Expert Tips on Historic Home Purchases: Insights From Robert DeFalco, Staten Island's #1 Realtor

What do Albert Einstein’s former residence and Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater estate have in common? They are not just homes, but a part of history.

Purchasing your dream home is an exciting journey, but when that dream home is a historic property, it introduces unique considerations and challenges.

In our conversation with Robert DeFalco, Owner of Robert DeFalco Realty and the top real estate sales agent in Staten Island, we delve into the essential insights homeowners should have when it comes to acquiring and maintaining a historic home.

Are Historic Homes Worth It?

Not every old home is considered historic. To be classified as such, a home typically needs to meet the following criteria: It should be at least 50 years old. Its original construction should closely resemble its original design. And, it should have historical significance, whether through a person, event, or architectural value.

Some historic homes will also be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts worthy of preservation.

“Given these limitations, you may not come across many historic homes in your area,” said DeFalco. “However, this should not discourage you from investing time in the search, as the benefits of owning a historic home can far outweigh the time and effort spent in finding it.”

Key Considerations for Historic Homebuyers

Purchasing a historic home requires careful thought because it’s not just an investment but a piece of history to be preserved for future generations.

Here are six essential factors to keep in mind before buying a historic home:

First, consider the home’s investment potential in a long-term horizon. “Historic homes often yield a greater return on investment over time because they provide stability in value,” said DeFalco. “And they tend to sell quickly, which makes them attractive to investors.” On average, historic homes tend to sell 25 percent faster than the overall market, and at an impressive 20 percent more than the sale price.

Second, homeowners of historic homes might benefit from tax incentives. “Federal and local programs can offer tax incentives to historic homeowners,” said DeFalco. “These incentives can significantly reduce the financial burden of owning a historic property.”

Third, owning a historic home will likely mean higher maintenance costs. DeFalco elaborated, “Historic homes may require more frequent and costly maintenance due to their age and the quality of materials used in their construction.”

Fourth, be prepared for additional regulations when renovating a historic home. “Renovations in historic homes are often more regulated,” said DeFalco. “Preservation ordinances and historical designations often limit what you can alter or add to the property.”

Fifth, factor in the potential for higher insurance costs. “The materials used in historic homes are often difficult to find and replace and require more skillful work and greater labor hours to get done,” said DeFalco. “All these factors combined mean that your insurance might cost big bucks.”

Sixth, getting a mortgage for a historic home can be more challenging. “While securing financing for a historic home may be more difficult, it’s not impossible,” said DeFalco. “Consulting with an experienced realtor to explore potential lender options is crucial.”

Preserving and Owning a Historic Home

Owning a historic home comes with responsibilities. DeFalco shared some tips for preserving and enjoying a historic property:

One, make sure you carry out regular maintenance: Having a predetermined schedule will prevent damage and costly repairs.

Two, make thoughtful repairs. “It’s important to prioritize necessary repairs over unnecessary alterations to best preserve the unique design and features of your historic home,” said DeFalco.

Three, enlist an interior designer to harmonize the decor with the home’s distinctive architectural features. According to DeFalco, “Preserving the interior’s charm means avoiding significant design alterations that could diminish the home’s historical value. Collaborating with an interior designer can facilitate this process.”

Fourth, consider preserving plaster walls. “Plaster walls are common in historic homes,” said DeFalco. “And they offer benefits. Thicker plaster walls provide better thermal breaks than drywall, and that saves money on utilities.”

When it comes to buying a historic home, having the right real estate partner can make all the difference. With over 35 years of experience, Robert DeFalco Realty offers professional and customer-oriented services to help you seamlessly navigate the process of purchasing and owning a historic property.

About Robert DeFalco

Robert DeFalco Realty was founded in 1987 by Robert DeFalco, a real estate Broker/Owner who wanted to help families achieve their dream of homeownership. Through the philosophy ‘Treat People Well,’ Robert DeFalco has grown into a successful real estate agency led by a professional team of highly motivated real estate associates with experience in residential, commercial, and new real estate development. For more information, please visit

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