What Makes an Old House a Historic Home? Guestpost by Gary Ashton

I am very pleased to introduce you to Gary Ashton. He is the CEO and owner of The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage in Nashville, Tennessee and I am thrilled that he was willing to share some of his expertise with us!

As many of you know, I myself purchased an aging home so I think this piece is quite intriguing from the standpoint of an old home owner. Unfortunately, I realize that my place is not quite up to par to hope for a historical home status. But hey, who knows? Maybe in 20 or 30 years…right??

Without further a-do, ‘What Makes and Old House a Historic home’ ladies and gentleman!


What Makes a House a Historic Home

Existing homes make up the largest segment of today’s real estate market, by far. In fact, according to statistics released by the National Association of REALTORS® for 2015, there were more than ten times the number of existing homes sold as newly constructed homes. With 5.24 million of these homes sold and countless more in existence, it is a sure bet that there are a number of historic homes among them. If you are wondering what makes a home historic or why it even matters, the following information will help to answer your questions.

What Criteria Makes a Home Historic?

The definition of an historic home can vary. In most cases, these homes will fit one of the following examples:

  • a home that has been occupied by an historically famous person or where an historic event has occurred in the past
  • homes that are examples of architecture associated with a certain period of history, such as Victorian era homes or those built by an historically significant architect, such as Frank Lloyd Wright
  • homes that are more than 50 years of age are technically considered to be historic, although this is only one of the criteria needed for a home to receive an official designation as a historic home
  • farms that have been continuously operated by the same family for 100 years or more are recognized as historic in some states and officially designated as such

In most cases, homes that were occupied by historically significant people or were the site of an historically significant event have been turned into museums to help preserve their history. Homeowners who want to discover the history of their home should contact the The National Trust for Historic Preservation for more information. Homeowners who discover documentable historic facts about their home may be able to have it officially recognized and designated as an historic home.

Are Historic Homes More Valuable?

In general, homes that have some sort of proven historic significance can be more valuable than other homes, because of their unique historical significance. But there can also be additional costs and complications involved with owning this type of home.

For instance, homes located in some historic districts may require special permit processes for repairs and maintenance, as well as being required to use only approved materials when work on the home is needed.

What are the Best Ways to Market Historic Homes?

To start, any special marketing considerations for the type of property should be followed – e.g. if you’re selling a historic farm home, you’ll want to market it correctly as a farm first, and then figure out how its historical significance can help. Just the fact that there is a very limited supply of historic homes can be a strong selling point, but there are additional marketing tips that homeowners can use to enjoy higher offers on these homes.

The first is to make the home authentic to the reason for its historical significance. This might include making sure it is correctly staged and decorated to reflect its historical era and making sure that any improvements do not deter from its historical value.

If the home has received actual designations documenting its historical significance, these should be noted in all marketing materials and displayed during showings and open house events. Another good marketing tool is to find historical photos and information about the home and incorporate them into the marketing in both web and print media forms.

When selling a historic home, it is also important to understand that most buyers want the look of a historic home along with modern convenience, so it is important to also market these updates. Sustainable updates and green appliances are almost always a good idea.

In closing, make sure the home meets all criteria to be considered a historic home. Don’t just assume. Check the market and see exactly how many historic homes are available in the area. Look at prior sales as well, this might even give you ideas on how to market it more effectively. And above all else, consult a licensed real estate agent


Gary Ashton is the CEO and owner of The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage. His real estate team is #1 in Tennessee, Nashville and now #4 in the world.

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I write much about those things which I have interest.

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