Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Million Dollar Brownstone? Try Million Dollar Floor-Thru Apartments: 777 Carroll Street

We've told you before that the million dollar brownstone in Brooklyn isn't dead, it's just getting harder & harder to find and moving ever east (and north, and south, and to Sunset Park!).  But in the tippy-top neighborhoods of Brooklyn, like a stunning brownstone block in Park Slope, you don't find brownstones for a million anymore, you find ~850 square foot 2 bedroom apartments on just one floor of those brownstones selling for a million or more.  Take 777 Carroll Street, #2 in contract with an asking price of $999K (or over $1,100/sqft) after barely a month on the market.  While they won't tell us if the contract price is above or below asking price, we're willing to bet it's higher, and certainly isn't significantly below.

If every floor is worth a million, isn't this $4M+ they're sitting on?  Sure seems like it to us, which may be news to all the folks who didn't believe us 2 years ago when we were convinced it was undermarketed & worth over $2.5M.  The entire building closed for $2.764M last year, and it didn't take much to get it ready to be worth $1M+ for each floor.  The apartments have killer original details and modern kitchens & baths, even if it's a little generic and has the 7'-wide, one-window "2nd bedroom":

 We've put slicker kitchens than this in $1,600/month rentals, but that ain't in Park Slope either.  Or maybe you'd prefer the floor-thru with the open kitchen, the roof access, and the extra half-bath (but still the fakey 2nd bedroom) in contract with a list price of $1.2M:

This isn't the first time we've seen a brownstone that was 80% of the way there trade in the $2M's and sell out for $1M per floor or more.  338 Clinton Avenue is Clinton Hill's answer to 777 Carroll Street.  No wonder proper 2BR's under $950K like 560 State Street, #7D are attractive to buyers facing sub-1,000/sqft floor-thrus for more.  Flipping the garden & parlor duplex at 777 Carroll Street, #1, however, for $2.65M (almost as much as they paid for the entire building less than a year ago), is proving to be a little tougher than the million dollar floor-thru's.

Besides whatever the duplex ends up fetching, what does all this activity teach us?  When the fixer-uppers in a neighborhood are worth over $2.5M cash, dozens of other people will step up for a smaller, more affordable slice of that same block - even if it comes at a premium.  We're sure to see it again on nice brownstones trading off-market nearby.  And brace yourself for what this implies about the condo market in Bed-Stuy with fixer-uppers like 196 Hancock Street going for over $2M.  The price per square foot on the stylish condo at 76 Macdonough Street alone is a harbinger of things to come, and has implications for all kinds of properties in the area.

Pro's:  top-notch Park Slope block, original details in great shape and modern upgrades, affordable pricepoints for the neighb' even if there's a steep premium, low maintenance

Con's:  kinda generic, "2nd bedroom" is ~7' wide, the cheapest two are in contract already, the most expensive one wants what the whole building sold for last year

Ideally:  some folks call it speculation to chop up these condos, some folks say there's not enough profit it in, and other folks are actually doing.  It takes all kinds.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Back to the "Stash Spot": 560 State Street, #7D

As 2BR condos go, it doesn't get more centrally located than 560 State Street.  Made famous by Jay-Z's song "Empire State of Mind", where he raps, "Took it my stash spot, 560 State Street".  The Jigga-Man's own former 2BR unit listed for $870K a few months ago and just closed for $930K.  So it's no wonder that another 2BR in the building is hitting the market this week for that same price, this time 560 State Street, #7D with its first open house this Saturday afternoon.  Now that the Barclays Center is here across the street, seen here out the window of the master bedroom...

...the neighborhood is a far cry from what it was in those days.  Young Hova's view don't come as cheap as it used to.

Located at the apex of the top brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, and Prospect Heights - the condo game over here is no joke.  These particular condos are an interesting blend - one part brownstone, one part mews, and one part new development.  Located directly across the street from 1 Hanson Place, where condos have surpassed $3M at times...

And one door down from the typical rowhouse look of the rest of Boerum Hill's State Street, where fixer upper townhomes have gone over $3M...

You walk up the front entrance of 560 State Street into this huge common courtyard with benches, two grills & a fridge, and gas-lit lamps attached to red brick fronts to all the apartments around the courtyard...

This unit #7D is a 2 bedroom & 1 bath laid out on one floor, rather than some of the other duplexes in the building.  It's got 9 windows facing south east onto 4th Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.

Considering the proximity to the street, the apartment is surprisingly quiet with its double-pane windows.  And Cousin John says installing triple-pane windows or other solutions is pretty affordable too.  The apartment's in totally turnkey condition...

We've seen condos go for more undergoing renovations to personalize the finishes, but this one's totally good to go out the box as well.  New heat & A/C unit and a new water heater were installed about 2 years ago.  With a kid & grown-up friendly courtyard, affordable monthly costs, and a tax abatement available for owner-occupants, this is a great alternative to condos with higher maintenance in the Toren or 1 Hanson going for much higher than this.  Rental income potential at 560 State Street is over $3,500/month these days too.  If you want to be in prime Brooklyn, don't want a 1BR, and don't have well over a million for a fixer-upper townhouse... the 2BR under a million becomes appealing again.

Pro's:  centrally located turnkey 2 bedroom with low monthly costs, close to all top neighborhoods & transportation, sunny with 9 windows to the south and east, huge common courtyard with grills, kid-friendly building, preferable layout to the duplexes in the building, townhouse feel makes it more than just a bland condo

Con's:  2nd bedroom is smaller, finishes are generic and commodity grade in some people's book, no additional half-bath

Ideally:  a prime slice of Brooklyn under a million.  Easy to mosey on over after brunch or the Brooklyn Flea on Saturday to take a look-see.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fort Greene Under $2M: Another Platinum Member Take-Down

Don't try this on your StreetEasy, your NYTimes, or your, but Platinum Members are closing on a great estate sale house in Fort Greene any day now for under $2M.  In the land of the on-market $3M+ fixer-upper bidding war, it's nice to see that value can still be sniped for the right buyer.  Don't get it twisted, though, the deal still had to happen in cash and the house needs a lot of work, but value is all relative and this is value in Fort Greene today.  Besides 460 Carlton Avenue, you won't find a cheaper pricepoint in all of Fort Greene proper anymore.  This house is the 2nd coming of a deal like 123 Gates Avenue.  We knew about this estate sale months ago, but no Platinum Member wanted to go high enough.  When we got the call that the contract had fallen through, we put out the bat signal, and got in the next day.  The broker warned us it "needed a total gut", but we were actually pleasantly surprised...

Owner's duplex with two floor-thru's above?  That's the quintessential 3-Family.  Would-be buyers try to tell us that we don't cover Fort Greene anymore, which is kind of a misnomer.  It's just that the neighborhood is only one square mile and it's pretty much cooked.  We go where the value is, and a $3M+ bidding war ain't value.  And there are simply more properties that make a suitable condo alternative at more mere-mortal type prices in this market in other neighborhoods likes Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, and Lefferts.  But don't front like we don't know our Fort Greene.  There just simply aren't that many of you who can afford an off-market estate sale for almost $2M cash that needs a complete gut.  But don't worry, when they fix it up and roll it out for $3M+ with shiny pictures, we'll be there too.


Another beautiful townhouse restoration project in Clinton Hill from the same buyer is going to ask $3.2M on-market when it's all finished, but pre-market cash shoppers may not even let it hit the market.  They say, "The game is to be sold, not told."  We think you can do a lil' of both.

Pro's:  4-story in prime Fort Greene for under $2M, in totally decent shape with a few details, bones are worth more than this given what else is going on, Platinum Members making moves

Con's:  took cash, took quick decisiveness, took a pro who know what they're looking at & what they're doing, no time for financing, needs work

Ideally:  don't try using this as a comp in the neighb' unless you could've duplicated this same transaction.  This deal soars over $2M as-is with an open house or two, but we'll bet anyone it fetches over $3M on the flip before it's all said & done.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Listings: Stuy Heights Single-Family - 952 Greene Avenue

New to the Listings section of the blog, it's a single-family brownstone with original details and modern updates asking $999K.  Tales of the death of the Brooklyn brownstone for a million are premature.  952 Greene Avenue is north east Bed-Stuy, towards Bushwick, but it's a nice respite from the $2M+ bidding wars of prime west Bed-Stuy's 22 Arlington Place and 196 Hancock Street.  With an open house coming up Saturday, April 26th from 1pm - 3pm, it's easy to check out what a million gets you in Bed-Stuy at 952 Greene Avenue.  Some people act like they might as well live in Poughkeepsie if they're going to live "this far into Bed-Stuy", but with what's happening on the other side of Broadway and Bushwick Avenue for frame houses with generic gut renos, a 19' x 45' four-story with some nice features inside could be a great alternative.

Not all of it's amazing or up to everyone's taste, but this house is ready to go...

This isn't the quintessential multi-family that most people in the price range are aching for.  Condo alternative, perhaps?  Yard, square footage, and make a few personal touches on the interior?  Only time will tell...

Pro's:  four-story turnkey brownstone with details and upgrades, asking under a million, could be another affordable Bed-Stuy / Bushwick tweener

Con's:  single family isn't pumping the rental income like the multi-family, not the most stunning modern taste, northeast location

Ideally:  the million dollar Brooklyn brownstone isn't dead, it's just not where it used to be

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Off-Market Closing Today in Prospect Heights: 533 Bergen Street

Wealthy folks tell us all the time that they want to invest in real estate.  Commercial brokers will ask them, "Have you bought anything before?"

- No.

Well, we don't think you necessarily have to be a proven buyer to ever buy something, because everyone needs a first time.  Instead, we'll ask these buyer hopefuls, "What have you bid on so far?" and "What have you seen close in the past 2 months that you would've and could've bought for the same price & terms?"  If they don't have any educated answers to either of those questions, they're probably too far down the learning curve to make a serious move anytime soon.  Because, while it's easy to say you wanna invest in real estate, actually doing it is a whole 'nother bag.

So when 533 Bergen Street - a huge 8-Family in prime Prospect Heights one block away from Barclays - came available at the end of last summer at an attractive off-market price, it was a no-brainer in our book for proven and the budding buy & hold buyers.  Don't try this on your Streeteasy or your NYTimes or your, 'cause this puppy had no intention of ever coming to the broader open market.  Sellers have their own reasons for doing things their way.  And this is, after all, a seller's market.  But Platinum Members were psyched to make offers on a property asking $3M off-market just 3 bricks away from an identical property asking $4.5M with a big commercial broker.  531 Bergen Street had multiple cash offers and later closed for $3.425M, so we couldn't blame the 533 Bergen Street seller for raising his asking price to $3.4M this year by the time he heard the news nextdoor.  531 was pitched as fully occupied with all RS tenants.  Granted, it grossed a healthy sum annual, but all stabilized tenants.  533, however, came with 6 units delivered vacant and free-market, making it even more primed for a condo conversion or a rental repositioning.  Totally rentable as-is (but not entirely optimized) 2BR apartments made it a 6%+ cap at asking price...

Walk around the corner to Nets games or practice your half-court jumper on the courts next door.  Duplex part of the garden with the basement, split up the backyard, do a roof deck... it isn't rocket science (or even that expensive) to make the most of a buy & hold gem like this.

Wanna-be buyers thought they were doing someone a favor with their, "$2.5M and I can close in two weeks," tone-deaf offers.  The Corcoran and Elliman brokers refused to do the deal unless they were assured 6% commission.  (Nice gig, if you can get it!)  But, as always, the truth lay somewhere in between those two extremes.  The sellers knew they were leaving money on the table by not listing it exclusively on or off-market, but when you're almost quintupling what you paid for it in 2006, who's counting?  In fact, speaking of leaving money on the table, we brought them 2 cash offers of $3.3M and they still went with their favorite buyers at $3.25M!  The buyers showed us their 3BR floorplans today at the closing table, and we can't wait to see how it all turns out.  Another off-market gem courtesy of BK to the Fullest, with a lil' help from one of the hardest working commercial brokers in the biz.

Pro's:  huge 8-Family a block from Barclays with 6 free-market vacancies, quintessential buy & hold or condo conversion candidate, totally turnkey units 6% cap at asking price with upside to go, went below asking price, went below highest offer, not bid-up by the masses, better than its neighbor and cheaper!

Con's:  gotta compete with cash offers, sellers raised asking price from $3M to $3.4M after dawdling for some months, gotta spend some serious dough to optimize it

Ideally:  just another day in Prospect Heights, where more off-market deals are going down as we speak that are gems for the long haul

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fort Greene's Most Affordable Listing: 460 Carlton Avenue

Is it just you or does it feel like you woke up one day and every new listing in Brooklyn, even the most unimpressive of selections in South Slope and mid-Bed-Stuy, wants $1.8M or more?  And even the prime Fort Greene $4M listings still might offer nothing more than one janky exterior photo?  No, there's no need to pinch yourself.  You are not dreaming.  It is the spring buying season of 2014 in Brooklyn and prices well over a million and a half have secured themselves firmly east of Classon, well into Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights, south of 16th Street in Park Slope, and well into Lefferts Garden.  Were you among the moneyed masses that packed into the stunning Fort Greene fixer-upper 252 Carlton Avenue with its list price just under $2.6M?  Maybe you were one of the more than a dozen offers over asking price, pushing the contract price up to $3.1M-$3.2M, we're told.

In a climate like this, even a generic new construction across the street from the projects at 460 Carlton Avenue shines above the rest as the most affordable listing in Fort Greene.  Built in 1996, this row of brick 3-Families have vinyl siding in the back, parking in the back, none of the charm of 100 year old houses, but also none of the problems of 100 year old houses.

Yes, it was precisely a year ago today that we showed you Fort Greene's most affordable listing at that time - another one of these in the development known as "Atlantic Commons" - 365 Cumberland Street which listed for $1.25M and closed for $1.43M 4 months later.  Just a year later, 460 Carlton's asking price of $1.65M doesn't sound that bad at all.  Especially considering what goes for well over $2.65M on the same street just 2 blocks away, and what sells for over $1.85M-$2M in Bed-Stuy today.  Heck, in the 12 months since we covered 365 Cumberland asking $1.25M, over a dozen CONDOS have traded in Fort Greene for that price or higher.  Is 460 Carlton Avenue generic on the inside AND in need of some work?  Of course it is...

Nothing special, to be sure, but at half off of what the 100 year old fixer-uppers can command in bidding wars, what were you expecting??

Were these same homes below or around a million just 3 years ago when folks were too chicken to go above $950K for one?  They sure were!!  Even after those closed, another one was getting beat up off-market too.  Maybe now folks will get the picture.  One owner on the corner over here is even rumored to want $3M!!  That's certainly a stretch, but can you blame 'em??  This is one of the most primely-located, not in need of a gut renovation 3-Families you'll ever see in Fort Greene.  The fact that it's asking only 15% more than what the last one sold for (and may even go cheaper than that) is just icing on the cake compared to the 2 & 3 baggers we've seen out in Bed-Stuy.

Can't forget the parking space!  Vinyl-siding on the rear facade with a nice wood deck to boot...

For the right buyer, this is a no brainer.  For the would-be buyers, this might just be another notch on their woulda/coulda/didn't belt.

Pro's:  Fort Greene's most affordable 3-Family, parking, rear deck, no 100 year old house problems, may have some price flexibility, rental income potential, delivered vacant, seller will credit some funds for the wood floor repairs

Con's:  pretty generic interior, water damage to some floors, not the most spectacular construction, no huge green backyard, asking over $700K more than people thought these were worth 3 years ago, across the streets from the projects

Ideally:  another year brings another great alternative to historic Fort Greene homes, situated in quaint little Atlantic Commons, still trading at an amazing relative discount to its neighbors

Friday, April 11, 2014

Listings: Ground-up Brick 2-Family on East Bed-Stuy Corner - 124 Patchen Avenue

New to the Listings section of the blog, it's another ground-up construction special on the outskirts of the well-traveled historic stretches of Bed-Stuy.  This isn't the 100 year old house of your dreams, but it's way better than its former life as a vacant lot with a few cars on it...

Listing broker Nevo is at it again bringing 124 Patchen Avenue to market for $1.35M.  This corner of Madison and Patchen made another great development candidate for this brick house with all the spaciousness of its ground-up cousin 906A Lafayette Avenue, but on a larger floorplate.

The view over the playground across the corner is pretty nice...

124 Patchen Avenue is like the Stuyvesant Heights ground-up answer to a 71 Irving Place in Clinton Hill.  If you're looking for an affordable corner just off the beaten path, you'd be kicking yourself for not picking up 1516 Bergen Street when it could've been had around $800K.  A much smaller, totally turnkey 2-Family a few doors down from 124 Patchen just went in contract around its asking price of $699K:

We don't head this far east often, and we're not jumping out of our seats at $1.35M on this place, but it's bound to make the right buyer and the seller very happy.  With folks already looking for "the next Brooklyn", it feels like there's still plenty more to go.

Pro's:  size, totally fresh renovation, full of huge windows on all sides, double-duplex including a 4BR/2 bath, finished basement with high ceilings, central heat & A/C, playground across the street

Con's:  not everyone's style of renovation, further east than many are heading so far, small yard

Ideally:  another ground-up hipster hide-out in the making