REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Surprise inside: Look past exterior of cracker-jack house

Address: 920 Rosser Lane

Neighborhood: Rugby

Asking: $930,000

Assessment: $894,800

Year Built: 1952

Size: 4,775 fin. sq. ft., 134 unfin. 

Land: 0.35 acres

Agent: Keith Davis, Nest Realty  434-566-0656

Curb Appeal: 8 out of 10

The façade of this Cape is so unassuming that from the curb that shoppers will ask, "What's with the hefty price tag?" It's certainly a fair question. The inside, however, may help buyers understand.

A lot of work has been done. In a triple-decker renovation, the line of the house was extended to the back, which means the main level moved past the original kitchen, and a sunny family room was created with a high angled ceiling and additional home office with built-ins, both open to the high-end kitchen. In the basement, it means an additional window-filled room just off the garden. 

Nearly million-dollar listings require supersonic kitchens and baths. Shoppers quickly trot on when those areas are out of synch with the asking price. Here, not all the baths are updated. Two full baths on the first level maintain original tile and fixtures, including a green toilet and sink in one, and mostly blue motif in another. Paired with wallpaper, the original decor comes off as charming rather than quirky because the colors play off each other. Lots of white tile softens things just enough.

In the kitchen, swaths of dark gray granite and plenty of cabinet space will delight family cooks and gourmet chef wannabes. Our favorite feature, though, is the under-counter icemaker. Off the kitchen is the formal dining room, a generous space open to the formal living room in the front. 

Two original bedrooms on the first level are a master with a modest bath (original) and closet, plus an additional bedroom, ideal for a nursery or library.

This house is replete with storage, which addresses one of the most common complaints about older homes. Beyond a number of usable closets (some with shelving), a small unfinished section of the basement appears dry and could accommodate a fair amount of flotsam. 

On the second floor are two bedrooms meant for children, each with a built-in bench across one wall. A playroom adjoins one of the bedrooms to the hall, which is large enough for a homework area (although maybe not: while a phone line and Internet connection make it a good spot for a desk, they probably don't augur well for studying). Baby-blue toile in the bathroom has a child's motif with animals. An outside area has double sinks, and a second door leads to the tub and toilet.

Although formerly an apartment, the current incarnation of the basement is said to not be legally rentable, even though it's been updated and extended into the backyard with a sitting area. In addition, there's another seating area with a fireplace, a mudroom with checkered tiles and cubbies, and a full bath and bedroom that make it a good spot for guests and in-laws– but even more likely, it's a prime spot for a nanny. There's also a miniscule garage.

Design folks may have noted that wallpaper is coming back into vogue; here it covers the foyer and most of the bathrooms. Still, some buyers are weary of the stuff and may find it a turnoff. But people who can afford this price point can simply hire someone else to take care of the hassle. 

Although steep, this home's price per square foot is lower than neighborhood comps at under $195 versus about $250. Buyers don't get a flashy curbside view, but they do get loads of finished family space with storage to match.



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