By Vanessa Saunders, MBA, MIMC , Broker Owner, Global Property Systems Real Estate.
The landscape of the Hudson Valley is dotted with historic residences – Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside mansion in Irvington, and Martin Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, NY to name but a few. There are hundreds of lesser-known buildings that are significant to Hudson Valley’s rich history, many of which are still being used as private homes today,
We recently sold one such property, a home in central Orange County on the original location of the Clinton Homestead. The Clinton property is the birthplace of NY’s first Governor, George Clinton. For its age, the property is in remarkably good condition, especially since it hasn’t been lived in for many years. The property was built by John Springstead Bull in 1856. Extensive period detail remains in the home. The exterior stonework appears to be mostly original with carved inscriptions intact. Inside, high ceilings, wide plank floors, wood-paneled walls, carved woodwork, and plaster moldings lend elegance from a time gone by.
While it’s a fun idea to own and inhabit a piece of American history, historic residences like these present a unique set of benefits and challenges. If you’re considering buying a historic home, you should do the following.
1. Thoroughly research the home.
Research a registered property through the National Registry of Historic Places. For older homes not registered, start with the New York State Historical Preservation Office , which can provide useful information on the history of older individual properties. This includes any pertinent rules or regulations regarding ownership, renovations that may or may not be allowed, and any available tax incentives.
2. Check to see if it qualifies for historical designation. If your property meets certain standards of age and distinction, it may be worth seeking a place on the Historic Registration. But getting a home officially sanctioned as historic can be a difficult process. The property must first meet specific criteria and be approved by the State Historical Preservation Office. A property that qualifies may be eligible for financial incentives and/or tax breaks, or funding for restoration and preservation.
3. Make a conditional offer. It is a good idea to make your initial offer contingent on two things: That you can get financing, and that the house is able to pass a professional inspection. Older homes are notorious for structural defects you may not be able to see but which can change the value of the house drastically.
4. Hire a professional home inspector. This is probably the most important step in buying an older home. Whether simply by age or neglect, historic homes may require major repairs and improvements to make them livable and bring them up to code. For homes that have stood vacant for long periods of time, this is especially true. Common trouble spots include dangerous sub-standard wiring, asbestos, leaking roofs, damp basements, and toxic lead-based paint, Your inspector will also know how to find evidence of insect or rodent problems. Also high on the inspector’s list are out-of-date heating, plumbing, or electrical systems. When you have a clear picture of what kinds of renovations need to be done, make sure they can be accomplished without damaging the home.
5. Make your final offer. Take any problems the inspector may have found to the seller and adjust your offer accordingly. If the owner agrees to make good on any improvements, either by fixing them before closing or making an allowance off the purchase price, be sure to get these promises included in the purchase agreement and stipulate that any renovations done by the owner will be done without damaging the home’s historical makeup or designation. Be sure to check in the agreement to see if there are any items from the home (antiques, chandeliers, brass knobs or fittings, etc.) that the seller has excluded from the deal. If they are important to you, you may be able to negotiate for them before closing.
6. Be careful when renovating. If you have renovation plans for your “new” historic home, it’s best to hire a contractor who specializes in working on historic properties. Check references thoroughly, because there may be restrictions on what you can and can’t do to a historic home, and not all contractors are aware of them. If the home is in a designated historic area, you may not be allowed to replace doors and windows, or even what color you can paint the house.
7. Keep reselling in mind. The cachet of famous former owners or a connection to certain historic events may not necessarily make your older home valuable beyond its current worth. Some older homes can be difficult to sell. Not all buyers are willing to accept the quirks of an old home or the expenses it may incur. Know the home, its history, and the market, and then carefully be sure you know what you’re getting into before you buy.
Click on the Links below to view the list of currently available Historic Homes all built prior to 1900.
If you don’t find the ideal property, please call us, we may know of a property that will be available soon to suit your specific requirements.
If you currently own a historic home and are considering selling, please contact GPS real estate’s historic home specialist team at 845-848-2218