Buying Here: Bell Acres

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When asked to describe her home, Gaynor Ibbotson calls it a cross between a Cape Cod and a bungalow. Then she quickly turns to what drew her to the place 10 years earlier.

"The view is pretty good."

From the front porch of the three-bedroom red brick house, it is obvious that's an understatement of grand proportions.

The bucolic scene of the valley and rolling hills makes it difficult to imagine that it is only minutes from Sewickley, Interstate 279 and about 25 minutes from Downtown.

"Feels like you're away from it all, yet you aren't," Ms. Ibbotson said.

With traveling the world in mind, Ms. Ibbotson's home at 866 Camp Meeting Road, Bell Acres (MLS No. 957771), is on the market for $235,000 and listed with the sales team of Beverly McQuone and Susie Reuter of Prudential Preferred Realty (412-779-1722 or An open house is planned for next Sunday.

PG graphic: Bell Acres at a glance
(Click image for larger version) Website:

Size: 5.5 square miles

Population: 1,388 (2010 census)

School district: Quaker Valley (

Enrollment: 1,971

Average 2013 SAT scores: 549 Verbal, 562 Math, 539 Writing

Annual 2014 property taxes on a house assessed at $100,000: $2,497; Borough: $416 (4.16 mills); School: $1,693 (16.93 mills); County: $388* (4.73 mills)

Fun fact: With its rolling hills and large, beautiful houses, Bell Acres can be a sight for sore eyes. But it also can soothe the soul. The Zen Center of Pittsburgh, a Soto Zen Buddhist Temple founded in 1999 on Willow Ridge Road, offers daily meditation and individualized zen training for the community.

* Includes the Act 50 Homestead Exclusion, which allows the owners of their primary residences to reduce the value of their assessment by $18,000.

-- Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette

Included in the sale are the half-acre the house sits on and a 0.46-acre building lot.

"The building lot adds a considerable amount to the property," Mrs. McQuone said. "Someone could buy the house, put a building on that [piece of land] or sell the lot."

Ms. Ibbotson credits the original homeowner who built the house in 1950 with the foresight to purchase both lots and place the home atop the ridge to take advantage of the great views. She also appreciates its open floorplan.

"It's in an L-shape. When you look at it from the front it's very deceiving, looks smaller than you think," she said. "When you get inside it's a little unexpected, it's so open and the rooms are generous."

On the main floor are two of the three bedrooms (12 by 12 feet and 13 by 10 feet), the living room, (21 by 12 feet) and kitchen (16 by 10 feet) along with a full bathroom.

Upstairs is the large third bedroom (35 by 11 feet), a delightful hideaway of sorts with bamboo flooring, sloped ceilings and, because of the shape of the house, a large nook (9 by 9 feet) off the side at one end of the L.

Maple hardwood flooring runs through the living room and both bedrooms on the first floor. The living room has a distinctive wood-burning fireplace and curved archways leading to the foyer and the kitchen..

Ms. Ibbotson updated the kitchen in 2012, installing ceramic tile flooring and purchasing new stainless-steel appliances from the Frigidaire Gallery Series.

The kitchen has plenty of space for a table, and has new countertops.

The home has multi-paned windows, a new gas furnace with a 95 percent efficiency rating, recently installed central air conditioning and updated electrical wiring.

Among the updates is the garage door Ms. Ibbotson had installed in early February.

"I ordered a custom Canadian insulated garage door," Ms. Ibbotson said, explaining how the new door keeps the integral single-car garage warm even during our recent run-ins with the polar vortex.

The garage is off the basement, currently unfinished but with loads of potential.

"If someone wanted to finish the basement, it would be ideal," Ms. Ibbotson said. "They would gain 450 square feet of living space."

Included in the sale of the house are the washer and dryer in the basement laundry room with a large double utility sink. There is a septic tank and public water.

The property has a 2014 assessed value of $115,500 ( Over the past three years, nine properties have sold on Camp Meeting Road for prices ranging from $64,899 in December 2011 to $608,000 in February 2013 (

With the large fenced-in backyard comes a view of the neighbor's pond.

"I've had [the house] for 10 years and dearly love it, but if I sell the house it gives me options to travel," said Ms. Ibbotson, cherishing memories created over the years and that wonderful view.

"Every year, I used to have a party. I call it a porch party. All my friends no matter how many there were, we all sat on the porch."

Lizabeth Gray:

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