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Pros and cons of buying a historic home

Lorie Crabill

STRASBURG – Homeowners looking to buy a historic property are typically thrilled by its charm and architecture. It’s a chance to own a piece of history and to live with beautiful craftsmanship every day. However, unlike traditional or more modern homes, historic homes need endless care and maintenance to ensure they remain in their best form for generations to come.

According to the National Park Service, which handles the process of evaluating, surveying and nominating historic properties, a piece of property that is deemed and accepted as historical must be at least 50 years old and meet one of four criteria:

  • Be connected to significant, historical events.
  • Be connected to the lives of significant individuals.
  • Be considered an embodiment of a particular master or historical style.
  • Has provided or is likely to provide important historical information.

Lorie Crabill, an agent with Sager Real Estate in Strasburg, discussed the pros and cons of buying a historic home.

PROS

Character and charm

“There’s something to be said for the beauty of a historic home,” Crabill said. “It’s those little fine details that most people won’t find in today’s new construction that entice buyers.”

From gorgeous crown molding and hand-polished woodworking to hidden pocket doors and stained glass windows, each historic home tells its own story through its unique character.

Understanding of history and keeping it alive

“What’s not to love about a historical home?” Crabill said. “They offer a glimpse into the past which very few of us are aware of. What’s more amazing than knowing that your home stood during a monumental moment in time or housed a historical figure. They’re like textbooks, full of information to be consumed by its owner.”

Other benefits include tax incentives, materials, return on investment and curb appeal.

CONS

Limitations on renovations or updates

“A downside to owning a historic home – chances are any renovations or updates you may want to do will be difficult and at times more frustrating that you wish to deal with,” Crabill said.

“Homeowners have to follow restrictions aimed at protecting the character of the property. My best advice is to know the rules of buying a historic home before you buy. That way you know what can be done and can’t.”

Electrical and plumbing problems

“Watch out for homes without updated plumbing or electrical systems because they can be costly to install,” Crabill said. “Old homes often don’t have the wattage to support modern conveniences and therefore need to be updated. A detailed home inspection can pinpoint problem areas in the home, making it easier for homeowners.”

Other cons include limited storage; insurance may be more expensive and unwanted surprises.

Are historic homes worth it?

“I tell all my customers to weigh the pros and cons of buying a historical home before they make the purchase,” Crabill said. “To be honest, not every person can financially and mentally maintain a home that was built over 100 years ago. But for those individuals who love history, charm and character, of course, a historic home would be right for them. They just have to find one that suits all their needs and wants.”

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