Historic Homes: What Every Real Estate Pro Should Know

Many people dream of owning a historic home, especially in Chicago and the surrounding communities. Known as the “architecture capital of the world,” the area offers many different vintage home styles, such as Second Empire, Workers Cottage, Victorian, and Greystone.

Madison, Milwaukee, and other areas of Wisconsin are also becoming more popular with prospective historic homeowners, as the cost of living in the Upper Midwest remains steady and property is more affordable than in other parts of the country. 

Old houses typically feature lots of atmosphere, a sense of history, charming details, and other characteristics that make them irresistible to certain buyers. These types of transactions present both opportunities and challenges for real estate professionals — and they can lead to some of your most satisfying deals.

Let’s take a closer look at why working with historic properties in the Chicago and Wisconsin areas can be immensely rewarding and what you need to know to find success. 

Sourcing Hidden Treasure

To qualify as a historic home, the building must be at least 50 years old and recognized for its architectural or cultural significance. This may include homes that were designed by famous architects, residences that played a significant role in the community, or ones that have unique or distinctive features that are considered to be worthy of preservation.

These buildings are often protected by laws or regulations that aim to preserve their historical value. Homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places are subject to certain preservation requirements that restrict the types of modifications that can be made. You should be familiar with the rules regarding historic property designations in your area so you can help your clients make an informed decision.

Everyone has heard the term “good bones” but older houses frequently have their best features obscured by cosmetic issues that can distract inexperienced buyers. Anyone considering purchasing a historic home should have a thorough inspection performed by a firm that specializes in these types of properties to ensure that the foundation and general structure of the property are sound and there are no hidden issues elsewhere. 

It’s vital to become an expert on local history and architectural styles. Clients may have their hopes set on buying a beautiful vintage house to fix up but are unaware of the region’s vastly different options, depending on their preferences and budget.

The city of Chicago has many interesting older buildings that can be considered historic and dozens of landmark districts, so it’s crucial to fully understand your client’s core needs and be able to recommend specific areas, such as Old Town, Lake Forest or Oak Park.

Expect the Unexpected

One of the biggest challenges in selling historic homes is matching them with the right buyer. Hopeful homeowners should be willing and able to make modifications in order to comply with preservation regulations, deal with potential repairs, or be willing to spend quite a bit of money on upgrades and renovations.

Real estate professionals who specialize in this field need to have an excellent understanding of the various laws and regulations that apply to these properties, as well as the different levels of protection that may be in place. Diligent and thorough research is key to becoming the go-to broker for beautiful classic homes.

These properties can sometimes be difficult to market, as they may have highly unique features or restrictions that make them less appealing to some buyers. On the other hand, these properties can also be desirable to those who are looking for something with architectural significance.

Client education is crucial. HGTV Syndrome is real, and most people have no idea how much work actually goes into turning an outdated old house into a TV-worthy showplace or the budget-busting costs of quality materials and skilled labor. 

Gorgeous vintage residences can command premium prices in today’s market. Real estate professionals who specialize in selling historic homes can develop a niche market that will definitely set them apart from other agents in the area.

The Importance of an Experienced Team

As a real estate professional, it’s critical to stand out from the crowd and establish your brand.

Focusing on historic homes in the Chicagoland and Wisconsin housing markets can give you a distinct advantage when it comes to generating revenue and providing your clients with an unforgettable homebuying experience.

But to find true success in this realm, you need to dive deep into local lore, architectural styles, and current market trends, as well as learn the rules and regulations governing historic buildings in your area. 

Building a top-notch real estate team will enhance your reputation as a knowledgeable and effective agent. Landtrust provides Realtors with a spectrum of services and resources — contact us today to discover more!

Contact Us