Thursday, July 24, 2014

Off-Market Bed-Stuy 3-Family: Malcolm X Boulevard

In its first month, our new site has sent incredible for sale by owner and sell-curious owner leads our way.  Last week we saw 8 homes in one day, all asking between $3.2M and $7M - and the $7M house has offers above asking price already in pre-market!  That's Brooklyn for ya these days.  So it's refreshing to see a Bed-Stuy 3-Family fixer-upper like this house on the 100-block of Malcolm X Boulevard, asking $895K.  For now, this home is available exclusively on  The house is delivered vacant, has been vacant for some time, and needs plenty of work.  But it has original mantles, tile, shutters, ceiling medallions, and wainscoting that buyers we saw it with were eager to restore.  The curb appeal is intact in our book, and arched-brick construction in the cellar is a good sign too.  With the investors priced out, we think an end-user takes on this project for the right price.

Afterall, 124 Malcolm X Boulevard got over asking price, closing for $999K in May of this year.  And another 3-story, 98A Malcolm X Boulevard got $1.079M 2 months earlier.  Could this be the next house to trade on this block?

Everyone says they want a fixer-upper in Bed-Stuy under a million, but most of those are swooped up by investors, all-cash in a flash, and renovating them isn't as easy as it looks.  But here's one just out of reach for the investors, so have at it!

Pro's:  curb appeal, original details, delivered vacant, not asking over a million, no big broker open houses on the scene, legal 3-Family

Con's:  needs a ton of work, further into Bed-Stuy than many are ready for, finished product flips going for 10-20% more

Ideally:  it'll take time, money, and know-how to optimize this house, but for all those who hate on generic flipper renovations, here's your chance to try one on for size yourself

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HomeCanvasr Listing Sold Before Hitting Open Market: 116 Bainbridge Street

Don't try a purchase like this on your StreetEasy, your New Times, your Trulia, Zillow, or Brownstoner.  Platinum Members were scoping this Stuyvesant Heights limestone gem at 116 Bainbridge Street months ago pre-renovation between $1.5M-$1.6M.  When no one stepped up high enough, the owner ostensibly wanted to finish their renovation and shoot for a higher price.  Available on post-renovation for a month now in the $1.795M range, we told Curbed it probably wouldn't make it to the open market - and it didn't.  The property is in contract around full asking price, all cash, and closing any day now.  Last month, the reno was turning out better than we'd expected...

Quintessential 3-Family with owner's duplex on the bottom and two rentals up top.  An extension on the parlor with the kitchen and still a nice yard.  All on one of the sickest blocks in Stuyvesant Heights, and for much less than a 260 Decatur Street.  You'll think you're in Park Slope when you walk down this block.  In a nice row of limestones...

You get that Magnus Dahlander without going over $5M.  Even in the winter, the view out the window is gold...

Over $1.7M cash in Bed-Stuy... are we even surprised anymore?  Also another demonstration that properties sell before they hit the market on a regular basis, even if the plan was to hit the market all along.  And if the nay-sayers still don't know by now, they'd better ASK somebody!

Pro's:  full-sized renovated historic limestone gem on great block, near the train, about as good as east Bed-Stuy gets, available without a packed open house, better reno than we were expecting

Con's:  not on everyone's radar, price bubbled up as reno came long, not the configuration everyone wanted, already gone all-cash full-ask

Ideally:  considering the pricing on a gut like 259 Decatur Street, this is a steal - as shocking as that sounds  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bed-Stuy Loft Condo Hits the Market: 689 Myrtle Avenue

Platinum Members have purchased in Bed-Stuy's "The Chocolate Factory" condos before.  Now another unit hits the market at 689 Myrtle Avenue that's bound to have a few buyers ready for it.  As seen first on, weighing in at over 1,300 sqft, with 18' ceilings, a common roof deck with a garden and sick windowed-out gym... the asking price of $889K makes condos a mile & half north in Williamsburg for $1.2M look silly.  See for yourself...

Get your skyline views on from the friendly confines of northwest Bed-Stuy...

With some new construction condos in Bed-Stuy closing for $700-$800/sqft and up, $660/sqft is looking pretty enticing.  Plus maintenance under $700/month.

The only potential hold-ups are that, although it has 2 baths, it's only got a "den" as the 2nd bedroom.  Also, it's on the first floor.  And you can still get railroad apartments under $800K in Prospect Heights.  Although nothing as grand as this.

Pro's:  huge loft condo under $900K, modern renovation, great price per square foot, low monthly fees, sick amenities in the building

Con's:  it's not Williamsburg, it's not on an upper floor, worse condos can be had for cheaper in better neighborhoods

Ideally:  at the right price, we don't see this lasting long.  Pratt grads with a little help from the 'rents should be pouncing...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Listings: Clinton Hill Home Hits the Market - 394 Vanderbilt Avenue

New to the Listings section of the blog, it's a 4-story fixer-upper in prime Clinton Hill at 394 Vanderbilt Avenue.  When we toured the place yesterday, we instantly said, "It's a wrap."  Can't really hate on the price given what's going on all around town.  Full-sized house on a great little block with original details.  The house needs work to really make the most of it, but don't they all?  After spending the day at Ikea and Home Depot to fix-up a rental in Crown Heights with a bidding war, we were eager to sink our teeth into 394 Vanderbilt.  Above our pay-grade, but somebody's gonna deck this place out.

Nice lil' yard...

Solid arched-brick construction...

Original mantles throughout...

(Child-sized Benzo & sweet tattoo parlor not included)

Convert the oil to gas before the winter sets in, even modestly update the kitchens & baths, expose & refinish the original floors... and you're looking at house that people would pay over $3M for.  Platinum Members were in one those pre-market two weeks ago.  394 Vanderbilt Avenue is not priced for an investor and it doesn't yet look like what an end-user wants to post up in as-is, but someone's likely to take this down for a nice price and make the most of a great house for the next 25 years.  Heck, a Prospect Heights fixer-upper the broker tells us has rent controlled tenants just went up for more than this asking price of $2.5M.  Platinum Members closing on an even nicer vacant house in Park Slope proper for $2.6M gotta be loving the comparable activity all around.  And a more finished product available off-market only on around the corner for $2.4M-$2.6M is starting to look like a comparative steal too.  And if you don't think fixer-uppers are going for over $3M in Fort Greene & Clinton Hill, don't take our word for it, ask a guy who's sold two this year.

Pro's:  pretty prime location, full-sized 4-story, delivered vacant, easily optimized as a top-notch 2-Family, quintessential 2-Family in the making

Con's:  needs work, not staged all sparkly, some floors in mid-reno already, takes over $2M to play ball these days on these blocks

Ideally:  in the land of even fixer-uppers soaring over $3M cash, the live-able house for $2.5M is king

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This Just In: Bed-Stuy Exists

Since so many folks act like nothing actually happens until it happens in the NYTimes, it's nice to learn this week that Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights now officially exist.  Maybe it's easier for everyone to get their heads around this way.  But some of it still leaves us scratching our heads...

"Until recently, most of the townhouse buyers have been investors, said William Hobbs, a broker-owner of Evans & Nye, which is based in Stuyvesant Heights, one of the neighborhood’s historic districts. The investors have been renovating and flipping the townhouses, or creating apartments and renting them, brokers said. But some townhouses are now exceeding the $2 million mark, which is more than most investors want to spend, Mr. Hobbs said."

If "most of the townhouse buyers have been investors", who were they "renovating and flipping the townhouses" to?  Presumably end-user buyers no?  And if "exceeding the $2 million mark... is more than most investors want to spend" then how come 2 of Bed-Stuy's only $2M+ sales were to investors?

So don't fret if you still don't quite understand Bed-Stuy.  When even the experts and the articles can't quite help but mischaracterize it, well who are you supposed to believe?  They accurately point out, "As recently as two years ago, townhouses were available for $700,000, but now most average about $1.4 million to $1.5 million, Mr. Munsey said."  But that still doesn't stop people with a million dollars cash calling us up every week and telling us they're ready for their first foray into a Bed-Stuy fixer-upper for a million dollars and not a penny more in a prime location.  Heck, some people still think this is the price for Clinton Hill.

"Is Bed-Stuy a bubble?" they keep asking us.  When houses that were $1.6M-$2.4M in Park Slope 2 years ago are worth $2.8M-$4M now, is it okay if Bed-Stuy houses double or triple in value too?  Sure, interest rates are low, but that's a total red herring.  Nobody's actually buying a house because rates are 4.25% instead of 6%.  The fact is that loans are still hard to get.  Regardless of how low rates are, banks still wanna see all up in your guts and aren't handing money out like they were during the real bubble.  So, no, it's not a lending bubble either.  Another major difference between today's perceived bubble and the real bubble of 2006-2008, the rents are there to support these prices.

"Bedford-Stuyvesant also has a vibrant rental market, with many townhouses broken up into apartments, brokers said."  Ok, right again, like any neighborhood in NYC with townhouses.  Today we're taking a look at a sublet that's a bellwether of the rentals in the area, on Hancock between Bedford and Nostrand.  A nice, digestible west Bed-Stuy location even newbies can get their heads around...

Pier mirrors, high ceilings, original parquet floors all on this parlor floor of a Bed-Stuy brownstone 2 bedroom / 2 bath with one room subletting for $1,200/month.  Sure, the pics are also a little dark & dingy, and they didn't quite take time to stage the place or anything.  But in this market, you don't really have to.  Folks running away from the $1,500-$1,800/BR rentals in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Prospect Heights don't oblige.

A pic of the kitchen and bath would be nice, but again, probably not necessary in this market.

Likening Bed-Stuy to Harlem - as the Times piece does - is a handy reference point.  Afterall, similarities abound.  The same guys who did Central Park did Prospect Park.  The same people who stand on "the good side" of Central Park and refuse to go any further are shocked at the pricing on the "bad side" of Central Park, and guess what?  Same goes for Prospect Park.  Think of Park Slope and Prospect Heights as the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side, then think of Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, and Lefferts as Harlem... and maybe then you'll start to understand.  When a few millionaires start crossing that line in the sand just a mile or two in any given direction, in this city there's a floodgate of other millionaires waiting to follow.

Again, don't fret if you don't understand Bed-Stuy.  Even the experts don't.  Top Brooklyn brokers who effortlessly sell $10M+ packages of rental buildings in Bed-Stuy with dozens of units, brokers who have sold over half a billion in real estate in their careers still ask us, "Are these rents real?"  Yup, that's right.  You can sell hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate and still not even know what you're selling.  The reason these brokers don't know if these rents are real is because they've never had to rent a 2BR apartment in Brooklyn themselves, or watched their own price per bedroom (one of the most important metrics in all of NYC real estate) creep up from $600 to $1,600 in some neighborhoods.  10 years ago, our friend to was too slow on the trigger and missed a $750/BR sublet on St. Marks Ave & Carlton Ave in prime Prospect Heights.  The next best they settled for was on Grand Avenue towards Crown Heights for the same price, and they hated it at the time.  Now that same apartment goes for $1,200/BR, and neighbors are getting $1,500-$1,600/BR on AirBnB... in basically Crown Heights, people!

Over 100 years ago when these neighborhoods were built for ballers, before the automobile and before the train ran underground, Stuyvesant Heights wasn't too far.  But now with cars and taxis and ubers and Citibikes and hipster fixies and express A trains, people will still tell you "Nostrand is too far" or "Utica is too far".  Funny how that works.

Pro's:  totally legit Bed-Stuy sublet, "My loss, is your gain", tall ceilings, original detail, separate baths for each tenant, flexible lease lengths available, pet friendly

Con's:  not the tidiest listing, not the pricepoint novices are expecting, kitchen and bath are dated, sublets aren't for everyone

Ideally:  another serviceable rental is another tell-tale sign of the times.  We'd probably bite if we hadn't copped the limestone already.

Sunday, July 6, 2014 Exclusive: Vacant West Bed-Stuy Fixer-Upper Under $1.5M

New to our new listings website, it's a fixer-upper in Bed-Stuy that you won't (yet) find on your StreetEasy, Zillow, Trulia, NYTimes or MLS.  This 4-story 20' wide fixer-upper is delivered vacant and available for $1.3M.  Located on the 100-block of Macon, it's around the corner from where a similar property at 435 Putnam Avenue just sold for $1.3M cash in a flash.  Marketing can make a big difference in these neighborhoods, as we've seen.  This Macon pre-market property was passed on by Platinum Members because the seller's expectation increased from $1.2M to $1.3M as the possibility of delivering totally vacant materialized.  But we think it's still an interesting play around $1.3M given what else is going on all around it in this market.  Over 20 homes have sold for over $1.3M in the past 6 months within half a mile of this house.  When we toured the property, the interior was nothing special, but certainly better than the darn-near shell that 201 Macdonough Street is.

Solid 2-Family used as a 4-Family that's live-able, but could obviously use some upgrades to optimize.  Trust us, by the time it looks the way you want it to look, it won't cost what you want it to cost.

When a broker brings us a nifty little gem like this and Platinum Members pass on it, but we know there are dozens of folks who'd love to hear about it on or off-market... well, that's what is for.

Pro's:  curb appeal, delivered vacant, totally live-able, rental income potential, pre-market listing, close to Fulton Street, isn't being bid up by the masses or the cash buyers (yet)

Con's:  needs work, not much original detail left, takes a little deep digging to uncover, don't try this on the your usual listing site, full details for HomeCanvasr Premium Members only

Ideally:  looks like a great deal for buyer and seller could mean this thing never even hits the open market

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Closings of Note: Big Boy Closings

A few big boy closings throughout Brooklyn to catch up on this week, including Bed-Stuy's 96 Quincy Street which becomes the first 3-story house in the neighborhood to list for just under $2M and fetch $2.25M.  This house joins 22 Arlington and 196 Hancock Street at the top of townhome pricing in all of Bed-Stuy.

Are the bidding wars over $2M that far east surprising you?  You should see the bidding wars in more prime Brooklyn neighborhoods these days.  252 Carlton Avenue cleaned up nice in pics, needed work, had a packed open house and dozens of offers, including multiple cash offers over asking price.  Listed for $2.595M, closed for $3.2M.  But this Fort Greene gem isn't the only place where $3M homes are happening in Brooklyn.  In fact every major brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood besides Lefferts, Crown Heights, and Bed-Stuy have had at lease one house go for over $3M in the past few weeks.

We were surprised when we heard rumors that Brooklyn Heights' 25 Pierrepont Street was having trouble fetching anywhere close to its asking price of $3.4M.  But then it just closed for $3.6M - so, there's that.  6,000+ square foot corner 9-Family building with mostly free market tenants.  The cap rate is lower than 4, but the asset is pretty darn prime.

Speaking of corner properties in Brooklyn Heights over asking price, the 25' wide 15 Willow Street came out for $4.25M and closed for $4.81M last month.

Speaking of 25' wide in Brooklyn Heights, 19 Monroe Place listed for over $7M and closed for $6.825M.

25' wide just down the street at 44 Monroe Place goes for $5.75M to buyers from the Upper East Side.

And don't forget Brooklyn Heights' over-sized 33 Garden Place for $3.75M!

Asking as much as $4.35M back in 2010, Park Slope's 8 Polhemus Place finally dropped to an asking price of $3.5M and closed for $3.65M.  The high-end single family market is no joke.  We've got our eyes on 2 stunning pre-market houses in Prospect Heights and another in Park Slope in this price range.

Carroll Gardens' 539 Clinton Street will not wow you with curb appeal, but the inside is way sleek.  This 3-story single-family listed for $2.9M and sold for $3.06M.  New construction getting the job done, even down by the BQE.  Just like the new construction at 289 Union Street getting just about $4M.

Even 18-footers can get over $3M and over asking price in Carroll Gardens.  170 Carroll Street listed for $3.3M and sold for $3.75M.

A buyer from Billyburg takes down Fort Greene's 179 Dekalb Avenue for $3.75M.  Asking price was $3.5M.  It is not a game right now on the high-end in Brooklyn.

This carriage house in Clinton Hill at 187 Vanderbilt Avenue, albeit north, goes for $2.92M, just under asking price.

No wonder we told the people chasing fixer-uppers on Lincoln around $2M off-market that the sky's the limit on the that block.  Look who's getting over $4M now!  105 Lincoln Place in Park Slope goes for $4.375M.

A three-story in Park Slope for over $3M?  That's 407 2nd Street which closed for $3.125M to buyers from the Upper West Side.

Brooklyn Heights' 36 Schermerhorn Street went for $3.175M to buyers from the West Village.

And don't forget Brooklyn Heights' 104 Willow Street which sold just under asking price, but still over $10M last month, to buyers from around the corner.  No wonder homeowners in Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill are already hitting us up on with leads on homes available pre-market from $3M-$10M.  If we had a home in this neighborhood, we'd wanna test the market with it too.

With Brooklyn Heights sales like those, no wonder some buyers from Brooklyn Heights are fleeing to the comfortable, relative-value confines of Park Slope, where 393 Union Street sold for $2.6M.

Fort Greene's 190 Washington Park got $3.45M without even hitting the open market.

Boerum Hill's 244 Bergen Street will remind you of the shocking-at-the-time $4M sale for Jenna Lyons' house in Park Slope.  So it's no wonder it closes for $4.1M in this market.

Even heading towards Crown Heights, Prospect Heights' barrel-front gem at 393 Sterling Place closes for $3.325M to buyers from around the corner.

Even the most generic houses on the edge of Crown Heights and Prospect Heights command over $1.5M these days.  We scoffed at the asking price on 848 Bergen Street at $1.8M, when it had closed a few months earlier for a million.  But the listing broker told us it was the only turnkey multi-family in its class near Prospect Heights, and closed it for $1.6M last month.  Buyers from a ballin' part of Bergen County, New Jersey took it down.  We looked to Fort Greene's 460 Carlton as an even better valued version of this.

Billed as a potential development site, this house at 272 Hawthorne Street in Lefferts Garden closed for $1.1M last month after asking $1.45M with Corcoran.

Back in Park Slope, this huge corner 8-Family at 343 6th Avenue goes for just over $5M.  Not bad for "an off market transaction in which only two buyers were called."

Another 3-story in Park Slope for over $3M?  34 Park Place goes for $3.15M.

Boy, it seems like just yesterday that jokers were trying to tell us the King Kong Clinton Hill 8-Family at 234 St. James Place wasn't worth $1.3M-$1.5M.  Now its neighbor 205 St. James Place closes for $3.95M at the end of May.