Mount Morris Park Harlem Townhouse Sales Early 2010

I’ve been meaning to do a series of blog posts on the state of townhouse sales so far in 2010 by neighborhood. Here’s the first in that series – covering the neighborhood that’s near and dear to us – Mount Morris Park…

Generally I find there are two groups of townhouses – 1) ones that need $500K+/- in renovations, and 2) ones that don’t (at least not right away).

On the high end…

Address Date Price $/sq. ft. Notes
226 Lenox 02/10/10 $1.25M 253 20′ wide, 5 story, former mortuary, needs work
22 West 120 03/31/10 $1.65M 543 Steel and concrete minimalist interior
4 W 123 06/01/10 $1.65M 647 17′ wide, single family, 2,547 square foot (probably not including ground floor), some great details but needed work
5 W 121 07/08/10 $1.55M 353 20′ wide, three family, 4,393 square foot
19 W 120 08/12/10 $1.8M 370 20′ wide two-family w/ original details, 4,865 square feet
115 W 120 08/20/10 $1.975M 412 20′ wide, 4 story, two family, approx 4,800 square feet

The very first one, 226 Lenox was a bit of a special case – it’s probably at the high end of the ones needing around $500K in renovation. Among the others you can see the trend is generally up (slightly). The standard price seemed to be $1.65M (no matter what the size, oddly), but now that’s been broken and prices are just under $2M.

On the low end…

Address Date Price $/sq. ft. Notes
21 W 120 03/01/10 $425K 95 20′ wide, 4,472 square-foot fully occupied SRO
168 W 123 03/03/10 $530K 147 (117) Our place. 15′ wide, 5 story, totally gutted shell with fire damage, SRO with a certificate of no harassment
162 W 120 03/04/10 $500K 123 17′ wide, 4 story limestone, 4,058 square feet
104 W 120 04/30/10 $550K 194
20 W 120 05/25/10 $700K 127
128 West 123 06/30/10 $415K 196 4 story brick townhouse with mansard roof
183 Lenox 08/25/09 $795K 192 19′ wide, SRO w/storefront, 4,139 square foot

The first thing to notice is that this is still a great time to buy a townhouse shell in Harlem. There’s over a million dollar difference between the price of shells and the high end places, but you can renovate a shell into a high end townhouse for about $600-$800K, so you’re likely to net between $300K and $500K on the renovation.

Price per square foot is tricky with shells. Taking our place as an example – officially it’s 4 stories and 3605 sq. ft. However, in actuality it’s 5 stories and 4500 sq. ft. Oddly, I thought the number of stories would get fixed as we went through the DOB plan approval process, but I saw the plan examiner look right at the plans and call it a 4 story building. However, they are now billing it as having 4,500 sq. ft. – at least that much is getting corrected. What this means is as you look at townhouses you need to calculate the real square footage and determine your own price per square foot.

The bottom line is, like the upper end, there is an upward trend in prices for shells. Not counting the fully occupied SRO (which you wouldn’t want to touch with a 10′ pole unless you wanted to be a landlord, not a home owner), our place was pretty much the low price on a price per square foot basis at $117/sq. ft. The others since that time have been more money on a price per square foot basis (which is how you really need to price buildings like these). Assuming the recent ones are 4 story buildings misclassified as 3 story buildings – that means the actual price per square foot for shells is now in the mid-$140s.

2 thoughts on “Mount Morris Park Harlem Townhouse Sales Early 2010

  1. Keep it up guys, I love hearing about your project… its exactly what I want to do…! Your analysis of sales prices, etc., is particularly enlightening…

    Things seem super expensive in Mt Morris Park… wildly so, with houses going for 1.6+ million which are total gut jobs. These are called ‘livable’, but really, for anyone interested in creating ‘their’ home, they are total guts….

  2. @Jay – Yes, I think a lot of people don’t really understand the extent of renovations in some of these houses. They have 100 year old plumbing and electrical that has to be fixed somewhat surgically to preserve original details. Most of them have rotted joists near the bathrooms – so structural work is needed too. Personally I’m really glad we went with a total shell.

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