ATLANTA—Values for single-family residential properties in the National Register and local historic districts in Georgia rose 13-14 percent and 7 percent before they were designated historic properties, according to research by Georgia State University economist Carlianne Patrick.
Patrick decided to do the research when she found there was not a wide array of available research on property values of historic district designation. She is an assistant professor in Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
“I felt that I could design a study to help fill this gap,” she said. “It seemed to me that the often passionate debates around historic district designations would benefit from causal evidence on some of the key issues, particularly causal evidence that differentiated between National Register and local historic districts.”
The research addresses a common belief that historic districts are associated with negative property values.
“Some homeowners are concerned that historic district designation will impose restrictions that make property improvements or sale to potential homebuyers difficult,” said Patrick. “My results suggest that demand for homes in these areas is not hurt by designation, and that the value-added from preserving neighborhood character outweighs any increased costs.”
Historic districts have also been thought to stifle development in surrounding areas. Patrick points out that the historic status does not preclude development. She provides Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn and Grant Park historic districts—which have both seen instances of new development since their National Register designations—as evidence.
In the report, published by the Center for State and Local Finance, Patrick uses parcel-level transactions and district boundaries of properties listed to national and local historic registers in Fulton and DeKalb counties. The data focus on the period between 1990 and 2015.
While Patrick believes her findings can provide insight on one of the potential consequences of a change in historic district status, she welcomes additional studies.
“More research,” she said, “is needed to understand the extent to which the difference in estimated effects is attributable to preexisting trends as opposed to the preservation grants and tax credits available through listing on the National Register and the added regulation associated with local historic districts.”
Carlianne Patrick is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. Her research investigates the spatial distribution of economic activity, with a particular focus on the role of economic development policies, agglomeration externalities, and local provision of public goods.