Special Valuation Considerations for Historically and Architecturally Significant Residences:

Special analysis is required in order to properly value an architecturally and historically significant residence. In addition to the typical amenities and features that enter into the valuation analysis such as: size of house, condition of the house, etc., it is important to research and analyze what is called the “provenance” or “pedigree” of the house. The provenance is of major importance and involves researching the architecture and history of the house.

This analysis involves discovering the name of the architect and determining the architect’s prominence, along with researching the prior ownership of the home and determining if any of the prior Owners were prominent with regard to the history of the house and/or the area in which the house is located. Discovering the provenance of a house is important as the "degree" of provenance has an impact upon its value.

The following definitions of the word "Provenance"will provide a context about this term:

From “About.com: “An antique or collectable’s verifiable (through receipts, photographs, etc.) history which includes who owns the piece and where it was located; can add measurable value to an object, especially if the previous owner or person who crafted the piece is well-known.

From “Answers.com:” “a.)The history of the ownership of an object, especially when documented or authenticated”.

“b.) The records or documents authenticating such an object or the history of its ownership.”

From E-Bay Article: “Provenance is the origin or source from which something comes. The term is often used in the sense of place and time of manufacture, production, or discovery. Comparative techniques, expert opinion, written and verbal records and the results of tests are often used to establish provenance.

The provenance of works of fine art, antiques, and antiquities often assume great importance. Documented evidence of provenance for an object can help to establish that it has not been altered and that it is not a forgery or a reproduction, Knowledge of provenance can help to assign the work to a known artist and a documented history can be of use in helping to prove ownership.”

Oxford Dictionary: “(i) the fact of coming from some particular source or quarter; origin, derivation”.

“(ii) the history or pedigree of a work of art, manuscript, rare book, etc : concr., a record of the ultimate derivation and passage of an item through its various owners.”

On the surface, this definition appears to primarily pertain to antiques or collectibles. However, it is to be noted that an architecturally significant house is a “work of art.” In addition, it is possible to distinguish two meanings for provenance: first, as a concept, it denotes the source of derivation of an object, in this case a residence, and second, more concretely, it is used to refer to a record of such a derivation.

Anyone who doubts whether provenance applies to Single-Family Homes has only to read the first few words in any property listing, or read any news article about a recent sale of an architectural or historic house, or, a house that belonged to a famous person.. In their property listings, Listing Agents will tout the name of the architect who designed the house or the historical aspect of a property even before any description of the property itself. Most buyers will forever tell people that they live in a home that was previously owned by some famous person, like Brad Pitt, Frank Sinatra, etc.

From our ongoing research conducted during previous appraisals of historical and architectural homes, we have identified four, what we call “levels” of provenance. These are:

Level-1: Residence is historically significant because the original owner back in time had the house built. This original owner was important in the area in which the property is located in some respect.

Level-1A: Residence that has architectural appeal, a much higher degree of architectural appeal that any house in its area. In this level of provenance, a residence does not have to be historically significant. In fact, the residence can even be new and/or newer. The important aspect of this level of provenance is that the architecture is both recognized, is recognizable, and is valued by any buyer. In general, the Architect that designed a Level-1A home is either unknown, or does not have a recognized “name”.

Level-1-B: Residence was designed by a well known and highly regarded “Name” Architect. Again, in this level of provenance, a residence does not have to be “old” and does not have to be historically significant. An Example of this would be the Modern-Style homes designed by Architect Mark Singer of Laguna Beach; CA. Mr. Singer has designed many homes in the “Top-of-the-World” market area of Laguna Beach. His homes are highly prized buy buyers in this market area; none of these homes is over 15-years old.

Level-2: Residence is both architecturally and historically significant. This means that it was designed by a “Name” Architect, like Raphael Soriano, who designed the Julius Shulman House and Studio which our company recently appraised for the Estate of Mr. Shulman. It is historically significant as it is was built and/or was once owned by someone identified with house, or the area in which a property is located.

Level-3: This level of provenance combines all of the above “Levels” of “provenance” and in addition a house is currently owned or was recently owned by a recognizable “Name” owner.

In the past, we were able to abstract “value premium” of 5% ± for each level. In other words, a "Level-3" home would have a +25% Provenance Premium. However, during our research for our valuation of the Shulman House in 9/2009, we found that the current real estate crisis has almost eliminated this premium. You can follow this Link: https://architecturelab.net/2009/09/30/architectural-gems-up-for-sale/ for a Los Angeles times Article on 9/30/2009 which discusses this issue. 

Now you can go back to the main page and look at some of the Historical and Architectural Properties we have appraised. I hope the above has been informative. Please contact us if we can be of help to you if you have an Architectural or Historic Home.




If you have a question about a Historic or Architectural Home, or need a valuation of a Historic or Architiectural Home, let us know by filling out this form. We will get back to you as soon as possible