House of the Day: 181 Midwood Street

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The three-story (well, two and a half, really) limestone house at 181 Midwood Street just hit the market this week for $925,000. While it may not look like a bargain on a per square foot basis, this four-bedroom place feels pretty realistically priced to us, given that it’s on a great street and in excellent shape. We’re kinda curious about the open layout in the front of the parlor floor. Is it typical of houses on this street to have not have a wall separating the entry hall from the front sitting room? For the curious, there’s an open house on Sunday from 3 to 5.
181 Midwood Street [Brown Harris Stevens] GMAP P*Shark
Photo by Nicholas Strini for Property Shark

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  • The parquet in the living room looks original, and not like a partition or wall has been ripped out to open up the foyer. But who knows. It does seem fairly priced, given what’s been selling in the $1.2 – $1.5 million range in the neighborhood this year, and given the condition of $800K houses a few blocks away, like this one on Corcoran:

    http://www.corcoran.com/property/listing.aspx?Region=NYC&ListingID=945207

    Did anyone else notice that 52 Midwood (on the same street as 181 but a block closer to the subway/park and about twice as big) is already in contract? Word is it went for over the $1.525 million asking price. It was a HOTD a couple weeks back…

    http://realestate.nytimes.com/+comshare/vulisting.asp?Lid=253-NS703157

  • Actually I heard 52 Midwood sold for 1.475M. The owners were in a rush.

  • Based on my frequent walks down this street on the way home from work, I’d say there are a number of houses with an open layout in the front, like this one. I’m not sure if it’s “typical” (I’ll defer to Bob on this one). IMO this is the prettiest block in PLG. Seems fairly priced. I’ll definitely take some time off from taxes to check out the open house.

    And that Corcoran listing is NEVER going to get $800K. Drop a good $100-$150K off that price and they may get some bites (I know, I just bought a similar place a few blocks away).

  • Halstead has a house one block over on Maple (still in the Manor) for 750K. It’s far less attractive, but is bigger and has a garage.

    This seems reasonably priced if it has new kitchen and baths. But if it doesn’t, I doubt they’ll get the price given its size. In the recent past, totally “mint” renovated houses like this on Maple, Midwood and Rutland have sold in the 850K to 925K range.

  • There is one problem with the layout. No bathroom on the first floor! Very important to have a bathroom on every floor of a brownstone otherwise (and trust me i know this from experience) you get very annoyed having to constantly go up and down the stairs. A small half bath on the first floor would have been smart.

  • Nice house IMO, one of many built by Frank Norris, for a firm called Real Estate Associates, c.1909 on all the Lefferts Manor Bedford–Rogers blocks, just west of Rogers Ave.

    To answer Mr. B’s question, the absence of a wall separating the entry hall from the front parlor is common in these houses and in many others here as well. It’s one of the features that attracted me to the neighborhood when I first saw it on the 1974 house tour–makes 20′ row houses seem much wider inside. AFAIK this relatively open floor plan, compared to older brownstones, was a belated nod to the prevalence of central heating. When rooms were individually heated, by fireplaces,or “parlor” stoves, rooms were made so that they could easily be closed off. Open “Free Classic” interior lay outs became popular a generation or two after central heating became the norm, an example of interior design lagging far behind enabling technology.

    I never though I’d describe a $925 million house as “a bargain”, but BHS has been getting very high prices here. I just got a postcard yesterday about a house on Rutland II, listed at $1.3, that was just sold at “an excellent price.

    BTW, I started writing this response at about 11:45 and was interrupted by a visitor. There were no other comments when I started writing. If any other responses are necessary, I’ll post again.

  • Anon 1:20 has a good point–a 1/2 bath on the parlor floor WOULD be nice. I think many single family brownstones were built w/o such facilities on the main floor.

    OTOH, I’ve gotten used to going up or down when necessary and don’t really mind. We briefly though about putting in an additional 1/2 bath, but, in a house with all the original details intact, decided it wasn’t worth the sacrifice. YRMV.

  • I’ve been looking in Lefferts Manor and this house (which is too small for me) is definitely not a bargain. The “very high” prices in the area have been for 4 story houses in mint condition. The non-mint houses haven’t been moving–such as the 3 story brick on rutland for 895K and the 3 story limestone on Midwood for 1.2M and the 2 story brick on Maple for 750K. The Rutland house Bob refers to, I think, was a lovely 3 story brownstone in excellent condtion. I did hear that it sold for under asking, but who knows.

    And, if a mint 3 story brownstone sells for 1.3, then a mint 2 story should be around 900K.

  • Huh, I’d heard from what I thought was a reliable source that 52 went for just above asking. I do know that the sellers have school-age children and that they’re planning to move up to the Westchester area, so I can’t imagine they would want to close on the house before the end of the school year. But perhaps I’m mistaken.

    1:15, I think Brown Harris recently sold a mint house with about the same amount of original detail on Rutland II, two stories with a finished garden floor, for somewhere in the $1.2 range. Not sure how 181′s kitchen and baths would compare to that since there are no photos up on BHS, and who knows how finished out the basement at 181 is, but still, I don’t think $850K-$925K is the limit for this sized house in the neighborhood.

    As for the Halstead house, I haven’t been inside it, but it looks to have some fairly serious drawbacks online and from the street. It’s only one house away from a big apartment building on that block and very close to commercial Flatbush. It also has no backyard to speak of (the property is all paved to form a shared driveway). The two houses are markedly different.

  • well there isn’t much of it, but what is there is choice.
    The bathroom thing is a problem.
    925 seems a bit high.
    but 825 doesn’t.
    the extra 100 could go
    to putting in a new bathroom and maybe central air.
    the backyard is really nice.

  • BHS recently sold a 3 story house on Rutland II for around 1.3. I saw that out of curiousty (I live on the block) and it was gorgeous. All new everything and to-die-for kitchen and bathrooms. Great details in perfect condition. And a very nicely landcaped garden.

    I live in a 2 story and I’ve never heard of one selling for more than mid 900K. But someday…

    As for the Halstead house, yes that price is irrelevant. The brick houses are always cheaper and that is too close to an apartment buidling and too close to Flatbush. It would be a lot more if it were further up the block.

  • This house will definitely sell at our above asking price.
    Not everybody wants or needs the excess space in one of the 4-story homes (I own one of those). A family would have plenty of space here.
    And you are in and out for under $1 m. That is a good deal for a great house on a great block.
    I agree with Bob Marvin 100% about the open layout. It is a big plus.
    And the no bathroom on the parlor floor is no biggie, although it would be a plus to have a powder room.
    You still don’t have to walk up or down from the bedroom to pee (like I do in my 4-story house!)
    As for 52 Midwood, it’s a different animal that would attract a different kind of buyer.
    But suffice it to say that this house is definitely worth 2/3 of whatever they get for 52. That’s a no-brainer.

  • This house is comparable to the identical 2 story on Maple II that sold for 850K in November. And another 4 story on Midwood (in the same row as 52) just sold for 1.3M–it was in similar if not better condition to this one. This house is not worth more than 2/3 of that house, which was twice as big!

    I do agree that the parlor powder room is overrated. That’s like wanting double sinks in the master bath.

  • I would not say that $799 is too much for the Maple house. Aguyayo has a 2 story 2 family on Lefferts Ave. It was listed for $769. My friends bid $775, and they did not get the house. They were told that there were offers at $800K. The house needed kitchens, baths and cosmetics.

  • the maple st. house next to Flatbush has some big drawbacks, although maybe the decent price reflects that.
    apparently the previous owner’s son had some “anger issues” that might give a buyer pause!
    as for the house on maple II, i agree they are comparable, but I’d say that was a really good deal and this is still a good deal.
    there ain’t much out there like this for under a mill

  • I’m stunned at this price.

  • What I mean by that, is that these are not two story homes per se. They have two full stories above grade, plus an english basement which is only partially below grade (but far enough below grade to be overlooked in the square feet calculation. It’s not technically a full story, but it is quite usable space. Smart buyers will take advantage of the fact that these houses will be discounted only slightly with respect to full 3-story homes in the Manor. After all, the difference between one of these houses and ones like the 3-story Rutland II (which went for $1.3M) is “cellar” which is completely below grade (generally good for storage and little else). A celler DOES NOT add worth $400K of value to a home.

    I predict this house goes for above-asking, and that a bidding war ensues. But time will tell…maybe all this police action on Flatbush will scare away Buyers.

    FYI – Brownstoner, regardless of what you or some of the meat-heads who post on this site say, the pricing scale for a reasonably decent to luxe house in Lefferts Manor is more like this:

    4 Story – $1.4 – $1.5M
    3 Story – $1.2 – $1.3M
    2 Story – $1.0 – $1.1M

    The prices of the “two-story” homes should absolutely be closer to the “four-story” homes than comps suggest. Blame it on two years of inexperienced and empty-headed brokers who didn’t know how to properly value and market those fabulous two-story homes on Maple Street.

  • Ed, there is a huge difference between a garden floor and an english basement. A garden floor has a formal dining room and a kitchen that opens onto the garden. An english basement is mostly below grade and has a boiler. There certainly is a 400K difference between a 2 story with an english basement and a 3 story.

    As for your pricing scale, you are basing that on 2 super-prime houses and are ignoring almost all of the recent sales in the neighborhood. A few 4 story brownstones have sold for 1.3 in the last 2 months, and as others have pointed out not a single 2 story has ever sold for 1M–ever! You’re basically just making things up. You can argue that that should be the pricing scale, but you can’t afgue that it is. Nice try though…

  • Actually, there was a three story on the corner of Rutland and Bedford with the partially exposed English basement, that just sold for close to $1.5, more than most of the four stories that have sold in the area. It’s 25 feet wide, so a special case, but still, it abuts busy Bedford Ave. and has its own drawbacks, including, from what I recall, a small kitchen and no powder room on the ground floor.

    I think the only four story that has gone for $1.3ish in PLG in recent months was 62 Midwood, which was in fine shape but needed some updating. The other four story that’s currently in contract, the pristine 52 Midwood, went for closer to or above $1.5.

    I can also think of several three story houses in various conditions have also sold for $1.3 lately. Point being, I don’t think we’re very far off from seeing a two story with some useable basement space selling for over $1 million…

  • That may be true, 4:08, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    All of the 4 story houses that have sold for 1.4 were in the most-desired row on Maple I (as was the one that sold for 1.3). The 4 story houses on Rutland have sold for much less recently. One sold in the last year for 1.1M. Also, I’d point out that the 3 story on Rutland/Bedford had a garage and was a real gem–renovated top-to-bottom.

    As in most areas, there is a huge price-range for homes in Lefferts Manor. Not every house goes for top dollar. This house on Midwood simply isn’t worth top-dollar.

  • Looking,

    I think you meen Midwood I, rather than Maple I.

  • I agree that a garden floor is worth a lot more than an English Basement. I’ve seen nicely renovated ones, but they are just finished basements. Personally, a garden floor can be the nicest floor of a brownstone. Nothing beats a good sized kitchen with french doors to a garden patio!

  • Yes, Bob, thanks. I meant Midwood I. I adore that row of houses!

  • There was a 2-story plus English basement on Maple II that sold for $970,000 in Spring of 2006. I heard it was fully, nicely renovated though, so that may be why they got more money than the one that sold more recently for $849,000.

    As for adding a bathroom on the parlor floor – yuck. I went to an open house where someone had done that and the 1/2 bath opened directly onto the dining room. The bathroom door was a few feet away from the dining table. So that would mean everyone is sitting around eating, and FLUSH gurgle gurgle gurgle, then swish washing hands, then the door opens and the smell of fresh #2 wafts out over the dining table. No thanks! LOL. I’d rather endure walking up and down one small flight of stairs. Which I can state from experience is no big deal at all. No inconvenience. Privacy can never be underrated. All you’d do is cause your guests embarrassment making them go potty in sight, sound and smell of everyone. Same thing with a bathroom opening right onto the formal parlor living room. Bad idea. Bathrooms should only ever open onto a hallway or a bedroom. Never directly into a “public” room, where guests will be hanging out.

  • I think the house that sold for 970K was in 2005. And it was fully-loaded. Even had central AC and a screening room in the basement!

  • Anon. 4:55,

    The white limestone two stories on the first 3/4 of Maple II (from Bedford) are considerably deeper than the two story houses on the eastern end of that block (as well as those on the eastern ends of Lincoln, Midwood and Rutland). Also, the larger two story houses have, at least, a one story rear extension–two story on some. Anyway, they’re considerablt larger than the “Real Estate Associates” houses.

    I agree about bathrooms–that’s why they weren’t originally included on “public” floors. the Victorians and Edwardians must have values privacy and decorum over convenience.

  • The house you are talking about is 160 Midwood. It sold for $970,000 in June 06. I believe it had an extension so it was slightly larger than this house. The best comparison would be 178 Maple which also sold in June 2006 for $930,000 (without a broker). See link http://www.brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2006/03/house_of_the_da_131.php?comments=10

  • Hey “Looking” – I bet you’ve been losing out on the recent bidding wars in the neighborhood.

  • Definitely it was about the era and about decorum, as Bob says. You can even go in very large, freestanding Victorian and turn of the century houses in NY and anywhere in the country and see the original layout did not have a bathroom on the parlor floor.

  • No, Ed, I haven’t bid on anything in Lefferts Manor yet. I’m still undecided about the area. I have “lost” some houses in other areas though.

  • I like this house. It has a very nice feel to it, and a big backyard. I think it is priced well. 169 Rutland Road sold for just under 1.3 (according to the seller), and 52 Midwood went for well above the asking price. Yes, those two houses were bigger and turnkey, but this one has nice character. Several Maple Street houses of a similar style have gone for a similar price. It’s also at a price point that more of us can swallow.

  • I saw 178 Maple last spring. We almost bid on it, but then decided to buy elsewhere. It was completely renovated and looked a lot nicer than this one. I don’t think it is a good comp.

  • Please clarify “a lot nicer”. I see very similar details. Same glass enclosed bookshelves around the fireplace (this fireplace may be nicer), This stairway is very pretty, The ceiling beams in the dining room look very nice…. I’m seeing a very good comp. here.

  • Please clarify “a lot nicer”. I see very similar details. Same glass enclosed bookshelves around the fireplace (this fireplace may be nicer), This stairway is very pretty, The ceiling beams in the dining room look very nice…. I’m seeing a very good comp. here.

  • 11:09pm, I said 178 was a lot nicer because it was completely renovated. New mechanicals, new wring, new kitchen, new bath. The place shined. Based on the photos and decription, this house needs a good deal of work (and money) to get to that pristine state.

  • 178 Maple Street did not have a renovated kitchen, nor bath. I think you must be thinking of the wrong house. What it did have was fresh paint. That is not enough to say that it was pristine. It is the perfect comp. for this house.

  • As I recall, 178 Maple had new appliances in the kitchen BUT didn’t have new cabinets, counters, etc, just fresh paint. It was move in but not a total reno. I also think this is a good comp, IF the kitchen and baths are move in acceptable on this Midwood house. I also like the open floor plan on 1st floor, which 178 didn’t have.

  • I am pretty positive that 178 did have all of the above, but I can’t find any evidence of it. My recollection is that we felt we could move right in without doing anything, which is why we considered making an offer. But we did see 7000 houses, so perhaps I’m confusing it with another one.

  • If you saw a lot of houses your memory might not be 100% it’s true, 1:44pm. Sometimes, and this happened to us, after seeing a ton of houses priced under a million, most of which are in horrible shape, you walk into any halfway decent, liveable house and it’ll all seem brand new.

  • 178 definitely did NOT have the all-new kitchen. As I recall there were also some problems with the roof.

  • One factor potentially dragging on this house’s attractiveness is its proximity to the very busy and very loud firehouse around the corner. Does anyone live a similar distance from the firehouse that can weigh in on this issue?

  • In live on this block–the firehouse is not really a problem. If anything, my end of the block, near Bedford, is noisier–fire trucks sound their horn as theu approach the intersection with Bedford, but you quickly get used to it. It was more of a problem years ago, when many cars had alarms with motion detectors that were set off by the heavy fire trucks passing.

    I can’t recall anyone on my block complaining about this firehouse.

  • The biggest noise issues living close to Rogers are the traffic, the blaring car radios, and the churches on Sundays. It can get anoying sometimes, but it is a lot better than being close to Flatbush!

  • I live near this house. Living close to the firehouse is more of a bonus than a problem.

  • We live near the firehouse, and we’ll hear the sirens of course but it’s so brief and then it passes and we actually like being within sight of the firemen. It’s oddly comforting, whether there’s any real benefit to it or not. Of course children love firemen and firetrucks so if you have kids, the close proximity can provide much entertainment for them.

  • There are also fewer dudes hanging out on sidewalks and corners within sight of the firehouse, for obvious reasons.

  • The only dudes that I see hanging out anywhere near this firehouse are the very cute firefighters who work inside (and they don’t hang out, which is a pity).

  • Congrats to the purchaser if this house! I’m sure it will be worth more $$$ soon. I don’t think PLG will go anywhere but up in $$$.

  • For anybody who doesn’t know it, 3:59pm is NOT Bob Marvin.

    Jeez, somebody out there REALLY needs to get a life. Big time. What a loser.

    Did anybody go to this open house today on Midwood? Is it happening or is it canceled?

  • I doubt property values anywhere in Brooklyn are headed anywhere but up. I saw this house too. Considering that there was a bidding war which resulted in a price of $1M for the Ocean Avenue house (which was in far worse condition) I think this house is totally priced reasonably. That’s a beautiful block.

  • 178 Maple was shiny and gorgeous…it really *did* appear to be completely renovated, but the previous poster was right, it was mostly lovely paint and light fixtures. On closer inspection (which I did) the kitchen had new fridge, but had not been renovated at all. The bathroom neither, it had the old fixtures. The mechanicals were the same, and the outlets were new, but the wiring hadn’t been updated. The lovely wood was already there, it did not need to be stripped. The basement had been nicely finished with carpet…but the sewer line backed up soon after purchase, and that had to be replaced! Even so, I loved that house. It was a very tasteful refinishing, with a savvy presentation, and excellent marketing.

  • I’m surprised to see this is still for sale. The asking price is now $899. I wonder what the deal is.