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A PERSON CAN ONLY LIVE in so many houses, and I find myself with one house too many.
My Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.) cottage, above and below, will be familiar to followers of this blog. I’ve owned it for four-plus years and have put an enormous amount of work, time, love, and money into both the house and the 4/10-acre property surrounding it. I’ve moved on to another project nearby, and need to cash in my chips on this one.
Here are the details, and if you can think of better adjectives than charming, sweet or adorable, please let me know.
BRIGHT AND BEACHY 2BR VINTAGE COTTAGE IN MOVE-IN CONDITION ON LANDSCAPED .41 ACRE.
SECLUDED BACKYARD BORDERED BY WOODS.
NEW PARKING COURT WITH JAPANESE-STYLE WOODEN GATE.
LIVING ROOM WITH VAULTED CEILING, SKYLIGHTS; OPEN KITCHEN/DINING WITH NEW APPLIANCES.
FRENCH DOORS LEAD TO SCREENED PORCH, HUGE DECK.
NEW COTTAGE-STYLE BATH OPENS TO SECOND DECK WITH ENORMOUS OUTDOOR SHOWER.
FULL BASEMENT WITH WASHER/DRYER.
NEW ROOF, EFFICIENT OIL FURNACE, NEW HOT WATER HEATER.
WALK, BIKE TO MAIDSTONE BEACH.
Please forward to anyone you think may be interested. For more photos and info, email caramia447[at]gmail[dot]com
Come be my neighbor!
YOU’VE HEARD OF THE TINY HOUSE MOVEMENT? They invented that in Philadelphia a couple of centuries ago. The compact ‘trinity houses’ of the late 18th and 19th centuries are now much-coveted for their coziness, charm, and economy. And a dollhouse can be quite livable for 1 or 2, once you get used to the stairs.
This c.1830 trinity, set off the street behind a larger row house, is new to market and very well-priced. It’s in Queen Village, one of the city’s quietest and most attractive neighborhoods. I happen to own a building just around the corner from this one, so I know the area well.
There are actually four floors of usable space: kitchen/dining on the basement level; a living room with fireplace on the ground level; a hall, ‘dressing room,’ and full bath (with fireplace!) on the 2nd floor; and a large open bedroom with a sloping ceiling at the top of the house, for a grand total of about 600 square feet.
I DON’T OFTEN PICK UP those glossy real estate brochures you see piles of on Main Street in East Hampton. They feature mostly multi-million dollar properties, not the sad fixer-uppers I’m interested in.
However, I did grab one the other day, and there on a back page were two side-by-side cottages in a low-key area of Amagansett that I just love: Lazy Point, where the sky is big, the vegetation is scrubby and piney, and the lapping waters of Napeague Bay are right there.
One of them appealed more than the other — the cedar-shingled one with a deck that reminds me fondly of Fire Island (asking 425K), below — and I called about it right away. Naturally it’s gone to contract.
The property next door (owned by the same family), top three photos, is still available at 450K. That one has no curb appeal whatsoever; it’s shingled with the rigid asbestos tiles that were so popular in the ’50s, and is just a box.
Still, I made the field trip yesterday, when 8″ of weekend snow had melted and been washed away by Monday’s rains. I had to see if regret was in order on cottage #1, and whether cottage #2 had possibilities. The answers are no and maybe.
I loved the drive out there, about 20 minutes from my home in Springs (and 20 minutes further from NYC), dipping through pine woods and meadows. I turned onto Mulford Lane, and drove along it toward the bay, looking for the addresses. As I got closer and closer to the water, I got excited… this is really good! Then I realized that too close to the water is not a good thing on Mulford Lane. The last two houses, below, once inhabitable, are now in the water and boarded up, and the beach at the end of the road is sand-bagged against further encroachment. These are maybe 8 or 10 houses in, which seems far enough to be safe from flooding, for my lifetime at least.
#1 (the cedar-shingled one) is smaller than it looks in the brochure — quite tiny, at 500 square feet — and I put that out of my head. #2 (the nondescript white one) is slightly larger, 700 square feet. It has nothing — nothing — to recommend it architecturally. It’s hard to see how it could be charmed up, though I daresay the editors of the late Domino magazine could do it. I didn’t see the interiors, but as the listing agent, JF Kuneth of DevlinMcNiff put it, “It’s very Grandma.” As such, it only garners about $11,000 a season in rental income — potentially $15-18,000 after those Domino editors get through with it.
No add-on building is possible, because it’s a flood zone. Not even a deck. There’s a cute old shed at the back, large enough for a guest bed.
And of course, at a 450K price point, which must seem completely nuts to those in the heartland (anywhere except perhaps California, that is), it’s top o’ the market. But then, the one next door was snapped up quickly, assuming the sale goes through.
I’m going to pass and continue my search. If you feel differently, go here for the listing, and give JR a call (631/324-6100 x 354, email@example.com).
To read about my discovery of Lazy Point two summers ago, and see lots of cute beach cottages, go here.
Northern Liberties street scene
NoLibs? WTF is NoLibs? You might well ask. It’s a silly acronym (is there any other kind?) for Northern Liberties, one of the most happening neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Think of it as the Williamsburg of Philly — established enough to be a secure real estate investment, yet still with development potential aplenty.
Just north of Center City — an easy walk or bike ride — the neighborhood is old and historic, with 3-and 4-story row houses in a variety of styles. It dates back to William Penn’s 1680 plan for the city, when the area was carved up into 80-acre plots (“liberty lands”) to be given away as incentive to those who bought 5,000-acre parcels elsewhere in the colony of Pennsylvania.
I own two buildings in Philly and covet more. When I get listings emailed to me, I look at them. Usually I’m not moved to act, or even blog. But this one, left, is a corner building in a prime spot and apparently decent shape. The ask (down recently from 350K) is in line with current market conditions, and the possibility of renting both units and being immediately in the black makes it seem worth a closer look.
It’s clear that a cardinal rule of real estate sales has been broken here: the listing photos suck. Bad for the seller; not necessarily so for prospective buyers. I’ll be down in Philly next weekend and will take a few of my own. In the meantime, for more lousy-but-better-than-nothing images, go here.
And for an appointment to view this or other Philadelphia properties, I can wholeheartedly recommend Ken Krauter, the broker I used when I bought my house in Old Kensington, one neighborhood over, in 2007: firstname.lastname@example.org, 215/450-0605.