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What You Should Know Before Buying a Historic Home

The historic architecture of New Orleans has charmed both visitors and potential home buyers for generations. Here, we have the lavish mansions of the French Quarter, stunning colonial estates, cozy shotgun-style homes, and countless other styles that range from Baroque to Egyptian Revival. So if you’re thinking about buying a unique piece of American history, you’ve come to the right place!

However, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before you buy a historic home.

4 Tips for Historic Home Buyers

Historic homes come with plenty of charm…as well as a few quirks. And while these properties may be a bit more expensive than a standard house, they’re often worth the extra TLC.

Here’s everything you’ll want to know before you buy a historic home—and if you have any questions, just let us know!

Do some research

Historic home in New Orleans

If you’re thinking about buying a historic home in New Orleans, you’ll probably be in contact with the Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC). This organization aims to protect our city’s rich history and culture, and they also oversee any homes located in a designated historic district.

The HDLC offers many free services to historic home buyers, and they’ll also inspect your property for any violations (more on that later!). If you want to take a crash course in historic homeownership, you can also consult the Preservation Center of New Orleans for additional information.

Find out if there are any restrictions

Yellow house with decorations

Many neighborhoods in New Orleans have building restrictions in place to preserve the area’s historic architecture. Generally, these areas are divided into two categories: full control and partial control.

In full control neighborhoods like St. Charles Avenue or Canal Street, no publicly visible changes can be made to the outside of your home without approval from the HDLC. Partial control neighborhoods, such as the Garden District, allow for minor exterior changes without review.

If you’re ever unsure of what you can and can’t do, it’s best to contact the HDLC with any questions or check out their period-specific design guides.

Complete a thorough inspection

Palm tree and Creole style home

The HDLC offers free home inspections for both buyers and sellers in historic districts. Local guidelines state that any violations follow the property, not the owner, which means you’ll be responsible for restoring a home to its original state after you move in. However, you may be able to negotiate repairs with the seller before the closing.

Need to schedule an inspection? Just get in touch with the HDLC to set up an appointment with a professional historic building inspector.

Address any violations

Historic home in the heart of New Orleans

If you end up buying a historic property that has a violation, it’s best to take care of any changes right away to avoid any fines. Before you start work, you’ll need to apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness through the HDLC. This certifies that any updates are in line with your home’s original architecture and comply with local design guidelines.

If you don’t apply and get approved for a CoA, the city has the authority to stop your project entirely!

Ready to Buy a Historic Home?

If you’re thinking about buying a historic home in New Orleans, we’d love to help! Drop a line to the Nugent Freeland Team today to begin your next real estate journey. You can also consult our buying resources to learn a little more about the Big Easy’s competitive market.

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