REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- For starters: Belmont bungalow a condo alternative


Address: 1007 Montrose Avenue

Neighborhood: Belmont

Asking: $275,000

Assessment: $266,400 (does not include basement addition)

Year Built: 1954

Size: 1,554 fin. sq. ft.

Land: 0.14 acres

Agent: Voe and Bobby Montgomery, 434-466-5650

Curb Appeal: 7 out of 10

The old standby "starter home" has given way to condos and townhouses. Houses that fit that outdated description today are all about compromise, and this sage green bungalow screams "starter."

With three bedrooms and two full baths, it's enough space for someone trying to move from an apartment, and at a low enough price for some first-timers, a new couple or small family, just starting out. 

Though not quite close enough to trendy restaurants, this house is nevertheless considered part of Belmont. Near downtown just off Monticello Avenue, it sits at the top of a downward-sloping street. There are no sidewalks, which may be a problem for buyers looking for a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. 

(And that raises the question, why are there still neighborhoods in the city without sidewalks in 2009?)

Plants and the house's color contribute to its curb appeal (except there isn't any curb). A retaining wall holds back the yard just above street level, and lush plantings– calla lilies, large bushes and what looks like a dogwood tree– provide interest. The façade is modest and hides an addition at the back. 

The front door opens directly into a small living room with a bay window, and it joins two original bedrooms and a full bath situated toward the front. Although the bath is functional, it could benefit from some TLC. Original hardwood floors look rough but redeemable. A narrow hall closet and a linen closet offer modest storage; a ceiling ladder leads to an attic that provides more space for flotsam.

The petite kitchen opens to a dining area with a breakfast bar/pass-through. Kitchen cabinets appear to be original. This area is prime territory for renovation or a superficial surface update, depending on the buyer's lifestyle and taste. As is, it's functional but dated.

A room of indeterminate use divides the kitchen and dining spaces from the master bedroom, and offers access to the deck and backyard. Linoleum makes it seem like a mudroom, and it acts sort of as a buffer between the two sections of the house. The current owners use it as a home office.

A bright new master suite lies at the back. The master bathroom, private because separate from the rest of the bedrooms, has a large vanity sink with plenty of counter space.

The main basement consists of two rooms, one containing a washer/dryer. The original room opens to what used to be the garage; French doors lead from a gravel driveway. With the light, it could be a great craft, art, or workroom. 

Accessible from the yard and situated below the deck, a second, finished portion of the basement is painted Tar Heel blue. It truly is the perfect man cave, ideal for hosting poker games, watching sports or movies, or for teens looking to canoodle in private. When the owners built the room, they created a sunken space to accommodate a treadmill at floor level. Heating, cooling and carpet make it comfortable in any season. 

An overgrown fenced backyard surrounds an enormous deck big enough for outdoor dining (and maybe a dance floor). A little manicuring might maintain the privacy provided by the trees while fostering the feeling of more space. 

This light-filled bungalow is small but comfortable for someone moving up in life. With starters, compromise is key, and buyers will compromise— a little— on size and age with this kind of space. But as with so much in life, the other side of the coin is lots of possibilities.



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