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.
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
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
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
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
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
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. Till 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.