Home Buying Tips for Older Homes in Austin

Austin TX is full of different architectures and styles; Austin itself is a city with a long and intricate history. If you’ve just begun your Austin home search, you’ll find the area is booming with both newer and older construction. If you love the charm that older homes offer, and you’re interested in purchasing an older home in Austin, this article can provide some great tips. You’ll find that there are plenty of older Austin homes out there, so here’s what should you be on the lookout for.

There are a variety of things you should keep in mind when buying an older home. The #1 thing that all new home buyers should consider when buying an older home is that for all the charm that they offer, older homes do require more ongoing maintenance and repair. If you’re not looking to spend a lot of time or money on upkeep, you may want to consider whether an older home is the best choice. But if you know an older home is what you’re after, then you’ll want to start your search in certain areas of Austin, such as Hyde Park and Old West Austin. For more information on these and other neighborhoods in Austin, check out our Austin TX neighborhood guide.

The good news is Austin home buying doesn’t have to be aggravating, even when purchasing older homes. The key is to work with qualified Austin real estate agencies and Realtors®, who specialize in older homes and can find you the right older Austin houses for sale.

It’s likely you’ve done some preliminary research at this point, preparing for your home buying process, maybe with a quick home search on the Austin MLS. Tell your Realtor® the elements that interest you in the older homes you’ve found and share the listings with your agent. Doing so will help your Austin Realtor® pinpoint your taste and style. Habitat Hunters is one of the few Austin real estate companies that specializes in older home buying in Austin.

In addition to purchasing older homes in Austin, some home buyers may be interested in homes of historic or architectural significance. These homes sometimes come with more involved regulations.

What Accounts for a Historic Home in Austin?

In order to be deemed historic or “architecturally significant” by the National Register of Historic Places, and/or by the local historic board, there are requirements a home must have, which include:

  1. A trademark architectural style of a given period in time.
  2. An association with a historical people from the past.
  3. A location in a historic district.
  4. Neighbors that are designated by the National Register of Historical places.

What are the Benefits of Buying an Austin Historic Home?

There are many benefits to buying a historic home in Austin. The beautiful aesthetic of historic homes is almost enough for many, as is the knowledge that one is a part of the preservation and keeper of the past.

You, the buyer, may be eligible to receive historical grants and tax incentives in the form of tax credits or lower interest loans for the preservation and restoration of a historic structure. These must be applied for and offered through your local and state government.

What are the Restrictions in Historic Home Buying?

The restrictions, rules, and regulations for historic property owners are as follows:

  • Additions: Rarely are homeowners permitted to add square footage to historic homes, including extra stories. It is, however, possible. According to the National Register of Historic Places Program, a property owner is able to do whatever he or she wants with their property as long as his or her property has no Federal monies attached.
  • Windows, shutters, and roofs: Since house exteriors such as windows, shutters and roofs embody the original architecture or design style, they are to be preserved and can only be replaced in kind. If costly construction materials are involved, this may be an added expense you didn’t anticipate.
  • Utility bills: Before you “seal the deal”, study the previous year’s energy bills. It may cost you significantly more to heat and cool an older home than a new one.

Additional Advice for Buying a Historic or Older Home in Austin

You have your sights set on a historic home; before you sign on that dotted line, here are some tips on buying an older home:

  • Have a formal inspection by a qualified home inspector- preferably by an inspector that specializes in older properties.
  • From qualified contractors, get price estimates regarding all necessary restoration work.
  • Know the Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings that are imposed by local, state laws on the owners of historic buildings.

“My advice for those who are looking to buy a historic home would be a historical home is a like a child or a pet. It should be loved, nurtured, and cherished. A historic home has chosen you, not the other way around. Remember you have been given a remarkable opportunity to pass this treasure down throughout the ages, long past your ownership.”

–Current Historic Homeowner, Carla C. Peoples

A Brief History of Austin, Texas

The bustling city that we know as Austin today has not always been this way. In the 1830s, the first permanent Anglo settlers arrived and named their village Waterloo. By 1839, tiny Waterloo was chosen as the capital of the new Republic of Texas, and named after “the father of Texas”, Stephen F. Austin. In the 1880s, Austin officially began growing into what we know it today. In 1888, the beautiful capital building stood as the 7th largest building in the world.

The rapid growth of Austin from the 1950s-70s contributed to an increase in technology and political activity. Strong neighborhood, environmental, and historic preservation communities were constituted— which are responsible for the preservation of the historic districts in Austin, the areas in Austin you are wishing to purchase a home in!

Austin, Texas continues to be the number one city on a national level in regards to quality of life, job market, value of living, and the desirability of the people to live there. Much of which is contributed to the diverse culture groups that Austin has seen throughout history, including immigrants from Europe, Africa, Mexico, and Asia. Each enriched and continues to enrich Austin’s civic and culture life. As the city expands on a scale that would shock the early residents of Waterloo, the preservation of Austin’s history is a must—we leave that up to you!

If you’ve done your homework, and the pros outweigh the cons, enjoy becoming the proud owner of a historic home in the beautiful city of Austin, Texas!

If you are thinking about buying an older or historic home in Austin, Texas, Habitat Hunters, Inc. will be happy to guide you through the process, and teach you about additional benefits that are available after the purchase a historic property. And don’t forget to check out some of our guides for buying a house in Austin.

When buying, selling or leasing residential or commercial real estate in Austin, Habitat Hunters is the one to contact. We are one of Austin’s oldest, locally-owned, independent real estate companies. Experience, Knowledge, Passion, Since 1972. Contact our Austin real estate agency today!