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Disputes can arise when purchasing an ‘historic’ home

May 24, 2013
By SYLIVA HELDRETH - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

QUESTION: The landscape of Southwest Florida has changed dramatically and efforts are being made to preserve the buildings that are now more than a century old. The city of Fort Myers has a historic preservation program. Cape Coral has a historical society and there is a Lee Trust to help fund the preservation of historic buildings.

My husband and I want to buy a home that might be considered historic but we're hearing horror stories about people in the Miami area who have purchased "tear-downs" but are being prevented from doing so because the building might be historic. Could this happen to us?

ANSWER: The National Historic Preservation Act is legislation intended to provide assistance to those who want to preserve historical and archaeological sites in the U.S. The act created the National Register of Historic Places, the list of National Historic Landmarks, and the State Historic Preserva-tion Offices.

Signed into law in 1966, it is the most far-reaching preservation legislation ever enacted in the United States. Among other things, the act requires federal agencies to evaluate the impact of all federally funded or permitted projects on historic properties. It does not, however, initiate steps to declare a property historic in order to prevent its demolition. Citizens who are interested in preservation usually lead this effort.

When Southwest Florida residents want to buy or sell a home, they enter the market hoping for a smooth, tension-free process. Anyone who has been involved in a real estate dispute knows that problems can arise from almost any corner, at almost any time in the process.

Some buyers in Miami are facing problems because preservations groups have said that the buyers have purchased historically significant properties with the intention of demolishing them to build something new. The resistance is coming from individuals who believe that houses built in the early 1900s deserve to be preserved and restored instead of razed and forgotten.

The architecture of some of these early beachfront homes is from a particularly striking era in Miami's history and their destruction is said by some to be "immoral" and the groups seem to have the backing of the mayor of Miami.

This dispute, although about real estate, is not grounded in real estate law. Seek the advice of an attorney if necessary.

Attorney Sylvia Heldreth is a certified specialist in real estate law. Her office is located at 1215 Miramar St., in Cape Coral.

This article is not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and is based upon facts that change from time to time. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting upon any matter involving the law.



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