When you think of historic properties, you immediately assume they’ll cost a pretty penny.
But you don’t need to be a baller to buy a historic home, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. If you’re looking to own a piece of history for a steal, you can check out several newly listed properties that may be within your budget.
Take the 1926 French chateaux-inspired home in Martinsville, Virginia. Listed at $184,000, the 2,645-square-foot home is move-in ready and offers charming elegance at a reasonable price point. With features like a round tower entrance, arched doorways, rustic wood beam ceilings, and a “Chateauesque” style, its nickname “Castle House” is particularly fitting.
What defines a historic place anyway?
A home is deemed historic by the National Register of Historic Places—or by the local historic board—if it meets any of the following criteria—exemplifies a signature architectural style, captures the essence of a given time period, or is associated with famous people from the past. Homes located in neighborhoods designated as historic districts qualify, as well.
Generally, properties eligible for listing in the National Register are at least 50 years old. Properties less than 50 years of age must be exceptionally important to be considered eligible for listing, according to the National Register of Historic Places Program. So it’s inevitable that a lot of costly upkeep will be necessary to maintain these homes, but it might be worthwhile to buy a piece of American history.
Check out this quaint schoolhouse in Wells River, Vermont. Built in 1874, the 6,000-square-foot Old Village School is representative of French Second Empire architecture. It actually served as the town’s school until 1967 and was entered into the National Register of Historic Places. The building currently houses two apartments and four businesses, with two rooms that are currently unrented. The NTHP markets the house as a perfect income property. The village of Wells River is a tiny, sleepy village and the schoolhouse has been on the market since February 2016. You can snag it for $180,000.
Now, if you’re looking for a roll-up-your-sleeves sort of project to really tackle, the 1900 Victorian McNinch House needs a lot of work. Listed in November for a mere $55,000, the 3,445-square-foot home in Anderson, South Carolina is not in livable condition and is most urgently in need of a new roof. Though it’s not ready to live in, it may be the perfect match for a semi-retired contractor or someone who’s handy around the house and looking for a fixer-upper.
This 1913 home in Galveston, Texas was recently restored by the town’s historical foundation. Listed in November of last year, the 997-square-foot home is going for $189,000. Having been recently renovated, the property blends historical significance and simple, yet modern livability. It’s also ready for you to move in.
How about a 1785 Colonial Inn, complete with three bedrooms, cathedral-style ceilings and a stable on 1.64 acres in Greensburg, Pennsylvania? First listed in November 2016 and with a sticker price of $225,000, the historic stagecoach inn has unique offerings like a blown glass window, bilevel parking and three exposed fireplaces.
If owning a piece of American history isn’t a big enough sell for you, there is also another possible incentive — you may be eligible for certain tax breaks. Properties listed in the National Register may qualify for a 20% investment tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of income-producing certified historic structures like commercial, industrial or rental residential buildings.