Some of the nation’s grandest homes sell for surprisingly little. In many cases, homeowners are unable to care for large homes so the structures fall into disrepair; other times the financial stress of ownership results in foreclosures and short sales. Then there’s always the location—areas with depressed housing markets often have stately, well-maintained homes for less than you’d imagine.
“Even when estates are priced in the millions, they can be a relative bargain given their size, amenities and architectural significance,” says Richard Thompson, National Vice President of Sales at United Country Real Estate. Thompson himself has seen sizeable Victorian homes go for $40,000. And full castles built by Civil War officers sell for a mere $400,000. “Old river towns often have illustrious homes built during a period of brief prosperity that cost very little now,” Thompson adds.
For buyers willing to spend more, entire estates can be bought. In Mount Dora, Florida, for example, one can buy an illustrious Mediterranean lake-front villa on 10 acres for only $2 million—not much considering that it offers 18,000 square feet of living space made up of 41 rooms. The home was built in 1904 and includes 13 bedrooms, nine bathrooms and 13 fireplaces. All of the original windows and millwork have been restored and preserved. Plus, there’s an indoor pool and the home is surrounded by formal gardens. In addition, there’s a workshop with an apartment above, and a boathouse that needs work.
What makes the property a real find, though, is its history. It was designed by Pittsburgh architect Edgar Vigners Seeler for James Laughlin, Jr., the head of the J&L Steel Company. In 2006, the Florida Trust for Historical Preservation presented the estate with a Florida Preservation Award. An added bonus to an already sweet deal.
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