Hello from the Hagerstown Tri-State area. So having lived and worked in an area rich in history and loaded with historic homes for the past 30 years– 18 as a realtor– I have personally owned and sold a number of turn-of-the-century and pre-turn-of-the-century homes. When using the term “historic” I am referring to properties built pre-1930, which there are a lot of in this area. You can’t beat the appearance of a well maintained classic older home with a wrap-around porch and bow windows on a tree-lined street in small town USA. This Tri-State area has several small towns offering fabulous older homes including Smithsburg, Boonsboro, Rohersville, Keedysville, Sharpsburg, Shepherdstown, Harpers Ferry, Williamsport, Funkstown, Clear Spring, Greencastle, Chambersburg, and Waynesboro – to name just some areas where you might find a nice older home. I personally have owned four historic homes in the Hagerstown area. My wife and I recently built our first new home together in Washington County the first new home for me.

I often get a number of buyers interested in buying historic homes. Personally, I absolutely love the charm and character of an older home and the solidness of their construction and would not rule out purchasing another one in the future. My advice to buyers considering an older home however is to make sure you really know what you are buying. Make sure you do your research and get proper assistance. Many people do not consider the on-going maintenance and utility costs they will incur during the time of their ownership and wind up with more than they can handle financially.

If you are considering a historic home and wish to move forward with it, first and foremost, I would recommend having a well-qualified home inspector who has a lot of experience and knowledge about older homes complete a thorough home inspection. You want to be sure that structurally and mechanically the house is in good condition or at least has repairs that you know you can handle financially. Often older homes have slate roofs, wood siding, older mechanicals, asbestos-covered pipes, older windows – all of which can cost a pretty penny to repair or replace should you need to. Please do your research first, have it checked out by professionals. Depending on condition, you may also want to have a licensed contractor go through and give you actual estimates if need be, prior to moving forth with the purchase. You must also know if it is located in a “Historic District” as that can govern the types of exterior repairs or improvements you will be able to do. I also suggest you do the research on lead paint issues as anything built pre-1978 will mostly likely have lead. You may want to consider inspections for hazardous substances including lead, radon, and mold. Lastly, be sure to find out and verify if possible, what the true utility costs are. Oil heat and lack of proper insulation can result in exorbitant heat expense as I once found out with one home having two 275-gallon oil tanks in the basement. Ouch!

So is a historic home right for you? It is all a matter of preference and lifestyle and having the time, ability and or money to maintain one. They can be amazing showplaces. They will vary in condition and the amount of on-going maintenance they will require. So, if considering going Historic, do your homework; take your time and really know what you are getting into before jumping right in. There are a variety of homes out there to choose from old to new or somewhere in between, you just have to be patient and find the right fit for you.

Charlotte Aston is a RE/Max agent located in Hagerstown, Maryland. She has been offering full-time professional service since 1997 with an emphasis on customer service. You can contact her 301-991-2036 or at caston61@yahoo.com

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