Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crown Heights Limestone Available only on HomeCanvasr.com: Union Street & Nostrand Avenue




Fans of last year's Platinum Member pick-up in Crown Heights at 1196 Union Street (seen above) may be happy to hear that another house just like it is now available on the same block asking $1.299M.  Available only HomeCanvasr.com, this new house on this quiet block at Union Street and Nostrand Avenue, just off Eastern Parkway, is a cute barrel-front limestone with an extra-deep south facing yard.







Easily used as a single-family or a 2-Family, there are 3 full sized bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, solid wood floor throughout, original details, and a working gas fireplace.







Well maintained with some recent upgrades, including the new bathroom with the jacuzzi tub & skylight.  There's a finished basement as well.  And don't forget the 127' lot, just like at 1196 Union:




The expectation is buyers will renovate some, including moving the kitchen upstairs to the downstairs.  Renovations to 1196 Union Street and other neighbors show the potential to make the most out of these cute limestones.  And a house this solid under $1.5M is starting to look like a relative bargain with what's asking $1.85M in Crown Heights in need of at least $200K in work according to many prospective buyers.  It's almost a condo alternative at this price, with or without rental income.

We think this block is a sleeper hit in Crown Heights.  Steps from the 3 train at Eastern Parkway and the 2/5 at President Street, this is about as desirable a space you can get close to Franklin Avenue under $1.5M.  Offers came in higher than this asking price of $1.299M last year on 1196 Union, so we think the neighbor's priced their house in line with the market, given what even fixer-upper 3-stories can trade for off of Nostrand, like 798 Lincoln Place for $1.42M late last year.  And without a big broker's commission on the scene, there's even more savings buyer and seller can pass on to themselves.


Pro's:  curb appeal, cute block, pricepoint, totally turnkey, huge yard, well-situated as Crown Heights activity pushes east, can be affordably updated, not on everyone's radar

Con's:  work to be done, not quite as stunning at 1196, ostensibly wants more than last year's prices

Ideally:  this is a slam dunk for dozens of buyers with even a modest renovation budget


Sunday, April 19, 2015

What a Difference Pics & Marketing Make: 1070 Bergen Street



As seen first on BK to the Fullest and HomeCanvasr.com months ago, 1070 Bergen Street has hit the open market proper with a lil' clean-up, shiny pics, and dedicated marketing campaign.  And a few touches make all the difference between a ratty-looking off-market listing and something retail buyers wanna sink their teeth into.  Finally the original details of this place are out for all to see in their truly glory...






The intended asking price around New Years was $1.6M, but you can see why they're happy to ask $1.85M given the state of the market and the improvement in marketing.  This is basically the same gig as 196 Hancock Street not far away in Bed-Stuy with almost an identical facade, that the identical broker listed last year for the identical price in identical condition and fetched $2.1M from the Aussies.  As with that house, conspicuous in their absence are pics of the kitchens and baths, which basically need guts along with the rest of the house while tip-toeing around the amazing original details, which can be a pain.  But if they can be done in place, this will be a liveable house not long from now with a semi-modest budget into it.  Although a proper & thorough renovation will run many hundreds of thousands, as any high-end contractor will be happy to tell you.  Even though it sold last June, plans for renovations in 196 Hancock Street weren't approved until just last month.  But when you've got hundreds of millions, sitting on a house for almost a year or more is no biggie.  No wonder Platinum Members were happy to offer $2M on an off-market finished product a block away in Bed-Stuy this week since turnkey for $2M is more attractive than waiting on permits for a year at $2.1M.

With an open house today at noon, it's easy to come see the pros & cons of 1070 Bergen Street for yourself...




And when compared to the open house a block away at a not quite as stunning, but more finished product like 1134 Bergen Street, you can see why we're expecting to fetch a little more over there.


Pro's:  curb appeal, cleaned up and showing way better in pictures, open house and easy access, upgrades might be easy to make

Con's:  not a purely townhouse block, work to be done, price feels rich for a house that's not nearly turnkey, not a play for rental income if best used as a single-fam

Ideally:  a great fixer upper with even better details than we'd bargained for even if there's work ahead

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Open House at Our House This Sunday: 1134 Bergen Street



This Sunday there's an open house at one of our fave houses in Crown Heights, our house at 1134 Bergen Street.  This 3-Family with original details throughout and modern upgrades seems priced right to us given that total fixer-upper dogs off of Nostrand are fetching $1.5M-$1.685M effortlessly in and out of peak buying season.  Afterall, who wouldn't love this row of limestones?




But don't take our word for it.  Set up as an owner's duplex with 3BR's and 2 baths & huge south-facing back yard on the 127' lot, along with 2 floor thru's on top, this house is a crown jewel for all kinds of buyers.  The market understands nice product best when you put that Corcoran shine on it, and the pictures turned out great.  Banana yellow hallways and old linoleum covering the original oak treads and risers had to go, because this...




..is a great a improvement over this...




While not even optimized to its full potential yet, the kitchen in the owner's duplex has always been a fan favorite...




And creative tenants nailed it in the kitchen with this sweet breakfast nook!




The bedroom on the garden level has original oak flooring, a pocket door, a mantle in perfect condition, and original built-in mirrors and cabinets...





Since that ground floor ostensibly gets less light than the parlor and upper floors, the builders wisely went with a lighter wood on that floor and darker wood up top.  But it was all the same to Django...



There's also a washer/dryer on that floor, and jacuzzi tub and a shower built into the bathroom on an extension on that floor...




The extra-deep backyard actually doesn't show as well in the Corcoran pics as it does in person...




But just peak across at the neighbor's homemade trellis and landscaping to see what a magical mystery garden can be housed on these dimensions.  Django even tolerated it in the snow...




The reading room upstairs on the parlor features original parquet flooring, and turned out great in pics...




We built a wall to separate the front of the parlor and the reading room to make another bedroom.  So while we lost that grand effect of looking through the woodwork 20'-45' through to the front of the house, we also gained an extra bedroom that garners great rent.  Made sense to us because removing the wall if needed is as easy and damage-free as building it in a day was.






The renovated en suite bathroom on the parlor floor came out great too.  Simple, but a huge improvement over what was there before...






The rentals upstairs have newer floors, original details, and some strategic bath & kitchen upgrades...






Grossing $8,200/month as-is, close to the A/C and 3 trains at Nostrand.  Bike line on the block and at Dean Street.  Near Franklin Ave and Berg'n and every other coveted brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood.  This limestone hits the sweet spot.  One sip of the "Bergen Motel" cocktail at newly-opened King Tai on this very block and you'll get a sense of what direction folks feel this neighhorhood is heading in.




Pro's:  curb appeal, totally turnkey, original details in amazing condition, updates abound, great rental income from great tenants, extra-deep backyard, easy train & bus access for commuters to the city or other parts of BK, can be spruced up even further very affordably with the right touch, compares nicely to fixer-uppers trading for not much less than this, brand new hot water heater last year and mechanicals updated in this decade

Con's:  not as stunning block as Dean on this column, Nostrand isn't as hip as Franklin just yet, "18' not 20' wide" they'll groan, may feel a little chopped up to boudgie end-users the way we've configured it

Ideally:  a killer building with an open house this weekend makes it easy to see if it'll be "limestone love at first sight" for you like it was for us


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Platinum Member Closing Last Week: 711 Sterling Place



After many months in the making, Platinum Members finally closed on one of the niftiest gems in Crown Heights just off Franklin Avenue at 711 Sterling Place.  A huge 20' x 70' 4-Family currently set-up with 3BR rentals is about as juicy as it gets these days.  Especially when everything like it or worse nearby is going for $100K-$200K more.  That's "not enough meat on the bone" for greedy investors, but is a boon for live-in end-user investor hybrids who wanna put 75 LTV and stellar interest rates to work in Brooklyn's hottest neighborhood.

The building, affectionately known as "Stella"...




Or "7-11"...






... has lots of salvageable originals details, and lots of great upgrades to come.




Unfortch' that the penny tile is so cracked...




Parquet floors in nice shape at times, although sometimes the flooring choices over the years went a lil' haywire...




We've heard of wall paper, but pages of Don Quixote were made into floor paper in one of the bedrooms...




Our plumber was tripping out over the M.C. Escher carpet in this room...




Great light coming in the south facing side and unattached side windows to the north...




A few layouts, especially in the kitchen, are still up for debate...




But this is the fun stuff!  The bathrooms will obviously be updated, and no sooner did we see them like this...




...than our main man Steve already had the demo cooking right away...




Spring training is over and the season has started.  The backyard is huge, unpaved, and ready to be pimped out too...




With so much work to be done, so many decisions to make, and so many moving parts - it was more than little Gibson could bear for one afternoon...




Can't wait to figure out the particulars of the reno and see how it all turns out.  Expect some killer 2-3BR rentals on the market here soon, available by June 1st if all goes according to plan.

Shout outs to one of our main man mortgage masters & Crown Heights brethren Adam Dahill for landing phatty financing at sub-3% interest!  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bushwick Getting a Bump: Quincy Street Renovation




We still don't have a complete grasp of Bushwick like we do the rest of Brooklyn, but the neighborhood's potential is no surprise to us.  It's been swept up in the migration from the no-brainer Brooklyn neighborhoods to the outer limits of brownstone Brooklyn and beyond.  Once upon a time Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, and Lefferts were emerging neighborhoods.  Once those markets are digested, people are hungry for what the "next" neighborhood is.  While we rarely touch it personally and have still physically never taken an J, M, or Z train ourselves, Bushwick is caught in the cross hairs of those priced out of Williamsburg & "East Williamsburg", and Bed-Stuy.  You know 'ish is real when Saturday Night Live is spoofing gentrification into your neighborhood like it was a mix between The Wire and Portlandia...






Last year it was brand new that Bushwick's quick renovated flips were achieving over $1M after spending seasons in the $800K-$900K's, much like Bed-Stuy's were a few years prior.  Now that prime Bed-Stuy's fixer-uppers are getting almost $1.7M, the next-best neighborhood is ripe for the next-best price points.  This house on Quincy on the edge of Stuy-Heights towards Bushwick now wants $1.4M.  The broker tells us it's "an exceptional 2-family, 4-story brownstone located on Quincy Street near Broadway  J  and Z subway station and plenty of shops."  The broker adds...

"This historic townhouse came on the market last summer for just under $1,000,000 but did not get any lift from irrational exuberance. Why?  The uninspired configuration blurs the vision of the most adept buyer.

Lessons learned: now the house is under significant transformation by excellent [craftsmen].

The entire top floor is the owner’s master suite with full bathroom, massive walk-in-closet, and area for reading or study. The third floor has 3 full bedrooms, full bath and large closets. Second/parlor floor has the integrated kitchen, large living and dining room and a gues[t] bathroom.

The garden floor is a one bedroom rental."

The old pictures of the place (presumably improved on since) left much to be desired...








Platinum Members almost scooped a small 2-Family further into Bushwick under $900K last month, in an area where the $700-$1,000/month bedroom rentals are alive & kicking.  As the rental prices of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights move into Bushwick, so are the sale prices.  And our Bushwick rental expert points out that something as simple as stylish coffee shop does make a palpable difference on these blocks...




We're patiently awaiting what the renovation at Quincy looks like to justify this price bump. Luckily, we just got an off-market property in Crown Heights that wants this same price too.  For $1.4M 3-stories in Bushwick, you have to really please the end-users, since there's no meat on the bone for any investor at those levels.  Investors do eat up Bushwick though.  Today we were shopped an off-market 6-Family in Bushwick asking $1.5M.  At an appraisal for an 8-Family in Lefferts this time last year, we were told that a $1.6M valuation would easily be $2M for the same house if it were in Bushwick because of the rental income potential over there.  We're not surprised, but it is news to us to see even the most modest railroad 2BR's can command as much as $1,700/month in this off-market Bushwick building.  We don't have "irrational exhuberance" for Bushwick, but we're certainly not bearish on it either given the data.

[Editor's note - 4/8/15 - owner called and adds that they raised the roof get a legit ceiling height on the 4-story that isn't evident from the street, brand new roof, walk in closet on that floor, A/C systems for each floor, opened up the parlor, added a true powder room, redoing the facade/steps/sidewalk, saved original molding where possible, refinished 4-marble fire places, removed a staircase to make for more interior width.  Also, there's a charter school at the end of the block along with a police precinct for those with school and safety concerns.  Hoping to see more of the finished product later this month or early next...]

Pro's:  pre-market renovated 2-Family, J/Z trains around the corner, rental income potential, neighb' on the rise, supposedly much better than before, we'll give them a little love the attic-y 4-story

Con's:  huge price bump up from not long ago, 17' wide, last round of pics didn't show us much yet, wasn't the best of Bushwick under $1.2M not long ago?

Ideally:  well-renovated houses under $1.5M in Bushwick will probably have a market as long as fixer-uppers in Bed-Stuy and Williamsburg sell for more than that.  Whether or not this is one of them is TBD.