Saturday, March 3, 2012

Topics: Fear Not the Brownstone

We're not sure what the stages of grief are over the prices for brownstones & townhouses in some of these top neighborhoods in Brooklyn, but they range anywhere from shock, denial, regret, to downright fear of how high they'll go on the next spot. We can't imagine what draws twice as many readers as the next-most popular post to our detailed analysis of the $1.5M townhouse market (or lack thereof) in Park Slope. But we thought we'd offer a little consolation in the form of perspective. So what if only 10 townhouses closed for $1.5M or less over those 6 months in Park Slope and Jenna Lyons' house is bound to sell for over $4M? Have you been to Manhattan recently?

In Manhattan, in the past 6 months, 180 condos sold between $1.5M and $4M. And that's condos, people. No brownstone, no front yard, no back yard, rarely more than one floor, no rental income, and maintenance fees or common charges that are through the roof. Places like this lovely condo in contract with a $2.4M list price, just over 1,300 sqft, and over $1,500/month in maintenance. Of those 180 condos that closed in Manhattan between $1.5M - $4M, the median price per square foot was $1,371/sqft (compared to less than $700/sqft in Park Slope). The median size was 1,496 sqft and the median price was $2M. You're still getting twice the HOUSE in Park Slope as you are CONDO in Manhattan. Not to mention that we're talking about 180 condos (granted, over a much larger area) vs. only 36 townhouses (if we're talking about just Park Slope), but clearly $2M is a price point people aren't blushing at. Who wouldn't much rather have the original details in this huge brownstone (currently pink) at 233 Garfield Place, just up from Jenna's, now down to $2.25M?

Co-ops are just as bad. In Manhattan, 156 co-ops closed in the past 6 months between $1.5M and $4M, with a median price per square foot of $1,156/sqft. Those are priced cheaper because they end up costing you more in maintenance that can easily run over $3,000/month, like on this sponsor unit in contract on the Upper West Side with a list price of $2.35M and maintenance of $3,555/month. (Which, p.s., by the way, is the mortgage payment on over $700,000 at 4% over 30 years, so your $2.35M purchase actually feels like $3M+ in terms of your out of pocket month-to-month, which still buys you a heck of a brownstone anywhere you want in Brooklyn. Let me repeat that, people are paying more in monthly maintenance to be near Central Park than the mortgage on value condos down the hill from Prospect Park.) And that unit doesn't even need co-op board approval. Can you imagine having to lay all your financial guts out on the table & formally beg your future neighbors for the privilege of paying $3,555/month down the drain for a doorman and an elevator attendant? Forget the character of George Costanza getting grilled by the co-op board, even real-life $800 millionaire Jerry Seinfeld endured his co-op slapping a $500/day fine for anyone whose renovation goes over schedule after the renovation for his $4M+ apartment (and that's 1998 prices, people!) went longer than some neighbors could bear. Jerry slays the application process in his typical fashion.

Afterall, besides the lack of hassle and the superior financial sense that houses make over apartments, isn't that part of what people are paying for in a brownstone too, their own space? A yard as deep as 60-80' sometimes? Not living in a dormitory for millionaires? So don't fret about the prices going up 10 or 20%. Brownstones still win out over apartments most everyday of the week. So don't cringe when you hear $2M+ for a brownstone in Park Slope because it's still a slam dunk over a condo on the UWS. Brooklyn brownstones: "They're real and they're spectacular."

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