Former TV home prices run the gamut

Posted by on October 30th, 2014

Think it would be fun to have a Full House? Grow up Brady? Chill out with the Huxtables in the Cosby Show’s Brooklyn brownstone?

Looks can be deceiving. You might be surprised how many TV shows used very particular cities and neighborhoods as settings, then used exterior shots of homes in completely different cities or states.

The locations of some TV homes also calls into question whether the characters could even afford to live there in real life.

Set in the posh Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, Full House ran on ABC from 1987 to 1995. According to the story line, three men and three girls… and later a woman and two little boys, shared three bedrooms and three bathrooms. While the show was filmed mostly in a studio, their iconic red 2,484-square foot Victorian home on Broderick Street was featured in every show opening.

Nine people, even in a large home like this one, is pretty tight by American standards, but based on the home’s current value, it might have been necessary to have four incomes coming in.

Zillow estimates the value of the home at $3.46 million today. That’s a mortgage payment of $7,688 with 20 percent down, but could fetch a monthly rent of $9,500. Hopefully the two local TV celebrities weren’t bitter about carrying the exterminator/rock star and the mediocre stand up comic.

But that’s nothing compared to the 1990s’ San Francisco-based series Party of Five, revolving around siblings who struggle to stay a family after their parents are killed by a drunk driver. All but one of the five are younger than 16, but they take over running the family restaurant, and ostensibly, the mortgage payments.

Zillow estimates the value of their 7 bedroom mansion today at $9.53 million, a monthly jumbo mortgage payment of $23,825 with 10 percent down. With 5,497 square feet, there was plenty of room to party, but that restaurant must have been plenty lucrative.

For another iconic residence in an extremely expensive city, look no further than Seinfeld. While producers chose an apartment building on L.A.’s New Hampshire Boulevard for exterior shots, the apartment was supposed to mirror Jerry Seinfeld’s real West 81st Street walkup, where he lived as an up-and-coming comic in New York City.

Rent stabilization aside, one-bedrooms on the Upper West Side run between $2,500 and $3,200 a month, according to nyhabitat.com. Jerry was indeed doing quite well.

And what about more outlying parts of New York City? Say, the 1,216 square foot row house on the 1970s’ series All in the Family? Could working-class stiff Archie Bunker, a supervisor at a loading dock, afford to live in the Astoria area of Queens anymore? Probably not, say Astoria real estate brokers. The New York Daily News reported earlier this year that the average price of a one-bedroom condo in the area moved past $400,000. The average price of a three-bedroom home like Archie’s ballooned from $500,000 to $750,000 in just the last 5 years. The real house from the exterior shots in nearby Glendale is worth $522,769, Zillow estimates.

Elsewhere in the Queens: In the King of Queens (1998-2008), delivery driver Doug Hefferman and his secretary wife live in Rego Park. The median home value there is now $579,000, and typical buyers are couples with annual salaries between $150,000 and $200,000. The Heffermans probably got in before the housing bubble. Some buyers today need a family inheritance to afford the down payment.

Tellingly, the exterior shots of the Hefferman home are of a house at 519 Longview Avenue in Cliffside Park,NJ. Not cheap, far more affordable than $346,000.

For a look at some really steep market pricing disparity, consider Happy Days, a show produced in the 1970s and 1980s about people living in Milwaukee, WI, in the 1950s.

But the show filmed on California sound stages, and the exterior shots of the Cunningham residence were of a 3,904 square-foot home at 565 North Cahuenga Boulevard in Los Angeles.

While not quite as expensive as New York or San Francisco, L.A. certainly holds its own. Don’t know about the 1950s, but today, Zillow estimates the value of the 6-bedroom, 2-bathroom house, built in 1923, at $2.7 million.

Now take a look at the listings in Milwaukee. A similar 1923 home – in good condition – can be had for as little as $171,000!

And in case you’re thinking all TV shows use inflated California or New York real estate, the TV home of a certain “domestic goddess” went up for sale in 2014, asking for a good deal less than its Tinsel Town brethren.

Roseanne, one of the most popular shows of the 1990s,was set in fictional Lanford, IL, but a 4-bedroom home in Evansville, IN served for the exterior shots. It was listed for sale at $129,000 in February, 2014, but was taken off the market when it failed to sell. Zillow estimated its value at $104,000 as of October 10, 2014.

And the Cosby Show house? Doesn’t really exist. Set at a fictitious address, the townhouse shown was actually in Greenwich Village, but the family supposedly lived in Brooklyn and filming took place in Queens.