Remaking History: 5 of Greensboro’s Top Renovation Opportunities

If you’ve ever wanted to restore a historic home to its glory, Greensboro and Guilford County are full of opportunities for you. A new page has been added to the website to list homes whose defining characteristic might be described as “needs work … needs TLC … renovation project … rehab project … diamond in the rough … gutted” or the more legalistic “offered with no representations or warranties as to property condition.”

For those with the skills, patience and more money than you think you’ll need, here are five of Greensboro and Guilford’s best renovation opportunities.

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909 N. Elm Street
The Frank Leak House
Blog post

  • $330,000
  • 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 5,790 square feet, 0.43 acre
  • Built in 1914
  • Listed September 1, 2017
  • Last sale: $233,000, February 2017
  • Note: The Leak House is being sold by the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund for a total historic rehabilitation. Click here for details on the rehabilitation agreement, preservation easement and application process. The deadline for applications is Monday, October 2, 2017.

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4909 Guilford College Road
The William G. Wiley House
Blog post

  • $179,800 (originally listed at $194,800)
  • 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, 2,400 square feet, 2.18 acres
  • Price/square foot: $75
  • Built in 1908
  • Listed February 2017
  • Last sale: September 2009, price unavailable in online records
  • Neighborhood: Near Grandover and Business 85
  • Note: A Guilford County Landmark property. Includes a detached workshop with a large second-floor room and a dilapidated barn. Some rooms have been renovated, but most of the house needs work.

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8425 W. Harrell Road, Oak Ridge

  • $149,900
  • 4 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, 1,496 square feet, 2.33 acres
  • Price/square foot: $100
  • Built in 1931
  • Listed September 6, 2017
  • Last sale: 1949, no price available in online records
  • Not owner occupied. Listing: “… maybe a rehab project or full tear down, will need new well and septic.” Listing includes no pictures of interior.

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705 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

  • $29,500
  • 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2,022 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $14
  • Built in 1922
  • Listed September 18, 2017
  • Last sale: $14,000, April 2014
  • Neighborhood: Asheboro Community
  • Craigslist: “This house has been gutted …  Tax Value $54,000 Asking Price 29,500 or BEST OFFER. Bring offers we are selling this one FAST!!! We also work with Realtors.”

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219 York Street

  • $10,000
  • 2 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, 1,016 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $10
  • Built in 1945
  • Listed June 10, 2017
  • Last sale: $34,000, January 1985
  • Neighborhood: Eastside Park
  • Note: You can’t beat the price.

 

808 S. Elam Avenue: A 1900 Victorian in Lindley Park, $355,000

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South Elam Avenue between Walker Avenue and Spring Garden Street has a couple of two-story Victorians standing up among the bungalows that line the street. 808 South Elam is the larger of the two at just under 3,000 square feet, and its $355,000 price tag ($121/square foot) makes it an outstanding value in Lindley Park.

Built in 1900, the house has four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. Its most distinctive exterior features are a wrap-around front porch and a remarkably deep backyard (the lot is 0.81 acre.). Inside, the large kitchen and bathrooms all have been updated well. The house has a den, five fireplaces, a workshop, a covered deck at the back and a detached three-car carport.

808 South Elam is toward the Spring Garden end of the street, still an easy walk to the restaurants at Walker and Elam. It’s even walkable to the Greensboro Coliseum in good weather. Many Lindley Park homes have sold quickly this year, and $121 per square foot for a move-in-ready, doesn’t-need-updating house is a great price.

The house will be open Sunday, September 17, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Listing on TriadMLS.com

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8 Classic Homes That Have Sold at a Premium This Year in Greensboro and Guilford County

At least 18 classic homes in Greensboro and Guilford County have sold for more than their asking prices this spring and summer. That’s 17 percent of the 107 sales that I’ve tracked, a nice sign of strength for the local real-estate market. In many cases, the premium was a token amount, but, still, getting anything over asking price is worth celebrating.

Below are the eight that drew the biggest premiums (in dollars, not necessarily in percentage). They’re in the city and the county, in the more expensive neighborhoods you might expect and some lower priced neighborhoods as well. A couple could be classified as starter homes.

Oddly enough, there also have been at least four low-end rentals that have sold at a premium. It would seem as if there are way more than enough of those to go around in Greensboro, but a rental house on Elwell Avenue was listed at $31,200 and sold for $35,500. Smaller premiums were paid for houses in Glenwood, Piedmont Heights and, again, on Elwell Avenue (what’s up with Elwell Avenue?).

1504 Edgedale Road, Irving Park: + $68,000

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  • Sold for $717,000 on July 24 (listed at $649,000), 10.5% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms, 2,835 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $253
  • Built in 1938
  • Listed May 16, 2017
  • Last sale: $450,000, August 2000

There have been a good number of high-end houses available in Irving Park this year (still are, in fact), but there must have been something special about 1504 Edgedale.

2959 N.C. 62 East, Liberty: + $25,000

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  • Sold for $145,000 on August 24, 2017 (listed at $120,000), 21% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,400 square feet, 1.4 acres
  • Price/square foot: $104
  • Built in 1929
  • Listed May 2, 2017
  • Last sale: October 1996, price not available in online records
  • Note: Property is in Guilford County but has a Liberty mailing address.

What makes a property sell at a premium? Right price, right place, good timing. And perhaps some intangibles that don’t show up in the property records.

5510 High Point Road, Sedgefield: + $9,100

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  • Sold for $209,000 on September 5 (listed at $199,900), 4.5% premium
  • 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, 2,711 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $77
  • Built in 1941
  • Listed April 19, 2017
  • Last sale: $225,000, April 2013

The owners accepted an offer about two weeks after listing it, but then had to wait four months to close. But for $9,100 over the asking price, why not? Sweet location: The house is on the little cut-off section of High Point Road that was bypassed by the rerouted Gate City Boulevard.

305 S. Elam Avenue, Lindley Park: + $5,250

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  • Sold for $255,000 on August 30 (listed at $249,750), 21% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 1,642 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $155
  • Built in 1926
  • Listed June 24, 2017
  • Last sale: $200,000, November 2005

Nice little house. Great backyard for kids.

1603 Roseland Avenue, McAdoo Heights: + $5,100

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  • Sold for $120,000 on May 26 (listed at $114,900), 4% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,032 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $116
  • Built in 1937
  • Listed April 11, 2017
  • Last sale: $112,000, June 2009

That second bathroom is a killer feature in a starter home like this.

2312 Fortune Lane, Guilford Hills: + $5,000

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  • Sold for $130,000 on June 21, 2017 (listed at $125,000), 4% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,220 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $107
  • Built in 1940
  • Listed May 9, 2017
  • Last sale: $85,000, June 1995
  • Neighborhood: Guilford Hills

Again, a starter home with two bathrooms. This one apparently had been a rental (it wasn’t owner occupied), but the property record now shows this as the new owner’s address.

700 Magnolia Street, Fisher Park: + $4,500

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  • Sold for $199,500 on April 27, 2017 (listed at $195,000), 2% premium
  • 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,680 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $119
  • Built in 1900
  • Listed March 1, 2017
  • Last sale: June 1975, $15,500

The seller accepted an offer two days after putting it on the market.

2509 Sherwood Street, Lindley Park: + $4,000

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  • Sold for $263,000 on June 6, 2017 (listed at $259,000), 1.5% premium
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,850 square feet
  • Price/square foot: $142
  • Built in 1939
  • Listed April 28, 2017
  • Last sale: $232,000, May 2010

Another nice little house that demonstrates how popular Lindley Park is these days.

(Sources: sale figures, Guilford County Tax Department and TriadMLS.com; asking prices, online listings)

 

909 N. Elm Street: Preservation Fund Seeks Buyer for Major Rehab Project

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The Preservation Greensboro Development Fund is seeking a buyer for a historic rehabilitation of the Frank Leak House at 909 N. Elm Street in Fisher Park. The asking price is $330,000.

The badly neglected 4,000 square-foot house has been vacant for 10 years. Its most prominent features now are the temporary supports propping up the front porch. The fund acquired the house in February through a foreclosure sale.

The property will be sold subject to a rehabilitation agreement and a preservation easement. Further information and an application form to be considered as a potential buyer are available from the fund. The application deadline is Monday October 2, 2017.

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Architect J.H, Hopkins’ original blueprint for 909 N. Elm Street

“The rehab agreement will outline the scope of the project along with a timeline for completion,” according to Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro. “This will guide restoration planning and assure that the house will be completely restored. The easement will guide future restorations in terms of design and materials. It will prevent inappropriate alterations to the design and destruction of key architectural features such as mantels and moldings, and will be attached to the deed for the property.”

County tax records list the date of the house as 1914. The listing shows four bedrooms and four bathrooms. It also gives the square footage at 5,700, which appears to include the unheated attic.

Preservation Greensboro’s Greensboro: An Architectural Record describes the house:

“The circa-1914 Georgian Revival-style house of Leak, assistant secretary of the Cone export and Commission Company, is dominated by three pedimented dormers, a heavy modillion-block cornice, and a Doric portico and side porch topped by ballustrades.”

The Preservation Greensboro Develoment Fund is a sister organization to Preservation Greensboro. It works as a “revolving fund,” a pool of capital created and reserved for historic preservation activities with the condition that the money be returned to the fund to be reused for similar activities in the future.

Properties sold through the Fund hold preservation easements to protect their significant architectural features. The Fund has assisted in the restoration or conservation of properties in College Hill, Southside, Cedar Street, Fisher Park, Glenwood and Irving Park. It also has assisted in planning projects in the Summit Avenue and Southside neighborhoods. It has served other Guilford County communities, including High Point and Whitsett.

(Information from Preservation Greensboro was used in this post.)

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The Leak House in better days (photo from Guilford County property records)

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Hillsdale Farm: A Landmark Mansion and 27 Acres, $2.875 Million

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The Colonial Revival house of Hillsdale Farm, built by Lunsford and Margaret Richardson

If you want to buy a great big piece of Greensboro history, you can’t go much bigger than Hillsdale Farm: a 13,500 square-foot home and 27 acres of wooded land overlooking Lake Brandt. It’s yours for $2.875 million.

The property includes the mansion with eight bedrooms, six full bathrooms and two half baths, and an indoor pool; greenhouse; playhouse; bathhouse; water tower; five-car garage with five-room apartment; and a very long driveway. The property also includes a 1/6 share of the very private Richardson Lake.

Hillsdale Farm has been designated a Guilford County Landmark, which merits a 50 percent reduction in property taxes. Its current tax valuation is $1.896 million.

The house was built in 1929 by Lunsford Richardson III (a son of the Vicks VapoRub inventor) and his wife, Margaret. It was designed by nationally known architect Richardson Brognard Okie of Philadelphia. “Okie’s Colonial Revival designs were notable in that they applied materials and design features of colonial period structures into new building construction,” Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro has written.

“The resulting structures often appeared to be centuries old, when in fact they incorporated all of the conveniences and spatial uses required of mid-twentieth century families such as modern kitchens, private bathrooms, laundry rooms, garages and walk-in closets. Okie used several design techniques to assure the illusion of history, such as rambling floor plans that appeared to have been added organically through time, massive masonry chimneys, and fine hand-carved woodwork.”

Hillsdale Farm left the Richardson family’s holdings more than 30 years ago, and its original 2,800 acres have been pared down to a more manageable 27. But the house still has the look and feel of one of Greensboro’s most notable historic homes.

6043 Lake Brandt Road: realtor.com listing

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The back of the house has a distinctly different look.
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The main house with the garage/apartment in the foreground

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2412 Sylvan Road: Quite A Bargain in a 1937 Sunset Hills Bungalow

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Update: The for-sale-by-owner listing on zillow.com was withdrawn on September 18, 2017, probably indicating an offer had been accepted.

If you want a real steal on a classic home, Sunset Hills isn’t usually the place to look. 2412 Sylvan Road may be an exception. It’s on the market for $249,900; at 2,020 square feet, the price comes to $124 per square foot. That’s the lowest price per square foot among the five vintage houses now for sale in the neighborhood (ranging from $139 to $178) and among the 12 that have sold this year (which have ranged up to $187).

The current owners have had the house since 1966. Naturally, it needs work, but it looks to be mostly interior painting and perhaps some floor refinishing. However, the listing includes very few photos, so there’s no telling what much of the house looks like inside (it’s a for sale by owner deal).

2412 Sylvan is a 1937 brick bungalow with four bedrooms and two baths. It has the gracious touches you would expect from that period — a spacious front porch, hardwood floors, a substantial brick fireplace in the living room, a breakfast nook. The kitchen has been updated, and the house has a new roof and HVAC. There’s a deck on the back and an average-size yard. The updating noted in the listing appears to be a work in progress as of this date; the fascia boards have been replaced but not painted, and the new gutters aren’t up yet.

Provided there are no awful surprises in an inspection or in the rooms not pictured in the listing, 2412 Sylvan Road looks a like an opportunity to buy into Sunset Hills at an unusually affordable price.

(Note: The listing puts the square footage at 2,600. I’m using the 2,020 figure that appears in county tax records, as I usually do when there’s a discrepancy.)

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106 Fisher Park Circle: One of Greensboro’s Grandest Mansions for Sale at $1.35 Million

Imposing, large brcik home, two stories with four colossal columns in front

The Douglas-Ravenel House (Photo courtesy of Preservation Greensboro Inc.)

There are other mansions in Fisher Park, but perhaps none of them make the statement the Douglas-Ravenel House does. Overlooking over the park with its towering columns and Neoclassical facade, its says prominence and grandeur in a way that can’t be missed.

106 Fisher Park Circle went on the market yesterday for $1.35 million. Its current owners have given it what the listing describes as a “million-dollar” renovation (after buying it for $770,000 in 2005). The house has five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, twin living rooms, a library, dining room, den and eight fireplaces. Outdoor spaces include a spacious front porch, a private side porch and, in the backyard, an English garden and pergola. You can do a lot with 14 rooms, 5,200 square feet and a third of an acre, and the owners have done quite a lot and quite well, too. Their work was honored with a Restoration Award from Preservation Greensboro in 2006.

“The Douglas-Ravenel House was constructed in 1912, among the earliest houses in the Fisher Park neighborhood,” Preservation Greensboro’s Benjamin Briggs has written. “Occupying a high south-facing lot overlooking the wooded park, the Douglas-Ravenel House is one of the best residential examples of Neoclassical Revival architecture in Greensboro.” It also has been named a Guilford County Historic Landmark.

There have been few grand old houses for sale in Greensboro’s historic districts this year. Even if there had been, the Douglas-Ravenel House would be a standout.

Listing on realtor.com

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409 Westdale Place: A hidden 1939 gem in Lindley Park

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409 Westdale Place sits off the beaten track (Walker Avenue) in an unusual little corner of Lindley Park.  The street runs one block from Walker north, ending just before it reaches South Lindell Road, so there’s no through traffic. The owners of 409 Westdale also own the undeveloped lot on Longview Street immediately behind their house, which is included in the sale (several neighbors on Westdale also own the undeveloped Longview lots behind their houses). It’s an interesting little spot.

So, a buyer will get a classic Lindley Park home on a deep double lot for $245,000, a reasonable price for one of the hottest neighborhoods in Greensboro this year. The house is an elegantly simple brick bungalow with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,720 square feet (the price works out to $142 per square foot). The interior features such period touches as arched doorways and built-in shelves and cabinets in the living room. It appears to be in 100 percent move-in condition.

Classic homes in Lindley Park have sold for $174 per square foot down to $116 this year. Only three have sold below $142, so 409 Westdale is a relative bargain. It has been on the market for about three weeks. The way older homes have moved in Lindley Park this season, you wouldn’t expect this one to be available much longer.

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409 Westdale is highlighted; the lot immediately behind it is included in the sale. For some reason, Longview Street was never cut through from Walker northward to Wright Avenue and Fry Street, even though it picks up again at Fry and lots were laid out all the way through. Just how an entire block in Lindley Park came to be undeveloped is a real puzzle.

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The backyard extends all the way through the trees to where Longview Street would be if had been extended from Walker Avenue to Fry Street.

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1907 Madison Avenue: A Sunset Hills Classic for Sale After 43 Years

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Update: The house sold for its asking price, $429,900, on August 30, 2017. It had been for sale for seven days when the owners accepted the offer.

Owners of classic homes in Lindley Park, Sunset Hills and Westerwood are getting the message that this is a good year to sell their homes. Five have gone up for sale in the three neighborhoods this month, and there have been 11 closings since June 1. Fast deals are common. Offers were accepted in a week or less on five houses currently under contract.

One of the latest to come onto the market is 1907 Madison Avenue in Sunset Hills, a distinctive 1928 brick bungalow. The exterior features arched brickwork over the windows and a low brick wall around a front patio. It’s roomier than it may look from the street — 3,118 square feet with five bedrooms and three full bathrooms. It sits on a quarter-acre lot that easily accommodates the detached two-car garage.

The listing price is $429,900, $139 per square foot. That’s right on target for an immaculate home in one of Greensboro’s most popular older neighborhoods.

1907 Madison’s owners have had the house since 1974 (four of the classic homes now for sale in the neighborhoods haven’t been sold since the ’70s). It’s one of the most elegant classic homes you’ll find in Greensboro.

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200 E. Bessemer Avenue: A Grand Fisher Park House That Could Become a Home Again

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200 E. Bessemer is an unusual opportunity: Used as offices for the past 20 years or so, it’s being marketed as either a residence or offices. Converting it back to a home would be relatively easy, as it was never divided up or altered significantly from its days as a residence, aside from the back yard being paved. The property is zoned for office use, which allows it to be used as a residence.

The house went on the market this week at $410,000, a reasonable $145 per square foot. It’s known as both the Avalon Center and the A.J. Schlosser House. Built in 1920, it has three bedrooms and a bath and a half. It features two fireplaces with their original tile and mantels, unpainted woodwork, three sun porches (one off the master bedroom) and a relatively new slate roof (installed in 2000). A backyard garage has been converted into a one-room studio. The main house has exterior lighting and an HVAC system with electrostatic air filtration. The front yard has a sprinkler system. The owner clearly has taken good care of the house.

It’s hard to miss — an imposing two-story granite house, sitting in a prominent location at East Bessemer and Magnolia Street. Arched stonework decorates the front door and first-floor windows. The driveway passes through a portico on its way back to the studio.

The house is in the Fisher Park Historic District. The block is a mix of residences and houses converted to office use. The Craftsman house next door, 208 E. Bessemer, also went on the market this week; that one is for sale only as office space. Across the street are two grand old 1924 apartment houses, the Fairfax and the Shirley.

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