I was recently appointed to the Loudoun HDRC.  I am writing this article to assist (to some small degree) those who live in or may purchase a new home in, a Loudoun County Historic District (called Historic and Cultural Conservation Districts).

There are six Historic and Cultural Conservation Districts in Loudoun County (Aldie, Bluemont, Goose Creek, Oatlands, Taylorstown, and Waterford), one Historic Roadways District (32 rural roads located in the southwest of the county) and three independent, town -administered historic districts (Leesburg, Middleburg, and Purcellville). Since being appointed to the Loudoun County Historic District Review Committee I have had the opportunity to meet with property owners and review a number of historic district applications.  In that brief time it has been particularly vexing that there is no obvious mechanism for a prospective homeowner to discover the ins and outs of purchasing a home in an historic district – no specific disclosure requirements.  In an effort to ameliorate this issue here is the 10,000 foot view and some suggestions:

  1. Visit the Loudoun County Government historic district maps page and find your home or prospective home (https://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=1877) to figure out if it is in an historic district.
  1. If it is not, stop reading here, go visit the really well done video page for each district (https://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=1864) and decide when to visit, also see the Town pages at Visit Loudoun (https://www.visitloudoun.org/Experience-Loudoun/Towns-Villages). The farmers markets and other events are a great way to see the county and pick up some awesome food.
  1. If the home is in an historic district then take stock:
    • The home is probably worth more.  Property values in historic districts are historically higher.
    • It may cost you more to make any exterior renovations.  Complying with historic district guidelines requires additional thought and time.  You generally have to get permission to make changes to an existing home, or to build a new home from the governing Committee.
    • Call first!  Don’t buy stock plans that will cost more to modify, don’t commit to an architectural design yet.  Dial this number (703-777-0246) and chat with Heidi Siebentritt or Lauren Murphy  The Historic District Team at Loudoun Government is a proactive resource for county residents.  They have impressed the heck out of me, going out of their way to talk to landowners, home owners and new buyers (for free of course) and to make suggestions about how to submit a successful application in the most cost efficient way (i.e. to hopefully get it approved as quickly as possible).

Why do this?  Know before you go, here is the math.  There are 95 counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Loudoun is comprises roughly 1% of the available state court jurisdictions, however in the last ten years, almost 40% of Virginia state court lawsuits that ended with a written opinion from a court of record (read “expensive”) were in Loudoun County.  Lots of history, lots of development, and ever the twain shall meet.

Posted in: Real Estate