Classic Clinton Hill Brownstone Under 1M

26 Saint James PL

I COULD TOTALLY WORK THIS BUILDING. If I could scare up 200K for a down payment, that is.

First off, I think the ask is very reasonable (it’s newly reduced to 995K from 1.15M). The building is utterly classic, a magnificent brownstone on a fine block (St. James Place between DeKalb and Lafayette), a stone’s throw from Pratt Institute and the Brooklyn Flea. Granted, we don’t know what the inside looks like, but if the realtor’s description (“charm,” “all detail”) is to be believed – duh, I know – it has potential. A legal 6-family, with four apartments delivered vacant, of average size (20’x45′), you just don’t see them any more for under $1million.

Recent sales in Boerum Hill and Park Slope have been soaring toward and above $2million, and Clinton Hill is no less convenient or architecturally distinguished. Probably the fact that two of the six apartments are rent stabilized is what’s keeping the asking price low, though another vacancy is said to be pending. That would leave just one apartment un-rentable for market value, and that tenant can’t live forever. (Unless I’m mistaken – and someone please correct me if I’m wrong – NYC rent stabilization is like rent control in that, once a tenant moves or dies, the apartment reverts to market value.)

So: figure a $795,000 mortgage (putting 200K down and paying the asking price) at the now standard interest rate of around 5%. That’s a monthly mortgage payment under $4,300. Taxes add $650 month, utilities and insurance another $900 or so. How can you not realize $6,000/month out of this building right away, with more to come?

Of course, you have to have the cash down, and for all I know there could be structural issues, roof leaks, and maybe the boiler’s on its last legs. Nevertheless, it’s an opportunity well worth checking out.

Go here for the listing.

Urgent Real Estate Questions: My Two Cents

C.W., a reader from Brooklyn, e-mailed to ask my advice on, as she put it, “what/if to buy right now.”

So here’s my advice. But please, take it with a keg of salt.  We’re dealing in opinion here, not fact.

C.W. wrote: “My fiance and I rent a pleasant 2BR in Boerum Hill for $2,500.  Our lease ends in September, and we could certainly renew.  I have a job that pays $84K, perfect credit, and $100,000 cash to put toward a home purchase.

I’m torn between wanting to buy the best apartment we can afford in Fort Greene/Boerum Hill/Park Slope/Windsor Terrace, OR a one- or two-family somewhere in upstate New York, the North Fork, or PA that I can rent out, at least for part of the year, to generate income.

Ideally, I’d like to do both, of course, but I suspect that NYC prices haven’t fallen as far as they may, whereas we might find a bargain out of the city.”

That’s the prologue.  Here are C.W.’s questions and my answers:

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