OK, still getting caught up here. This is a house we saw two weeks ago. Apropos of nothing in particular, every wall was covered in nautical-themed items; anchors, oars, ropes, ships, sea scapes, you name it. I know that Babylon is a shore town, but you need to show a little restraint.
31 Greenway S.
- MLS# 2163798 – Zillow Page
- Ask $399,000
- 3 bedrooms – 2.5 baths
- Taxes: $8,725 – Village Taxes: $888.18
This is another one of those “I liked it and Debra…not so much” houses. A quaint little cape on a corner lot in the Fred Shores area of Babylon, 31 Greenway is an odd house with some interesting features and a few drawbacks.
The layout is a little different than your usual cape. There are two bedrooms downstairs, while the upstairs is one large master bedroom. The space around the stairway is set up as a nice, sitting area, with chairs, book cases and a small writing desk. It was a little warm up there and I wonder how hot it gets on a really sunny, Summer day.
The dining and living rooms are nice enough, but the real issue is the kitchen. Again, we find the same crappy cabinets that our apartment has, but this time they’re accompanied by ugly, purple laminate counters and stuffed into a cramped, little galley kitchen. The kitchen really needs more than renovation, it requires a completed reconstruction and there really isn’t any space for it unless you blow out a wall or take over some of the dining room.
The garage has been turned into a studio apartment, again with the same crappy kitchen cabinets. The Realtor said that it’s legal, but I’m somewhat dubious. It’s actually a nice big space that would be quite usable as a family room/office/etc. except for the fact that the only way to get there from the main part of the house without going outside is to traverse a narrow, claustrophobic corridor that runs between the bathroom and one of the downstairs bedrooms. My shoulders are actually too wide to allow me to walk down this hallway straight. I had to turn my body sideways.
I liked the basement. It’s not finished, but it’s big open and dry and there’s a lot of potential there. The backyard is quite small and it’s almost all cement and gravel. Not much room there for running and playing.
The place does need some work, including a new roof, but it’s a unique and charming house. With some money and some creativity, it could really be something special.
When I see the ‘nautical themes’ or some such, I see money in the bank. Most people can’t look past that stuff, and this seller is poorly served by his agent (SHOCK! Incompetence? Never!) if there is enough of it for you to take away that impression. Most buyers only see the surface… and they get turned off, and they don’t bid. All of that surface treatment is either going with the seller or in the dumpster – If the house was otherwise desirable — Cha Ching! As to the garage apartment – credibility is credibility. Some, particularly used house sales flacks, must be taken as guilty until proven innocent. When speaking of a garage converted to a studio: “Sure! That’s a legal apartment!” is a whopper right there. I’m surprised the next statement wasn’t about the $1150 per month rental income you could count on. On that basis, I wouldn’t believe that person if they told me the sky were blue. But that’s not the reason I called…
One of the things that I dislike about LI real estate is the age of the housing stock. Irrespective of relative values over time, geographic differences, or what have you — any physical structure deteriorates with age. Noting lasts forever, even if maintained. Damn if that isn’t a big “IF” with most of the houses I’ve seen.
A brief tangent — a very good friend just bought in Plainview, and is facing some $25k in unanticipated expenses, about half of which is to repair/replace the bathroom floor, rotted out and covered over with a slap-on plastic tub overlay. But on the bright side, his wife (a very nice woman) is pleased as punch to have a room painted in her college colors – victim to that damn homemoaner ‘paint the walls’ fetish again. But I digress…
I highly commend the latest NPR “Planet Money” podcast (#51), especially the segment about the views of housing not long ago: how a house was not an ‘investment’, but a money drain that you might be willing to pay extra for just to have the small benefits (like painting your walls). How the idea of purchasing a ‘used house’ was looked down upon — which, after all, is what led the push to build those once new Levittown capes in the first place – the same ones now marketed as if they were unique and desirable some sixty years on. AND – how few people ever do or even aspire to pay off their mortgage – almost without fail homeloaners are simply renting from the bank. I’m not what NPR would probably consider their ‘target audience’, but I think it’s earned it’s spot in my MP3 player rotation.
Then move to Texas, where the houses are all new….leave the older, well-built LI houses to us, and quality worksmanship you can’t get anymore. The Conklin house is still standing after 200 years, Moose. Maybe you should tell the historical society its time to knock it down and put up a McMainson instead.
Now now ..settle down children. Not every house in the village is built like the Conklin House..and I agree with Gary that a house asking 500K with good bones but requiring all the basic updates..kitchens, baths, HVAC is obviously overpriced.
However, the elephant in the room that many of you overlook is the Tax Bill. And, I can tell you the grievance process is far from surefire and it is definitely a cost of living factor that has to be loaded into your selection process.
For you MLS junkies..tab over to the pages where the prices approach a million and you can see what the MCMansion conversion of once affordable homes has done to the Tax Bill.
As an aside…Gary, consider looking at that white cape litchfield and pine streets near the gym.
Frankly, I’d rather have a well-renovated house from the 50’s than new construction, especially anything built during the boom years. I read an article some time back about Toll Brothers — McMansion specialists — building their houses literally out of cardboard. There’s enough wood in some of these hundred year-old Babylon homes to build three modern homes.
Thanks for the heads up, Blog. I’ve already contacted my Realtor about the Litchfield house. I also called about that FSBO on Lakeland. I hope to see that one this weekend and I’ll definitely report back.
Nice try — I’m talking about 50’s Levittown capes and you compare to a one-off colonial era structure. By the way, it’s not exactly like the streets are lined with 200 year-old beauties – most of those didn’t make it either, which is why the ones that did are notable. Even you have to admit that such a structure is rare – and not at all what is the subject of my comments.
What was Levitt & Sons but the Toll Brothers of his day?
Levitt houses are still much better built than tract housing today.
Levitt and Sons homes from the 40’s and 50’s were actually pretty well-built. They don’t compare to the custom-built homes from that era that you’d find in Babylon Village, but on their own merits they were fine, inexpensive home built for working families.
Levitt saved a lot of money by using assembly line techniques, pre-cut lumber and such like, but he still used quality materials and build his homes to last. Almost all of the homes from that period are still standing, albeit almost all of them have been modified, expanded, dormered or otherwise upgraded.
1970 thru 1986 high ranches are the wrecks here. horrible construction.
Well…Happy Independence Day Village Pool is open and so are the Beaches. Get out and enjoy the day.
And a regatta to watch while your getting some sun! Pretty windy out there, today, though.
it was…but the sailboats sure loved it. Sorry to hear about the guy in west islip having the heart attack on board. After the wind died down it was a beautiful evening
Hope everyone here had an enjoyable and restful Independence Day weekend. I took in the Jones Beach fireworks show with the family.
Enjoyable as it was, it was all the more enjoyable once I realized that they just don’t show fireworks anywhere else in the country (nay, the world!) like they do on Long Island. It’s just ‘different’ here… I might even say ‘special’.
obviously you havent been to Lake George or Bar Harbor ME.
Harriet – Babylon Village doesn’t seem to care too much about the great historical homes we have here, considering they approved a three lot subdivision for the 1790 colonial lot on Deer Park Avenue. That’s one of the oldest homes in the Village, or it will be until it gets knocked down for three hideous po-mo structures crowded next to each other.
Jackie, Babylon Village has never cared much for preserving its historical heritage. This used to be a popular resort back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but almost none of that is left except for a few homes here and there. All of the famous hotels and other significant structures from that period have been knocked down and turned into houses or condos.
I have a small collection of Babylon postcards from that era very little of what’s pictured on them is still standing.
unfortunately there is no historic district zoning. There is enough property on those parcels to warrant additional building. It is a very long and protracted legal battle to prevent someone from building when they have the required frontage and square footage. The VOB unfortunately would lose any challenge to development.
I was under the impression that the Village itself granted the zoning for the three lots.
Do you think it was the Town?
I have to say it is a real shame to lose any amount of open space, no matter how small. I think having two extra homes instead of that large lot will make Deer Park Avenue a lot less nice than it is now.
Gary, I agree that a lot has been lost, but I do think the Village pays lip service to valuing what makes the Village special, and some of that is our collection of historic homes which, compared to say West Babylon, is a distinguishing feature.
You need at least 7500 SF a 75′ frontage and a 2 car garage to build. The Village has to let you build if the site meet those requirements. The TOB has nothing to do with it.
That 90 Crescent e’er sell? What’s the story? How long does it take to complete the deal?
Westcott’s got a nice cape in the park. Saw it just now on my bike. nice yard. 5 figure tax bill
23 Dundee in Argyle Park, Blog.
That’s a big piece of property, over a third of an acre. There are no pictures of the inside and some mention of renovation in the listing. I wonder how bad it is.
There was a huge house there that burned down during the blizzard week in 77 or 78..so that’s about how old the house is..30 years. My guess is 30 years of disrepair. and they were doing some cheap construction during the Carter administration. cheap windows, roofs, fixtures. The only thing over 50 years old is the garage.