The Trade Show Files: The Unique Offerings of Historic Homes with Town & Shore Associates

The 2019 Old House Trade Show is just one week away, so we’re sitting down with a few REALTORS® participating in the show to get their perspectives on working with historic homes—and to learn what buyers and homeowners might expect in the process of buying or selling an older home. Below, read our conversation with Town & Shore Associates, LLC, a local real estate brokerage and sponsor of the Old House Trade Show.

Beckett’s Castle was constructed as a summer cottage in 1874. Town & Shore emphasized the unique historical elements of this home when selling the property recently

Beckett’s Castle was constructed as a summer cottage in 1874. Town & Shore emphasized the unique historical elements of this home when selling the property recently

Beckett’s Castle, a unique historic home on the coast of Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Beckett’s Castle, a unique historic home on the coast of Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Landmarks: How is the sales process different when working with an older home?

Town & Shore: The transaction process for any residential property is generally the same, regardless of age, size or location. Prospective buyers of older homes often share the commitment to a philosophy of “stewardship” when buying older homes. When the Sellers and Buyers share this reality, the purchase and sale process benefits from shared perspectives and objectivity. In the case where older is not “historic”, the buying process will require a dedicated agent, one familiar with the importance of detailed inspections and local ordinance requirements.

Many buyers of older homes share the commitment to a philosophy of “stewardship.”

Many buyers of older homes share the commitment to a philosophy of “stewardship.”

Landmarks: Do you provide potential buyers with the history of the home?

Town & Shore: We attempt to thoroughly research all properties managed in either buying or selling residential properties. The older the home, the more likely historic information will be important in both presentation or buying scenarios. Providing as much historical information, as is reasonably accessible, from files found in the respective municipal and historic libraries as possible is critical. Developing a history of a property serves to add necessary understanding of the purchase decision, the immediate neighborhood and environs, while positioning the “uniqueness” of the property as a component of value. 

Inside Beckett’s Castle, built 1874

Inside Beckett’s Castle, built 1874

Landmarks: Do you work with any interior designers to make the home ready for sale? 

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Town & Shore: When necessary, adding professional design perspective for presentation is invaluable. Cherished possessions and collections can add personality, but often benefit from a judicious editing. A simple rule of organization for those favorite living spaces: Clear horizontal surfaces render a room as organized. Orderly storage and garage areas speak to the stewardship and care of the owner. 

Landmarks: How do the historic elements of the home influence the renovation process? 

Town & Shore: Historic preservation often is controlled by local historic standards. The concept of changing or adjusting any exterior façade or historic detail that can be seen from a passing street may determine restoration/renovation decisions. Changes to interior spaces are normally determined by the aesthetic of the owner. We encourage maintenance and care for existing structural and design elements, including crown moldings, trim and cabinetry woodwork or plaster embellishments, electrical and structural elements.

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Thank you, Town & Shore, for sharing your knowledge on the subject of buying and selling older homes. To learn more about the process of real estate as a buyer or homeowner, be sure to visit Town & Shore at the 2019 Old House Trade Show, coming up on March 30th and 31st in Portland.

Learn more about Town & Shore Associates, LLC at townandshore.com.

The Trade Show Files: Considerations When Selling and Renovating Your Older Home with Tom Landry

With the 2019 Old House Trade Show rapidly approaching, we’re taking a moment to chat with a few REALTORS® participating in the show to get their perspectives on working with historic homes—and to learn about what buyers and homeowners might expect in the process of buying, selling, or renovating an older home. Read our conversation with Tom Landry below, of Benchmark Real Estate and CornerStone Building & Restoration. Both Benchmark and CornerStone are Preservation Sponsors at Landmarks, and the Benchmark team will be joining us as a Corner Sponsor for this year’s show.

Tom Landy of Benchmark Real Estate and CornerStone Building & Restoration

Tom Landy of Benchmark Real Estate and CornerStone Building & Restoration

Landmarks: Hi, Tom! How is the sales process different for buyers and homeowners when working when working with an older home? 

Tom: Buyers love older homes for their character, charm, unique architectural details, and history. When selling an older home, the marketing needs to prominently highlight these aspects of the property to tell its unique story, something we feel is essential to ensure buyers understand why the home is worth what we’re asking. This means researching the history of a home and understanding the significance and value of details like original molding, stained glass windows, or built-ins.  

To help us navigate buyer questions, we ensure we have a firm understanding of how any historic district or designation may impact the home’s value when determining a list price and to assist in future negotiations. In addition, completing property disclosures for an older home takes more rigor - and sometimes consultation with outside home experts - to reduce any surprises in inspections. And lastly, we often end up working with the seller to make updates and repairs before their home hits the market to ward off fears related to things like old wiring, mold, roof leaks or another one of the issues that commonly arise during the inspection of an older home.  

The Forbes-Webber House    in Portland, a historic home built in 1835

The Forbes-Webber House in Portland, a historic home built in 1835

Landmarks: Do you work with any interior designers to make the home ready for sale? 

Tom: Sometimes we do. It really depends on the condition of the home, the seller’s budget for repairs or edits to the home, and current market conditions. There is no limit to the renovations and upgrades that can be done to an older home, so there is always a debate about what level of changes are needed to sell for what the owner wants. Unless the home requires a major renovation, we tend to use home staging/decorating professionals instead to provide another informed opinion and ensure the home shows the best it can that first day on the market.  

Landmarks: You also own a restoration company. How do the historic elements of the home influence the renovation process?  

Tom: We always want to work around, preserve, and restore any historic features like built-ins, trim, fireplaces, mantels and windows for example. So, it becomes a balance between salvaging these details and bringing the home up to the standards of modern living. The vast majority of older home owners want modern and open kitchens and baths. When working within an older and more compartmentalized structure, this can prove to be a big challenge and often requires taking down walls, moving bathrooms, staircases, windows…you name it. This takes special care and attention to ensure historic details are preserved, which ultimately increases renovation time and price.  

Below: Before and after a CornerStone restoration project in Portland’s East End

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Landmarks: What strategies do you use to make an older home like this more energy efficient? 

Tom: There are many things that can be done. Unless an owner has an unlimited budget (not likely), we always recommend a home energy audit to determine the best areas to focus on. This often includes installing interior storm windows, considering spray foam in basements and walls, adding supplemental heat in locations like bedrooms and kitchens, upgrading heating systems, and addressing drafty elements like pocket doors and fireplaces.   

 Thanks for chatting with us, Tom! To learn more about the real estate and renovation process as a buyer or homeowner, be sure to visit Benchmark Real Estate at the 2019 Old House Trade Show, coming up on March 30th and 31st in Portland.

Learn more about Benchmark Real Estate at www.benchmarkmaine.com and CornerStone Building and Restoration at www.cornerstonebr.com 

 

 

The Founding Women of Portland's Preservation Movement

The Founding Women of Portland's Preservation Movement

By Daphne Howland

 Women have been a critical force not only in saving key buildings but also in changing the city’s approach to its historic fabric.

 The American historic preservation movement owes much to women’s volunteer efforts, and the Portland area is no different. The effort often recognized as the first major preservation movement was Ann Pamela Cunningham’s campaign to save George Washington’s Virginia farm, Mount Vernon.

 Today we accept the importance of keeping George Washington’s home as a national treasure, but that wasn’t true in the 19th century when the farm’s future was in doubt. Cunningham formed the Mount Vernon’s Ladies Association, which includes a regent and vice regent from each state and oversees the farm to this day, after receiving a note from her mother in 1853 that read, “If the men of America have seen fit to allow the home of its most respected hero to go to ruin, why can't the women of America band together to save it?”

 “Of course, what we need to remember about women in preservation is that women have been crucial to the movement since the beginning in this country,” says Earle Shettleworth. “In Portland, there’s a long tradition of women playing pivotal roles in the preservation of our past. Probably the first person we would cite would be Ann Longfellow Pierce.”

Edith Sills, right, Bowdoin College Archives image no. 4317

The Trade Show Files: A Realtor's Perspective with Erin of Gardner Real Estate Group

The Trade Show Files: A Realtor's Perspective with Erin of Gardner Real Estate Group

With the 2019 Old House Trade Show just weeks away, we sat down with REALTORS participating in the show to get their perspectives on working with historic homes—and to learn about what buyers and homeowners might expect in the process of buying or selling an older home. Read our conversation with Erin Oldham below, who represents Gardner Real Estate Group, a long time supporter of Landmarks and sponsor of this year’s Trade Show.

Landmarks: How is the sales process different when working with an older home?

Erin: From the listing side, there is a bit more preparation including researching the provenance and story of the home.  When I walk through a home for the first time, I am very focused on documenting the unique features of the home as well as the upgrades in the kitchen/bathroom and all of the systems.  Showings work a bit differently as well: I present the story of the home to the buyers and point out the special features.  It is worth having buyers understand that beyond just purchasing a home, they could become part of the story of the home.  I believe knowing the story enhances the value of the home and also introduces the buyer into the world where stewardship of a home matters and contributes to long-term value.

The Trade Show Files: Ask the Experts

So you have an old house - now what?

A while back Greater Portland Landmarks invited five old house experts (Marc Bagala, Les Fossel, Julie Larry, Arron Sturgis, and Peter Taggart - bios after the conversation) to comment on how to prioritize your plan for any major work on your older or historic home. We asked them how to incorporate plans for sustainability and energy efficiency, how to stay on budget, how to prepare, and more. Here’s how they answered.

Peter Taggart, Marc Bagala, Les Fossel, and Julie Larry, will all be at the 2019 Old House Trade Show, March 30-31, where you can ask these experts more questions about your house. Get Tickets.

What is the first thing to consider?

Julie Larry: The first thing is to determine what are the important features of the house that should be maintained as part of the project, so that a home doesn’t lose its special character.

Peter Taggart: Research, to understand the history of the structure, the materials used, and the condition they’re in.

Arron Sturgis: A complete assessment of the home is the best way to increase appreciation and understanding of it. It provides the basis for knowing the condition, the materials within it, how it was built, and what changes were made over time.

Les Fossel: Ask yourself: do you have the resources (time, money, skills, energy and commitment) to take the project to completion? Don’t trust yourself on this, ask for experienced advice.

Marc Bagala: I want to be sensitive to the owners, their love for their home, and what they’re looking for. I try to design my work around that and their budget. My interview process is to ask a lot of questions.

How do you balance historic preservation with sustainability and energy efficiency?

The Green Book and Portland

The Green Book and Portland

Did you know that Portland was included in this well-known guide book for African Americans travelling in the mid-twentieth century?

The guide book was originated and published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the era of Jim Crow laws, when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against non-whites was widespread. Although pervasive racial discrimination and poverty limited car ownership, the emerging African-American middle class bought automobiles as soon as they could afford to do so, but when travelling faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences along the road, from refusal of food and lodging to arbitrary arrest. In response, Green wrote his guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans, eventually expanding its coverage from the New York area to much of the United States. He also founding a travel agency.

The Trade Show Files: Stephanie Brown of Bagala Window Works

The Trade Show Files: Stephanie Brown of Bagala Window Works

One of the best parts of the Old House Trade Show is having the opportunity to chat with exhibitors about their memorable experiences with older homes. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss options for your home projects and find inspiration in the creative solutions offered by all of our exhibitors.

To start the conversation, we caught up with Stephanie Brown, a window technician at Bagala Window Works. An exhibitor at the upcoming 2019 Old House Trade Show, Bagala Window Works (BWW) is a local company and long-time supporter of Greater Portland Landmarks working to preserve the unique heritage of homes through time-tested techniques in window restoration. Stephanie discusses her work with older homes, her favorite window projects, and her perspective as a woman in a skilled trade profession traditionally held by men.  

Book Report: The Past and Future City by Stephanie Meeks

Book Report: The Past and Future City by Stephanie Meeks

I optimistically checked out a fat stack of preservation-related books at the University of Georgia library and lugged them up to Maine for self-assigned summer reading. The Past and Future City by Stephanie Meeks (Island Press, 2016 link: https://islandpress.org/book/the-past-and-future-city) has been on my list for quite some time. The president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation since 2010, Meeks echoes ideas that are buzzing in the preservation world and support the message of Max Page’s lecture. That preservation is much more than house museums, it’s an evolving field that should play an important role in addressing some of our most hot-button issues such as affordable housing and climate change. To do this, she outlines 10 steps communities can take to harness the power of their existing building stock and protect historic resources. Here are my Cliff Notes:

11 Things to do in Fall 2018

11 Things to do in Fall 2018

To use a term from Mary Berry of the Great British Bake Off, this fall is cram-jam full with history, architecture, and community events. Organizations all over the region are in a celebratory mood, from our own Preservation Awards, to an architecture-inspired costume party. This fall you can take a musical stroll, have a reason to say “Happy Terrcentential!”, and trick-or-treat at a Portland icon and so much more.