of significant individuals; be considered an example of a particular historical style of architecture;  and can be considered likely to provide some form of important historical information.

    These criteria are in place because people maintain a vested interest in holding onto the historical value and aesthetic that these homes contribute to a community. While in some parts of the country the oversight is minimal, in locations with high tourism rates or generally tighter restrictions, you can expect some extra challenges in getting permission for renovations or changes you would like to make. These regulations are well-intentioned and aimed at preserving the historical integrity of the home, but they can be a headache for those that are not prepared.

  2. Renovations require extra considerations
    Due in large part to the previously mentioned oversight from those invested in the historical integrity of these homes, you can expect renovations to take longer and cost more. Permits are typically required for any exterior modifications you want to make, and the process of applying for these permits can take a significant amount of time. In addition, what many prospective owners may not realize is that historically authentic materials are often needed in order to maintain the historical authenticity of the property. These materials can be more costly than contemporary materials because of their difficulty to procure as well as the challenge of finding a licensed professional experienced in the use of these materials.

    However, if you have the extra capital to plan for these unique considerations, maintaining a historic home can become part of the fun. In addition, there are programs that may be able to help you finance the cost of repairs on historic homes.

  3. A good ROI isn’t guaranteed
    When attempting to determine if buying a historic home will net you a positive return on your investment, there are two competing considerations to keep in mind. On the one hand, the more complicated nature of maintenance and renovations previously mentioned are also a large part of what maintains a historic home’s value. On the other hand, much like regular homes, the quality of upkeep, neighborhood safety, and other market factors can impact the value of a historic home.
  4. Be aware of harmful building materials
    Asbestos insulation and lead paint are two building materials that are often found in historic homes that can pose serious health threats. While intervention and remediation is not always necessary, being aware of these materials is. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you work with a Milwaukee home inspector with experience in inspecting historic homes.
  5. Insurance may pose a challenge
    Insurance providers ultimately have a choice in who they insure. By their very nature, historic homes pose unique challenges and risks that may raise red flags with the actuarial departments of many insurance providers. If you are considering purchasing a historic home, it will be in your best interest to begin your search for proper home insurance early in the process. If you know someone who owns a historic home, asking them who provides their insurance may be a good idea. Online groups of historic home enthusiasts may be another source of information that will help you have the peace of mind that this significant investment is properly protected.

At Towne & Country, we have a passion for historic homes in the greater Milwaukee region. If you’re considering a historic home, you need a home inspector with the right expertise. Proudly providing historic home inspections to buyers and sellers in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Brookfield, Wauwatosa, and surrounding communities.