By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(Aug. 13, 2020) The Berlin Historic District Commission hopes to amend the town’s historic district code to be sure the public is informed about the obligations associated with buying a property in the district.
“We had some pretty unpleasant situations for the people purchasing … and I never thought it made us look good as a commission,” said commission member Mary Moore.
Moore added that she was given a copy of documents given to Daniel and Denise Gauger of 19 S. Main St. upon purchase that stated their home was within the historic district. However, the homeowners were not informed about protocols for residing within the historic district.
Real estate agencies may list homes as historic, but there is a difference between historic homes and the historic district.
“We have historic homes outside the historic district,” Planning Director Dave Engelhart said. “They have to be made aware that whether it’s a historic home or not, they’re inside a historic district. That’s the clarification that has to be made.”
Engelhart added that such disclosure should be part of standard operating procedures of the Coastal Association of Realtors.
The listing for 19 S. Main St. did state it was within the historic district, Engelhart said.
Moore argued that buyers need a better explanation of what the historic district is and what it requires.
“It says ‘historic district,’ but if you’re from Baltimore and you lived in a rowhouse or you lived in a tract house, ‘historic house’ ‘oh, it’s an old house,’” she said. “What’s old? To some people, it’s before 1940.”
If Realtors list the home as within the historic district, and the buyers sign the contract or listing agreement, it is the buyer’s responsibility to uphold the obligations of historic district living.
“If they didn’t read it, that’s their problem,” Engelhart said. “It’s not the real estate agent’s problem, it’s not the town’s problem. It’s the person’s problem as long as it’s listed there … they should take the time to read the contract before they sign anything, and then ask, ‘What is the historic district about?’”