Historic-Home Buyers Are Moving Fast, and Sellers Are Accepting Offers in Days Rather Than Months

Like the daffodils that started blooming before this winter’s first snow, spring home-buyers are rushing out early this year. New listings of historic homes in the Triad are being scooped up as many sellers are pricing their homes just right and buyers are jumping at the opportunity.

The majority of these homes are in the more affordable end of the price range, under $300,000, although there are some conspicuous exceptions. Also, these homes are mostly in the larger cities (especially Winston-Salem — what’s going on over there?). Quick sales aren’t happening much in the Piedmont’s smaller towns and rural areas.

Although the fast sales are eye-catching, older listings are moving a bit, too. Since January 1, sellers have accepted offers on historic homes originally listed in 2016 and 2017 (one each), 2018 (two) and four 2019 listings that are at least a year old.

Here are 23 historic homes newly listed in January and February that resulted in offers being accepted in 15 days or less. Six sales have already closed.

2020 Buena Vista Road, Winston-Salem, same day

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  • $1.68 million
  • Listed February 19
  • Under contract February 19
  • 1922 mansion
  • Note: Million-dollar houses are always a slower-moving segment of the market; exceptions like this (assuming the sale closes) are pretty rare.

408 S. Main Street, Lexington, 15 days

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  • $435,000
  • Listed January 15
  • Under contract January 30
  • 1834 mansion
  • Note: Located in downtown Lexington, it’s also being marketed as a potential b-and-b or wedding venue.

417 Woodlawn Avenue, Greensboro, 3 days

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  • $349,900
  • Listed January 17
  • Under contract January 20
  • 1920 home
  • Neighborhood: Westerwood, one of Greensboro’s most popular

413 McAdoo Street, Greensboro, 8 days

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  • $310,000
  • Listed January 16
  • Under contract January 24-February 7
  • Under contract again February 10
  • 1935 home
  • Neighborhood: Southside, a small, popular downtown neighborhood where houses go on the market very infrequently

407 S. Chapman Street, Greensboro, 1 day

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  • $289,900
  • Listed February 13
  • Under contract February 14
  • 1930 bungalow
  • Neighborhood: Sunset Hills, traditionally a very popular neighborhood

722 W. Davis Street, Burlington, 3 days

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  • $280,000
  • Listed January 7, 2020
  • Under contract January 10, closed January 31 (full price)
  • 1923 bungalow
  • Neighborhood: West Davis/Fountain Place Historic District

1309 Clover Street, Winston-Salem, 6 days

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  • Sold for $279,000, listed for $269,900
  • Listed January 7, 2020
  • Under contract January 13, closed February 18
  • 1925 bungalow
  • Neighborhood: West End Historic District

134 N. Sunset Drive, Winston-Salem, 6 days

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  • $268,000
  • Listed February 12
  • Under contract February 18
  • 1920 home
  • Neighborhood: West End Historic District

1275 Westminster Drive, High Point, 5 days

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  • $265,000
  • Listed February 8
  • Under contract February 13
  • 1966 Mid-Century Modern
  • Neighborhood: Emerywood Forest

1601 Wilton Drive, Greensboro, 5 days

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  • $259,900
  • Listed January 7
  • Under contract January 12, closed February 18 for full price
  • 1959, Mid-Century Modern
  • Neighborhood: New Irving Park

919 Rotary Drive, High Point, same day

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  • $240,000
  • Listed February 19
  • Under contract February 19
  • 1935 home
  • Neighborhood: Emerywood

1113 Clyde Place, High Point, 13 days

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  • $225,000
  • Listed January 24
  • Under contract February 6
  • 1924 home
  • Note: A fix-and-flip sale

107 Devonshire Street, Winston-Salem, 3 days

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  • $224,900
  • Listed February 18
  • Under contract February 21
  • 1940 bungalow
  • Neighborhood: Washington Park

836 Oak Street, Unit 506, Winston-Salem, 11 days

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  • $175,000
  • Listed January 30
  • Under contract February 10
  • 1920 condo
  • Neighborhood: Downtown

611 Trollinger Street, Burlington, 4 days

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  • $175,000
  • Listed February 5
  • Under contract February 9
  • 1919 home
  • Neighborhood: West Davis/Fountain Place Historic District

722 Granville Drive, Winston-Salem, 6 days

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  • $169,000
  • Listed January 24
  • Under contract January 30
  • 1916 bungalow
  • Neighborhood: West Salem

1107 W. Bank Street, Winston-Salem, 2 days

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  • $169,000
  • Listed February 19
  • Under contract February 21
  • 1931 bungalow
  • Neighborhood: West Salem

371 Gwyn Avenue, Elkin, 10 days

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  • Sold for $145,550, listed at $143,500
  • Listed January 13
  • Under contract January 23, closed February 10
  • 1919 home
  • Note: Bankruptcy sale

1809 Hattie Circle, Winston-Salem, 11 days

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  • $105,900
  • Listed January 27
  • Under contract February 7
  • 1958 Mid-Century Modern
  • Note: Designed by Lamar Northrup; the house hasn’t been sold since it was built.

222 Hames Street, Lexington, 8 days

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  • $57,000
  • Listed January 21
  • Under contract January 29
  • 1917 bungalow
  • Neighborhood: Erlanger Mills

921 Thurmond Street, Winston-Salem, 7 days

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  • $55,500
  • Listed January 13
  • Under contract January 20, closed January 31 (full price)
  • 1915 restoration
  • Neighborhood: Northwest Winston-Salem

7930 Shallowford Road, Lewisville, 4 days

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  • $50,000
  • Listed January 7
  • Under contract January 11
  • 1898 restoration
  • Note: The owner is writing off the house — “No value being given to home. Would make a nice building site …”

1326 Bretton Street, Winston-Salem, 1 day

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  • Sold for $20,000, listed for $15,000
  • Listed January 10
  • Under contract January 11, closed January 17
  • 1924 restoration
  • Neighborhood: Waughtown

Villa Fortuna: An Eclectic 1888 National Register Property in Reidsville, $99,900

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The Jennings-Baker House, also known as Villa Fortuna, is one of the most affordable National Register properties you’re likely to see. Accordingly, it also needs more work than most National Register properties. It’s not a complete wreck, though, and some of its charm has stood up to the years very well.

The brick exterior is notably elaborate. The National Register nomination calls Villa Fortuna a distinctive and vernacular mix of styles — Gothic Revival, Italianate and more — that were popular in the mid-19th century. The current real estate listing says it’s simply “the perfect blend of unpretentious elegance and a rustic urban farm,” although even an urban farmer might want more than the villa’s half acre.

The house is at 608 Vance Avenue in Reidsville. It was built in 1888. It has three bedrooms; one bathroom, more or less; and 1,548 square feet. It’s priced at $99,900, a bargain-basement $46 per square foot. It’s also a for-sale-by-owner deal.

The villa is near the Old Post Road Historic District, but, like the other houses on its block, it has fallen on hard times. The house was foreclosed upon in 2010 and then sold in 2011 for $25,000.

“The facing came off the back of the second story and squirrels got in and damaged the wiring in the ceiling of the purple bed room,” the listing says (the purple bedroom has to be seen to be appreciated, though the chewed-up wiring is hardly its most notable feature; see the photos below). “All 22 windows need to be replaced.” Or, in keeping with the historic stature of the house, the original windows could be repaired, if there are any left.

According to the 1986 National Register nomination, the first owner and probable builder of the house was William G. Jennings, a brick manufacturer. His trade may have figured prominently in the eclectic design of the house. The nomination cites “the possibility that Jennings may have intended his house as a sort of advertisement for what was then a young enterprise, exhibiting the products of his brick yard and demonstrating the masonry skills of his workers.”

The Reidsville Times carried this ad for the firm in 1887:

Manufacturers and Contractors of all kinds of Brick and Brickwork, and can also furnish
any one with fire proof Brick. Have none but the best of Workmen.

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Brick appears to have been relatively new in Reidsville. As of 1986, there were only six pre-1890 brick houses still surviving in the town, and the nomination says it’s unlikely that many more had been built.  Five are Italianate. “The Jennings-Baker House is a much more vernacular and personal expression of Victorian tastes, as it combines elements of several styles. The triangular patterned brickwork above windows and doors on the facade have a vaguely Gothic flavor, while the segmental arch openings on the side and rear elevations and in the ell … are typical of masonry construction of the period. The facade’s projecting bays and porch suggest the influence of architecture predominantly found at military institutions, while the corbel table on the facade and the parapeted side elevations of the main block are reminiscent of commercial architecture in the late nineteenth century.”

Brick stands up to the ages better than wood, so, aside from the misfortune at the back of the house, the exterior looks to be in reasonably good shape. Current photos show the interior requires at least some cosmetic work. “For the most part, the interior of the Jennings-Baker House is much more simply finished than the exterior,” the nomination states. “Common throughout the house are plaster walls, pine flooring, simple baseboards, four-panel doors with rim locks and china knobs and relatively plain though molded post and lintel mantels, all standard Victorian finish details.”

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Many older houses have an odd, inexplicable feature or two. But few old-house surprises have the stop-you-in-your-tracks quality that you’ll find in the purple bedroom.

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Through the years

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The house was bought by Avery Baker in 1905. It was owned by the Baker family for more than 50 years.
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An undated photo included in the 1986 National Register nomination
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A Google Street View photo from 2018

Current listing for Villa Fortuna

Rivermont in Eden: A Landmark 1936 Mansion on the Smith River, $650,000

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When the glory days of Rockingham and Caswell counties passed, they didn’t leave  much behind except some grand old houses. Rivermont in Eden is a relatively late example of the old mansions of Rockingham County (there are two others currently for sale and another under contract). Built in 1936, it’s move-in ready and all yours for $650,000.

With 5,200 square feet, the price works out to $124 per square foot, modest by mansion standards, especially for one that appears to be in such great shape. Rivermont has 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and 2 half-baths. The address is 351 W. Meadow Road. The property comprises 15 acres on the Smith River in the Leaksville section of Eden (you know about Eden, right? Leaksville, Spray and Draper were three small towns that grew together and merged in 1967 to become the town of Eden).

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Rivermont was used by its last previous owners as an event and performance venue (Facebook page, last updated more than a year ago). The current owners bought the house in March 2019 for $400,000. They’ve made some renovations, secured designation for it as a local landmark in June 2019 and now have it for sale again (at a 62 percent mark-up).

Early in the 20th century, the land belonged to B. Frank Mebane, a grandson-in-law of Gov. John Motley Morehead. Mebane built a “log clubhouse” there in the 1920s. The property was bought by Frank Letcher Eggleston (1897-1980), who owned a tire store, and his wife, Mattie Sue Parker Eggleston (1904-1998). They hired prominent Danville architect J. Bryant Heard to design their home.

“The property is locally significant  as a largely intact example of a large, stately Colonial Revival style home,” the landmark ordinance states. “The house is well set back of the road and is accessed by a long circular driveway lined with mature boxwoods. Originally, there was a large riding ring for horses that were kept in stables on the property (no longer standing). The grounds were landscaped with 1,500 English boxwoods as well as native shrubs and large trees.

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“The house is an elegant, painted brick, Colonial Revival style house with a two-story gable roofed center main block with flanking one-story wings. The five-bay wide main block has a full-height porch topped by a balustrade, with six large columns which were imported from England. The front entrance has a paneled door with leaded glass sidelights. The main block has an exterior chimney on either end. The right wing houses the kitchen and servants area as well as a garage and has a recessed arched loggia with smaller columns which were also imported from England. There is a two-car garage addition on the rear of this wing. The left side wing contains the family room and features a conservatory with a bellcast roof. The house is lit by eight-over-eight casement windows. The third floor once served as an enormous playroom. The house has gabled and hip roofs covered with slate shingles. Slate is also used for the walkways and patios.

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“The main block of the house contains the living areas on the first floor and bedrooms on the second floor. the living and dining rooms feature handmade Williamsburg-style cornices. the entry hall features arched doorways and an elegant flying staircase. There are several fireplaces with original details. the family room has a wall of built-in bookcases.”

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Rivermont was built just after colored bathroom fixtures were developed.

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294 West End Boulevard: A 1920 Craftsman Gem in Winston-Salem, $445,000

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The last time 294 West End Boulevard was sold, it went for $65,000. That was in 1984, and the West End has changed a lot since then. The house went on the market today for $445,000. It’s a beautifully restored Craftsman; the price is in line with a similarly impressive Craftsman in the West End that’s also for sale now, 701 Manly Street, and other well-restored houses in the historic district over the past year.

294 West End sits well above the street with a stone retaining wall and broad stone steps at the sidewalk. It has 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms and 2,713 square feet ($164 per square foot). The interior is beautifully restored with what look to be the original mantels, balustrades and other Craftsman touches. The kitchen and bathrooms are modern.

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“The well-preserved Brown House is a handsome Craftsman style foursquare dwelling typical of its 1920 construction date,” the West End nomination to the National Register states.

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“The house has a weather-boarded first story, a wood shingled second story, a low hip roof with overhanging eaves, and a matching front dormer. Windows are paired nine-over-one sash, and the multi-pane glass and wood panel entrance is flanked by sidelights. The broad wrap-around porch is detailed with paneled wood posts set on brick plinths connected by a plain balustrade.”

The house was built in 1920 by Hiram, Joseph and Seth Brown. “By 1921 the city directory listed various members of the Brown family at this address,” the neighborhood’s National Register nomination states. The Browns owned the house until 1938. The current owners may have owned the house longer than anyone else, 36 years this spring.

294 West End Boulevard listing

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An 1889 Restoration Candidate in Kernersville: The First Thing It Needs Is a Good, Sturdy Fence

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The owner of 4981 George West Road in Kernersville apparently doesn’t think much of the house. The listing mainly is concerned with two other things. One is how nice the flat, 1-acre lot would be for a home site. The other is this goat:

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Listing: “If there is an Old Billy Goat Gruff in the yard, RUN! He is the neighbors and shouldn’t be there!”

The goat lives nearby (supposed to, anyway) and may not appreciate having visitors on the turf he’s staked out. Since the neighbors haven’t put up a fence, that may well be the first thing a buyer will want to do. It also appears that the goat may be eating the house, so someone needs to get on it right away.

“This is a bit over an acre of FLAT land with a few old trees that would make a gorgeous homesite!” the owner says, seeming to overlook that it’s already a home site. The house was built in 1889, and from the outside it appears to have a bit of charm.

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It has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and 1,054 square feet. There are no pictures of the inside. The house has no heating or cooling systems. The asking price is $30,000 or an economical $29 per square foot. With some work, it could be a sweet little place, a home with more character than whatever a new owner is likely to come up with to replace it.

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The outbuilding seen above appears to be a neighbor’s, judging from the county GIS system photo below.

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The house has a Kernersville address, but it’s closer to Walkertown, just east of U.S. 158.

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The 1839 Davie County Jail: A National Register Property in Mocksville Is For Sale in an Online Auction

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Davie County’s original jail was built in Mocksville in 1839, three years after the county was established. Now it’s the centerpiece of an online auction of five properties all on the same downtown corner. Prospective buyers can bid on the properties separately or all of them together.

The jail is the centerpiece. It housed the county’s most armed and dangerous for 70 years and then became a residence. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 2001 the current owner bought it and converted it to office use.

A brief rundown of the deal:

Update, December 17, 2019: The online auction was extended to Tuesday December 17, but the listing was taken off the auctioneer’s website before then, apparently without a sale. For comparison, the jail and other properties were listed for sale as a package in 2018 for $580,000; in 2015 it was listed for $620,000.

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As the video shows, there’s nothing left to identify the building as a jail except for the plaque. Still, it’s a substantial piece of local history. “The Davie County Jail is of considerable local significance, for its history parallels that of the county since its founding,” the National Register nomination states. “The sturdy, well maintained building with its handsome Flemish bond brickwork is an important Mocksville landmark.”

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The lot for the jail and guest house, as seen above, is a nicely wooded half acre. The jail’s address is 284 S. Main Street (online listing). It’s listed as having 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, 1,752 square feet.

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One odd detail: The kitchen appears to be upstairs.

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The guest house is being sold with the jail. It has about 858 square feet. The garden lot sits behind the guest house, well off the street.

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The entire package is 1.27 acres. The two additional houses are the “Yellow House” and the “Gray House,” 131 and 141 E. Lexington Road, respectively. The aerial view shows Lexington Road, U.S. 64, at the top and South Main Street, U.S. 158, at the right.

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131 Lexington has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 3,046 square feet. It was built in 1898.

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141 Lexington is a bungalow with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and 1,272 square feet. It was built in 1933. Both houses have vinyl siding. These are the only pictures of the two houses available.

A 1955 Mid-Century Masterpiece in Greensboro, $1.099 Million

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Update: The listing was withdrawn December 5, 2019.

Mid-Century Modern never generated any great mass appeal among mainstream home buyers. It’s too out-there for the typical family. And you won’t find a Mid-Century home much further out there than 3905 Henderson Road in Greensboro’s remarkable Hamilton Lakes neighborhood. The house is for sale at $1.099 million. The price has been reduced a bit since it was listed (originally $1.195 million), but it’s still $384 per square foot, a rather breath-taking price for any type of house in Greensboro.

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The 1955 home has everything you think of with Mid-Century design — lots of glass that brings the indoors and outdoors together, modern materials, sleek lines, flat roofs and an ultra-clean, uncluttered look. More than 60 years after it was built, it still looks as “modern” as the day it was finished. The house has 4 bedrooms and three bathrooms, 2,886 square feet on a lot of 0.4 acre.

Designed by Thomas Hayes for his college roommate, it’s known as the Will and Diane Howard House (Hayes and Howard went to N.C. State). “Their home featured a flat roofline and solid wood and brick exterior walls that alternated with voids of glass,” Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro wrote. “Interior spaces were austere, featuring areas of terrazzo and carpet coupled with masonry and textured walls. Unusual details include clerestory windows located between ceiling joists and a copper hood above the fireplace. True to the style, public spaces are logically separated from private as the form of the house is dictated by the function of spaces. Form follows function.”

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The Howards sold the house in 1967. Eventually, it fell on hard times, so hard it was included on the N.C. Modernist endangered list in 2013. Then, it was bought and restored by the current owners, Liz and Mike Felsen. The house “has been completely restored to its former glory w/open floor plan, sleek lines, walls of glass, original terrazzo floors, 6 outdoor terraces & 2-story Casita. Completely rebuilt by Gary Jobe [a prominent Greensboro builder], preserving almost everything in the original 1955 plan,” the listing says.

The reconstruction addressed “long-term challenges related to materials, drainage, and sustainability,” Briggs wrote. “It retains its original H-shaped plan and honors the scope, scale and materials of the initial design.”

The casita was a later addition, beautifully complementing the original. It could serve as a mother-in-law suite, if you have a really sophisticated mother-in-law.

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Mid-Century Modern continues to have an enthusiastic following. We’ve tracked 18 sales of Mid-Century homes in the Piedmont this year, and six sold at or above their asking prices. The Howard house is the most spectacular of the recently available Mid-Century homes in the area. There are few chances to buy such a remarkable example of the style.

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