In Virginia, old towns have become so popular that buying a commercial property or home in a historic place often turns out becoming a great investment. This bucks the traditional American trend that wants the middle-class in the suburbs and the poor in the old town. So, what happened?
The answer is simple. Contrary to Europe, old towns had sometimes been associated with poverty, degradation and urban decline in the US. This trend has been recently reversed by those local communities that have adopted specific policies for old towns. These envisage restoration and preservation of the historic buildings and landmarks, and encourage social, cultural and economic development. It is possible to turn an old town into a lively downtown or an affluent middle-class area that way, resulting in an increase in the value of housing and commercial properties.
This is the case of Virginia in general and Hampton Roads in particular. The state government and the local communities do their best to rehabilitate old towns by adopting a set of appropriate measures for them that range from tax breaks to the enforcement of specific preservation rules. The result is that today places like Portsmouth Olde Towne or Norfolk downtown look like lovely old towns full of fun shops, trendy bars and restaurants, delightful art, and colorful flea markets where it is convenient to live and many visitors love to spend a day.
Regarding actual investment opportunities in this area, Hamptons Roads has four main old towns that are being fully rehabilitated: Portsmouth, Norfolk downtown, Newport News and South Norfolk, Chesapeake. They are all well connected to the rest of the state and the most important business centers in the area. Prices are still affordable, but slowly increasing (around 3% on yearly base) in the whole area, while the stock of available homes is slowly decreasing. Source: Long and Foster Market Minute
In old towns, the availability of houses is limited for obvious reasons (it is not possible to augment the stock of historic buildings). So, once the magic moment to buy has passed, you can expect an increase in prices. This is the reason why you had better buy at the start of the process of rehabilitation, when the expected financial return of your investment peaks up. Yet, buying in an historic town turns out a good idea in any case, as it is pretty easy to resell or rent at any moment at a good price being the demand is usually high.
Old towns give their residents some unique advantages. Living in an old town means being at the center of the action. Restaurants, pubs, cultural events, music venues, shops, churches and schools are just around the corner, so that you can just walk or cycle to things that interest you. Time confers to any building a special charm that the wizards of urban rehabilitation are usually able to use to create very scenic urban environments where it is a real pleasure to amble or stay. Public transportation often has old towns as their hubs, which makes it easy to travel anywhere in the region and beyond. Business areas are generally located nearby, and you can reach your office without commuting or spending hours being stuck in a traffic jam.
In conclusion, old towns assure their inhabitants the pleasures and lures of a particular lifestyle, which is the reason why they have grown in popularity so much. Owning real estate in an old town is generally a good investment, as prices tends to go up and there is always demand for housing or commercial spaces.
If you are interested in investing in any of Hampton Roads’ old towns, our team have all the necessary resources to help you, from giving you real estate value estimations to managing the rehabilitation of your historic building. Please feel free to contact us for further information as you please.
Photo source: Tripadvisor.com page about Norfolk