Historic Homes: Is ‘Owning Old’ Right for You?
Samantha DeBianchi | Zillow Blog | April 4, 2013 | link
This home in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood was built in 1713 and served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It’s currently on the market for $325,000.
“They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
We’re all familiar with this phrase, often uttered by people lamenting the lack of quality and durability of new things, whether it be a car, a set of tools, a kitchen appliance or even a home.
When it comes to homes that are more than 50 years old, this phrase has a double meaning, which could be good or bad — depending on what’s important to you.
A client recently closed on an adorable bungalow built in the 1920s in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. In South Florida, it doesn’t get much older than that. The house was love at first sight, from the Dade County Pine construction — a virtually extinct wood that is highly durable and resistant to wood-destroying creepy crawlers — to the fireplace, lush tropical yard and plaque from the historical society recognizing the home’s historical significance (but not designating it as a historical place, an important distinction).
You literally cannot buy this type of home anymore. Many similar homes fell in to disrepair over the years and were knocked down to make way for multi-family units. This little gem survived and was improved with care by its prior owners, who added central air conditioning and converted the fireplace to gas, among many other labors of love.
This historic home purchase was a win-win for the client, who is excited to own a little piece of local history, and for the sellers, who knew their home would be cared for. But, it wouldn’t be for everyone.
Here are some points to ponder if you’re considering purchasing a historic home.
Many historic homes are smaller in size than newer constructions, particularly when it comes to ceiling height, bathrooms, kitchens and storage space. If you are tall, you may want to pass on a low-ceiling home, or at least re-evaluate ceiling fan placement! You can also see if there are drop ceilings that could be removed to add more height.
“Back in the day” people toughed it out when it came to heating and cooling. Not so much anymore. If the property needs central heat or air, factor in those costs before you purchase.