Can knowing the history of a home increase its value or perhaps decrease it?

In the UK and Europe the houses are a lot older than here in Australia. Many of these older houses have a known history and proudly display signage to proclaim this.

In Europe the houses are a lot older than here in Australia. Many of these older houses have a known history and proudly display signage to proclaim this.

Ok, I know that our cities and suburbs are relatively young compared to Europe, with many suburbs, or areas of a suburb, less than 100 years old. Here in Australia we tend to think a Victorian house or even a Post-war home as old. In my street we have a mix of house styles ranging from the ‘between the wars’ Queenslander, like ours, through to the low set brick home that was built last year (and which generated a lot of tut tutting from those owner occupiers in the street, its unsympathetic style marring the streetscape – but more of that in another post). So my question is ‘if the Queenslander is one of the oldest houses in the street, and most likely in the suburb, and we can discover its history, is this likely to make it more attractive to buyers?’

When visiting Europe and also when living in Alice Springs and Hobart, I noticed that some of the homes have plaques out the front of them describing their history. I also enjoyed the Australian show ‘Who’s been sleeping in my house?’ that was on television a couple of years ago, but then I am interested in history. Is anyone else? I like knowing the history of a place; who planted those trees, who were the people that lived in our home, what did they do for a living? Would I pay more for a house that had a provenience? Perhaps not, but it might influence my choice to purchase it.

Conversely, if I found out that the house had a sad past would that influence my choice to the negative? I know this is a consideration for some people, they don’t like the idea of bad vibes or just the thought that something bad had happened in a house, it would cause them to have second thoughts about purchasing or living in such a place. However, in the Central Australian aboriginal communities I work in, people often pass away in or near their homes. When that happens the family move out. The shortage of homes on communities means that the houses can’t be left empty for long. The community get around the problem of a negative presence by ‘smoking’ the house and often re-painting and refurbishing it. Then a new family will move in and get on with life. This is probably what a lot of people do in places like Europe, not the smoking part, but painting and re-carpeting. I doubt that a house that had a negative past, such as a death, would put me off purchasing it, after all in Europe, houses that are 400 plus years old would have to have had a number of people die in them and they are not sitting abandoned.

So what is the verdict? Do I go down the path of finding out the home’s history or forget about it? What would you do?

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