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Is Preservation Good For Property Values?

Is Preservation Good For Property Values?

Last week I wrote about how I’m coming for the doubter and status quo keepers inside and outside of preservation.

Well, this week I start to put my money where my mouth is and prove my points so you can finally have some real answers about historic preservation. If I can’t give you crystal clear answers about historic preservation, then I doubt it can get any simpler.

The info here is clear, concise, and easily shareable for the social media age we live in.

Today, I’ll be diving into the first of my four claims about historic preservation:

Historic preservation is GOOD for property values and spurs sustainable local economic growth

Is preservation good for property values? If your mayor, city councilman, or anybody else has been working hard to scare your town from adding historic districts to their purview because they “hurt” property values, then they are either ignorant of the facts, or purposely misleading you. More often than not, it is developers and special interests who have bent their weak wills to hide from the truth.

The answer is plain and simple. The idea that historic designation (whether by district or individual structure) hurts property values is an outright LIE! There is no way from any data, other than the ones taken from La-La Land, that any respectable economist, developer, or politician can back up this fallacy. Just ask them to provide their evidence, and their case will fold like a house of cards.

The Facts About Historic Preservation and Property Values

I wrote about this before in The Real Economics of Preservation, but in case that wasn’t enough to convince you, I’ve accumulated a whole new set of studies here.

And so you don’t think these are isolated studies, I have accumulated a wide swath of states from around the country. In any state in America that has done similar studies, the results have been about the same as what is listed below. Do a simple Google search for your state and it shouldn’t take you long to find the same that I have accumulated.

Below are quotes and references for just six of the scores of studies determining historic preservation’s effect on property values.

Texas 2001

Results suggest that historic preservation generally has a positive impact on property values and that historic designation is associated with average property value increases ranging between 5% and 20% of the total property value. Source

New York 2003

IBO found clear evidence that after controlling for property and neighborhood characteristics, market values of properties in historic districts were higher than those outside historic districts for every year in our study. Source

Florida 2010

Historic designation does not itself depress property values, and indeed properties located in a recognized historic district generally maintained their value during the period 2006-2009 better than did other comparable non-historic properties (or did not lose as much value). Source

Kentucky 2008

The 26% difference in property value increases between designated historic preservation districts and neighborhoods without historic district status translates into a 4.3% additional increase per year for historic preservation areas. Source

Michigan 2002

In the five Michigan case studies, the district samples had a greater increase in their total appreciation than the non-designated comparisons. These differences in appreciation ranged widely, from extremely dramatic to fairly slight. These results suggest that local historic designation has had either a positive effect, or an effect that is consistent with the total appreciation of the surrounding area. These findings do not support the contention that local historic designation negatively impacts property values. Source

Washington 2006

The results of this analysis suggest that the property values in the two study neighborhoods with relatively large numbers of sales, the Eldridge Avenue Historic District (Bellingham) and North Slope Historic District (Tacoma), have appreciated at slightly faster rates than values in the two comparison neighborhoods and, in the case of Eldridge Avenue, faster than property values in the city of Bellingham as a whole. Source
Economics of Historic Preservation Infographic

There are hundreds of these studies with new ones coming out every year showing the same exact thing- historic preservation is good for property values.

In fact, in years of research, I have only found one very specific case where property values were conclusively harmed by historic designation and that was in Manhattan. The conclusions of the study were clear that there was a decrease in value and the conclusion was that due to the rare situation of actual land value (the dirt the building sits upon) being astronomically higher than anywhere else in the country, the properties did not appreciate as much because developers who would normally build dozens of stories high were forbidden due to the districting.

So, New York City is, as always, an anomaly when it comes to real estate.

I’ll be back next week to post on my second point about why preservation is a positive influence on American culture. Until then, I look forward to hearing your feedback on the facts I provided above.

It will take all of us to change the perception, so please share this on your social media and start those conversations. And for those who are more visually oriented, I’ve made this infographic to help convince those preservation deniers without the time to read.

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6 thoughts on “Is Preservation Good For Property Values?

  1. If you remodel a historic house – it’ll be dated within 15 years. If you restore and preserve – it will be appreciated forever. I tell my clients in Central Phoenix that as much as I’m designing for them – I’m designing for the house first – we are just temporary caretakers. All of my projects have to appear to be original to the home no matter how much the floor plan has changed. Scribe molds never touch my work.

  2. Scott, Love your blog. I tried to email you but it got sent back. Was trying to give you some info on a Preservation Town. Could you send me your email. Thanks

  3. All amazing points. I am a former preservation student, and thus you’re preaching to the choir with me, but I do find all this very great reading. I’m sharing this article series with all my friends, in case they don’t believe me when I rattle on about how great preservation is, lol.

    My question (and maybe you’ve covered this before; I’m newer to the blog.) is about your thoughts on the effects on historic districts and restoration in terms of gentrification and the increase in property values pushing out current residents unable to afford the increases to rent and such. Are there any numbers on that, out of curiosity? I don’t remember talking about any actual studies regarding those sorts of effects when I was in school, but I could just be misremembering.

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