THIS MORNING, A FRIEND AND I were shooting the breeze about real estate and investment opportunities. I was saying I needed a new project. She, who has a wonderful Greek Revival town house in Chatham, N.Y. (Columbia County), mentioned a similar c.1800 house in Great Barrington, Mass., that she was aware of because one of her brothers became obsessed with it, briefly.
Online we went. I love the Neo-classical temple-like silhouette of the building — a harmonious square footprint with a pediment — and was stunned by the price, which has just been lowered to 199K (not its first reduction) after two years on the market. (I’m used to the Hamptons, remember.) The house, which is on almost 5 acres and was in a single family for a century, according to the listing, requires enough work to have so far discouraged all prospective buyers.
Some of that is evident from the pictures on the listing agent’s site. It’s anyone’s guess what’s behind the tacky paneling and above the dropped ceilings.
There is an original fireplace, and the wing off the main house has a separate staircase leading to a room upstairs. There’s 500 feet of frontage along a two-lane road, the property is sub-dividable, and taxes are under $5,000/year.
Worth a look for an old-house fan in search of a place in the desirable Berkshire Mountains near Tanglewood, Lenox, and all the rest (and where, incidentally, the summer rental market is strong) — or maybe, like me, in search of a project.
Always love your treasure troving of tempting house pics. But this one I happen to have driven by while in the area. And as enticing as that impressive price drop is, and as intriguing as the photos may be, the location is not lovely. At all.
And to further help diminish any armchair renovation fantasies, there are also these drawbacks:
The outside photo is also taken at an angle and cropped so that you do not see 1) the liability-inducing ancient, tall, large, crumbling barn structure that would have to be torn down before you even began tackling the 2-story warren of debris & vines surrounding it or 2) the huge, not attractive, probably also unsafe, above ground pool and its surrounding decking which would have to be ditto.
While one could conveniently walk – in 2 minutes – to Taft Farms store, one would have to dodge cars. Division Street is pretty busy. And the highway at the quite close corner is really busy. You can probably hear the noise.
Plus, while it’s a two minute drive to the shopping mall/strip of stores on Route 7, that means every day you would have to see the ugliest stretch of highway in Great Barrington. And the houses around you aren’t so pretty either. And 5K is alot of taxes for the Berkshires. Unlike many counties in NY, a house under 300K in Western MA, usually has taxes under 3K.
And then there is, besides location and price problems, one of the main “why it doesn’t sell” components: asbestos ceiling tiles. If you know a cheap, legal, non-lung destroying way to get rid of those eyesores, a whole lot of prospects would open up. But I’ve seen houses in the area that enjoyed extensive renovations, yet they left those things up because of no viable way to remove them.
There was that really intriguing place with the big tiered garden on lovely High Street in charming Chatham that has not just asbestos ceiling, but asbestos siding which may have finally sold, or they just gave up and took it off the market. But asbestos – as well as the condition – drove the price down to 165K, eventually: http://www.trulia.com/property/1096149626-52-High-St-Ghent-NY-12075
Know you have an alt life in Hudson Valley, so you’ve probably noticed fixers, unless they’re give-aways, don’t get snapped up so much. So anyone looking for a fixer can find one. Think probably cash is part of it. A 200K house in NY can end up between lawyers, fees and tax escrow, requiring 55-60K cash before you even buy a can of paint. That’s a lot of cash for a low priced house. If you’ve got that, plus renovation cash, then why not just spend your 100K for a lovely all done 300 to 500K houses, which abound.
Looking forward to more armchair fun. Probably many of us secretly hope, one day, one of your discoveries, will say “Here’s your new home”.
(Sorry to have gone on so long. But it’s not often I have seen one of the excellent postings.)
hi Maze! Thanks for the insider’s report on that property. Obviously, any historic house so cheap that’s sat on the market for 2 years is going to have some drawbacks. On the other hand, what would be a deal-breaker for some might not seem so bad to others. I’ve never had to deal with asbestos removal, but something like having to demolish an above-ground pool, and even a barn, wouldn’t faze me too much. Bad traffic noise would, however. Appreciate your take on it in such helpful detail!