Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:
Broadbent, Kimberly A. (2011). Assessing the Impact of Local Historic District Designation on Mortgage Foreclosure Rates: The Case of Philadelphia. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


This thesis will analyze data of single-family residential mortgage foreclosures in designated local historic districts and similar comparable neighborhoods in Philadelphia, with the hypothesis that there will be fewer single-family residential mortgage foreclosures in the designated local historic districts versus similar comparable neighborhoods. This result would support existing research that has shown that local historic district designation can protect houses from wild fluctuations in market values and can add stability to a historic neighborhood’s housing market.

Housing prices began to decline in late 2006 and early 2007 and foreclosure rates skyrocketed, however there have been relatively few studies conducted to assess who has been affected since that time and how these foreclosures have and will continue to affect the economy long-term, in addition to the lasting impact these foreclosures will have on neighborhoods and communities. In fact, there is no publicly-accessible national database of mortgage foreclosures, making research on the subject all that more difficult.

There has not been a study undertaken to determine if local historic district designation has an impact on the occurrence of mortgage foreclosures in Philadelphia, let alone any other large city in the United States. With the issue of foreclosures as timely as it is, a study of this kind is pertinent and may encourage similar studies at a national level. Philadelphia may not yield the dramatic results that a more economically hard-hit city could, but is it worthy to complete this research to see if local historic district designation does in fact correlate with lower rates of foreclosure. If the hypothesis proves to be correct, this thesis will provide an additional supported argument of how local historic districts are generally more stable than similar non-designated neighborhoods, providing yet another reason for the continued creation of local historic districts.



Date Posted: 04 May 2012