Guide to Buying & Selling *Haunted Homes in Central Florida

29672_420086563435_5716708_nEarlier this month we sold the house next door to ours. It is a historic home that oozes charm, built in 1927, and designed by the first architect in Seminole County, Elton J. Moughton. A few years ago we had the experience of helping someone buy a home in the historic district of Sanford. Both transactions have inspired us to write this two-part guide on buying and selling historic homes in Central Florida.

Part Two – Buying a *Historic Home

In 2010 we helped a client buy a Victorian home in the Historic District of Sanford. That year she participated in Sanford’s annual Holiday Tour of Homes. She met a woman who lived in her home as a child and shared fond memories of the house (she and her siblings regularly climbed out a window onto the roof!). It was our client’s dream to restore an old home to it’s former glory.  If you too share this dream and are wondering if a historic home is right for you, we’ve gathered some helpful tips for making your decision.

Historic homes are those generally considered to be 50 years or older. They also possess a signature architectural style, capture the essence of a time period, or are connected to the people or history of the area. Essentially the integrity of the home is determined by several factors such as its location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. With this list in mind as you begin your search, what homes are you looking for? A sprawling Old Florida style home in a historic district? Or maybe a mid-century modern with a famous past?unnamed Sparrow Realty Group’s owners Brian and Ingrid live in a 50’s ranch house with an original pink bathroom they plan on keeping. It’s a midcentury jewel that is just too darn cool!

Your next step is to make an appointment with a Realtor to discuss buying a historic home. They can set up a custom search for you including the age of a home, the area it’s located, your budget, and specific styles. The market for historic homes is a fairly narrow niche, but an experienced Realtor can help you find the perfect place. Listed below are the residential historic districts in Central Florida as recorded by the National Register of Historic Places.

10448820_642129907384_1376979700313969084_nHistoric Districts of Orlando

  • Downtown
  • Lake Cherokee
  • Lake Copeland
  • Lake Eola Heights
  • Lake Lawsona
  • Colonial town South

Historic Districts Orange County, FL

  • Eatonville
  • Griffin Park
  • Holden-Parramore
  • Interlachen Avenue
  • Lake Adair-Lake Concord
  • Lake Ivanhoe182115_567551183744_1558004065_n
  • Rosemere
  • Winter Garden
  • Downtown Winter Park

Historic Districts Seminole County, FL

  • Sanford
  • Longwood

Historic Districts of Lake County, FL

  • LaRoe Family Homestead
  • Mount Dora

Your goal as a historic homeowner is to preserve a home’s true nature and original construction.  Local and state laws maintain strict guidelines for rehab and restoration on historic homes which often means you’ll need to obtain a special permit, and repair something rather than replace it. A common restriction is that windows, shutters, and roofs can only be preserved or replaced in kind. Make sure to factor repairs into your total budget – these can be quite costly. You can view the State of Florida rehab standards here: Other potential costs to consider are the higher taxes levied on historic districts, and higher energy bills.

69222_601931575164_331637964_nThere are federal tax breaks, lower interest loans, and grants available for historic homeowners that can help recoup some of the costs.

Here are a few to get you started:

Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program

National Trust for Historic Preservation Grant

FHA 203(k) Loan – up to $35,000 added to a mortgage for property renovation

When you’ve found the right house and your offer has been accepted, the next step is crucial: an inspection by a historic homes specialist. In Central Florida termites and flooding can cause serious structural damage, especially to wood-frame houses. There are also safety and health standards to consider such as asbestos and lead paint. If there are any major structural problems with the home don’t go through with the purchase. At this point you may consider getting estimates from contractors who specialize in restoration as well.

Once you’ve made it through searching, crunching the numbers, inspecting, and closing on your home you are officially a historic home owner! Your historic home will always have an honored place in history.

Special thanks to Nick and Tacy Perry for the photos of their historic home progress.