Developers in West Virginia are turning more often to preservation projects as investments, according to an insurer who's specializing in the insurance of historic properties in the Mountain State.
Interest in historic properties is growing across the state, according to Ben Morgan of Morgan Insurance, due in part to a new 35-percent state tax credit for registered historic properties, which can be matched with a 25-percent federal credit.
"West Virginia is now competitive with surrounding states when it comes to government support for the rehabilitation of historic buildings," Morgan said.
"This is very good news in communities that are savvy about attracting business, and it's good news for investors eyeing properties here, which are reasonably affordable on the national scale."
Morgan, who counts the historic Old Sweet Springs hotel among his clients, says that insuring historic properties is as nuanced as their appraisal and development, but this should not deter investors.
"Some new investors might look into insurance and come away thinking the task is prohibitive, but billions of dollars worth of historic property are being affordably insured in the U.S. this very minute."
In all cases, Morgan is referring to properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which may therefore be eligible for grants and low-interest loans as well as tax credits but which also may be controlled by local, state, and federal ordinances.
In determining the value of registered properties, traditional methods such as market and acquisition value and replacement costs based on units, assembly, or square footage usually don’t work, he said; the most reliable approaches use estimates from specialty contractors.
"Cost estimates in these cases are driven by adding historic-building components to regulatory requirements to arrive at true replacement costs," he said.
"The process requires far more specialization than an ordinary property, but we enjoy working with the extraordinary, and West Virginia has plenty of that."
For more information on insurance for historic properties, visit Morgan Insurance online at AgentinWV.com or call 304-574-1117.