East Hampton Flag Lot, 1.5 acres, 495K

EVEN I CONCEDE: this one is a tear-down. Oldish, by the looks of things, and enormous, but moldy and just hopeless-looking, even to someone who can see potential in almost anything.

What’s good is the location and the size of the lot — near East Hampton Village and on 1-1/2 acres.

It’s a wooded flag lot, set back from the road, with a secluded feel. And who knows? (A structural engineer might.) Maybe something could be salvaged. The listing is here.

Historic Rhinebeck under 400K

512113186(2)THE CHELSEA CLINTON WEDDING EFFECT on real estate prices in Rhinebeck, N.Y., if ever there was to be one, seems like a non-starter. As we head into the best time of year for house-hunting — the dead of winter, when only the most serious shoppers are on the case — the mid-Hudson Valley is still very good value, especially compared to eastern Long Island, where for $400,000 your choices are nil but for the dreaded ranch.
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In the Rhinebeck area, venerable architecture is not too much to ask for 400K. Were I in the market for an upstate place at this moment — and gosh, maybe I should be — I’d look at these two, a rare brick Federal-style farmhouse for 379K, above, and an 1830s Carpenter Gothic, offered at 399K, right. The listing agent for both is Paul Hallenbeck.

Brick houses are fairly unusual in this part of New York State (most are frame). To find a stately 1849 farmhouse on River Road, very near the Hudson River and the Bard College campus, is a double-whammy (there are no ‘bad parts’ of River Road). The 1.1 acre lot is high and open; the house has 3BR, 2baths, and original details including woodwork, floors, doors, and built-ins, with updated mechanicals, baths, and windows (pics below). Period barn and wildflower meadow included.

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Rhinebeck village has almost exclusively old houses, many with some pedigree. The 3BR, 2-1/2 bath on Montgomery Street (all pics below) is an 1830s Carpenter Gothic reminiscent of Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown. It’s on 1.4 acres, with mature trees and a fenced garden; the house has 9-foot ceilings and a large porch, and there’s a classic red barn. The taxes are high for the area at $8,306/year (twice that of the house above), which is a drag.

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For more pics and info on both houses, go here.

Note: I am not a real estate broker, nor do I have any financial interest in the properties mentioned on this blog. I just like spreading the word about old houses on the market and what I feel are viable investment opportunities.

East Hampton Village Oldie 695K Negotiable

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THIS UNTOUCHED TRADITIONAL dates from when Montauk Highway was already a main thoroughfare, yes, but what that meant was a dirt road with horses and carts clopping along — not the never-ending stream of car and truck traffic that exists today.

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Pity, because the house and property are just what I’d want in a different spot: a late 19th century cedar-shingled 4BR, with lots of original detail inside, on almost an acre, and taxes under $2,000/year.

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There are lots of good things about it. The long gravel drive and the backyard actually have a secluded feeling, almost a secret-garden feeling. The house is set back a fair distance from the busy road, and perched on a hill. There’s no reason why the front yard couldn’t be enclosed with a fence and high hedge.

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Needs TLC, as the ads put it, but that’s far better, in my book, than paying the price for a slick modern renovation that has de-charmed the place entirely.

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To see more pics of the interior, for more info or an appointment to see, contact Dennis Avedon at Corcoran, 516/398-6751, dennis.avedon@corcoran.com

Summer Rental: Hudson Valley Greek Revival

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IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN: time for city dwellers to think about renting a country place for all or part of the summer. If a totally charming 2BR, 1 bath village house in Columbia County works for you, take a look at this one. It’s owned by good friends of mine, but that’s not why I’ve given it the casaCARA seal of approval.

It’s a renovated 1830s Greek Revival in Chatham, N.Y., half an hour from Tanglewood and the Berkshires. Comfortably and attractively furnished with mostly modern furniture, there’s a big eat-in kitchen and a glassed-in sun room at the back.

At just $1,000 for the month of June, $1,200 for July, and $1,200 for August, it’s an inexpensive getaway for sure. In fact, I’d consider renting it myself if I was the sort of person able to make plans more than 2 weeks in advance.

For more info, e-mail franeheller@gmail.com.

BOTTOM FISHING: Sag Harbor Village 499K

“TURN THIS DOWAGER INTO A VILLAGE QUEEN!”

That’s the best of the headlines of the half-dozen┬áHREO (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.)

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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.

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  • 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.

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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.