Very old homes tend sell for more in the DC market

If you are house hunting in the D.C. metro region, don’t assume older homes are less expensive than newer ones, particularly very old homes.

In the D.C. area, 8.35% of all existing homes were built before 1939, and they tend to sell for more. LendingTree research shows that, based on recent sales, homes built before 1939 sell for an average of $206,000 more than the median price of all sales in the area — $630,000 versus $424,000.

Out of the 50 largest metros, the spread between the median price of a pre-1939 home and the overall median price of all homes is the widest in the D.C. area. One of the reasons is that they have been around for a long time, and are in very desirable locations where there is not much room for newer construction.

“In the D.C. area, part of it is the proximity to the center of the city, proximity to all the government institutions and all the cultural institutions,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree. “Part of that higher value is not necessarily because they are older, but because they are closer to the core part of the city.”

That is not the only reason, though.

Much older homes in D.C. are more likely to have a history, have more charm in the eyes of some buyers, and are likely to have gone through one or more major renovations or are ready for one. Those are things some buyers are willing to pay for.

“Older, historical properties, especially in a city like D.C., are particularly attractive to some buyers, so I think that would be a factor in these higher valuations,” Kapfidze said.

Boston has the largest share of existing homes built before 1939, at 33.2%, followed by Providence, Buffalo, New York City and Pittsburgh.

Las Vegas has the fewest existing homes built before 1939, at just 0.39%, followed by Phoenix and Orlando.

Here is a list of the 50 largest metros and where they rank for pre-1939 homes, and the spread in median values:

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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