Historic Living… Do Historic Homes Sell for More Money?

Photo by Michelle Mechem

Historic homes often have a charm and character that is lacking in newer construction. I hate to give my “lawyer” response but it really depends on several factors as to if they garner more money. The construction of a home really reflects its birthdate. Homes built 80 years or more ago have a very different construction. Some good and some that has been improved greatly over the years.

Building materials have changed. 100 years ago, most wood was from old growth forests. This means the trees grew slowly over many, many years. This wood is stronger and denser. It can span a much larger area than wood that is produced today. Old growth wood is also less susceptible to moisture and wood destroying organisms such as termites. It is also physically bigger. That’s right. A 2 x 4 in a 100-year-old house is actually 2 inches by 4 inches. Today a 2 x 4 is actually 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches.

Some older homes include building materials that are now considered toxic, such as asbestos. Asbestos shingles were very common in the 1930’s and 1940’s because they were flame retardant. Wood frame homes tended to burn down with the use of fireplaces and oil and gas lamps prior to this time. It is now known that as long as asbestos shingles are maintained they are not dangerous, but great care needs to be taken to remove them, usually by a professional abatement company.

The layout of a home is a great way to tell its age. In the late 1800’s, many homes had a small front parlor to receive guests. The largest room in the house was usually the dining room. Most of the entertaining was done in this room. Large homes had domestic staff that did the cooking and the last thing you’d want your guests to see is the kitchen and the dirty dishes. This means in many homes prior to the 1950’s and the advent of television, the dining room was larger than the living room and the kitchen was hidden from view.

Photo by Daniel Moore Studios

Today, most people want the kitchen open to the rest of the house. Mom’s want to see both the kids and the giant flat screen TV. Some homes do not even have a formal dining room. Historic homes that have been modified to today’s style of living tend to sell faster and for more money. It is a great move to take out a back wall and expand the kitchen and even add a “keeping” room.

Many historic homes were built with only one bathroom once indoor plumbing was invented. Today, taking unused bedrooms and turning them in to additional baths and closet space will greatly increase the value of a historic home.

A historic home that has been thoughtfully renovated to preserve its charm yet modified for today’s style of living is the most desirable and will then garner the most resale value. If you have questions about historic property or what renovation to take on, give us a call. 404-978-2273.

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Michelle Hipp

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