Five Questions To Ask Before You Purchase A Historic Home

 What is the condition of the home?

A lot can go wrong with historic homes. They have been around longer, so we require a careful inspection for any home you plan to purchase. 

You don’t have to buy the house if something is wrong with it, but your inspection period is limited. Download this brief guide to understand the types of home inspections that are available and which ones are most commonly used.

We hope to find you a home that has been well cared for. But if there are issues, it’s important that you know what it will take to remedy them.

Does the property have a special story?

Vallejo is an old town, and it was the first capital of California. There are many buildings where famous people lived or where historic events took place. 

Who built the home? What is the style? Did it have another use? These are a few of the fascinating questions historic home owners get to ask. You usually only get partial answers, but it’s still worth trying. 

We can access old maps and directories. Neighbors often know the stories of nearby homes. 

Sometimes part of a home is older, or (wild as it may seem) the home was in a different location. It was common to move homes around Historic Vallejo to make room for additional houses.

It’s not critical to know the history of your home. But it’s a lot of fun, and looks good on Instagram. 

To learn more about the history of Vallejo, we recommend our Architectural Guide to Historic Vallejo.

 Does the home have a special legal situation?

Most historic homes in Vallejo don’t have “historic” status. If you are interested in knowing how historic status works please read our disclosure. If you are interested in purchasing a historic home you should find out if it has a legal status. 

Historic homes might be listed on National, State or local registries. In Vallejo, there are two local historic districts. Here is a map of the Vallejo historic districts

Some historic homes also have contractual obligations.

For example, the Mills Act makes it possible to receive tax benefits for renovating your historic home through a contract with the city. If you want to know about the Mills Act, we interviewed a local expert in this video.

There are many benefits to owning a historic home. As the local historic home experts, we are here to help you understand the legal conditions that may transfer with a home. 

If you have questions about the benefits of purchasing a historic home please reach out

How has the original structure been changed?

Sometimes a fire or other damage caused a property to be rebuilt. Many historic homes in Vallejo were split into multi units to provide housing for the Navy. 

Changes happen over the years. Many historic homes have additions.

An inspection may reveal two or more foundation systems, a sign that the home may have been added to or rebuilt. 

We use old insurance maps to get a sense of how the size and shape of your home changed over the years and we are happy to show you how to do it as well. 

The original moldings and trim have been damaged or removed from many historic homes, obscuring the original architectural style. 

It is fun to ask questions and look for answers. As you understand certain issues with the property, you may uncover benefits that work to your advantage.

Could renovation make this home more valuable?

If you want to purchase a home and make it worth more as you live there, a historic home could be well suited for this. 

It’s possible to add a tremendous amount of value, both perceived and actual, and “trade up” to a nicer home after a few years.

For example, many historic homes have one-color paint jobs on the inside and outside. Simply painting in a way that accentuates the moldings and trim could make a huge difference in the resale price.

Restoring wood floors, and adding historic flair to kitchens and especially bathrooms are also ways to do this. If you want more information about historic renovation in Vallejo, check out My Old House 

We have created a Buyer Road Map Infographic to help you get a sense of the next steps.

This step-by-step infographic takes you through the process of finding a home, financing, and making an offer.

Start with “Just Looking” and follow the roadmap to the seller accepting your offer.

Print out this infographic to see exactly what to do and when to do it at a single glance.


Are you ready to look at some historic homes in person? Schedule a day to look at homes. We would love to show you around.

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Chris Jacobson
Chris Jacobson

I’m Chris Jacobson, a local Vallejo realtor. I love our historic homes.

Office: 707-812-1390 | Cell: 707-805-4014 | BRE 01987892

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2 thoughts on “Five Questions To Ask Before You Purchase A Historic Home”

  1. Thank you for explaining that when you buy a historic home, lots of them have additions or changes that have been made over the years. My sister is thinking about buying an older home to see if she can restore it to its original state. I think knowing about the additions and getting an inspection could really help her to differentiate between what was part of the original structure and what could use more work.

    • Hello. One more thought about the changes that happen over the years. Many people feel they have to restore everything to its original state. I don’t think that is necessary. Part of what creates the history of a home is its own unique story. My Victorian era home has a kitchen that was redone in Art Deco style. Rather than removing it and taking it back to a Victorian era decore I added to the Art Deco. The home went through both eras and the story of the home includes both. There was a specific reason that kitchen was remodeled at that time and I felt it had a part of the homes history that needed to stay. Please consider using a light touch on additions. We certainly don’t want to keep aspects that have been added that take away from the historic feeling but at the same time, no one wants to lite a fire in a Victorian kitchen just to make their coffee in the morning.


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