A Special Skill Set & a Passion for History Prove Invaluable When Selling Historical Properties
By: Kathleen Meyer
Coakley Realty, founded in 1989, relocated its offices to the Rockville Town Center in 1995, where it has remained since. This location, adjacent to the West End Historic district of Rockville, Maryland, has afforded me the unique opportunity to work within close proximity of and sell many distinctive historical properties, both commercial and residential. It requires a specific skill set to showcase and sell these properties.
Understanding and conveying the unique personality and history of a historical property is key to selling it. The buyer pool is smaller for historical properties than for typical ones, however, buyers who seek out these properties are deeply interested in the history and significance of the home or building they are purchasing. The current owners are the biggest resource of information. My sellers are the experts on their property and I spend considerable time listening to all of the information they have about the property. I also like to understand what drew them to the property when they purchased it. I use this information to prepare the marketing materials and to give informative tours when meeting with prospective buyers.
Researching the property is essential. I review all the data I can find on the property including searching historical registries, in order to prepare a historical binder of the property that includes information a buyer will appreciate. Currently, I am listing 223 W Montgomery Avenue, Rockville, Maryland. Known as The Old Episcopal Rectory, this amazing home was built in 1875 and is privately situated on almost a half-acre of land. The current owners have been excellent stewards of this property. They have put great effort over the last thirty years into maintaining its historical significance while also enhancing the home to include many modern amenities such as central AC, gourmet kitchen, and a two-car garage, to mention a few. The owners were able to share significant information regarding the history and excellent condition of their home that a buyer will not only find interesting but very helpful when making their decision to purchase this home.
Many historical homes have been maintained excellently while others need significant improvement. Having an understanding of the condition and construction of historical homes is another key to selling these properties. A buyer with no experience in owning an older home may need some perspective on the construction, materials, and design of these historic properties. Many older homes have great bones but for properties that have not been updated, working with buyers as they envision potential renovations is key. It’s a process and I find that buyers who are drawn to these properties are willing to work through that process with our guidance. Potential buyers may want to visit the property several times and bring contractors and various inspectors as they consider the purchase of a historical property.
Pricing is one of the most challenging aspects of listing historic homes. Each historical property is unique and has its own condition and appeal. Having knowledge of the historic market and sales in the area is essential. While we can crunch numbers and look at recent sales comparable in the area, there needs to be a deep understanding of the overall market of historic properties and how your listing matches up. I adjust for square footage, bathrooms, updates, lot size, and other variables, but nothing can compensate for having seen every historic property that has sold in recent years. Having this knowledge can also help in negotiations. It is my job to be able to make the case for the listing price and having mastery of this information is essential. Sometimes these homes can take considerable time to sell. Because the buyer pool is smaller, you don’t just want to reduce the price if your home is not selling quickly. You want to price your property appropriately and then be able to justify that price to a potential purchaser.
Throughout the last twenty-four years, I have had the opportunity to sell many historic properties in Rockville. Each property has offered a unique selling experience. Having a passion for these properties as well as a knowledge of their significance, condition, and value are essential to selling these properties.