The attraction of owning an older, historic home has made downtown Brunswick a desirable location recently. The homes were built by craftsmen whose attention to detail makes them stand out in comparison with newer homes on the market, said Katie Brown, an associate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate, in Brunswick.
“It’s definitely a sought after market,” she said. “We have a very healthy mix of historic homes to choose from.”
Brown, a lifelong Brunswick resident whose nickname is “Downtown Katie Brown,” said her customers include buyers from Savannah and Charleston who are seeking a small-town feel. The historic homes are also attracting buyers in the region.
“I’m seeing a lot of people abandoning St. Simons Island for downtown Brunswick,” Brown said.
Realtor Dana Hill, with Georgia Coast Realty, said the ongoing revitalization effort in downtown Brunswick is contributing to the demand for homes in the historic district.
“We’ve definitely seen a uptick in the downtown area,” she said.
“The houses have lots of character and charm. The homes here have history and the buyers are keeping the history.”
Unfortunately, there are few historic homes on St. Simons or Jekyll islands, Brown said. The majority of historic homes on St. Simons were demolished to make way for condos, she said.
One of the challenges of learning about the history of some of the homes in the historic district of Brunswick is determining their exact age. Property records were destroyed in a fire in the late 1800s, making it difficult to determine when some of the homes were built, Brown said.
“It’s tough to pinpoint an exact year,” she said.
Owners of historic homes understand they are require more upkeep than a new home and there are restrictions, particularly on a home’s exterior, where there are requirements about paint colors, replacement windows, landscaping and constructing additions to the home. But owners have lots of freedom to do interior renovations.
Brown said the city’s historic review board is very easy to work with, and the goal is to maintain the integrity of the neighborhoods.
There are disadvantages to owning a home in the historic district, such as costly restoration, structural issues, constructing additions, and possible hazards, such as the presence of asbestos insulation or lead paint.
Brown said any home built before 1978 likely has lead paint. Homes in the historic district have a lead paint disclosure. Brown recommended hiring a professional abatement company as part of the sales process to determine how much work, if any, is necessary before a buyer moves into a historic home.
“Once the correct professional comes in, it gives people confidence,” Brown said. “They were built by skilled craftsmen using beautiful materials. They just don’t build them like this anymore.”