“TURN THIS DOWAGER INTO A VILLAGE QUEEN!”
That’s the best of the headlines of the half-dozen HREO (Hamptons Real Estate Online) listings for this plain Jane, century-old 3 BR, 2 bath house in the rose-arbored, clapboard-shingled, fanlight-studded, shutter-bedecked, once-proud whaling village of Sag Harbor. (Now it’s the funky but chic “un-Hampton,” conveniently located right in the middle of the Hamptons, but at a safe physical and psychological distance from them.)
This is my favorite kind of investment house. This is what gets my blood racing (how ’bout you?) “Neglected.” “Not been maintained.” “Needs TLC.” “If you like projects…” This crone is decrepit, and that’s not all it has going for it:
- It’s on Jermain Avenue, one of the oldest and pleasantest streets in the Village.
- It’s in bad, bad shape, but look at it this way: it hasn’t been too badly f*cked up. One broker of several I talked to hinted darkly at “structural problems,” which probably means “Please don’t waste my time and gas if you’re not from the renovators.” Invoking structural problems is no way to sell a house. That’s about as scary a description as they come, but “structural problems,'” as I found out when I bought an 1810 building in Philadelphia, CAN end up being no big deal and cost little to fix (or not). I tried to get more info by calling a couple of other agents (it’s an open listing) and here’s what I heard: “I haven’t been down in the basement.” “No one has had it inspected yet.” Sounds highly negotiable to me.
- The house is an estate sale. It was owned by an elderly couple, who died recently in their 90s. It’s cluttered with old people’s stuff, a turn-off any would-be investor/homeowner needs to get past. It was on the market while the couple was alive, failed to sell, taken off, and recently put back on by their heir. What does that mean? Even more negotiable.
- What looks like clapboard in the photos is actually vinyl siding, the one ‘improvement’ they apparently did make. No upside to that. The heating system (oil hot water) works. The house needs plumbing and electrical upgrades, duh. Taxes are a mystery at this point (the homeowner had veterans and senior exemptions), but one broker estimated they would be around $4,000/year.
- There’s a garage in the back, right on the property line — which would never be allowed today — but it’s legal. The garage is in decent shape, with old sliding doors.
If you could get a Sag Harbor Village Victorian like this one for 450K or even less, well, you’d have turned the clock back quite a few years, with better interest rates.