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June 8, 2021

Brownstones in New York City and Beyond


When you think of New York city living, what do you think of? Apartment buildings with hundreds of neighbors right next to you? That’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of what takes place in this city. Even luxury apartments tend to have a feeling of being cramped. And while very few may have tons of space, it is not the commonality between all of New York’s living style. So, what about the other types of housing that inhabit New York City and Brooklyn? Brownstones. Brownstones are luxury home-like vertical “houses” that are much farther and fewer than apartments. They are unique and special in every way, making it a hot market for Brownstone buyers and those who are serious about settling down.

What is a Brownstones and why are they so popular in New York and the Real Estate market? All valid questions that we can happily answer. It’s important to understand what a Brownstone is!

Let it be known that not all of New York and Brooklyn are covered in Brownstones. There are a majority of neighborhoods that are known for them, when some don’t have any at all! The majority of Brownstones are located in Harlem, Brooklyn or the Upper West Side. The structure first popped up in the 19th century. The term is many times used incorrectly, even in Real Estate. Why? Let’s dive in!

What really IS a Brownstone?

A real, true Brownstone is made and built of brick, which back in the day was more affordable than other materials such as limestone. It is then covered in Brownstone, which is a type of sandstone. Most people refer to Brownstones as a rowhouse, when in reality, it is the material used! So, it might be a rowhouse, but unless it is made from Brownstone itself, it cannot take its name! Brownstones were popular back in the day because they were easy to carve and quarry. Brownstones have a reputation of often being very expensive, and made for the well-off of New Yorkers.

What makes them so special?

Beside from the obvious, there is a certain facade when you think of a Brownstone, the beauty, the home, the historical landmark. Brownstones typically embody Italian-esque details, especially their doorways. Many families want to reside in a home that has been there for decades with all it’s glam and glory. It conveys a sense of upscale gentrification that is very common in ‘Young New York.” Clients WANT to know that there are many places like theirs, and that always makes something special. There are not rows and rows and rows of Brownstones for sale, so it’s a highly demanding market for those who can pay readily. Investing in luxury Real Estate can also have immediate benefits for rental purposes.

Where are most Brownstones located?

While you CAN find Brownstones across, the most popular areas of these beauties are located among: Brooklyn, Upper West and Upper East sides, Harlem and even sections of Queens, the Bronx, and Long Island. Brooklyn is so popular for Brownstones it’s often referred to as “Brownstone Brooklyn.”

Benefits of a Brownstone

While the upkeep of Brownstone are usually more than a similar sized apartment, there are benefits besides living in a beautiful picturesque home, property tax. Though the asking price for a Brownstone is in the millions, you can look forward to lower property tax. As mentioned, you will likely pay more in financing but less in taxes. They are commonly known to have much lower property taxes in general. One of the best areas for investing in luxury properties is the Brownstone belt in Brooklyn. There are beautiful homes with low taxes and high rental potential. Compared to apartments in Manhattan, taxes are noticeably lower.

What do Brownstones offer that apartments do not?

Covid-19 has taught us a lot about our home. And most are finding out that what they’ve been missing is space. As we’ve been spending more time at home, and less on outdoor dining and vacations, more are wanting to invest where they’ve been spending the majority of their time – their homes. A wave of heightened interest has been placed on Brownstones over the last year due to the pandemic. Why is that? Well, most are used to the standard Manhattan apartment. And, even if your apartment had space, it’s never quite enough. So funnily enough, luxury real estate is still creating unique opportunities for those looking to evolve. People do not want their things on top of their other things, which happens more often than not in a standard Manhattan apartment, so a Brownstone offers them something else, something different. Different views, more space, and a better more open quality of life in a place they are spending a lot more of. Not only that, Brownstones often offer something that rarely apartments in Manhattan have: outdoor space. Something that many people crave during the pandemic but don’t feel so comfortable going to. Outdoor space helps this notion of a safer and healthier quality of life, without having to be around many people. Brownstones offer privacy and inclusivity. Apartment building after apartment building are built on demand, but they don’t make these types of buildings anymore, adding to its specialty on the market.

For those people who have grown up in Manhattan and do not want to leave, a Brownstone is a safe option in today’s market. They are luxury, lower property tax, and offer a plethora of benefits that a standard New York City apartment does not. Depending on where you decide to look for a Brownstone, whether it be in Brooklyn or Manhattan, Brownstones are lined with greenery, space, warmth and history, and you can’t beat that!


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