Historic Mesa houses still draw buyer interest - East Valley Tribune: Business

Historic Mesa houses still draw buyer interest

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Posted: Friday, June 6, 2008 12:57 pm | Updated: 9:27 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

When Terri Stewart and her husband first saw the 1920s-era house in downtown Mesa, the couple fell instantly in love and never looked back.

Misty Williams on real estate blog

When Terri Stewart and her husband first saw the 1920s-era house in downtown Mesa, the couple fell instantly in love and never looked back.

Misty Williams on real estate blog

"It's got a lot of character," Stewart said of the more than 1,800-square-foot house on Grand Street.

Nearly 26 years later, the homeowners hope to find a buyer who appreciates the house as much as they do.

Historic houses in downtown Mesa like the Stewarts' are still garnering buyer interest amid today's bleak real estate market.

Like most East Valley neighborhoods, Mesa's historic areas have felt the impact of slumping prices, said real estate agent Maggie Turner, who represents the Stewarts.

"But I don't think we're seeing it to the same degree as we have in new development," she said.

Asking prices for historic houses for sale downtown range from $174,900 for a 1,198-square-foot home on Morris to $1.25 million for a 4,520-square-foot home on Macdonald, according to information compiled by the agent.

Turner said she's seen significantly more buyer interest in the Stewarts' home than the majority of her properties. Historic houses differ greatly from those in other developments because they're unique and limited in nature, she said.

"The values have gone up considerably even in a tough housing market because it's something that can't be duplicated," said Tom Verploegen, president of the Downtown Mesa Association.

More than 600 historic properties are located within six historic districts in the downtown area, according to Mesa statistics.

The people who choose to live in those areas are also looking for a different type of lifestyle, Turner said. They want a stable area that's close to work and has neighbors they know and can interact with, she said.

"It's very common to find two or three generations living within blocks of one another," she said.

Buyers looking for houses in historic areas are likely either people who like to fix up their homes or those who are looking for property in an emerging area, said Jay Butler, who heads Arizona State University's Realty Studies department.

"For some people, this is just not the cookie-cutter home," he said.

How well a house is able to hold its value can depend on the extent of remodeling that's been done, Butler said. Historic houses often face issues with electricity, plumbing and a lack of bathrooms, he said. At the same time, people can do so much remodeling that the house loses its charm, he said.

Buyers who purchase houses in registered historic districts also must adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to making changes, he said.

The Stewarts have done extensive remodeling to their two-bedroom home over the years.

They made over the kitchen, put in hardwood and ceramic floors upstairs and downstairs, painted, landscaped and put in new bathroom fixtures.

But despite the slew of upgrades, the house has maintained its character, Stewart said.

Inside, the house features an antique chandelier and mantel over the fireplace, as well as stained-glass windows and a window seat.

The couple put the house up for sale about a month ago for $345,000.

Stewart said she was nervous to move with the housing market in a slump but believes the right person will come along.

The couple faces competition from heavily discounted short-sale properties.

But their house is priced competitively and has seen a lot of buyer interest, Stewart said.

Her agent recently hosted a historic house tour for several properties, including theirs, with roughly 100 people participating, she said.

"We don't want to see just anybody get it," she said.

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