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Dilapidated Black House Atop Howard’s Knob Back on the Market as of Today; Bank of America Asking $318,000

By Paul T. Choate

448 Howards Knob Road as of Dec. 14, 2012. Photo by Paul T. Choate
448 Howards Knob Road as of Dec. 14, 2012. Photo by Paul T. Choate

Dec. 14, 2012. The dilapidated black house that sits atop Howard’s Knob is back on the market as of today with a $318,000 asking price. Built in 1990 and once a million dollar home, the property now sits vacant after being abandoned several years ago and recently condemned. 

According to listing agent Jason Eldreth, broker and co-owner of A Plus Realty in Vilas, Bank of America (BAC) has decided to put the 1.5-acre property, located on three lots, back on the market today.

BAC acquired the property following the home being seized by the U.S. Marshals in December 2008 after the owner, Richard Stahl, was ordered to forfeit the home due to being ordered to pay $5 million in restitution in relation to a money laundering conviction (read more on this here). There was an outstanding loan of $625,000 owed to BAC at the time and after first attempting to sell the property, the U.S. Marshals ultimately deeded it back to BAC in November 2011. 

Black paint is peeling from every side of the house and several windows have been shattered. Many windows that remain have been graffitied with the likes of spaceships — a reference to local rumors of the red dot having to do with aliens — and “this place got what it deserved. let it rott” [sic] on one.

The inside is no better. After being abandoned and foreclosed on, and with all furniture and receptacle covers stripped out, frequent break-ins and parties have left only empty beer bottles visible on the inside. On one wall a large red pentagram has been spray painted on — another reference, this one to a local rumor that satanic activities took place in the residence.

The Town of Boone condemned the property in July, and Eldreth said BAC has been incurring fines of $200 per day for every day the property is left unsecured. In total, BAC has been fined $28,600 by the town as of yesterday. 

Eldreth said BAC has tried to secure the property using methods such as chaining the front doors shut, but, “pretty much within a day or so it’s broken back into again.”

“They’re in the process of getting to a point with the Town of Boone where the property will stop getting broken into,” he said. 

Town of Boone inspectors have been frequently inspecting the property and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office has increased patrol around the home, Eldreth said, adding that he has heard of recent instances where people were arrested for trespassing on the property. 

Potential buyers are likely to have to work with the Town of Boone getting adequate permits for the structure. Additionally, Eldreth said some portions of the house may be in bad enough shape that it can’t be repaired.

“The town inspectors feel like a good portion of the building may need to be demolished due to the condition of the structure,” he said. 

Despite the house’s poor condition, it is not without interest.

“I think it might warrant some interest,” Eldreth said. “We’ve had several, several buyers call us about it before it got listed.”

The property — including all three lots — is on the Watauga County tax books for $923,300. This, however, is based on appraisals prior to the worst of the vandalism taking place. According to Bill Tester, appraisal director and revaluation coordinator with the North Carolina Office of Information Technology Services, unless there is a request for a change in value, the property value will not be changed until January of 2014 at the next general reappraisal.

Those interested in the property should contact A Plus Realty at 828-297-1000. For more information, visit aplusrealtync.com.

For an extensive back history and photo gallery of the property, check out our July story titled “Abandoned ‘Creepy’ Black House with Red Dot on Howard’s Knob in Shambles after Wild Parties, Vandalism.”