Values of owning and living in a historic property are more than financial

In reference to the pending Historic Preservation Ordinance a lot has been said about a historic designation being an impediment to selling, and devaluing the property. 

We did not find that to be true. 

We purchased our home at 424 Jasmine Street in May, 2015. It was listed on the Historic Inventory and we understand that the seller, Ross St. Clair, had been worried that he would not be able to sell the property for what he thought it was worth.  But the property sold the same day it was put on the market and it sold for the asking price—to us!  We had been searching for a home in Laguna Beach for some time and his asking price was not low.  

At the time that we learned it was on the market, we were told that we had a two-hour window to see the house, and that if we liked it, we had to make an offer that afternoon. Our realtor said there were four other offers made that day as well. Before our offer (which was a full price offer) was accepted, the seller’s realtor spent a lot of time making sure that we understood that this house was on the Historic Inventory, and the restrictions associated with this. We were pleased to be purchasing a home with history, and for us it was a draw, not a deterrent.

Subsequent to purchasing the home, we placed it on the Historic Registry. 

From there we applied for a Mills Act contract. This was recently granted to us, and will provide a meaningful financial decrease in our property taxes, such that we are confident that we can keep the house in good repair, and representative of its history. 

This past month our home was appraised in an effort to refinance. We were happy to see that the appraisal reflected the work we had put into it, but also that the value was retained. We believe that the Mills Act contract will increase the value even more, were we to want to sell.

But the values of owning and living in a historic property are more than financial—there is the value of enjoyment, and feeling a part of Laguna’s history.  

Without the city’s historic preservation program the home we now enjoy could have been demolished before we or some other buyer who appreciates historic properties would have had a chance to buy it.

Monica Thompson

Laguna Beach