Sponsored: Real Estate Confidential: The Infamous Lower Level



Real Estate Confidential is a weekly chit-chat about new listings, sales, or other insider info on the Martha’s Vineyard Real Estate market, presented by Fred Roven, owner/broker of Martha’s Vineyard Buyer Agents. It appears each Friday in The Minute.

After all these years, the reality is that I still love most homes, warts and all, because I get excited about new listings perfect for that very special client. In past columns about basements I seem to have forgotten that most of us spend many winter hours inside our homes and we need a place to just “hang out.” An interesting change over the years has been the terminology transition from basement to finished lower level, which certainly sounds more appealing than the cold, dark utility cellars of days past.

Many areas of the Vineyard used to be considered summer homes with most time spent outdoors; they were built with electric heat and on slabs. As the year-round and shoulder season community grew and demand for built-in heating systems (including air conditioning) increased, which increased the need for basement utility space. If the house was going to have a poured foundation anyway, might as well include the entire square feet of structure. As construction costs increased, the basement has provided a way to expand the home at a much lower cost than new construction and even provided an opportunity for an in-law space or even an income-producing apartment where zoning allows.

Whether you call it a finished basement, a home theater or a recreation area, having a finished lower level is a necessity for some and a bonus space for others. The best place to start when creating a finished basement is to allow for a good ceiling height so the space feels open and airy. Ideally a home built on a slope will have a walkout basement with sliding glass doors for maximum light. 

So, what do you get? In addition to anything you can imagine is wine storage, a tasting room, a home theater, a golf simulator, a crafting room, a yoga studio, hobby rooms, collection displays, a home gym, a wet bar or kitchenette, and billiards or pool table. The point is let your imagination fly and use these selected homes as a starting point. 

After the finished basement, my top reason for owning 666 Old County Road in the heart of West Tisbury Village would be the location. You can walk to Mill Pond, Alley’s, 7A for coffee or the best MV sandwich, and even the Ag Hall, a 14 minute walk away. This gracious home is centered around a gourmet kitchen and has wood and stone floors throughout. If 4.5 acres for privacy was not enough, the property features three bonus areas: a finished basement family room with a built-in bar, a charming one-bedroom guest house, and loft space for additional sleeping area. Both homes are heated and air conditioned with propane FHA. 

1 Sengekontacket Road provides the perfect location for outdoor recreation with its 1.8 acres surrounded by a greenbelt for additional privacy. The Sengekontacket (Sengy!) Association offers a clubhouse on a pond available for private parties, waterfront access for boating, kayaking and a mooring, plus brand new tennis courts, and well-maintained hiking trails for dog lovers. The light-filled contemporary home has a large partially finished basement, leaving plenty of room for a workshop and storage. The hard-to-miss 36-panel solar array minimizes the cost for air conditioning, heat and electricity. As a bonus, the well-landscaped grounds and gardens include a cute garden shed with running water.

131 Indian Hill Road in West Tisbury is 3.1 acres of scenic beauty that includes glacial boulders, stone walls and towering beech trees. Offering the best of both worlds, the home is a short walk to the North Tisbury shopping and office area, close to Cedar Tree Neck for some of the most picturesque hiking on Martha’s Vineyard, and a short bike ride to Lambert’s Cove Beach. The property features not one but two lower levels! The first in the home is a finished walkout lower level that could provide multi-generation living. The second lower level is in the heated 36 x 30 barn which provides an opportunity to have a home workshop, yoga studio, or boat storage When you add in the three horse stalls attached to the barn, you have the makings of a small Island farm.

One of the most overlooked homes in Edgartown is at 14 North Bog Road. The 2018-built luxury home is perfectly located at the edge of the village and a short stroll to Morning Glory Farm for morning coffee and hot biscuit or that healthy salad for lunch. One very striking feature of the house is the rustic white oak flooring throughout. The home was designed with energy efficiency in mind including heat pump technology and solar roof panels. The 2500-square foot basement is truly breathtaking. Close to 2,000 square feet are expertly finished with 9ft ceilings, carpeted floors and lots of room for games and activities; a large separate utility/storage area makes up the rest. I started out saying “overlooked” because at $2,300,000, this is an excellent value for the combination of location and privacy.

Click here for more information and other homes for sale on Martha’s Vineyard with finished basements

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