Why Brownstones Remain Prime Real Estate In A Condo-centric Marketplace

Why Brownstones Remain Real Estate Royalty In Condo Crazy World

By Jeff Vasishta October 25, 2016
292 Parkside Avenue. Photo courtesy of Corcoran

A shimmering condo in the sky, so new you could be forgiven for looking for amniotic fluid. It comes with all the accouterments: work out facilities, a kids play area that you never have to tidy, indoor parking and air conditioning so silent, it sounds like your Prius. Or, a vintage brownstone? An old ship on a last voyage. Radiators that clang like a metal works, gales that whip through the wainscoting like wind tunnels, a roof more leaky than a two year old’s diaper. The sensible choice might be the new construction but in real estate, the head rarely rules the heart. What other reason is there to account for the mad scramble for Brooklyn townhouses and the seeming lack of a ceiling when it comes to listing prices.

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“Wealthy people from Manhattan buy the brownstone townhouses as status symbols. I’ve seen it. They’re the couple with the labradoodle, the fancy car, two children,” Jessica Buchman, a broker with Corcoran told Agorafy of the enduring appeal of brownstones “They have good jobs. Both parents are making well into the six figures and the house is like something on their checklist.”

Let’s face it, they may be as old and irascible as an leaky boat but historic brownstones are a joy to renovate, matching the the classic with the contemporary, stripping shutters and moldings, refinishing wood floors, adding sizzling hot kitchens, bathrooms and lighting.   They’re the stuff dinner parties and childhoods are made of. They have more character than a Strasbourg class and scream New York more than a Yankees ticket tape parade. Still the prices of the gleaming, exquisitely finished new brownstones currently hitting the market in time for open houses season does take a bit of getting used to. Here are a few fresh to the Fall market

84 Lexington Avenue – $2.167 million

84 Lexington Avenue. Photo courtesy of Nestseekers

Tall thin, light and airy may sound like a modeling agency’s average client but the two family, four story brownstone can best be described as vintage chic. Modern tiling, lighting and appliances juxtaposed with a hip clawfoot tub, hardwood floors.

299 Vanderbilt Avenue – $3.25 million

299 Vanderbilt Avenue. Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Garfield
299 Vanderbilt Avenue. Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Garfield

If only you would have bought this twenty years ago when it was a tenth of the price! A decent if unspectacular renovation, given that many of the original features are no longer there. But it’s got some well done kitchens and baths and the rest is new and modern looking. Shame the old radiators weren’t replaced with ductless AC units. The least you could ask for shelling out $3.25 million.

357 Parkside Avenue –  $1.75 million

A twenty footer, this house house has more original features than a Mick Jagger head shot, but like the Stones front man it still packs a punch. Prospect-Lefferts Gardens is an in demand area. The only downside to this is that for $1.75 million more than three bedrooms would have been nice but then again this is Brooklyn and perhaps we’re being overly optimistic.

357 Parkside Avenue. Photo courtesy of Compass.

292 Parkside Avenue – $1.375 million

Another Prospect-Lefferts repleat with vintage features. I can’t help but feel that has the kind of whimsical country cottage interior that may be something of an acquired taste for some but two patios and a backyard may help offset doubts.

292 Parkside Avenue. Photo courtesy of Corcoran
292 Parkside Avenue. Photo courtesy of Corcoran

1215 Jefferson – $1.349 million

My, how things have changed in Bushwick! There’s no doubt that this is a quality renovation with tons of cool features for the well healed hipster couple. There’s central AC, floating staircases and skylights, fully finished basement with laundry plus a rental that could fetch as much as $3000/month to put a serious dent into the mortgage.

1215 Jefferson Avenue. Photo courtesy of Bedford Brownstone Realty.
1215 Jefferson Avenue. Photo courtesy of Bedford Brownstone Realty.

678 Halsey Street – $1.45 million

This five bedroom, two family townhouse doesn’t have any original features but a has a slick, well done rehab with plenty or air and light, exposed brick walls and floating stairs. Hardly one of the most glamorous blocks in Bed-Stuy but these days it seems whatever isn’t nailed down is selling. Let’s see if this follows suite.

678 Halsey Street. Photo courtesy of Keller Williams NYC
678 Halsey Street. Photo courtesy of Keller Williams NYC


Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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