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Friday, July 15, 2016

Fixer Upper Friday: 35-45 82nd Street 2BR

Hey, I'm back with another installment of Fixer Upper Friday. Seeing what I see in this home at 35-45 82nd Street in Jackson Heights is going to take a bit of imagination on your part. There's not a lot of history of past sales in the building on Streeteasy, so I don't have any "after" photos to show you of similar units on other floors, the way I like to do. But several things pique my Renov8or interest:

Pros: A different 1BR home in this building was posted on Zillow last year and according to that information this building is pet friendly and there's no flip tax. (No flip tax!) Then there's the price. $360k is low for a two bedroom in this neighborhood. And yet, for this building it may actually be on the high side. I'll come back to that in a moment.

Cons: The same listing tells us that the building is a walk-up — and this home is on the third floor. Ouch. And another separate listing on Redfin tells us there's no subletting allowed in this co-op. Plus, in addition to the monthly maintenance, there's an ongoing monthly assessment equal to one month's maintenance to fund "a masonry project".

A prospective buyer will want to dig into the details of that project and the assessment.

The active Streeteasy listing for this home says the maintenance is $858, which is about normal for this area in a building without a doorman. However, the public areas of the building look a little worn at that cost, and I'll come back to that.

A giant plus in the home's favor is what looks like a flexible floorplan:

The home has three exposures and a layout that lends itself to various options. First, a family with children could convert either the living room or dining room to a third bedroom. This would leave a very fairly snug living room, but it's certainly doable and easily done. At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you don't need a third bedroom you could open the whole thing up. If the kitchen walls are not supporting walls and if the co-op approves the plan, you could design an open concept kitchen — rare in this neighborhood of galley style kitchens. If done well it would attract buyers who really want that.

There are a few other things in this home's favor. I had the opportunity to walk through it at an estate sale a few months back, and I was struck by the great condition of the hardwood floors, which are original.

I didn't see significant damage, so a buyer will get by with just sanding and refinishing the whole place for about $1,500 and the floors will look spectacular. There are two types of wood here, a lighter wood in the middle, likely fir, and darker wood around the perimeter that's probably walnut. Beautiful. Today's woods made of new growth trees can't compare. The plaster also looks to be in good shape and there are coved ceilings — a nice architectural detail. None of the photos show the door hardware. Most buildings in this neighborhood have original brass door knobs and hinges.You can tell that the place hasn't been painted in years; a new paint job will do wonders. I'd choose a soft gray and have the built-ins and trim all stripped and restored and painted a high-contrast white. There are also some nicely built radiator covers, and I love that mid-century pendant in the dining room. 

The two bedrooms are similar size and both have one very small — by today's standards — closet. But if you look at the floorplan, there's a linen closet outside the bedrooms that could perhaps be annexed to reconfigure the closets. The bathroom needs a total gut, so there may be opportunity to add some linen storage there.

The kitchen also needs a gut reno. There are very likely hardwood floors under that linoleum. If memory serves, there's an interesting vintage sink that might be salvageable if you like that kind of thing (I do). There was a washer/dryer in the kitchen the day I walked through, but someone from the building told me they're no longer allowed. The elderly lady who lived there had been grandfathered in. There is laundry in the basement, as well as storage, but I didn't view it.

Here's the hallway of the building from an MSL photo on Zillow. The building looks rather worn down. A buyer is going to want to do some financial due diligence to understand why that is.

On an optimistic note, what you learn may present an opportunity to make a lower offer than the asking price.

The aforementioned redfin unit, which was also a 2BR on the third floor of this building, sold for $135k in May of 2015. Granted, prices have been soaring in this area in the last year and that unit was in worse shape and didn't show well, but I see potential here to come in with a lower offer than ask.

The buyer is looking at about $100k-$150k in renovation costs to refinish floors, paint and restore trim, upgrade wiring, and add new kitchen and bath.

Two bedroom homes of 1,000 square feet are selling for up to $600k in this neighborhood. Of course, the conditions of the building and the co-op's finances are a consideration and are unknowns at this point. But there's real potential here or at the very least least good reason to do some investigating if you're in the market for a fixer upper.

If anyone knows more about this building or unit, please share in comments!