Earlier this month we sold the house next door to ours. It was 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 their dream 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 One – Selling a Historic Home
If you own a historic home and you’re thinking about selling it, know that you’ll need unlimited patience and persistence. Have realistic expectations about the current state of your home, and be able to answer questions honestly. You’ll also need some detective skills to gather information from deeds, permits, tax incentives, loans and grants, its history, architects, styles, flaws, quirks, original fixtures, your contractors and inspectors, where it is registered, and how much you’ve spent on renovations.
Make an appointment with an experienced Realtor to get a comparative market analysis, discuss your selling game plan, and go over all of the materials you’ve collected. The more details they have about your home, the more tailored they can make their sales pitch to potential buyers. Historic homes are a niche market with a particular buyer.
A comparative market analysis from your Realtor will reveal how your home compares to other historic homes in the area and what those homes recently sold for. An honest Realtor will give you a conservative estimate of what you can get for your home, and will factor in the amount of money you’ve put into its preservation. Keep in mind a timeline – do you want it to sell quickly or do you have time to wait? This will also determine the asking price.
Look at your home with an outsider’s critical eye. Have essential repairs been made to the structure? What is the condition of the roof and frame of the house? Is the electrical circuit up to today’s standards or does it still have nob and tube wiring? These factors can deter buyers, and their lenders from pursuing your home.
Provide the buyers with everything they need to know. What special permits did you pull and who approved them? Who did you use to inspect the house and perform the renovations? Were there any specialists you’d recommend for work in the future? Give them information on the tax incentives and grants you received and if the home is on the National Registry.
Lastly, craft the story of the home. More buyers these days are looking for character that can be found in the home’s history, imperfections, and original features. Start by looking at the deed and researching the previous owners. Were there people of fame or historical significance living there? Who was the architect and where are other examples of their work in the area? What details do you like about the home? For example, is there an original chandelier, beautiful tile pattern, or secret crawl space you could highlight? The home we sold in Sanford had several gorgeous features – Spanish style roof and architecture, a huge fireplace, a wet bar, a butler’s pantry, and a linen closet upstairs.
With patience, honesty, generosity, and the right team of people you can sell your historic home to a buyer who will love and care for it as much as you have.