The Market

Your brownstone-buying essentials

By Lucy Cohen Blatter  | June 24, 2014 - 11:59AM

Who among us hasn't dreamed of living in a brownstone? The high ceilings, the fireplaces, the stoops—what's not to love? That's why we thoroughly enjoyed Apartment Therapy's recent roundup of quintessential brownstone qualities. (Check out the bay windows in the Park Slope house!)

But if you're seriously thinking of buying or renting one, there's a lot more to know. For example:

  • You'll save on property taxes versus buying an apartment, you'll get lower mortgage rates for a single-family home rather than a place with rental units, and you'll have to take out the trash yourself. Read more10 things to consider before buying a brownstone
  • Depending on your budget, you may have to forget the "brownstone" after all-- semi-detached houses and more modern townhouses, which have some of the same qualities, minus the brown sandstone exterior, are likely to offer you the best bang for your buck. Read more: Want a Brooklyn brownstone for under $2 million? Compromise is key
  • If you're moving to one of Brooklyn's most picturesque neighborhoods—Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene—you may run into a landmarked home, which will mean that there are limits to the work you can do, usually when it comes to altering the facade. That said, if you do find a potential fixer-upper, it's likely to be the best deal around. Read more: 9 things Manhattanites need to know before buying in brownstone Brooklyn (sponsored)
  • What about buying an apartment in a brownstone? Among the pros: charm and outdoor space. Among the cons: noise (floors can seem paper-thin, so that's where the sound can travel), and there's almost always work to be done, since these homes are generally on the older side and weren't necessarily built to withstand being broken up into apartments. Read moreIs it a good idea to buy a co-op in a brownstone?
  • Expect to pay about 10 percent more for a place with outdoor space, and keep in mind that there are several options: gardens (which are nice and private, but can also be dark), roofdecks (great views, but they usually cost a premium), terraces (which are rare, but also A-OK to add onto landmark properties because they're not visible from the street) and balconies (even rarer and smaller, but still charming). Read more: What are your options for outdoor space in brownstone Brooklyn? 


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