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Historic Districts Come With Rules

Check Out Restrictions Before Buying An Historic Property

Many older neighborhoods are today being preserved by historic preservation commissions. Usually established by city councils, these groups are given control over zoning and construction issues within the historic district.

Buyer Beware

Like homeowners associations, preservation commissions regulate what can be done in an area. They can also pull houses into the district whether or not the owner agrees.

If you're contemplating purchasing a home in a historic district (or even just an older property) be sure you know what the rules are and the nature of the preservation commission before settling the deal. To protect the feel of the community at large, some commissions won't allow modern renovations on historic properties. While a nice large window in the kitchen would make your 75-year-old townhouse brighter, the commission may have veto power over this type of renovation.

Mother May I?

Before buying in the district, ask: How restrictive is the local commission? Has any property owner wound up in court defending property rights against the commission's influence?

Talk with owners in the area who have improved their properties and find out what they had to go through to get the improvements approved. Asking these types of questions beforehand could save you frustration, legal fees and broken dreams.