Classic House of the Week: 1820 Madison Avenue, a Timeless Gem in Sunset Hills, $475,000

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Update: The house was sold for $420,000 on September 12, 2018.

There are grand, beautiful houses that have been sold three or four times in the past 20 years. This kind of turnover typically says nothing about the house; we just live in a restless time. That’s especially true for the upwardly mobile types who can afford to pay, say, $400,000, $500,000 or more for a house. People who are in a position to make big money tend to go where it leads them.

And then there are houses like 1820 Madison Avenue. It went up for sale this week for the first time in 43 years. It’s easy to see why the owner has lived there so long. Sunset Hills is one of Greensboro’s most attractive neighborhoods, and this house is a fine example of why. Built in 1925, there’s nothing gaudy or breathtaking about it. It’s elegantly, timelessly straightforward.

The house is a spacious but not exorbitant 2,700 square feet; at $475,000, the price comes to $176 per square foot. That’s toward the upper end of the range for Sunset Hills, and why not? Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, beautifully landscaped. Lots of natural light from a sunroom and a screened porch. The closest thing to a flaw is the kitchen cabinets, which look a bit dated, ’80s-ish, perhaps. The location is a block north of West Market Street at Madison and North Tremont.

In the past year and a half, there have been at least six Sunset Hills homes that have been sold for the first time in 35 years or more. One had last been sold in 1946. If you can afford to get into the neighborhood, it can be a hard place to leave.

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Following up on 111 Arden Place: BB&T Has Bought the Property at Auction

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Photo courtesy of Preservation Greensboro

BB&T has bought Edgewood, the mansion and 2.26-acre property at 111 Arden Place. It paid $770,000 in an auction at the Guilford County Courthouse on Tuesday. Their plans for the property are unknown; their representative at the auction works for a law firm and didn’t know. I’ve asked the bank and hope to hear back soon.

Sunset Hills neighbors have said online that they believe restoring the house and property would require an immense investment beyond the purchase price. One neighbor expressed the opinion that the swimming pool is too deteriorated to be saved.

In any case, it seems unlikely that BB&T will do anything other than sell Edgewood again.

BB&T first became involved with the property nine years ago. According to the latest deed on the property, BB&T Collateral Services provided a loan to the owners in July 2008. In 2015, it sold the debt to SummitBridge National Investments IV of New York.  SummitBridge foreclosed on the property and then bought it in February 2017. It paid $175,000. And now it has sold it to BB&T for $770,000. If anyone can make sense of all that, please leave a comment below.

On Wednesday, the bidding started at $460,765 and shot up quickly from there. Another bidder, an individual who wanted to renovate the house and either live there or sell it, stayed with BB&T as far as he could go but had to stop at $750,000. An unusually large crowd of about 25 people attended the auction.

Minimum Upset Bid: $808,500

Under North Carolina law, the sale remains open for 10 days to allow upset bids to be placed with the Clerk of Superior Court. Such bids must be at least five percent higher than the winning bid. In this case, that would total $808,500. An upset bid would trigger another 10-day upset period, allowing the auction to continue in slow motion.

No Rezoning Required for Redevelopment

Contrary to some neighbors’ expectations, a buyer who wants to redevelop the property wouldn’t necessarily need to get it rezoned. Its old RS-9 zoning is reclassified as R-5 in the new Land Development Ordinance. That zoning allows up to five single-family units per acre; in this case, that would mean theoretically up to 11 homes. The actual number allowed might well be less because any subdivision of the property would have to meet city requirements on minimum lot size and street frontage (and possibly more; those were two points mentioned by zoning director Mike Kirkman when I asked him about it today).

111 Arden Place: A Million-Dollar Sunset Hills Mansion on the Auction Block

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The view from the street offers just a glimpse of the G. Simpson Boren House, aka the Thomas Shaw House, aka Edgewood.

Note, January 11, 2018: This post has been revised with comments and an additional photo from Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro.

When you look at auction.com, you can expect most of the listings to be foreclosed subdivision homes, condos and townhouses. Pretty mundane places. The last thing you might expect would be a house like 111 Arden Place, a 5,200 square-foot stone mansion on 2.26 acres in Sunset Hills. The tax value of the property is just over $1 million. In 1999, the last time it was sold before foreclosure last year, the price was $845,000. This could be an interesting auction.

Known variously as the Thomas J. Shaw House, the G. Simpson Boren House and Edgewood, it may be the largest stone residence in the city, according to Greensboro: An Architectural Record.

“It was most likely built for Judge Thomas J. Shaw, a Superior Court Judge appointed by North Carolina Governor Craig,” Benjamin Briggs wrote in Preservation Greensboro’s 2017 Watch List. “The house was apparently built in 1914-15 by Shaw, and as such it is one of the earliest estates in Greensboro, predating both the nearby Sunset Hills and the College Park neighborhoods. The structure is composed of stone in a Colonial Revival composition featuring shed dormers and a service wing.”

It has six bedrooms and four bathrooms. The property includes a swimming pool, garage, gated driveway and many trees. The online listing includes no interior photos, and if there are any elsewhere online, they’re well hidden.

“The Shaw House is not the first estate to fall into bank ownership,” Briggs wrote. “The Hillside estate of Ethel and Julian Price in Fisher Park fell into ownership by the Bank of America before being sold to purchasers with preservation-oriented plans. The Shaw House could see a similar sale, with hopes that a preservation-minded buyer would see fit to complete a considerate restoration of the house.”

Interesting detail about this auction: Prospective bidders have no opportunity to go into the house and actually see what they would be buying. All you can know about it is what you can see from the street (and that’s not much). This may be typical of courthouse auctions; this or similar wording is on all of the current auction.com listings I’ve read:

“Occupancy Status is Unknown
“Do Not Disturb Occupant.
“It is a criminal offense to trespass on this property.”

So, here’s a million-dollar house (per the county tax department), and the winning bidder can go inside and see its condition right after closing. OK, then! Bring a certified check for 5 percent of your winning bid and hope for the best.

The lender bought the house for $175,000 last February. It’s scheduled to be auctioned Wednesday, January 24, 10:45 a.m., at the Guilford County Courthouse, Eugene Street lobby. (Enter through the main entrance, go downstairs and through the building to the former entrance on Eugene Street. You’ll have to go through security screening when you enter the building, which can take a few minutes. Wireless phones, cameras, laptops, etc., are prohibited in the building.)

Note: Online listings show the house as 5,693 square feet; the county property record shows 5,209.

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Photo courtesy of Preservation Greensboro
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One next-door neighbor is the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
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2010 photo from Guilford County property records

307 S. Tremont Drive: A Classic 1930 Spanish Revival in Sunset Hills, $224,900

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Update: The house sold for $215,000 on February 22, 2018.

There aren’t too many Spanish Revival homes in Greensboro, so the few we have tend to stand out. That’s especially true for 307 S. Tremont Drive, a beautifully restored Sunset Hills home that went on the market last week for $224,900. The market is strong for houses in the older neighborhoods west of downtown; I’m a little surprised this house is still for sale after a week. That could change after an open house on Sunday.

The house has three bedrooms and one bath, 1,605 square feet. That comes out to $140 per square foot, right about at the median this year for Sunset Hills, though way closer to the bottom than the top. Six classic homes have sold for less and seven for more. Prices have ranged from $128 per square foot to $187.

The interior is beautiful, with hardwood floors, arched doorways, built-in cabinets and shelves, very nice radiator covers and a telephone nook. The front has a patio and pergola; a deck looks over the backyard. Next door is one of the most whimsical homes in Greensboro.

A similar house in Westerwood (not Spanish Revival, but similar in size, condition and price) was on the market for four days last month before the owner accepted an offer. Since mid-September, sellers of at least five other classic homes in older neighborhoods have accepted offers in less than a week. I’m not sure why 307 S. Tremont has taken longer than a week. Maybe it’s the dreary weather.

Listing on triadmls.com

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

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Update: The house sold for $225,000 on September 18, 2017.

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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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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5 Open Houses at Historic Homes on June 4

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306 South Mendenhall Street, College Hill

A classic historic district Victorian, extensively renovated. Built in 1922. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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1905 Rolling Road, Sunset Hills

“Lovingly restored Sunset Hills beauty.” Built in 1938. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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518 Willowbrook Drive, Lindley Park

Overlooking Lindley Park on a lot of just under an acre. Garage includes a two-bedroom apartment. Built in 1946. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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1606 Independence Road, Kirkwood

Fireplaces, built-ins and a beautiful deck. Built in 1946. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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508 Piedmont Avenue, Gibsonville

Fully renovated farmhouse in highly affordable Gibsonville. Built in 1926. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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.

Four classic Greensboro homes currently for sale will be open April 1-2

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306 South Mendenhall Street: $355,000, a 1922 College Hill classic. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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3605 Kirby Drive: $299,900, extensively renovated this year in Starmount Forest. Listed on Friday. Open Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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305 South Chapman Street: $299,900, an elegant 1930 Sunset Hills charmer. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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1808 Independence Road, Kirkwood: $259,500, extensively renovated. Listed on Thursday. Open Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.