When big banks sell or merge, one often expects sale prices in the realm of several billions of dollars. Last spring, Citizens Financial Group (CBTN) acquired Investors Bancorp for $3.5 billion in a cash-and-stock deal while Bank of Montreal (BMO) - Get Free Report is currently waiting to close its $16.3 billion acquisition of Bank of the West of BNP Paribas (BNPQF) .
While the bank in question has long since shut its doors, the sales price of a real estate listing in Rhode Island can still be considered a bargain. A 10,452-square-foot building that was built in 1901 for the Providence County Savings Bank is now up for sale for $749,000.
The building looks exactly what one would imagine a turn-of-the-century American bank to look like. The Neoclassical building spans half a block of Pawtucket, R.I. with its white walls, ornate display windows and storefront detailing. The inside has marble finishes, both sprawling halls and smaller rooms, and an elevator that once took bankers and customers between the four floors.
What You Do to Buy a Bank
But the feature that earned the building the most fame among locals is, of course, the vault -- a giant metal round door that, during the bank's heyday, opened the door to an entire room holding its most precious assets.
"The building was actually built around the vault," Compass Inc. (COMP) - Get Free Report listing agent Kira Greene told Realtor.com. "The vault was built first into the foundation of the property. It's enormous and kind of breathtaking.
The one detail that whoever buys the property needs to consider is that the metal door has to stay open until the new owner reworks the lock -- the code to the vault was lost when the bank permanently shut its doors.
"Someone needs to get a locksmith to reset the code," Greene said. "Years ago, they had an expert come up from New York who said it could be done, but it remains in the open position."
Otherwise, the property comes with eight bedrooms, four bathrooms and a $8,552 annual tax obligation. Since the building stopped being used as a bank, it has passed hands between four different owners. The last one has been using it as an art studio for the last 20 years.
Banks Actually Go Up For Sale All The Time
While this listing has captured the imaginations of many on the internet, this type of real estate listing is actually pretty common. Many of the grandiose buildings built for prominent banks at the turn of the century are now standing empty in smaller cities across the country.
Last summer, another old bank building in Vermont's Bennington caught the attention of the popular real estate Instagram account Zillow Gone Wild. The 6,650-square-foot building was built in 1931 as a new bank popping up during the Great Depression. When Chittenden Bank merged with the People's United Bank in the 1990s, the current owners bought it for $150,000 and reworked it to better suit everyday living.
Two decades later, the property was relisted for a $765,000 -- about the same price as the building that once housed Providence County Savings Bank.
"Me: can I borrow $5?" reads the Zillow Gone Wild Instagram caption. "mom: what do I look like, a bank to you? Me: mom we literally live at the bank."