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Oklahoma City's historic neighborhoods see greater stability, appreciation

Increases in home values are seen in statistics ranging from a Realtor's records to a Rutgers University study commissioned by Preservation Oklahoma Inc. and the State Historic Preservation Office. Experts presented the data at the Statewide Preservation Conference.
by Richard Mize Published: June 29, 2013

— George Massey keeps these stats handy for doubters.

A house in Edmond's Faircloud addition sold in 1995 for $228,333 and sold in 2012 for $340,000 — that's an increase of 49 percent.

A house in northwest Oklahoma City's Quail Creek area sold in 1993 for $170,000 and sold in 2011 for $288,500 — for an increase of 69 percent.

Massey, a Realtor, bought his own house in Oklahoma City's historic Heritage Hills in 1993 for $170,000 and it appraised in 2012 for $520,000 — an increase of 205 percent.

Investing in a historic home usually pays, he said at Our Sense of Place: Oklahoma's 25th Annual Statewide Preservation Conference, earlier this month in Perry.

Historic headaches

Of course, older homes can come with headaches, said Massey, a sales associate with RE/MAX First, 1000 Wilshire, Suite 428. Property disclosures are especially critical — for both sellers and buyers — he said.

Structural problems can be missed when buyers are wowed by more pleasing aspects of a historic home, he said, showing slide after slide of shims, bricks and blocks with no footings and even 2-by-4s used to shore up foundations, as well as leaning columns, drywall cracks and other flaws hard to detect by the unwary eye.

A general home inspection should be just the start when considering a historic house, Massey said. Others inspections include engineering, termite, mold, lead-based paint, roof, square footage, asbestos and radon, he said. Detection of problems need not derail a purchase, but must be dealt with, he said.

“If you're buying a $300,000 house, I'd spend $1,000 to $1,500 for inspections. It's a big investment,” Massey said.

Look closely

Sometimes detective work is required, he said, giving some examples.

Mold growing through a framed picture in one dining room came from rain getting in through a small crack in a mortar joint at an upstairs bedroom window that ended beside a valley of a lower hip roof. Mold along a ceiling in another house wasn't from a roof leak, but from a dryer vent exhausting into a tight attic space. A clogged drain in a flower bed caused mold beneath a window that found its way inside and behind paneling in a study.

Such obstacles take little away from the appeal of buying a house and living in a historic district, said Katie McLaughlin Friddle, historic preservation officer with the Oklahoma City Planning Department.

Her presentation at the statewide preservation conference was “Beyond the Quaint Charm and Original Fireplaces: The Tangible and Intangible Benefits of Living in a Historic District.”

Plenty of payback

Friddle broke the benefits down into categories:

• Sustainability: Historic houses generally have light-colored exteriors that reflect light and heat; have working windows that allow ventilation; have tall ceilings to allow heat to rise from living space; have wide porches and wide eaves that provide shade across the faced; and often have mature trees providing extra summer shade.

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