Things to know prior to buying a home in the Boston-Edison Historic District
The Boston-Edison Historic District is a special place to live. Because of its historical importance, there are a few additional factors to consider when purchasing a home in the district.
Boston-Edison is zoned only for single-family residences (R-1). This means that no owner can operate a business within the neighborhood, beyond a small scale home office. This protects every owner from having a neighbor use a home as a nursing home, rooming house, church, insurance agency, beauty parlor, bed and breakfast, or any like activity. For over seventy years, the Association has been successful in suing any violators of R-1 zoning and will continue to protect you.
Historic District Restrictions
Boston-Edison is a Local, State and Federally designated Historic District. As a result, exterior changes to the houses cannot be made without the prior approval of the Detroit Historic District Commission. These restrictions are designed to preserve the historic nature of our neighborhood.
The HDC does not just enforce the restrictions, the staff members also are very willing to advise owners about what is historically correct and to help them plan exterior work. Usually, it is just as easy and no more expensive to do something the approved way as the wrong way.
Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Tax Credits
Boston-Edison is designated as a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone. Under the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone plan, residents who have moved into the Boston-Edison Historic District after December 31, 1997, may be eligible for a Homestead Exemption which will reduce property taxes up to 35%. To obtain the credit, residents must apply for the exemption, and are required to sign an affidavit stating they plan to make a minimum investment of $500 in the property after the date of issue.
Property Tax Pop-Up
Be aware that Realtors' data sheets on houses show what the seller's property tax payments have been, NOT what a buyer's taxes will be. Under Proposition A, Michigan caps the property taxes of owners to a small annual increase. When an owner sells, the cap is removed, and the buyer must pay the full property tax on the house. If a seller has owned a house since 1994 or earlier, a buyer's taxes may be much higher than the seller's taxes. Your realtor has an obligation to tell you what a buyer's taxes will be on the house: make them tell you.
Utility costs, especially heating bills, naturally are higher for the large homes in Boston Edison than for smaller homes. The trade-off for higher utility costs is that, in Boston Edison, the market values of large houses are lower than the prices of smaller homes outside Detroit. Buyers who are careful about this trade-off can offset higher utility bills by lower mortgage payments in Boston-Edison, and thereby have the same (or lower) total cost as for a smaller, more expensive home elsewhere.
Do you have questions about the Boston-Edison Historic District? Contact the Historic Boston-Edison Association and we'll do our best to answer them.