Tips on buying a cheap Italy house from those who’ve done it

× Tips on buying a cheap Italy house from those who’ve done it

In just a matter of months, it will be winter again in Alexandria.

And, accordingly, the close-in town square and the distinctive Nevins-Shields House with its soaring eaves and sweeping staircase — much of it now protected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a candidate for a federally protected landmark — will again be plowing snow in the front.

Fewer people are interested in buying a one-bedroom apartment in the elegant neo-Gothic town house. And real estate prices in the surrounding neighborhood are also starting to fall. But that doesn’t mean these modest homes can’t, now in part, be bought in affordable conditions.

The Alexandria Town Square Association offers a trio of affordable buying opportunities: a four-bedroom apartment (about 1,900 square feet), a two-bedroom (about 800 square feet) and a one-bedroom (about 700 square feet).

So does a newly nonprofit institution called Sustainable Alexandria, which has become a manager of affordable housing. Its approach is to focus the renovation of historic properties on the units’ interiors — not on the exterior’s raking sidewalks and garish roof lines.

And, at a site last year in the 15-year-old redevelopment of the Fisher-Ward neighborhood at Maine Avenue and Virginia Street, SOS is rehabbing a two-bedroom at just $990 a month.

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