Heritage Homes: What Property Buyers Need to Know

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When searching for a home, many property buyers are drawn to the unique character and charm of heritage houses. In the Inner West suburbs of Sydney, heritage homes are particularly sought after and are popular because of their period details and curb side appeal. However, before purchasing a heritage property, it is important for buyers to understand the different types of heritage classifications and how they can impact upon the property and its value.

Types of Heritage Classifications

There are three main types of heritage classifications in New South Wales:

  1. Heritage conservation areas
  2. Local heritage listings
  3. State heritage listings

Heritage Conservation Areas

A heritage conservation area is part of a suburb that has been identified as having a unique character worth preserving. These areas often contain a high concentration of period homes and streetscapes that reflect the historical development of the neighbourhood.

In a heritage conservation area, there are restrictions on demolishing existing structures and guidelines around renovations and new construction to ensure they are in keeping with the area’s character. However, homes within heritage conservation areas are not individually heritage listed unless otherwise specified.

Some examples of heritage conservation areas in the Inner West include:

  • The Abergeldie Estate in Dulwich Hill
  • The Birchgrove and Ballast Point Conservation Area
  • The Haberfield Heritage Conservation Area

Living in a heritage conservation area allows you to enjoy being surrounded by beautiful period architecture, with some assurance that the neighbourhood’s overall character and the streetscape will be maintained over time. However, it is important to understand the restrictions and requirements involved in renovating and maintaining these homes.

Local Heritage Listings

If a property is locally heritage listed, it has been individually assessed as having heritage value and is considered a particularly good example of its architectural style or period. Local heritage listings are managed by the local council.

There are hundreds of locally listed heritage homes across the Inner West, ranging from modest Victorian terraces to grand estates.

Locally listed homes have strict controls around demolition, renovation and extensions. Generally, you will need to maintain original features and ensure any changes are sympathetic to the home’s heritage value. This may limit your ability to make major structural changes or add modern features. When submitting a DA to undertake changes to the property, you will be required to submit a Statement of Heritage Impact. This is a report prepared by an experienced professional and is likely to cost a few thousand dollars to obtain.

State Heritage Listings

If a property is state heritage listed, it is considered to be particularly rare or significant to the state of New South Wales. State listings are managed by the Heritage Council of NSW.

Examples of state listed properties in the Inner West include:

  • Callan Park Hospital in Lilyfield
  • The Abbey in Annandale at 272 Johnston Street
  • Lyndhurst in Glebe at 61 Darghan Street
  • Yasmar in Haberfield at 185 Parramatta Road

Homes that are state heritage listed have even tighter restrictions than local listings. Demolition is generally prohibited and any renovations require approval from the Heritage Council of NSW. In some cases, the government may even compulsorily acquire a state listed property if they believe it is at risk.

While the restrictions are onerous, state heritage listed properties are the cream of the crop in terms of historical and architectural value. State listed properties can be the ultimate trophy homes. However, the pool of buyers for such properties is often limited given the responsibilities involved and accordingly, such properties often take longer to sell.

Impact on Property Prices

The impact of a heritage listing on the value of a property will ultimately depend upon the type of property and its location. Due to the planning restrictions and obligations imposed upon locally and State listed heritage properties, they are not for the faint-hearted. A local or State heritage listing can impact upon the property’s value by as much as 10 – 20%.

Move to Higher Density and the Future of Heritage

With the State Government’s recent push for higher housing density, there has been much conjecture about the future of heritage conservation areas and heritage listings on properties so close to the city centre, particularly in areas like the Inner West. It remains to be seen if any heritage conservation areas such as Haberfield and Summer Hill for example, will in time, be forced to accept any significant changes to housing density.

Purchasing a Heritage Home

If you are considering purchasing a heritage home, it is essential to do your due diligence. Make sure you understand any restrictions or responsibilities involved before making an offer.

We would recommend engaging a heritage architect or consultant to inspect the property and advise on its condition and any restoration work required. You may also need to factor in higher insurance and maintenance costs compared to a modern home.

While there are challenges involved in owning a heritage home, for the right buyer it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Becoming the custodian of a historically or architecturally significant property is a privilege and a legacy that can be passed down through generations.

If you are considering purchasing a heritage home in the Inner West, contact Buyer’s Domain today for expert advice and assistance. Let us help you find your perfect piece of history.

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