By Karen Monroe
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It's a whole new world. Free-standing, single family homes. Tree-drenched streets. Chirping birds. And porches. Oh, how I adore a home with a front porch. I'm talking about Brooklyn's Ditmas Park. This officially designated historic district in western Flatbush is all about large Victorian homes built more than 100 years ago.
With the intent to get up-close and personal with this amazing part of Brooklyn, I put on my running shoes to go exploring. I'm fortunate enough to have a running partner who is a proud Brooklyn native and enjoys showing me new and interesting routes and neighborhoods. So we did just that on that blistering hot day.
Talk about a complete change in real estate. Once you pass through the brick pillars that guard these lovely streets, you have entered an oasis like none other. An oasis full of front porches, many with swings. Running up and down the streets of Victorian Flatbush feels like the suburbs; where you go on a Sunday afternoon to visit your grandparents, or bring potluck dishes to the block party. For the most part, these grand homes are well maintained with manicured gardens and sprawling lawns. They have garages and back yards. They have trees, lots of trees.
Compared to many other places on the map, we live small-scale in New York apartments. Imagine calling a five bedroom, three bathroom historic Victorian home. And did I mention the front porch? Entry into this neighborhood carries at least a $1.5 million price tag, on up. Comparatively speaking to nearby real estate prices in the Heights for example, this is a good value for how much space you get for your dollar.
San Francisco is full of old Victorian homes. After living there for more than 20 years, I have an admiration for these historic properties. They are a reminder of how lavishly people once lived. These "painted ladies" deserve respect. Give them a face lift. Update their insides while preserving the integrity of an era gone by. And no matter what, keep the front porches. Rest, read and entertain on these amazing front porches.
On the Run
Mixing friendship and real estate can lead to challenges. Mixing friendship with living, as in becoming roommates, can lead to disaster. Luckily I made the latter mistake many years ago when I was in college. Not long ago, I engaged in the former scenario. I helped an old friend find an apartment. She currently lives in Hawaii, and is moving to Manhattan soon.
I am pleased to report that everything went great. From start to finish, this transaction, done remotely on her part, was smooth. It takes a lot of trust to commit to a small Lower East Side apartment site unseen. It was my job to match her needs, wants and budget with the right apartment. And so I did. With a bunch of back and forth descriptive emails, photos, phone calls and texts, we made it happen. Aloha to her new Manhattan island home. The only bummer is that she doesn't have a front porch.
Karen Monroe practices real estate at Coldwell Banker Bellmarc Realty at the Gramercy Chelsea office at 48 West 22nd Street. She lives and represents buyers, sellers and renters in Brooklyn Heights. Karen can be found walking her dogs and running the parks, paths, streets and bridges of Brooklyn and beyond. For feedback and all of your real estate needs, contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.