House of the Day

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It’s a rich man’s problem, but when a broker has a lot of listings, the risk is that one can make another look pretty bad by comparison. Such is the case with two townhouse listings of Elliman power broker Kathryn Lilly. She recently got the listing for a house at 211 Carlton Avenue which is a classic brownstone (except for the stoop alteration) in a good Fort Greene location. The house traded for $1,580,000 in October 2006 so the current asking price of $2,650,000 may be a bit aggressive even though it appears that the owner’s doing a pretty extensive reno. Aggressive maybe, but not completely insane, like Lilly’s other listing at 171 Greene Avenue. We’ve written several posts over the last year about the owner’s fruitless efforts to sell off this place as three condos at exorbitant prices, so when we heard that he had changed tactics and put the whole house on the market we thought that maybe he’d come to his senses. Apparently not. The asking price, at a whopping $2.5 million, is just as high as he was asking for the three units collectively. This place is overpriced by a good $1 million in our opinion. So now Lilly has the awkward problem of having two houses priced about the same, one an original brownstone a block from Fort Greene Park, the other a recently constructed house on a heavily trafficed portion of Greene Avenue in Clinton Hill. We’re not sure how she’s supposed to sell the latter with a straight face. Brokers, how do you handle a situation like this?
211 Carlton Avenue [Elliman] GMAP P*Shark
171 Greene Avenue [Elliman] GMAP P*Shark

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We were wondering why the price tag on this Berkeley Place house was only $2,799,000. Then we got to the part in the description about the single rent controlled stabilized tenant in a studio on the top floor. Losing the half-floor of space is less of a bummer than the fact that you have to keep the entire stairwell public. Then again, that’s why this place (which has some pretty kick-ass plaster and woodwork) isn’t priced in the mid-threes. It’s a tricky situation though: Most folks with $2.8 million to spend don’t want to be bothered with this kind of thing. Clearly the tenant doesn’t want to bought out or the current owners would have done so before putting the house on the market.
277 Berkeley Place [Corcoran] GMAP P*Shark
Photo by Kate Leonova for Property Shark

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Behind many good deals lies a sad story. Such is the case with today’s House of the Day. After inheriting the brownstone at 306 Clinton Avenue from her father, the current owner’s battle with mental illness prevented her from caring for the house—or from paying the property tax. So after three years, a judge has ordered the house sold. The listing price is an absurdly low $925,000. A neighbor who attended the open house yesterday reports that there’s lots of architectural detail (“Original woodwork, fixtures on the doors, original parquet inlaid floors and even some original light fixtures”) still in place, in spite of the neglect the house has suffered. She also reports that the place was crawling with a lot of “developer types” and gave us the heads-up in the hopes of catching the attention of someone who will restore the place properly to live in. So how ’bout it, shoppers? The broker’s name is Bart Schwartz; he can be reached at 718-376-9666 (office) or 718-753-1727 (cell). All bids are due by June 4, at which point the judge will declare a winner. Update: The original source of this story dropped us another email in response to some of the comments.

It seems that there might be a bit of confusion aut the owner’s situation. A number of years ago, her guardians and social worker realized that the owner could no longer care for herself alone in a brownstone that had no electrity, no water and no heat. So, a few years ago, she moved to live in a more therapeutic environment where she can receive the treatment and medication that she needs. I wonder if people were upset about the sale because they thought that she was effectively being evicted from the premises, which is not the case. The house has been vacant and slowly falling apart for a number of years now and the proceeds of the sale that would go to the trust could only benefit her in continuing to finance the care that she has been receiving. I hope this clears up any confusion.

GMAP P*Shark

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Today’s listing at 344 Carlton Avenue in Fort Greene is a good example of how to do a listing right: Plenty of well-photographed photos, a floorplan and a comprehensive description. Pretty simple but some brokers still are too lazy or incompetent to do it. Of course, it helps when you have a good product to pitch, which is certainly the case with this five-story, two-family brownstone at the epicenter of Fort Greene. Will it fetch the asking price of $2,500,000? Hard to say, but it’ll certainly get close to that. It’s in beautiful shape with tons of historic character with tasteful touches of modern convenience. (We like the kitchen, for example.) There’ve been no takers since it hit the market a couple of weeks ago. Have any readers checked it out?
344 Carlton Avenue [Corcoran] GMAP P*Shark

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Although we suspect this two-family brick is a bit overpriced, the brokers are not doing anyone any good (including themselves) by not including photos of the exterior, kitchen and bathrooms. Although it’s on a land-marked block, 484 Macon Street is still about as far east as most Elliman clients are willing to go at this stage of the game. If you lure someone out there under false pretenses and then sucker-punch him with a dump of a kitchen, he’s going to be pissed and never look at another listing of yours again. In this case, as the photo from Property Shark shows, the exterior (except for the windows) is perfectly attractive, so we’re not sure why a broker wouldn’t include a photo. Although the listing claims there’s 2,295 square feet of living space, we’d guess that number’s really south of 2,000, given that the mechanicals room is on the garden level. Anyway, what do people think of the $650,000 asking price? We think the number’s more like $575,000 to $595,000 because we have no choice but to assume the worst about the parts of the house that aren’t shown in the photos.
484 Macon Street [Douglas Elliman] GMAP P*Shark

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It was just a month ago that we were remarking on the fact that two adjacent houses at 1269 and 1271 President Street in Crown Heights were on the market at the same time (for $1,400,000 and $1,500,000, respectively). So imagine our surprise to find that Number 1265 is now also on the market at $1,450,000. There are no interior pics but the Craigslist ad boasts that there is “exquisite detail throughout.” Add in the fact that this is a 125-foot-deep lot and part of a lovely row of original houses and you’ve got something pretty interesting. Does anyone know how these prices are flying though? Seems a bit aggressive to us despite how lovely they look from the outside.
1265 President Street [Craigslist] GMAP P*Shark
Houses of the Day: 1269 and 1271 President Street [Craigslist]

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This baby’s hot off the presses, having hit the Mary Kay Gallagher website on Tuesday. The 4,400-square-foot house at 1127 Glenwood Road is divided up into two duplex units, one of which rents for about $3,000 a month. Given the rental income, the level of overall historic detail and the ever-increasing desirability of the Victorian Flatbush location, we suspect this will have buyers lined up around the block at the listing price of $1,275,000. Given its corner location, the taxes don’t look too bad at $4,458 either. The only bummer we can see is a bathroom that redefines the word ‘cheesy’ and doesn’t go at all with the rest of the house. Predictions on how fast this will go?
1127 Glenwood Road [Mary Kay Gallagher] GMAP P*Shark

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This old-school four-story brownstone at 59 Macdonough Street in Bed Stuy has some great details but, according to a reader who saw it yesterday, is a ticking time bomb that needs a new owner asap. In an effort to “fix up” the house for sale, the current owner, who’s been in the house since 1999, is reportedly destroying some of its most characterful aspects, oblivious to the fact that these are precisely what make the house attractive to a large portion of potential buyers. Given the asking price of $775,000 and the proximity to the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District, we’re hoping someone out there will get interested in this place before serious damage is done. Update: The broker shot us an email to let us know that the owner’s work is limited to the top floor, which he had started working on before he decided to sell; he’s going to finish up that work and he’s not touching any of the other details in the house.
59 Macdonough Street [Craigslist] GMAP P*Shark

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We’re suckers for a good back story. According to a reader who heard it from a neighbor, the previous resident (it’s unclear whether he was a real tenant or a squatter) at 570 Bergen Street in Prospect Heights lived in the house for many years with a dozen or so dogs. With the house already in complete disrepair, the man got very sick and the dogs were abandoned in the house. Noise, more filth and even some canine cannibalism ensued until the Department of Health stepped in. Luckily, some nice details remain in the three-story house, including a marble fireplace and the old stoop hand rail. We also think the raised front terrace has a lot of charm. The price of $900,000 certainly is interesting. Can anyone give us an eyewitness account of how bad the interiors are and whether there is a lot that could be restored?
570 Bergen Street [Douglas Elliman] GMAP P*Shark

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We can’t imagine there are a whole lot of people willing to shell out $1,450,000 for a non-descript two-story house out past the Graham stop on the L Train in Williamsburg, but you can’t blame the sellers for trying. As the Craigslist ad states, there are approved plans in place to add another 1,500 square feet of living space to this house, but that means you have to find someone who wants to spend $2 million-plus for a house in this location. Seems like a stretch to us. But then again, there aren’t that many houses with in-ground pools around here either!
69 Orient Avenue [Craigslist] GMAP P*Shark
House photo by Kate Leonova for Property Shark