Kelly and Chris Nottleman walked through central Phoenix's historic Willo district checking out homes on one of their first dates in 2009.
The couple is now married and opening the door to their own historic Willo home on this year's tour. They bought a 1940 Ranch-style home a few years ago and spent six months remodeling it.
"The Willo home tour was a great date, but I was a girl from the suburbs and couldn't see myself living there," Kelly Nottleman said. "Now I don't want to live anywhere else."
The couple's home is one of 12 open to tour on Sunday. More than 3,500 people turned up last year when Willo homeowners opened their doors for tours.
Lure of the home tour
"The neat thing about the Willo tour is people come in from all over Maricopa County, and some even come down from Flagstaff and Sedona," said Vicki Vanderhoff, a former Willo resident and real-estate agent with HomeSmart.
"Some of these visitors actually end up moving to Willo at some point, maybe not after their first visit but after coming down year after year," she said.
Historic Phoenix home in the Willo neighborhood renovated, put on tour
Historic neighborhoods in Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Glendale also have tours. The Coronado neighborhood in central Phoenix is having its historic home tour on Feb. 24.
This year is the 31st Willo home tour for the neighborhood, which spans from Central to Seventh avenues and McDowell to Thomas roads. Tickets are $20 the day of the event, which begins at 10 a.m.
Tudor revival, Spanish mission, French provincial and traditional ranch homes like the Nottleman's are open for the tour.
The Nottlemans rented their home in Willo before buying it.
The couple had been renting the brick home in the center of Willo when they decided to move to San Francisco for jobs. After a few years, they were getting married and wanted to move back to Phoenix and the Willo neighborhood, but they couldn't find a home the size and price they wanted.
Then their former neighbor told them their old rental house was about to be listed. They bought it in 2017 and started a six-month renovation.
"Our neighbors are so great, they even let us live with them through the renovation," Chris Nottleman said. "The neighbors are part of why we wanted to come back to Willo."
The couple redid the kitchen, pulled down an addition from the 1970s and added a porch, where they often hang out with neighbors.
"Getting this house and renovating it has been like a fairy tale," Kelly Nottleman said. "Everything just worked out."
The couple was able to buy before home values fully recovered from the crash.
Last year, a Willo home sold for $1 million last year. The median home price in the neighborhood is about half that much.
You will notice more "for sale" signs and open houses in historic neighborhoods during tours. But most tours don't include homes for sale.
"I don't know that tours raise values, but they can solidify values within a neighborhood," said Sherry Rampy, a central Phoenix real-estate agent with Brokers Hub Realty.
I looked at home prices and sales in historic neighborhoods after tours last year. Both were up a bit, but most tours are also held during prime months for home sales in the Valley.
The boost in sales or values due to a tour are a bonus. But many like the Nottlemans just love their home and want to share it.
"If anybody wants to feel good about their home they should put it on a home tour," Rampy said. "People who aren't familiar with historic homes come in and are so grateful and lovely."
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