This character home

HOMEFINDER: Character homes offer different opportunities

History can be a big selling feature for potential buyers

While many new builds are springing up like dandelions around the West Shore, there is a small niche market in the area that is often overlooked.

Heritage or older character homes are rare on the West Shore but the wealth of history and character they bring often attracts buyers’ attention. Although, buyers be warned, they can have their share of potential problems.

Jenn Raappana, a realtor with DFH Real Estate Ltd., said that older character homes require a lot more research before they go on the market. She likes to know as much as possible about a home’s history and anything that could come up during an inspection.

An example of this is her listing for a home built in 1902 on Happy Valley Road in Langford. “It’s one of the original houses on the Galloping Goose,” Raappana said.

Before listing that home, she had a number of inspections done so any problems could be addressed before potential buyers saw it. “In this case the house didn’t need a lot of work,” she said.

With older homes she said it is important to check for any plumbing, electrical, or foundation issues that could be flagged by insurance companies and cause a headache for potential buyers. She said many older homes often have knob and tube electrical wiring that needs to be updated. By doing pre-inspections, sellers can be aware of anything a buyer might refer to as a “problem” and have it fixed before the house goes on the market.

But Raappana doesn’t want to deter any potential buyers. Older homes also have a lot of benefits, she said.

“They built houses really, really well back then.”

The fact they have been standing for over 100 years is a true testament to that. They also have a lot of character and quirks that draw in a number of buyers.

“People like to buy into the history,” she said, about another reason she likes to do extensive research on an older home before listing it.

“In the West Shore we don’t have a lot of them.”

Older homes occupy a niche for those buyers looking for a house they can be customized with modern finishing but still have the charm of a heritage-style build.

“I think people are taking that on as a project,” she said.

“It’s a good investment.”

Character houses with modern upgrades, such as granite countertops, tend to hold their value well on the market, Raappana said.

However, properties officially designated as heritage, “come with their own cup of tea.”

Often that designation means the homeowners are required to follow multiple regulations imposed by the municipality when doing any work or upgrading.

Her pre-listing research on heritage homes includes making potential buyers aware of those bylaws and exactly what they will or won’t be able to do the home.

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