Mary Tavolieri – ‘Abundant resource’

If walls could talk, Mary Tavolieri and Lori Martin would surely want to hear what they had to say.

The two Whitinsville real estate agents adore homes with a history. When they step into an older residence they can almost imagine what may have occurred within its four walls.

That’s why the two recently participated in the Historic Real Estate Program, a one-day training program formed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and ERA Franchise Systems.

Through the program, Tavolieri and Martin learned about various architectural styles – from Colonial to Art Deco – and about the benefits of having a home listed with the National Register of Historic Places. They also got tips on tax incentives and historic preservation regulations.

It really was a fascinating program, said Tavolieri, manager of the Whitinsville office of ERA Key Realty Services. I think New England has an abundant resource [of historic homes] that we should try to preserve.

Martin, Tavolieri’s colleague, couldn’t agree more.

Every so often I get a call from a buyer who wants a charming antique, said Martin, who owns a single-family home in Douglas dating back to the 1700s.

But more often, homebuyers – put off by the costly repairs older homes require – are not interested, according to Martin.

A lot of times, they’re thinking that an older home comes with a lot of work, said Martin. What many of them are not realizing is that with a newer home, you have as much work to do.

Martin said it took her some time to convince her own husband, a history buff, to buy their current home because it needed some work.

Martin said it was the home’s historic aspects that eventually persuaded her husband to buy. (It is said that George Washington once slept in the Martin home, a former tavern.)

Tavolieri, who has handled the sale of several homes dating back to the 1800s, said there are few buyers and Realtors who can really understand and appreciate the value of a historic home.

Some, however, walk into a turn-of-the-century home and immediately recognize the craftsmanship, charm and sturdiness – something that can’t be matched or replicated in some of today’s newer homes.

When Tavolieri steps into an antique home, for example, she admires the intricate crown moldings, and elaborate doorway and entrance arches – much of which was handcrafted.

A buyer with an untrained eye could see the same home and instead focus on the small rooms, drafty windows, outdated kitchen and deteriorating roof.

No ‘Demands’
In the Blackstone Valley, where Tavolieri and Martin work, there are plenty of homes that are considered historic. Tavolieri explained that according to Historic Real Estate Program, any home over 50 years old is deemed historic.

In cities like Worcester and towns like Millbury, Tavolieri has been delighted by the unique architectural styles and elements of many homes.

Tavolieri recalls handling the sale of a home with five fireplaces, including one that had an enormous granite mantle. Another home featured chestnut wood floors, quite unlike the oak and pine hardwood found in most homes.

The course that Tavolieri and Martin and about 50 other agents took in August showed agents how to highlight those special features and explain the benefits of owning a historic home.

Tavolieri said the course also taught her that owning a home listed on the National Register is not a detriment. Often, people, including Tavolieri herself, mistakenly think that owners of homes listed on the register are restricted when it comes to making changes or repairs. But Tavolieri said the course taught her that the National Trust does not make demands of owners.

The Historic Real Estate Program is open to all real estate professionals, not just those affiliated with ERA. The course, which costs $139, is offered six times a year throughout the country.

Since the program was started in March 2000, some 400 agents have participated, according to Kary Lewis, director of production development for ERA.

P.J. Martin Smith, ERA’s senior vice president of marketing, said the program was created in response to consumer demand for real estate sales professionals with this type of niche marketing experience.

So far it has been well-received by associates and brokers who praise the course teacher, Dwight Young. Young is a senior communications associate with the National Trust who has a master’s degree in architectural history and began working for the Trust in 1977.

The program is similar to an annual educational course offered by New Bedford Realtors. The Greater New Bedford Association of Realtors, in collaboration with the Waterfront Historic Area League, launched the Historic House Specialists course in 1999.

That seminar, however, focuses more on teaching real estate agents about homes in the Greater Bedford area and the resources that are available to them.

National Trust Program Shows The Benefits of Historic Homes

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 3 min