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What does your Realtor know about homeownership in an historic district?

What are the differences between owning an historic home versus a new home?

Historic homes are ones that are registered on the state or federal registers of historic places. They may be part of historic neighborhoods containing many similar, historically designated structures or single historical structures in neighborhoods with more prosaic homes or mixed quality and styles.

Deciding whether to include old, historic homes in your property search or to focus real estate listings for shiny new residences depends on the virtues you are looking for and the flaws you are willing to overlook.

For some, the choice may come down to not being able to afford the replumbing or rewiring of an historic home to bring it up to modern code and comfort levels. Other house hunters may feel that purchasing a historic house is the only way to afford lots of hardwood and detailed finishes, such as elaborate ceiling trims.

Characteristics to consider when comparing very old and very new include architectural character, the quality of construction and finish, functionality and remodeling restrictions on historic properties.

Architectural Character. It's important to consider that the architectural style of a home and the period in which it was built may not match. Brand-new homes may be built in old-fashioned styles. However, you need to ask yourself whether you would be satisfied with a tract home that looks like the original style on the outside but doesn't look like the real thing from entry to attic to basement.

Construction and Finish. Other characteristics to observe closely include the quality of construction, materials and finishes. For example, a newly constructed, early 20th century Craftsman-style home may include more painted pine and less oak than an original Craftsman bungalow.

Functionality and Remodeling Flexibility. Whether or not a new home is designed to look like an 1890s Victorian, it likely won't contain the tiny closets characteristic of the actual period.

Although state and federal historic district laws may allow you to retrofit a Victorian with somewhat larger closets, you likely won't be allowed to build out, add up or knock out walls for larger spaces, such as master bedrooms or family great rooms. In the case of historic homes, form often doesn't follow modern function.

Locate an expert real estate agent today or begin your search for a new home now by searching through our detailed home listings.

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