In Part 1, real estate agents Max Sempowski, David Deysher, and Joyce Perrin discussed the definition of historic homes and what agents need to know before selling them. In this second installment, they continue their advice on the ins and outs of selling historic homes.

Do your research

Agents shouldn’t talk factually about a historic home unless they know those facts to be true.

“If the house is on the National Register, you can go on the internet and pull up the registration application and [for] a total biography on the history of the house,” Sempowski said. “Do enough homework so you have an honest understanding and an honest profile of what the historic home is all about.”

The problem is homes might not appear as they are in the National Register because of poor remodeling.

“A real estate agent needs to develop enough education to understand the integrity of a house when they go in it — whether it has been really compromised or whether there are still a lot of original features. Those are all parts of your presentation, so to speak,” Sempowski said.


Selling historic homes is becoming increasingly challenging, according to Deysher.

“Many sellers are older and have not kept up the properties with appropriate updates,” he said. “Buyers of historic homes today are generally not interested in major rehabs. They want the quality of the core construction but don’t have the interest or bandwidth to do major renovations. This has a tendency to put downward pricing pressure on those that need major rehab, and the sellers have a difficult time accepting this. Buyers tend to be afraid of a money pit.”

The real estate agent’s best defense, according to Deysher, is to be knowledgeable and be able to explain what exactly will be needed and what to expect in rehab costs.

Agents who want to learn more about marketing historical homes need to spend time learning about “as is” clauses; definitions of styles/periods of homes and condition issues, which are “monumental” on some sales, Perrin said.

“All buyers love the price when buying their fixer-uppers but get ready for the phone call after they get insurance, as most insurance agencies see all these architectural features as big money tickets,” Perrin said. But overcoming the challenges can lead to satisfaction, according to these experts.

One of the most satisfying aspects of working with historic homes as a real estate agent is representing a property that has a lot of historic integrity and a buyer who will revere that and continue to maintain and respect the property, Sempowski said.

Deysher lives in a historic home and said he has developed knowledge and passion for the finite number of historic buildings that still stand today. He said he works hard to assure their preservation, rather than their destruction.

“Our house was built in 1772 as a stagecoach tavern, and so often I say ‘If the walls could talk,’” Deysher said. “Every property we go into has a story, and learning this story is fascinating. It represents the rich heritage of our country, these buildings. Being able to share the history is both satisfying and extremely enjoyable. I was once told by a client that the reason he bought was due to my passion and the knowledgeable way I presented the property. That was a very pleasing comment to me.”