Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seth Stephens and Svetlana Lang - Hawthorne's Jerks du Jour

Post and stock photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

A great house fronting Farview Park was recently listed for sale - 2951 Lyndale Avenue North.  I'm not linking directly to the listing because those links will go dead over time.  The house has an offer pending, so any day now it could be offline.  Look for it yourself on sites like Remax (even Edina Realty has the listing posted this time around).

What's so bad about selling a desirable property in one of the more attractive areas of Hawthorne, you ask?  Well, for one thing, the place has a sale price of $24,900.  That may have been a low bid to attract offers, and the final price could be considerably higher since the home is not on the VBR list.  But an interesting little tidbit is buried in the listing:  "leaded glass window on front porch excluded from listing."

I'd copy the photo from the MLS, but those are copyrighted and I'm loathe to break that rule unless it becomes absolutely necessary to report on something.  But on the listing photos, the third one in specifically shows the leaded glass window. 

So here's their thinking, as far as I can tell:  list the property at an insanely low start price.  It will sell for less than what you might get for it if you started at $80,000, but hey, it was picked up on the cheap and the seller just wants a quick buck.  So far, nothing is inherently wrong with the picture.  Until Svetlana Lang decides that she'll just take the leaded glass window for herself - a window that probably has a value of several hundred dollars or more at Bauer Brothers, and lessens the financial pain of selling at a steep discount.  By all accounts, the property appears to be owned without any liens/mortgage on it, so there isn't a way to get the mortgage company involved over the owner removing parts of the property.

The prospective buyer might not care, especially if they're either a) a slumlord or b) someone who has been fooled into thinking they need to replace all their windows.  Once a leaded glass window like this one is torn out of the home, it is rarely replaced, and certainly not with the actual original fixture.  Since Svetlana Lang or Seth K. Stephens of Solutions Realty apparently have little to no consideration for the home or community post-sale, they get the honor of "jerk du jour."

NOTE:  An initial source I consider credible listed the value of the window in question at $3,000-5,000.  Since then other readers have provided evidence that the value of such items is considerably less.  It's possible that this particular feature was worth more for some reason, but the post has been changed to reflect what I consider to be a better figure at this time.  What's the phrase at the bottom of real estate listings?  "Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed?"  Seems apropos here.  In some ways, the removal of the window seems all the more egregious when one finds out that there is only a nominal monetary gain.


  1. Isn't that the house where "Nick The Ukranian" lived until he recently died?

  2. Instead of blogging why don't you get off your ass and play housing director and go talk to them and see what you can do to keep the house intact?
    Maybe there is some kind of program, or funding that will help the seller, and allow the buyer to keep the windows?
    Seems to me you are all talk (or blogging) and no action. Do your fricking job and protect these homes!!

  3. Anon 11:05,

    I came across this tidbit outside of what I'd consider reasonable business hours. Rest assured, the Realtor will get a call from me and it will not be pleasant.

    The house already has a pending offer on it, and likely won't have those terms changed because of one nosy, angry neighborhood housing director/blogger. As far as programs go, the house is selling for less than the market value (in my opinion, at least). The easiest thing to do would be to bump the price up enough to cover the cost of the window, and leave it in.

    If the property will be owner-occupied, then I will encourage the parties to use the $5,000 in Hawthorne Advantage assistance, and everybody wins. However, the way this property was marketed, I'd be surprised to find out that the buyer is an occupant. And if it is an investor/landlord, we don't have programs that would fit this kind of issue.

  4. Your value estimate on that window is about 100% higher than what these beveled glass windows are currently going for ($100-400); never the less, it is extremely narrow sighted to start tearing out the architectural attributes of a property on the basis that the selling price of the home does not meet your expectations. It does a great injustice to the community. Perhaps you could talk to your neighborhood board about introducing some Community Design Standards that would prevent owners/landlords from removing or altering specific structural components covered by adopted guidelines? This would be enforceable by restricting city permits for non-conforming changes.

  5. The dollar amount used in the post was given to me by someone familiar with that item in particular. However, I'll double-check the figure and adjust it as necessary. Still, we are agreed that this is a despicable thing to do. In terms of your suggestion, I believe some aspects of housing code in Minneapolis are over-regulated as it is and I'm hesitant to recommend even more bureaucracy. Still, this is one area that I would find intriguing to look into.


    Here are some current listings off Craigslist (where this window would probably end up).

    I agree that many of CPEDS laws are restrictive to owner/occupancy of older homes, but tighter design standards would help prevent people like Khan from creating incompatible and disgusting dwellings earmarked for future demolition. This strengthens homeowners willingness to do private investment because they know the rest of the neighborhood is held to these same standards and it is much less likely that the home next door will be the subject of a cheap flip.

    As it stands, there are no esthetic guidelines and CPED allows contractors to alter 60% of a dwelling before it is necessary to do a historic review of the property (by which time it is too late).

  7. I was also going to comment that the value of the leaded window was pretty far off, I picked one up at Art and Architecture for $300. But again, I do not approve of removing architectural features from houses, then I wouldn't have had to go find one to replace when I discovered an old window opening hidden behind a wall. I hope this one is prevented through exposure on this blog.

  8. This is unbelievable. Usually the only reason homes don't have the original lead windows is because the home was vandalized and robbed. Basically, the realtor and owner are notifying buyers that they will be vandalizing the home for them. What a couple of assholes.

  9. They must think they are going to get rich off that leaded glass, but by the time they put the labor into removing the window and pay for replacement glass there isn't a lot of profit in it.

    As far as an investment is concerned, they would be far better off to leave the glass and use it as an attribute to get more $$$ from the sale.

    By stripping the home they have alienated the very market most likely to buy anything but the lower priced discount rental property that is found all over the city. This also mitigates the homes location on the park because slumlords don't care where the property is located. In fact, a home that is visible on a public open space is much more likely to receive 311 calls (leading to assessments) from neighbors who want to enjoy the park and keep the area clean.


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