‘The historic old house lady’

Photo by Brandy Brubaker.

Ken and Sue Moffet are the current owners of the 18th century Seven Springs Estate. Photo by Brandy Brubaker.

Cindy Saufley Barnett has taken on an interesting reputation among her fellow Richmond real estate agents.

An agent with Long & Foster, Barnett has three 18th-century houses on the market in nearby King William County and another she just listed in Surry County.

Several of Barnett’s other current listings are homes built in the 1800s, and she has one from the early 1900s.

“I’ve become known as the historic old house lady,” she said.

On Monday, Barnett toured three of her 18th Century listings – Seven Springs, Warsaw and Hollyfield – with a potential buyer from Northern Virginia. The homes are about 25 miles from Richmond.

Seven Springs was built between 1725 and 1740. Courtesy of CVRMLS.

Seven Springs was built between 1725 and 1740. Courtesy of CVRMLS.

Ken and Sue Moffet, current owners of Seven Springs, relied on Barnett to help them find the early 18th-century estate when they were searching for a historic home a few years ago. The then-Texans explored dozens of listings all over the country before choosing Seven Springs.

“When we drove in the front gate, we said, ‘Oh my golly,’” Ken Moffet said. “When we went home on Sunday, we left a contract.”

The Moffets have listed the 7,000-square-foot home at 6831 Dabneys Mill Road in Manquin for $1.192 million.

According to a history of the home, Seven Springs was built for either Capt. George Dabney I, the first sheriff of King William County, or his son, George II.

Retired from dual careers as a pilot and investment manager, Ken Moffet said he loves tending to the property’s 107 acres.

“They built this house and were one of the early settlers in what became King William County – and our job is to take care of it,” he said.

Barnett said she’s shown Seven Springs four times since listing it in late July.

“Most of these buyers, they’ll look at 30 to 50 houses before buying one,” Barnett said.

She said she’s had interest in the property from California, the Washington, D.C. area, as well as here in Richmond. In past sales, she’s had buyers come all the way from Singapore and Belgium for the right Richmond home.

Although properties of this age are marketed on websites throughout the world, finding just the right person for historic homes can be a challenge.

The Warsaw house is Barnett's oldest current listing. Courtesy of CVRMLS.

The Warsaw house is Barnett’s oldest current listing. Courtesy of CVRMLS.

“It’s a unique buyer,” Barnett said. “You’ve got to have someone who understands old houses, appreciates the history of it and, like the Moffets, wants to be a good steward of it.”

Warsaw is currently her oldest listing. It was built around 1700 at 3938 Upshaw Road in Aylett and is for sale for $899,000.

Hollyfield, at 689 Hollyfield Lane in Manquin, was built in 1750. As the story was told to Barnett, the home was once visited by George Washington’s sister. It is listed for $1.1 million.

The Surry County house, at 1549 Laurel Springs Road in Spring Grove, was built in 1750 and is for sale for $852,000.

Barnett isn’t the only local agent who picks up historic home listings.

Sherry Gilliam of Long & Foster has the listing for Mill Quarter Plantation. The 1770-built Powhatan home, which once belonged to a member of one of Virginia’s first families, is for sale for $1.19 million.

Re/Max Commonwealth agent Richard Buckingham worked with Premiere Estates Auction Company of New York and Los Angeles on the $17.8 million sale of an 18th-century Prince George County estate earlier this year. Thomas Jefferson supposedly designed parts of the plantation’s 7,773-square-foot main house.

In building a niche for these sorts of listings, Barnett said she’s relied often on local appraisers who know she specializes in rural and historic estates and think of her if a client needs help selling a house.

She also said believes her country upbringing helps her understand and appreciate the subject matter. Barnett said she was raised on a farm and loves the land and the dependencies that typically come with grand old estates. She got more involved in older houses through her husband, Bill, a land broker who often came across historic houses people wanted to sell while putting together deals in rural areas.

“The homes are exciting,” Barnett said. “The people who own them are interesting,”

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