A recent continuing education seminar put on by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and Portland OR addressed how best to market old houses. It was reported on recently on the Finance & Commerce website.
“Owning and selling a historic property can be a gratifying – and lucrative – experience for property owners. But the process of determining a property’s historic status and then properly marketing it to reflect that status can make the difference between a big sale and an ordinary one.”
A key factor is that of simple economics of supply and demand. There is an ever-expanding supply of new home construction for that larger share of the market that appreciates new construction.
For that smaller but growing market for quality old houses with character in stable and improving neighborhoods in convenient proximity to community amenities, that supply is diminishing in many areas but growing to meet demand in others as property owners renovate and restore their homes.
What are best practices for selling old houses in historic districts?
- Doing your homework on the house. “All of that allows you to create a story around the property.”
Personally, I love stories. And old houses and neighborhoods have stories that simply don’t exist in suburban and new construction. Knowing the story of the house and effectively telling it adds real value to your home.
- “Some key selling points for a historic property, she said, are associated tax incentives…”
If your home is already within a historic district up to 25% of approved work can be recouped. This is significant. If though your home is outside the historic district your home may be individually registered or eligible. Marketing that your home as within a historic district communicates there are higher standards. There are some safeguards that help protect the home and neighborhood from some things that can diminish property values.
There are a number of additional points the presenters tough on. Interesting to note they emphasize how originally intact is the home.
“…be sure to highlight the property’s original elements, Davis said. Is the home’s character still intact? Are the moldings and fixtures original? Has the building been restored, as opposed to remodeled?”
Too often we see a short-sighted rip-n-replace mindset when home maintenance comes into play. This is particularly prevalent among flippers and some residents who don’t fully realize they’re actually degrading their own property. If a potential buyer is interested in an old or historic property in the first place it’s most likely they also have an appreciation for the original fabric of the house. Even if shabby and in need of repair, as long as it still exists restoration is still an option. Once removed though its often cost prohibitive to replace again with the grade of materials that have been removed…. if it’s even available at any price.
Given the current housing situation if you live in an old house the linked article on how to sell old houses is likely good information to have. Wanting to maximize your return on your home though is not unique to a slow housing market and will remain true later when things improve.
“Nobody makes that anymore.”
“Nobody does that anymore.”
While it may not be at the local mass market “big box” store, very often it IS available and with numerable options. It’s frequently more a matter of knowing where to look or who to ask.
I’ve a couple personal favorites:
- - The Old House Journal Restoration Product Directory — once upon a time only available via their print catalog. You can now reference this online. If you’ve an old house you need to know about this resoure.
- - Clem Labine’s Traditional Building — He was the original creator of the OHJ. Personal note… I actually have copies of his early “magazine” from when it was still in a black and white, stapled and hole-punched form.
Recently there were two different inquiries on where to find capitals for some porch columns. These are generally available locally but with limited options mostly fitting a few standardized dimensions. Tapping either source above would likely overwhelm with the available options… including many with prices comparable. To that you factor repair relative to replacement in terms of price, quality of replacement and what’s being sent to the land fill.
For example, we recently purchased a mortised lock set for a screen door from Van Dyke’s. The type of item not found in a “big box”. When done our 80 year old screen doors will be good for many more decades. Wonder what the life expectancy is and various costs are on a “green” replacement screen door.
The above links and more on the evolving Beloit NPA Links page.
Had an exceptional “Old House” day today.
A couple months ago we attended a conference in Madison for Historic Preservation Commissioners, in the case of Beloit it’s the “Landmarks Commission”. There we had the opportunity to meet folks likewise involved in other communities across WI. Among those we met was Rick Fletcher who chairs the Janesville Historic Preservation Commission. Rick provides guided walking tours of various historic areas around Janesville. Today we had the good fortune to attend Rick’s tour of the “Old 4th Ward”. It was WONDERFUL!
There were ~70 people in attendance following Rick around getting some insight into Janesville history as well as period architecture. We finished up with being invited, all 70+ of us into the fine home of one of the residents. It was a -very- cool house.
While there we were reminded that today was the Janesville Garden Walk. While sponsored by and for the Rotary Garden it consisted of eight residential gardens, five of which were in the “Courthouse Hill” historic district. Keep an eye out for this next year and go. It was… amazing!
To cap it all off, being “Old House” home owners and enthusiasts ourselves we really enjoy meeting and talking with others who share this interest. We had a chance to meet several homeowners in the Courthouse Hill historic district. Big fun.
Now, Janesville’s historic district house walk is coming up in August. I forget the date but will be broadcasting it here. We went last year and it was very enjoyable and we’ll be attending this year as well. It might be fun to get a group together to attend. Lemme’ know if you’d be interested or simply comment below.
~Rick M rick@BeloitNPA (dot) org
It’s refreshing to see the fine job they’ve done with this distinctive period home. It makes a huge difference and makes for a beautiful home. Take a look at the pics on the realtor’s listing. Amazing! Check out the woodwork, lighting and hardware. They’ve really done a wonderful job with this classic and dignified “old house”. If you’re moving to the area and have an appreciation for fine old homes and want/need move-in ready you should check this one out.
Though we had not been inside we knew the prior owners and understand the house needed some work. We’ve seen a number of sad homes where the “updating” was done by those with little understanding or appreciation for the original charm or period style of the home. Those homes have been stripped of their base, window/door, crown trim and other woodwork and replaced with anemic, under-scaled home center generics. They’ve pulled out the doors, hardware and lighting and replaced with generics. They’ve cheapened the home and made it bland IMO. Once removed it is very expensive to replace and often cost prohibitive. <exit soap box>
This home is very much still intact and beautiful. Worth a look.
- - Realtor’s Listing Here.
- - This home is not within any of the current historic districts.
- - Walkability Score: 77 out of 100, “Very Walkable”.
We go by this house all the time. Though we’ve never been in it’s a beautiful and distinctive vintage home with a strong Craftsman influence. The professionally landscaped yard is wonderful and perhaps the nicest in the areas. Church is a wonderful street of fine homes, great neighbors and only a block from the college. Very convenient.
- - Realtor’s Listing Here.
- - Within the College Park Historic District. Eligible for the Historic Home Owners Tax Credit.
- - Walkability Score: 85 out of 100, “Very Walkable”.
- - Realtor’s Listing Here.
- - Within the College Park Historic District. Eligible for Historic Home Owner’s Tax Cridit.
- - Walkability Score: 83 out of 100, “very walkable”.