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…
|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…
|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.