Wilmington is known for its rich history and beautiful Southern architecture. Stroll down any street in Historic Downtown Wilmington and you’re bound to encounter a beautiful historic home that takes your breath away. Despite the charms of living in a historic home, there’s a lot of discussion in the real estate world about whether it’s a good financial investment. Fortunately, the experts at Network Real Estate have laid out everything you need to know before you invest in a historic home.
Understand that an older home means older components. Quality wiring, plumbing, heating/cooling, roofing and a solid foundation are all key considerations when deciding to invest in real estate. Investigate when the last time these components have been upgraded, or whether you would be willing or able to do those renovations yourself. These are all things that will be examined in the home inspection, but your Realtor will also be able to answer many questions about the history of renovation in the home before you reach that point in the purchase process. If you decide to do renovations, know that you will have to follow code if you live in a designated historic neighborhood, such as Historic Downtown Wilmington. Neighborhood codes are the city’s way of ensuring that the look and feel of a neighborhood’s history and tradition are preserved, while also allowing homeowners to update for comfort and lifestyle.
On average, historic homes cost more in utilities every month. Historic homes tend to be more expensive when it comes to heating and cooling, and possibly for electric and gas as well. It really depends on the features of the home. For example, although some historic homes have updated insulation, others don’t, and while original windows are an attractive feature that add historical authenticity to a home, they may not be as efficient at holding in heat and air. It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t always the case, depending on renovations and craftsmanship, but for those shopping for a historic home, it’s certainly a consideration. Sellers may be able to provide utilities cost estimates. For many people, utility costs aren’t a deal breaker, but be sure to budget them in to your total cost and be realistic about your priorities.
The success of your real estate investment has a lot to do with the neighborhood. Beyond the history and quality of the home itself, determining the quality of the neighborhood or even the street is crucial before investing. Many upscale historic neighborhoods are safe investments, but up-and-coming neighborhoods may also be a smart choice, depending on market forecasts in the area. Even if you are generally familiar with the city, your Realtor is still your best resource for neighborhood buying patterns. It’s also worth noting that your property tax is calculated during the home assessment, and assessors look at everything from quality of schools, crime rate, and commutability when determining a home’s market value, not just the property itself.
Figure out what’s important to you to decide what it is you’re investing in. When we use the word “investment,” many times it’s synonymous with a financial investment (and an anticipated return). But when buying a historic home, or any home at all, it’s important to remember the other investments you’re making in your future. Understand that attaining the lifestyle you want is an investment in your happiness, and although there are special considerations with historic homes, the charm, history and beauty of historic homes is a return unto itself. Conversely, you may not have strong feelings about the historic home lifestyle, look and feel, and simply want to make the smartest financial investment. Consider what’s truly important to you, and make decisions based on realistic expectations.
Your Realtor will be a good point person during the shopping part of the purchase cycle, as he or she will be able to remain objective and provide financial guidance while you decide whether a home is the perfect fit for your life (not just your wallet). Network Real Estate has a variety of gorgeous homes available in nearby historic neighborhoods like Historic Downtown and Sunset Park. Contact us today to speak with one of our Realtors about making your real estate dreams a reality.
Kevin McKoy is a GRI-certified, licensed real estate broker at Network Real Estate, which has exclusively served a high volume of property sales and purchases in the greater Wilmington area for over 30 years. With three offices at College Road, Historic Downtown and Pleasure Island, Network’s brokers are widespread and well-versed in this marketplace, making Network a preferred Real Estate company for first-home buyers and beyond.
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