Are you in love with a historic home or a house located in a historic district? Before signing the contract, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Older homes often have structural or hidden problems that newer homes don’t have. So, before you seal the deal, you need to be sure the pros outweigh the cons. Today, we’ll help you do just that. Here are six tips and things to consider before buying a historic home.

What constitutes a historic home?

Several factors may come into play to constitute a historic home. The original owner might’ve been an important historical figure, the home could exemplify a certain architectural style, it may be located in a historic district, or a historic event may have taken place in the home.

Why do you want a historic home?

Many historical homes are beautiful, unique, charming, and historically significant (obviously). At first glance, you may think a historical home is exactly what you want, but before you make the decision to purchase one, you need to dig a little deeper. The National Register of Historic Places is the United State’s official list of historic locations deemed worthy of preservation.

Consider the restrictions.

Even though you may buy and own a historic home, you could face restrictions. Certain districts may place restrictions on how much you can change your home’s exterior, such as colors or window types. In some areas, you won’t be allowed to change anything at all, making it impossible for you to make updates as you please. Not all districts enforce these limitations, however, so be sure to check your local planning department for detail.

Will you keep up on required maintenance?

Certain historical homes require regular maintenance. You may be expected to hire preservationists or landscapers to keep your home’s appearance up to par. Keep this in mind as you’re figuring your budget. It could significantly add to your ongoing costs.

Make sure you can sufficiently finance and insure the home.

With a vintage home can come unexpected problems. You’ll likely need to replace or repair some things over time. This makes it imperative that you have some money saved up for unexpected expenses at all times. If you can’t afford to incorporate these funds into your ongoing budget, reconsider buying a historic home. Also keep in mind that it may be more difficult to find an insurance company that will willingly sell you a home insurance policy, particularly if your home is on a state or local registry; if it’s only federally registered, it will be free of restrictions, and, therefore, easier for you to insure.

Don’t skip the home inspection!

Home inspections aren’t always required, but they’re almost always necessary! You need to know what you’re getting before you commit. Try to find a home inspector with historic home experience. He or she will be more familiar with common problems that accompany many similar homes. These commonly include asbestos and lead paint. The home may need to be brought up to code, which will require the work of a licensed contractor. If you find that the home has more serious problems, like structural problems, you should very likely just walk away and look for something else. Not only are historical homes often difficult to renovate or remodel (due to restrictions), they can also end up being very expensive and time-consuming to fix up. Also, take a look at the energy bills from the previous year. Does it cost more than you’d like to pay?

You may think we’re trying to discourage you from buying a historical home by feeding you pessimistic information. That’s not the case! We just want you to know exactly what you’re signing up for ahead of time. Many historical homes are very well preserved and come with few or no major problems. Make sure you do your research before buying, and you can enjoy your beautiful historic home for many years to come.