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Ask Adam: Historic Designated Neighborhoods

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. My husband and I are just beginning a search for a single-family house in Arlington and our first steps are to designate the neighborhoods and areas we are interested in (and those we are not). Since we don’t plan on purchasing anything in the next 6-9 months, we aren’t yet working with a Realtor.

We recently visited a nicely updated home in Maywood, which we knew was in a designated historic community. The real estate agent at the open house was helpful in explaining some of the restrictions (mostly exterior limitations). We then heard from another agent from a different open house that Penrose also has restrictions.

I’ve tried to find a list of neighborhoods with restrictions due to historical status and have come up empty. Do you know of a resource that lists the neighborhoods and describes what types of restrictions are in place for each or have you created anything like this you could share?

A. I think it is always a good idea to consider whether your plans for a home are consistent with the neighborhood. Even if there is not a homeowners association or restrictive covenants in place, we can all think of examples where a certain home is very out of place in a neighborhood.

I recall a recent conversation with a neighbor that wanted to make sure my clients weren’t planning to tear down and rebuild the house we were looking at. There technically wasn’t anything to stop them from doing so, but you are usually better off trying to find a location where new homes fit in a little better.

For the purpose of identifying historic neighborhoods, Arlington has a very good website that lists all the historic districts within the county. You can drill down for a wealth of information about the specific designations you are interested in.

The Arlington County list does not include Penrose and I have never heard of any restrictions within that neighborhood. Hopefully, we have some Penrose residents who will provide insight within the comments section of this article. You can also call the county for questions about any neighborhoods you would like more information about: 703-228-3000.

There is a field that listing agents can use within the multiple listing service (MLS) to inform buyers whether or not a property has a historic designation. It is subject to human error so I wouldn’t rely completely on this, but it is an additional tool at your disposal.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected] This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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