Historic homes and historic districts bring with them a special kind of charm; whether that charm comes from a connection to a significant historic event, having your breath taken away by the beauty of the architecture, or the feeling of community at your feet when walking down cobblestone, tree-lined avenues, it doesn’t matter because it remains true throughout that some of the most walkable, beautiful, thriving, and dynamic communities in the U.S. today are those that honor their history by preserving the integrity of their historic structures.
The Mid-Ohio Valley is an area full to the brim of historic significance, much of which is due to the abundance of historic homes featured in our community. Living in a historic home is a great honor, but also a great responsibility. Here are a few questions to consider when deciding to purchase an historic home.
- What’s the history of the home? This is easy enough to answer with resources like the National Register of Historic Places at your fingertips. Also, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is a great resource for searching real estate listings of historic homes. Find out what gives your home its historic value and wear it like a badge of honor! Tip: look into the home’s deed trust and check with local government agencies.
- What benefits exist for historic home buyers? Owning a piece of history is surely a benefit to living in an historic home, but there are also tax benefits that come with it! Federal tax credits are managed by the National Park Service and Internal Revenue Service for either 10% or 20% tax credit (learn more here: Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program) and state tax credits are managed through local offices. In Ohio, the State Historic Preservation Office works with the Ohio Development Services Agency and the Ohio Department of Taxation to administer tax credits of up to 25% for qualified properties (Learn more here: Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program).
- Are there funds available to help preserve historic homes? It’s not a secret that maintaining the architectural integrity of an historic home can often be an expensive adventure; worthwhile, absolutely, and necessary to the sustainability of a community, but finances are of course a huge consideration. Luckily, financial resources are made available to communities and properties that qualify. For communities that qualify as Certified Local Governments in Ohio, up to $100,000 are available annually to fund historic preservation projects. An additional $20,000 is made available annually for historic preservation projects through the Ohio History Connection History Fund! (Learn about other grants here: Ohio History Connection Historic Preservation Related Fund Sources).
- I’m nervous about taking on an historic home and doing it right. What red flags should I look for? What resources are available to help me? In no way should purchasing an historic home be done alone, and because that’s a widely-understood idea, there is an abundance of support to guide you on the journey! Once you’ve found an historic home you’d like to purchase, before you even think about paint color and window seats, you should hire a home inspector who specializes in historic preservation to highlight potential restoration projects, especially the costly ones, and to shine a light on the standards for historic homeownership. If there are any structural issues, be sure to include those in a budget. Developed standards for historic home renovations and preservation are available online in multiple formats, which you can access by visiting the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.
To learn about the Four Approaches to the Treatment of Historic Property, visit the National Park Service website