711 Sunset Drive: The Joseph & Kathleen Bryan House Is For Sale for the First Time Since It Was New in 1935

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Update March 12, 2018: The house was on the market for four days before an offer of $1.655 million was accepted. The sale closed March 12, 2018. 

Joseph and Kathleen Bryan bought a brand-new home in Irving Park in 1935, and now it’s on the market for the first time in 83 years. The 6,000 square-foot house was listed today at $1.675 million.

Bryan left the home to the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation when he died in 1995. The foundation leased it to UNCG for use as the chancellor’s residence until the university recently bought the new guy a McMansion at 15 Clubview Court near the Starmount Forest Country Club.

The Bryan home sits on almost an acre of prime Irving Park real estate (the tax value of the land alone is $650,000).  It has four bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. To serve as the chancellor’s residence, the kitchen was renovated with entertaining in mind. A 20-by-27 foot great room and a 16-by-28 living room can hold quite a crowd, as can the large backyard patio. The wine cellar is pretty spacious as well. The property also includes a three-car garage.

The house was designed by Charles C. Hartmann, whose many Greensboro projects include about 20 homes, the Jefferson-Standard Building, the F.W. Woolworth store that now houses the International Civil Rights Museum and Dudley High School.

Agency listing

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Classic House of the Week: A 1936 Mini-Mansion in Irving Park

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Have you ever said to yourself, “I’d like to buy a million-dollar mansion in Irving Park, but what would I do with 8,000 square feet?” Who has enough furniture for a place that big?

Maybe the house you’re looking for is 1915 Granville Road, a 1936 Georgian that has the luxury of an Irving Park mansion wrapped up in a tidy 2,600 square feet. The price is $839,900, which works out to $321 per square foot, right up there with the neighborhood’s finest mansions.

The property is .41 acre and includes a guest house (with a living room-bedroom and kitchen) and garage.

Those are imported Italian shutters on either side of the front door. And antique Chinese wallpaper in the dining room. The kitchen has two murals, and the den has a built-in seat in its bay window (three bay windows total). There’s also a very striking mural on the garage door.

On the other hand, if you’re OK with 8,000 square feet, you have enough furniture, and the heating and air-conditioning bills don’t scare you to death, 1001 Country Club Drive is still on the market, and the price has just been cut to just $1.59 million. And there’s still a small but elegant collection of other classic million-dollar mansions in and around Greensboro waiting for the right buyer to come along. Happy new year.

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Antique Chinese wallpaper

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Garage (right) and guesthouse
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Guesthouse living room/bedroom
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A playhouse sits in the backyard behind the guesthouse.

415 Sunset Drive: A 1930s ‘Dream Castle’ Is Rescued in Irving Park

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OK, it turns out there has been one classic million-dollar mansion sold in Greensboro this year, after all. And it’s a landmark. 415 Sunset Drive was apparently unlisted before it was sold last month.

The Thornton Brooks House comprises 6,800 square feet on 1.5-plus acres in the heart of Irving Park. Six bedrooms, six bathrooms and two half baths. It was built in the mid-1930s for the son of a founder of the Brooks, Humphrey, etc., etc., law firm. Brooks and his wife owned the house for 51 years. Recently, it has fallen upon hard times. It has been listed for sale eight times since 2008 at prices ranging from $4.3 million down to $2.3 million. It finally sold for $1.5 million.

Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro reports that Sam and Ashley Simpson have bought house and will restore it for family use. Benjamin says:

“The Greensboro Daily News profiled the house in 1941, stating, ‘At 415 Sunset Drive, Irving Park, is a real dream castle. From its circular driveway which lies behind an impressive, yet simple, entranceway, to the pond and formal garden on the opposite side, there’s more than one point of interest.’ More recently, the house was featured in local press for its abandoned state, including transient squatters. Its poor condition led to interest in demolition. The Simpson family is planning a complete restoration of the Irving Park landmark.”

Some photos from better days, via realtor.com:

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Good News! Your Million-Dollar Mansion Is (Still) Waiting for You!

Here’s a segment of the market for classic homes in Greensboro that’s doing just about nothing this year: $1 million and up. Not a single classic home in that price range has sold (as far as my records show). Where did all the millionaires go?

Very Close!

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The most expensive classic house sold in Greensboro this year is 607 Woodland Drive in Irving Park, which went for $999,000 in May. The bigger-than-it-looks, 3,400 square-foot home sold for a stately $312 per square foot. It was on the market three days before the owners accepted the buyer’s offer. Your results may vary.

Honorable Mention

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A 1965 Edward Lowenstein classic, 210 Kemp Road in Starmount Forest is listed at $975,000 and is now under contract. The owners are probably smart enough not to be counting their chickens or money until the sale closes, but the indoor swimming pool alone makes it worth mentioning. It may be the bargain of the year: At 7,200 square feet on just under an acre, the price works out to just $135 per square foot, a fraction of what you’ll usually pay in Greensboro’s high-end neighborhoods.

Let’s Get That Checkbook Out

Those are spoken for, but you still have seven classic homes to choose from at $1 million and up in Greensboro and Guilford County. Take your time; buyers aren’t falling all over each other to grab them. Most have been on the market for a while. Realtors say it takes longer to sell houses in this price range, and the market seems intent on proving them right.

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Ayrshire, 3215 Rockingham Road

What millionaire wouldn’t want an English manor house on Sedgefield’s Donald Ross course? For $2.9 million you get a 1935 Cotswold Tudor, 10,000-plus square foot home with four bedrooms, four full baths and three half baths, plus dining room, den, library, sunroom with a bar, stone terraces, etc. The lot is 2.88 acres. It’s been on the market for almost two years.

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Hillsdale Farm, 6043 Lake Brandt Road

I tend to avoid calling houses “historic” just because they’re old. Hillsdale Farm does have some local history attached to it, though: It was built in 1929 by Lunsford Richardson III (a son of the Vicks VapoRub inventor) and his wife, Margaret, on what was then a 2,800-acre site. Now it’s just a 13,500 square-foot home with eight bedrooms, six bathrooms and 27 acres of wooded land overlooking Lake Brandt. It’s been for sale at $2.875 million for just two months.

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815 Woodland Drive

The most expensive classic home in Greensboro proper is an Irving Park brick Georgian with five bedrooms, five and a half baths and a five-car garage. It has been for sale at an uncompromising $1.79 million since March, the sixth time since 2011 that its current owners have put it on the market. It comes with a smaller piece of Greensboro’s entrepreneurial history: It’s owned by Martin Sprock, founder of Moe’s Southwest Grill (who now lives in Charlotte).

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701 Sunset Drive

This 1937 house has been for sale since April at $1.785 million. At 4,600 square feet, it isn’t the biggest mansion you can find, but it’s not without distinction: With an opulent $388 per square foot price, it’s the most expensive classic home in Greensboro on that basis. The newly renovated home has a den/study with a wet bar, gourmet kitchen with a butler’s pantry, a master suite with a balcony and guest quarters above the garage. That’s where your chauffeur could live.

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1001 Country Club Drive

After Ayrshire, this 1928 gem is the most extravagantly designed among this bunch, a “massive Elizabethan-style dwelling with steeply pitched gables, stuccoed walls patterned in diamonds and squares at gables, all topped with distinctive tile roof,” the listing says. Its $1.69 million price is reduced from the original $1.899 million, making it the one of the few on this list that have been marked down.

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The Douglas-Ravenel House, 106 Fisher Park Circle

For $1.295 million, a great example of how Greensboro’s elite lived 100 years ago: twin living rooms, a library, an English garden with patio and pergola, towering front columns and a neoclassical facade. Thoroughly renovated, beautifully landscaped, 5,200 square feet. Built in 1912.

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804 Sunset Drive

For sale only since August, this 1925 Tudor classic overlooks the Greensboro Country Club golf course. For $1.295 million, you get 4,200 recently renovated square feet on a half acre, plus a two-bedroom, two-bath guest house attached to the garage (chauffeur). Powerball winners and other millionaires wouldn’t even blink at the $307 per square foot price.

Another $999,000 honorable mention

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200 Irving Place

As long as we’re in the neighborhood, let’s at least drive by this 1948 Irving Park classic. It’s $999,000, reduced from its original $1.075 million. Formal rooms, a study, bonus room, front and back stairs, 4,200 square feet, large corner lot, attached two-car garage, etc. “Meticulously maintained for the discriminating buyer,” the listing says. But we would expect no less, wouldn’t we?

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)

 

5 classic homes priced to sell

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104 Meadowbrook Terrace is the best value on the market among $1 million classic homes (aka mansions). Priced at $1.765 million, $207/square foot, it’s listed at almost the same price as the much smaller 701 Sunset Drive ($1.785 million), but on a square-foot basis it’s 47 percent less expensive (701 Sunset is $388/square foot). For the value-conscious millionaire, 104 Meadowbrook is the best buy in Greensboro.

[Update: The house was taken off the market June 3, 2017, after 19 months]

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Among the few historic district homes on the market, 214 S. Mendenhall Street is a sweet combination of price and indoor-and-out beauty. At $359,000, $128/square foot, it’s priced almost identically to the nearby and also lovely 306 South Mendenhall Street ($350,000, also $128/square foot), but has a bigger, more private lot and very nice outdoor spaces.

[Update: The house has a contract pending as of June 3, 2017]

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The five vintage neighborhoods west of downtown are the busiest market for classic homes in Greensboro. There are 24 on the market, and 12 are under contract. Eleven more have been sold this spring. 2808 Springwood Drive is an unusual Lindley Park home that almost looks like a beach house. The listing’s pictures of the interior look quite nice. At $199,000, $113/square foot, it’s a steal.

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In east and south Greensboro, there’s nothing else like 211 N. Dudley Street. A Mid-Century Modern classic, it has been meticulously restored by its current owners (the listing’s pictures show it off well). And at $245,000, $88/square foot, it’s an amazing bargain. Located across Dudley Street from A&T, it’s perfect for an Aggie (or anyone else) who values classic Modernist design.

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In the smaller towns and rural areas of Guilford County, 7204 Whitsett Park Road in Whitsett is a standout: a 1902 farmhouse on just under 2 acres, beautifully restored inside and out. The house is 3,100 square feet, and the property has a couple of outbuildings. At $299,000, $92/square foot, it’s a remarkable bargain.

[Update: An offer was accepted June 3, 2017; it fell through and the house went back on the market June 12.]

Open House: 707 Blair Street, a Lowenstein classic on the National Register of Historic Places

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Update: The Willis House sold for $524,095 on August 2, 2017.

There’s an open house at a classic Lowenstein home in Irving Park on Sunday (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.). The James H. and Anne B. Willis House, 707 Blair Street, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its retention of character-defining Mid-Century Modern features. Built in 1965 and designed by the Lowenstein-Atkinson firm of Greensboro, it has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and 3,000 square feet. That comes out to $194 per square foot, a relative bargain in Irving Park.

The Willis House would be distinctive in any neighborhood, but especially so in this one.

“The long, one-story, front-gable-roofed, Modernist dwelling differs in architectural character and orientation from the neighboring predominately traditionally styled homes … These residences stand closer to Blair Street and Hammel Drive than their rear lot lines, contributing to a regular façade rhythm and allowing for large back yards. The Willis House siting, dictated by the lot’s topography, is reversed. The residence occupies the 0.7-acre lot’s southwest corner and is screened on all sides by either vegetation or wood fences. Deciduous and evergreen trees fill the front yard’s slope, providing privacy, while landscaped beds along the dwelling’s perimeter contain woody shrubs and perennials. … The wooded setting and sloping grade continue on Blair Street’s opposite side, as the City of Greensboro maintains a 2.6-acre wooded tract flanking a creek that is part of the approximately four-acre Nottingham Park.”
— from the National Register nomination

The current owners, Thomas and Sara Sears, bought the home from the Willises in 2002. They completed a restoration in 2003 and a renovation in 2014 that maintained what the nomination calls “exceptional” interior integrity.

“Only a small number of Greensboro residences are truly Modernist in design, and each stands out in neighborhoods of more traditional houses. … The low, horizontal residences blend in with their settings, reflecting the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian House: economical and efficiently-planned buildings constructed of natural materials. Expansive windows and natural materials facilitate continuity between interior and exterior spaces. Common interior features include expressed structural components, radiant heating, passive cooling, cork and stone floors, wood wall and ceiling sheathing, and built-in furniture.

“The Willis House exemplifies the application of the same principles, which were more mainstream by 1965, in a cost-effective yet stylish residence. Its long, low form is typical of mid-twentieth-century dwellings, but its orientation with a broad, front-gable, secondary elevation facing the street is less common.”

It’s a remarkable house and a remarkable opportunity to own a piece of mid-century history.

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815 Woodland Drive: Irving Park’s highest-priced mansion

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815 Woodland Drive holds the distinction as the most expensive house for sale in Irving Park this spring — 5,200 square feet overlooking the golf course, listed at $1.79 million. That comes out to a high-even-for-Irving-Park $343 per square foot, although in that category it ranks only second in the neighborhood (701 Sunset is just a bit less expensive at $1.785 million but also quite a bit smaller, coming in at $388 per square foot).

Built in 1925, 815 Woodland is a brick Georgian with five bedrooms, five and a half baths and a five-car garage. But there are two details beyond the home’s description that make it particularly interesting. After all, there are nine million-dollar homes for sale in Irving Park this spring, and some of the others are as grand and almost as expensive.

First, the owners are semi-celebrities — Martin Sprock III, Greensboro native, founder of Moe’s Southwest Grill, and buyer-and-seller of big expensive houses, and his wife, Leigh-ann, an entrepreneur in her own right and a former real estate agent in Atlanta for 10 years. They live in Charlotte now (a 4,000 square-foot home in Myers Park, built in 1925 and bought for $2.7 million in 2014).

The Sprocks’ real estate investments have made news well beyond Greensboro. In 2014, the Palm Beach Daily News reported that in recent years Martin had sold three houses there at prices ranging from $1.9 million up to $8.1 million. In 2015, he dropped $3.5 million for Middleburg Plantation near Charleston, S.C., a 326-acre spread that dates back to the 1690s.

Second, 815 Woodland has not been an easy sell. The Sprocks bought the home in 2004 for $1.7 million. This is the sixth time they’ve put it on the market since 2011 (original asking price: $2.19 million). They have experience with this kind of sale. A house Martin sold in Palm Beach in 2014 (6,600 square feet total, seven bedrooms and a guest house on almost an acre, now for rent at $45,000/month) was on the market for five years. It was listed originally at $10.5 million and sold for more than $8 million.

Note: This post has been corrected to state that 701 Sunset has a higher cost per square foot because it’s smaller than 815 Woodland rather than larger.

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815 Woodland Drive: Foyer, dining room and den

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Offers coming quickly in Irving Park, Sunset Hills, Lindley Park

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607 Woodland Drive, asking $999,000, $312/square foot, offer accepted in three days

The spring home-buying season has gotten off to a fast start, particularly in Irving Park, Lindley Park and Sunset Hills. Two Irving Park homeowners have accepted very quick offers.  607 Woodland had been on the market for three days; the asking price of $999,000 works out to an impressive $312 per square foot. 1104 Sunset Drive (asking $569,000) had been on the market just four days before an offer was accepted.

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309 Woodbine Court, asking $394,900, $159/square foot, offer accepted in two days

In Sunset Hills, we have eight current pre-1950 listings, and six of them went under contract in March. 309 Woodbine Court ($394,900) accepted an offer in two days; 1808 Rolling Road ($400,000), seven days; 2206 W. Market ($618,000), nine days.

In Lindley Park, we have six current listings; four went under contract in March. 2611 Sherwood Street ($164,900) had been on the market two days; 803 Longview Street ($264,000), three days; and 2514 Walker Avenue ($225,000), 34 days.

Elsewhere:

  • The hot item in College Hill has been townhomes in the Wafco area. Four came on the market between February 22 and March 16; all four were under contract by March 27.
  • Listings are at premium in the historic districts. Aside from the townhouses under contract, College Hill has only two houses and a Wafco Mills condo on the market. Just four Fisher Park houses are listed, and two are under contract. An offer was accepted on 700 Magnolia Street ($195,000) after two days on the market. In the newly renamed Dunleath Historic District, only four houses are the market, all smaller homes priced $175,000 or lower.
  • The market for classic mansions in Sedgefield is tight and moving at a pace as stately as the homes themselves. Only three older homes are on the market, all at least 4,000 square feet and on the market at least nine months. Prices range from $425,000 to $2.9 million.