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Record-breaking Central Harlem townhouse sells for $4.59M

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The owners undertook an impressive DIY renovation

A landmarked 1890 Queen Anne-style townhouse in Central Harlem has set a record for the neighborhood after selling for $4.59 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, it's a record for the specific area, and the second-highest price paid for a townhouse across all of Harlem.

Bruce and Holly Brittain purchased the property, at 208 Lenox Avenue, in 2010 for $825,000. At the time, the windows were bricked up and the fire department spray-painted “no floors” across the facade.

But the couple moved forward with a complete rebuild, what the WSJ calls "a massive do-it-yourself project in which they controlled nearly every facet of engineering, design and construction, and moved into the top two floors."

Holly Brittain is a licensed architect and associate broker with Rutenberg NYC, so she oversaw the re-design and listed and sold the house herself. Her husband worked in finance, so he took over day-to-day construction and financial management.

Their efforts transformed the former rooming house, with more than a dozen units, into a three-family home. They fully restored the 20-foot-wide facade, installed wood-framed windows, put in new floors, and added a rear balcony and a roof deck paved in porcelain tiles. Each apartment has condominium-level finishes, with efficient boilers, radiant underfloor heating, and marble-finished bathrooms.

The buyer is an investor, and they put the townhouse's duplex unit, which comes with roof access, on the rental market before even closing. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom pad is available through Douglas Elliman asking $7,200 a month.

As WSJ points out, Harlem has set records in 2017 for average and median prices and price per square foot for one-to-four-family townhouses. With a string of seven sales going for $4 million or more this year, the average price of a Harlem townhouse rose 34 percent to just over $3 million. That's more than double the price at the peak of the last real estate boom in 2007.