REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Same old: Updates haven't changed original style

Address: 1218 Augusta Street

Neighborhood: Rose Hill

Asking: $285,000

Assessment: $321,700

Year Built: 1956

Size: 2,230 fin. sq. ft.

Land:  0.22 acres

Agent: Peg Gilliland, 434-242-1470 & Charles McDonald, 434-981-1585 RE/MAX Assured Properties

Curb Appeal: 8 out of 10

In this market, it's not unusual for properties to be priced below assessment. Sure, we're still seeing plenty priced higher, but these lower-priced places are ready to go. This cottage stands in a city neighborhood which still has a few residents who bought these brick houses when the neighborhood was developed in the mid-1950s. Located at the end of a circle, it's a quiet site and priced to sell. 

The front door opens to a foyer with a coat closet, but new owners will probably use the kitchen entrance from the driveway. The kitchen has seen a granite-countered upgrade but still isn't too flashy: original cabinets were preserved in one corner. Appliances are a mix of stainless and black (a Maytag fridge with French doors on top and freezer on bottom). The Samsung microwave/convection oven has a separate fan system venting outside, a rare touch that's sure to be appreciated. 

Probably the biggest update was opening up the kitchen to the dining room–- something that most of today's buyers seem to appreciate. From the dining room, French doors open to a screened-in porch with view of a thicket that is the backyard. 

With three modest bedrooms on the same level, the home is an ideal starter for a couple looking to become a family. Closets are what buyers would expect in a home of this vintage, but bonus storage in the basement lets clotheshorses swap out seasonally. One bath off the hall still has the original tile standup shower. It's in good condition but spartan. The master also has a bath with original tub and wheat-colored tile. 

The living room is the main shared family space in the house. A working fireplace and nine nearly floor-to-ceiling add formality along with the light.

The big sleeper in this house may be the finished basement, a space the current owner has used as a home office. That's not a bad idea considering the garden level and separate entrance for clients. As is, the basement probably hasn't seen much renovation since it was built. Knotty pine paneling owns the walls, but not as cheesy '70s as, say, the scene of Fiona Apple's "Criminal" video. As far as the knotty pine goes, whitewashing might update it without diluting its character or texture. 

A vast laundry room provides plenty of utility space, and next to it there's a separate workshop. The best feature in the basement, though, is s walk-in cedar closet. Between these spaces, a buyer should find ample storage that opens up the larger space for living or working. 

Outside, the long shallow lot is quirky, and the yard probably hasn't seen a weed whacker since the house was built. Wrangling Mother Nature will certainly be a task for the home's next owner. A benefit of being in an older neighborhood is the array of grown trees; another is the slim likelihood of new development suddenly exploding nearby. 

Along with the new kitchen, the house has been rewired for electric and has new plumbing. Aside from those, it has been maintained but not made over. Because paint colors are neutral, this home is ready for some personality. First timers without much cash will find a modest turnkey that's ready for them.



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1 comment

The original price on this house six months ago was $335k. I read in the blogosphere that it's a Short Sale.

You can ask the Real Estate agent about this and clarify in your article. It's not possible to represent a house without knowing whether or not it's a short sale, so he'll have the answer for you.

As a real estate writer, you should know that a tax assessment isn't an indicator of value. An assessment is not an appraisal. It's an indicator of what a similar house sold for in 2009 when the local real estate market was doing better. The Tax Assessor will take as much as possible, and the assessors don't visit individual houses until there's a challenge.

A short sale means the bank has agreed to take less than what is owed on the mortgage. It also means there is 3rd party approval, which can take months longer than a regular sale.

The upside for a buyer is that a bank is often much more willing to take a lower offer than a private seller.