Experience Matters

Historic Homes and Properties


For many Americans, the lure of historic homes is sometimes pretty strong. Many home decor shows and publications sell the idea of an updated historic home as an attainable real estate goal. The reality is that historic homes do have a certain charm that is hard to find in modern construction, and many of the small details of historic homes (wainscot paneling, decorative crown molding and more) have been introduced into current architectural design but with modern twists.

Even though historical design elements are easily obtained in modern properties, real historic homes still draw buyers and history enthusiasts alike. Depending on your location in the United States, certain areas have many more historic homes available than others, and certain geographic areas are prided on their historic homes and properties. For a property or home to be considered historic, it needs to meet a number of criteria set by the National Register of Historic Places, otherwise it's just an 'old' property. Whether you're specifically looking for a designated historic home, or yearning for the charm and character of an old home, there are things you need to know before you sign the sale papers.

Historic Districts

Many historic and old homes are located within a city's historic district. While there are plenty of old homes not in historic districts, if you choose to purchase a home within one, you may run into some issues when it comes to changes you would like to do to the property. This means homes within historic districts usually have to abide by a set of criteria for exterior updates (meaning paint colors, window types, etc.). While this could seem limited in terms of expression, the bright side is that other homes and properties have to abide by the same rules, meaning all homes will have similar exterior features. It's also important to note that it's more likely a state or local historic registry will have restrictions - districts on the National Register of Historic Place do not have restrictions.


Historic homes and properties have stood the test of time, and rightly so as they are generally structurally sound. But this is not the case for all of them, and time does do a number of things to a property. If you have a dream of buying a shabby historic home and updating it, practice caution. Updating, renovating or remodeling historic or old homes can be a huge budget buster, especially if the property is in ruin or hasn't been taken care of over the years (or centuries). A steady income or large budget may be needed depending on the amount of work to be done; it is also possible to receive a grant or tax program though a state historic preservation office, but not all states offer such programs.

Historic homes can also come with historic or out-of-date construction materials: bad electrical wiring, outdated plumbing, smaller doorways or alcoves that won't accommodate modern appliances and furniture, lead paint, asbestos, and a number of other things. If you're not ready to potentially address all of these issues, an old or historic home might not be the best choice for you.


Restrictions can come in a number of forms, from limits on renovations to financing. Very rarely are additions allowed on historic homes, and windows, shutters and roofs generally have to embody the original design style of the property. Living in a historic neighborhood can mean higher taxes than a regular neighborhood, and sometimes it can be difficult to get a general mortgage loan for a historic or old home (especially if it's in need of many repairs). Home insurance can also be hard to come by, as the home may need many costly repairs or replacements of historic elements that might not be easily attainable. If the home is not on a state or local historic registry, it's generally easier to get home insurance if an owner can update the property as they see fit.

Old and historic homes are something to cherish in our country. They are a testament to often forgotten time periods, and for many history enthusiasts their story, and their architecture, stand as a reminder for today's generations of what once was in the U.S. If you have a yearning for a historic home, take some time to research your local historic property market and talk to other historic home owners to understand all that goes into these beautiful properties.


Finances and Buying a Home

Home ownership has always been a top dream for millions of Americans, and with the many television shows, magazines and other media geared toward owning a home in the U.S., buying a home is very much a reality in our country.

While we can get caught up in the very fun aspect of looking at homes, browsing the many websites dedicated to real estate, looking for a home or property is just one aspect in the entire home buying process. One part, of which is fairly important and might be casually looked over at the beginning, is that of getting one's finances in order to begin a home search. Finances are a huge part of buying, especially if you'll be applying for a mortgage loan. To put yourself in a great position before you begin your home or property search, use the tips below regarding credit, a home budget and having cash for a down payment and closing costs to help you ensure you have your bases covered before you begin your property search.



One of the most important aspects of your finances when it comes to buying a home, or even in general, is your credit. Your credit is your ability to obtain goods or services before payment. Credit, when it comes to home ownership, generally means a mortgage loan. The majority of buyers in the United States will have to obtain a mortgage loan in order to purchase a home or property, and that's ok. Mortgage loans have been around for decades, helping buyers who might not have a cash payment be able to afford a home. If you are one of the thousands of home buyers that will need to look into a mortgage loan, getting your credit in order before looking at homes is an excellent step to take in getting your finances in order.

Your credit is made up of your credit score and your credit report. A credit score is a three digit number that is generated based on what is in your credit report, and it basically tells banks and other lenders what your creditworthiness is. In general, a higher credit score means better creditworthiness. Your credit report is a detailed report of your credit history, and the information is used to generate your credit score.

When most people consider buying a property, one of the first things that's suggested is to get one's credit in order. This can mean a number of things, but it includes running a credit report, checking a credit score, and paying off or paying down any debts that might be outstanding in order to have a better credit score and higher creditworthiness. If you're looking at buying, run your credit report to make sure it's current, up-to-date and that there's nothing 'off' on the report. You want to make sure all the information that's listed is true and only pertains to you.



We all can get wrapped up in the fun and excitement of property searches, and many times our wants and likes go beyond what our budgets can afford. Once you have your credit in check, the next thing to do is determine your budget. The best advice to heed when thinking about a budget: you want to be financially comfortable. You already know your monthly expenses as a non-homeowner, but if you don't, dedicate some time to sitting down and writing out all your monthly expenses to get an idea of how much you or your household spends each month. Compare this number to the amount of money you bring in each month. If you're already renting, you know how much of your income goes toward your rent, renters insurance, and any other expenses that come along with your rental unit.


If you don't rent, once you have all of your spending written out, you'll have a good understanding of how much you have left each month that can go toward a mortgage payment or toward a down payment. An excellent tool that can be found on the Internet is a Home Affordability Calculator - this helps to determine a comfortable monthly payment based on all of the other recurring expenses a household might have.


Cash for a Down Payment and Closing Costs

Another part of finances when it comes to buying a home or property is a down payment and closing costs. You've made sure your credit is in order; you've figured out a comfortable budget for a monthly home payment; now is the time to set some cash aside. A down payment is generally required when taking out a mortgage loan. Most lenders require a down payment and it goes toward the total amount of the mortgage loan. Your down payment is going to be based off of the type of mortgage loan you get - which, percentage wise, can range all the way up to 20% of the total purchase price. There is no limit to the down payment, as you can pay as much as possible toward it, but for the majority of home buyers the down payment will be anywhere up to 20% of the final price.


Another cash expense of home buying is closing costs. Closing costs are fees that are associated with the closing of a real estate transaction, and they are paid either by the buyer, seller, or both parties together. The costs are based on the type of property that is purchased, the location of the property, and a number of other things, but for the most part closing costs can range anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price. Closing costs, just like a down payment, are made in cash, and sometimes buyers can negotiate for a seller to cover closing costs. To be on the safe side, have enough cash set aside to cover both a down payment and closing costs when buying a home or property.

Buying a home is an exciting life event, but it's also a large financial event. Before you begin your home search, have all your bases covered when it comes to finances and the home search will be much more rewarding and less stressful in the long run.


Want more information?  Give me a call!  I'd be happy to lend my expertise or refer you to a mortgage professional to start the process! 

Janis Ford

Direct: (724) 601-5284   - Call or Text
Office: (724) 933-6300x520


Page:  of 000  |