We were doing some statistical analysis, as we typically do this time of year, and found some interesting information by comparing sales in the Historic Districts against sales outside of these districts in The Heights. The Greater Heights area includes seven historic districts, each with slightly different characteristics. All seven have limitations on what can be done to a Contributing Structure.
Details on what criteria and what constitutes a contributing structure can be found at the City of Houston’s Historic Preservation Manual website.
Note the relationship between the size of home inside and outside of a Historic district.
We found that values were very similar between historic and non-historic residences. The average price and median price inside and outside the historic district were statistically identical. There was one very distinct difference. The size of the properties inside a historic district were 10-15% smaller on average than those outside the districts. Basically, the values in the districts were higher while the home sizes were smaller. This size difference could be used to make the argument that homes inside the districts are worth more because they will have a 10-15% higher value per square foot of living space than outside the districts.
This can also be attributed to the abundant new construction outside of historic districts that can take place and tends to be built substantially larger than the original homes. A historic district will typically impose limitations on the size of a home based on the lot size and amount of livable square feet known as the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and Maximum Lot Coverage. Many of the definitions and guidelines can be found in the City of Houston Planning Department’s Project Potential Design Tools.
Finally, it is important to know that whether a property is inside or outside a Historic District, it can still have restrictions. There are deed restrictions based on the neighborhood the property is in, which may have size requirements and height restrictions. There are also city ordinances that can help people control development on a block by block basis. The Minimum Lot Size and Minimum Building Line ordinances for the city of Houston are tools that homeowners can use to vote to control the other homes on their block. Click here for an interactive map where you can look up properties and the neighborhoods where homeowners have decided to self-impose these restrictions.