So, you’ve found the house of your dreams. Or, at least, you think it could be the house of your dreams after a whole lot of hard work. The only problem is that you can’t afford it. Is there any way to buy and fix historic properties when your bank account clearly won’t cover the costs? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. You just have to know how, and you can buy and fix historic properties you can’t afford.
Financing Options to Buy and Fix Historic Properties
There are a multitude of financing options available to help with the purchase and renovation of historic houses. If you are truly ready to embark on this path, there are ways to come up with the money. As you will see, there are ways you can afford to fix historic properties. The secret to getting the funding you need lies in your preparation.
Banks offer loans to not only buy homes but also to cover the costs of repairs. If you plan to buy and fix historic properties that are in need of repairs, you need to be prepared when you walk through the doors of the bank. Do your research ahead of time and be ready when you sit down to ask for a loan. The more repairs that are needed, the more prepared you need to be. You need to convince them of what the house can become if they lend you the money. To get a loan, you don’t just need to know what needs to be done. You also need to show them how you will get it done and what it will cost. The better prepared you are with answers to these questions, the more likely you are to walk out with a loan. Put together a binder that contains all of this vital information, complete with pictures if at all possible. Bring with you when you apply for a loan.
There are many grants available to fix historic properties. There are some things you need to be aware of though. Many of these programs also place restrictions on what can be altered on the original property. However, if your interest is to renovate a historic house and restore it to its former glory, you will want to keep the features of the home as historically accurate as possible anyway. Grants are available at local, state, and federal levels as well as through private organizations. Begin with inquiring about what is available through your local historical society.
As with all steps of the renovation process, you will find that the internet is your friend. Not only can you search for available grants, you may be able to find out information about the house as well. If you qualify for any type of special status or the home has a storied history, you may be able to find special conservationist groups that will be interested in helping to fund renovations.
Tax credits are another way to help make it affordable to fix up historic properties. In some states, there are tax credits available for homeowners who renovate historic houses, especially those properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Your home may have eligibility for tax credits if it home is already designated as a landmark or located in another type of designated historic district.
Keeping Renovations Within Your Budget
Once you figure out how to finance the initial purchase of the home and have a budget for renovations, you have to manage to stay within that budget. Staying within your budget can be a lot easier said than done when fixing up historic houses. There will always be surprises that pop up and things that go wrong during the renovation process, so don’t plan to spend every last dime of your budget from the very beginning. From day one, pinch pennies as much as you can be while remaining authentic to the period. Shop around and look for bargains anywhere you can find them. Don’t overlook yard sales, thrift shops, and resale websites like Craigslist and eBay.
Contractors are expensive, so the more of the work you can do yourself, the better. When you don’t have to pay an hourly wage, you have more money to spend on materials. However, it is essential that you be smart about this one. You need to know when to call in a professional. It is vital that you make this decision before you cause more damage and increase the expense. The importance of this cannot be overstated enough. Don’t try to do things that are simply beyond your capabilities. But if you can go the DIY route, do it and save yourself the extra money. Your budget will thank you in the end.
Pacing yourself will help you save your sanity as well as your money. Pace yourself and take on one project at a time. Begin with the most pressing issues, such as repairs to the roof, windows, and masonry. These areas can allow water to leak in, which can cause devastating structural damage to the house. Make a list of all the projects you eventually need to tackle then prioritize these tasks according to importance. Focus instead on just the next item on your list. This is much better than feeling overwhelmed by the entirety of what you are facing. Working to fix historic properties in this way keeps you from having to dump large sums of money on multiple projects all at once
Don’t overlook the power of your community. When it comes to historic places, the community often wants to see the property renovated and maintained. By looking to your community for help you may find more than you expect. The community may help provide manpower, materials, or even professionals who would be willing to donate their time or work for a reduced rate to help fix historic properties.
Figuring out how to buy and fix historic properties when you can’t afford them is a daunting task. Nevertheless, there are options available to help make this dream a reality. It may take some research, but if you put your mind to it, there are ways to finance a historic house and the repairs it needs. And if you are willing to put in a lot of hard work, it is possible to stay on budget and renovate your historic home.
Featured image: CC 2.0 David Berry via Flickr.