They Want How Much?
(MONEY Magazine) – Living History Antebellum Italianate-Greek Revival about an hour from Raleigh/Durham, N.C.
• 3,744 square feet on 2.36 acres • 3 beds, 2.5 baths, 8 fireplaces, pool • National Register of Historic Places • Woodwork details by Thomas Day • List price: $395,000
THE PAST "When I was in high school, this was our local haunted house," says Suzan Jones of the mid-1800s Garland-Buford House, which she and her husband Steve bought as newlyweds 22 years ago. It had no front steps, no windows and no heat when the couple set up camp in the dining room. But its ornate moldings, mantels, doors and porches--all built by master craftsman Thomas Day--were remarkably intact. Both the state of North Carolina and the National Register deemed the house historically significant even before the Joneses renovated it from top to bottom.
THE PRESENT Historic homes are often priced higher than newer homes but can take longer to sell. "Historic-home owners are special people--few and far between," says Lisa Dye Janes, a broker with Distinctive Properties in Durham, N.C. who is working with the Joneses. Most buyers don't want the costs or hassles of preserving such property and prefer modern layouts instead. "They want four bedrooms, a bonus room and a garage big enough for their SUV," she says. It could take up to a year to sell this place, Janes figures, given the price and rural location. Its list price is nearly twice what other houses in the area fetch, and it's an hour's drive from the job-rich North Carolina Research Triangle Park.
THE FUTURE Is historic status a selling point or a deterrent? It depends on whom you ask. And where. A listing on the National Register "is an honorific designation, nothing more," says Dwight Young of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. But towns often restrict what you can do with historic property. The Garland-Buford House sits in a spot not subject to such rules, says Myrick Howard, president of Preservation North Carolina, which should help it sell. Still, buyers must understand that preservation here is in their interest. "This house shows off Thomas Day's creative talent more than any other individual house in existence," Howard says. "Its value is tied to its history."
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