What if I buy a historic home?

We love selling charming homes and working in historic districts. One of the most common questions I get asked when buyers look at homes listed for sale in historic neighborhoods is “what restrictions are placed on improvements and changes to the structure?” That’s an answer that can vary greatly.

All homes within city limits are going to be subject to zoning and ordinances, but homes in historic districts may be subject to special considerations based strictly on a house being in one of the city’s historic districts. Across the country there are some historic districts that are also “preservation districts”. Those districts sometimes have overlay zoning or the equivalent that puts restrictions on changes that can be made to the structures within certain geographic boundaries. For example, I lived in the Brady Heights neighborhood in Tulsa for several years. That neighborhood has a preservation overlay that prevents property owners from making significant changes to the front façade of the home without approval from a preservation commission. I currently own a home in Fayetteville's historic Wilson Park neighborhood. Unlike Brady Heights, Wilson Park does not have an overlay. There are no restrictions beyond city ordinance on what a homeowner can do to the structure. 

The best resource is your local preservation or historical commission. They can answer any specific questions about neighborhoods or changes to structures you own or might be interested in purchasing.

Some individual structures are also listed as historic sites. You might be familiar with the National Park Services’s National Registry of Historic Places. Many times a listing on this or another preservation registry doesn’t preclude a home owner from making changes. However, it’s important to note that some changes may cause the structure to lose its status. It will be important to research this before making any changes.

For more information about historic homes or any of your area’s wonderful historic districts contact me anytime!