Cotton Estes and Mike Long are working on their new home in Dignowity Hill. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Debra Maltz, founder of Centro Properties and one of the city’s most knowledgable realtors in the historic home market, is excited about an upcoming class offering insights on marketing historic homes in San Antonio’s urban core.

Maltz is just one of a number of local realtors who work with historic properties planning to attend. She probably should be teaching the class.

Representatives from the City’s Office of Historic Preservation will conduct the training seminar, “Dispelling the Myths of Owning a Historic Home,” Friday, Feb. 20, at the historic Woodward House at 1717 San Pedro Avenue, one of the city’s most sought-after wedding venues.

The David J. and May Bock Woodward House located at 1717 San Pedro Ave. Photo by Larry D. Moore, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman's_Club_of_San_Antonio#mediaviewer/File:Woodward_house_sa_2011.jpg
The David J. and May Bock Woodward House located at 1717 San Pedro Ave. Photo by Larry D. Moore.

“I enjoyed the last class on this. I think it’s a good source of information for historic home specialist realtors,” said Maltz.

The San Antonio Board of Realtors is co-presenting the day-long seminar, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., that will qualify as continuing education hours for realtors.

Shanon Shea Miller, OHP director, said the annual training class for marketing historic/older homes is always well attended. Last year’s program drew 60-75 realtors, and 50 realtors had registered by Feb. 11 for next week’s session.

The class day will begin with a brief history of the Woodward House, home to the Woman’s Club of San Antonio. Then there will be seven presentations and sessions, including the ins and outs of official historic preservation, requirements of renovating a historic home, and how to register a property owner’s vacant building.

The City recently enacted an ordinance mandating that a vacant building owner register the property, pay a building registration fee, and comply with new regulations covering building code regulations.

A vacant house in Government Hill, San Antonio. Photo by Grant Ellis.
A vacant house in Government Hill, San Antonio. Photo by Grant Ellis.

Instructors also will teach participants how to develop expertise identifying local architectural styles, how to market historic homes by researching a building’s history, and techniques and materials commonly used in historical restoration. At day’s end, participants may apply what they’ve learned during a field trip to a historic property.

Miller said the class could help equip realtors if they come upon two kinds of potential homebuyers.

“There are some people who may choose to buy a home in the central part of the city or in a historic district, but in a historic district, that person may not know what that really means or entails,” Miller explained. “A realtor with this knowledge can help educate him/her.”

Miller continued: “There also might be a person who wants to buy property in a historic district, but they may shy away from it. This class helps a realtor to be armed with information and tools to help that person.”

According to Maltz, the biggest challenge for a potential buyer of a historic home is acknowledging that he/she is investing more in the home’s character, but that many problems also must be addressed.

“You’ve got to understand that this is an old home. When the inspector checks out the house, you’re going to get a long report with many items,” Maltz explained. “The inspector will list every deficiency he or she sees.”

Curtis Bowers is the owner of Front Porch Realty. His work lies primarily in the Southtown area, where the King William neighborhood is one of 27 formally city-designated historic districts. It’s home to a large number of Greek Revival, Victorian and Italianate style homes that date back to the mid-19th century.

Bowers has attended a past historic home training session. He said he found the program useful not only in educating potential buyers of historic/older homes, but also educating realtors.

“It’s great to get from the horse’s mouth what they oversee, how they affect only things happening on the home’s exterior, and what they provide for people living in or wanting to buy a historic home,” Bowers said of the OHP.

Bowers said it’s helpful for a real estate agent to be flexible handling a range of clients, especially realtors dealing with the center core of town where there’s a higher concentration of older homes and historic districts.

“I think it would be beneficial for every agent to know what a home buyer might face when considering an older or historic home, the things that could scare them away,” Bowers explained. “The buyer has to know it’s not a bad thing.”

Maltz said a buyer of an older or historic home is buying the house, in part, for its character, and usually is willing to accept the inevitability of repairs and improvements old home require.

“Most people want to embrace the character and feel of a home. That’s more than the woodwork or high ceilings, or whether the floors are real wood or engineered wood,” she said. “Even if it’s a first-time home buyer, they should know that when the inspection list comes, all these things are fixable. An older/historic home is a project.”

Bowers also sees the class as a form of outreach from the OHP and the city.

“It’s their way of saying ‘Hey, we’re here, this is how we can help you the realtor,’” Bowers added.

Registration fee for the class is $60, and includes breakfast and lunch. Parking is free. Click here to register by the Feb. 17 deadline. Forms should be sent to SABOR. For more information, call 210-207- 3327.

*Featured/top image: Cotton Estes and Mike Long are working on their new, historic home in Dignowity Hill. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

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Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.