Things to Know Before Buying in Historic Neighborhoods

Historic neighborhoods reflect Colorado’s charm and rich history. For some homebuyers, the idea of owning a piece of history is very attractive. Buying a property from a particular era or architectural style brings great pride and joy.

But before you purchase a vintage home, make sure you understand the commitment to preserving its history.

Historic Home Advice from Experts

“Buying a home in a historic district is not just an investment in a house, but history as well,” said Joseph Saldibar, architectural services manager at the History Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.  “If you make the purchase, commit to preserving that home’s historic character.”

Historic neighborhoods attract a specific kind of homeowner. If you’re not willing to upload the historic significance of the home, consider looking in a different neighborhood. Sellers often want to find a new owner who will commit to preserving the home’s history.

Gheda Gayou, Preservation & Architectural Programs Manager at the History Colorado State Historical Fund says, “If you’re drawn to a neighborhood because of its historic charm, then expect to put your money into maintenance rather than flashy additions.”

Your real estate agent can help you understand the considerations of owning and preserving a historic home. “Before buying a historic home, one needs to check the neighborhood’s codes pertaining to historic homes. Will you need city approval to renovate or update a home (windows, doors, roof, etc.)?”  asks Janie Stoddard, GRI, CRS at Coldwell Banker Devonshire.

Talk with your REALTOR® for more information about a specific historic home. They can help you find the answers to these questions and more.

Tips for Buying a Historic Home

Before purchasing a historic home, consider the unique responsibilities that buying and owning a historic home brings:

  • Historic neighborhoods tend to sell faster, have lower turnover, and hold their home value.
  • Charm can be expensive. Repairs on a vintage home can be more costly and take longer if compliance processes are involved.
  • Know the local planning and zoning guidelines, including any restrictions on home design. Controls can range from a cursory evaluation by zoning administration to a lengthy review by a commission regarding the historic sensitivity and architectural compatibility. Permits for changes that seem minor may be required, especially for any exterior changes.  Replacements may be expensive if you’re required to use similar materials.
  • Check your local crime statistics. Some historic neighborhoods have high crime rates, while others are some of the safest areas of a city or county.
  • Get used to more traffic. Historic neighborhoods often attract more onlookers, from history buffs to walking tours.
  • Work with a knowledgeable and experienced Vintage Homes/Historic Homes specialist to help you be confident with your decision.

Denver’s many historic districts include Victorian, Mid-Century Modern, Bungalow-style, Tudor, Denver Square and more. Learn more about Vintage Homes in Colorado.

For more advice, talk with your REALTOR® about the benefits and considerations of buying a historic home.

Originally published October 7, 2016 – Updated August 13, 2020