Confucius said, “The strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of its homes.” Older homes have a sense of place and history that deserves preservation. However, many times these homes are in dire need of repair and updating. Many potential home buyers are reluctant to take on such a huge task without some financial help. There are resources out there for buying and preserving historic homes.
There is a federal program for individuals that plan to purchase a historic home. The program is called the section 203(k) program with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Although not an outright grant, this is a program that allows home buyers to factor in some repair and rehabilitation projects into their mortgages. Typically, when purchasing a home in need of repair, the home buyer would have to secure financing for the home itself and also secure separate financing for the repairs needed. With the section 203(k) program, home buyers can secure financing for the projected value of the home after the repairs and updates are completed. The section 203(k) program is not specifically set up for historic properties, but it is a wonderful option for those considering the purchase of a historic property in need of repair.
When considering the purchase of a historic home, contacting your state historic preservation office, or SHPO, is the perfect place to start. The SHPO will be able to give you information regarding any historic home purchase programs your state may have. The SHPO will also be able to give you information regarding rehabilitation tax credits that are available. There are currently 25 states that have a rehabilitation tax credit available to owner-occupied historic residences. These credits won't likely be useful until after you purchase a historic home, but being able to ascertain what your financial options are before the purchase can be very helpful.
Your local preservation organizations may also have programs or financial assistance available to those that are trying to buy and preserve a historic home. Contacting these offices can give you more information about historic home purchasing and preservation in your area. The primary purpose of these organizations is to see historic buildings preserved and maintained in their own neighborhoods. They may even have knowledge about special financing with local mortgage companies and local tax credits.
Once you have made the decision to purchase a historic home, there may be a financial incentive available to you via a preservation easement. This is a private legal interest in your home that you would transfer to a preservation organization or government entity. These easements protect the historic integrity of the home and can help with a corresponding tax benefit like a yearly charitable contribution deduction.