Thursday, October 23, 2014

Closings of Note: Put Your "Big Boy Pants" Back On

Two years ago, we told you it was time to put your "big boy pants" on for prices in Park Slope.  Now the big boys are spreading all over town.  Here's a look at just a few of the eye-opening numbers happening in Brooklyn.  So much for a million dollars around Franklin Avenue.  This tiny, narrow Crown Heights 3-story at 665 Park Place listed for $2M and closed for $1.895M this month.  The buyers?  From Park Slope.

Speaking of $2M, 'twas but a rinky-dink $900K 6-Family in 2009, after the crash.  But 197 St. Marks Avenue sold for $1.95M last month.  Ain't pretty, but that's location, y'all!

Walk with us, deep, deep into Bed-Stuy - where 598 Jefferson Avenue sells for $1.7M last month to buyers from Boerum Hill.  No, this isn't the 200-block of Jefferson, or the 300 or 400 block.  This is east of Lewis, and it didn't take a fancy listing or a huge open house to fetch well over $1.5M.  Welcome to today's Bed-Stuy.

Remember the good ol' days (2-3 years ago) when cry-baby would-be developers didn't even wanna pay $1.5-$1.7M for flagship fixer-uppers in Park Slope??  Oh, if only they could step into the time machine.  27 7th Avenue was a gem, and dropped all the way down to $1.565M back then.  Now it closed last month for $3.8M to a buyer from Manhattan putting $1M down.

Speaking of a million down, over in Cobble Hill, 359 Henry Street listed for $4.3M as a 16' wide unfinished new construction.  A buyer from nearby closed on it last month for $4.55M.  If you think that's a lot, you should see what's fetching over $7M right around the corner.

But watch out for what big buildings in Crown Heights can fetch too.  This 35 unit building at 1539 Park Place isn't even Crown Heights by some maps, it's Weeksville!  That didn't stop it from closing for $5.075M last month.  Over in Lefferts, a 20-Family at 147 Ocean Avenue sold for almost $5M last month too!

Million dollar condos in Park Slope ain't quite what they used to be.  Now pretty much anything can go for $900+/sqft.  This narrow top floor duplex with roof deck looked like a great value though at 130 St. Marks Place, #4L.  No wonder it listed for $850K and sold for $930K.  If you're the buyer of 531 or 533 Bergen Street, this has got to be your blueprint on how to convert an 8-Family with railroad apartments into something special.

Which is precisely why the sharks were circling 703 Carroll Street, another 8-Family in prime Park Slope.  On Platinum Member radar last year before it came out, a local operater bought the place instead of condo converters.

The unicorn hunters still want a whole house in Park Slope for $1.5M, even though that's been an unrealistic expectation for some 2 years now.  In fact, the condos can fetch more than that today.  153 Lincoln Place, #1C closed for $1.797M last month to buyers from the East Village.  Buyers from Manhattan also bought another unit in this building for $1.25M this season.  At barely $1,200/sqft, Park Slope condo prices still haven't even achieved Williamsburg levels.  So watch out!

Wouldn't you rather have a whole house for the same price?  No wonder 195 Gates Avenue went over asking price.  A little gnarly, a little generic, and certainly on its way to Bed-Stuy from Clinton Hill, buyers from San Francisco closed on it this month for $1.845M with over a million down.

Picky Brooklyn buyers, your 12' wide townhouse asking over $3M awaits!!  Brownstoner had a field day with this one at 415 Dean Street at its previous asking price, but it still managed to close for $2.69M last month to buyers from lower Manhattan.  Just a stone's throw from Barclays doesn't keep 'em away these days.

Neither does a stone's throw from Atlantic Avenue.  582 Washington Avenue closed this month for $2.35M to a buyer from Manhattan.  And you won't believe some of the numbers happening just around the corner.

"Nostrand is too far" rolls off the tongue of short-sighted folks, but buyers from Manhattan ain't stopping at Franklin.  When people ask "What's the next neighborhood to blow?" we always answer, "What's the next train stop?"  So what's the next train stop after Franklin Avenue, people?  You guessed it!  Nostrand.  So watch while 5 commercial spaces in a row between 525 & 543 Nostrand Avenue sell for over $3.5M this month.  Owner says they have a few retail spaces available to rent already.  Can't wait to show you what else is going for ~$3M on Nostrand.

In the even bigger boy department, maybe you missed 564-570 St. Johns Place closing for $24M back in April.  On the same block as Franklin Park, this 135K bsf goes for about $177/bsf.  This will go the way of many other big projects in the area.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Condos Keep Converting: 181 Park Place, #3

When you close on a 5-story brownstone in prime Prospect Heights in 2013 for just over $1.8M and list just one of the condos on 2 floors for even more than $1.85M, you know you're in a hot market.  That's exactly how it's going down on 181 Park Place, #3.  Sure, buying it for $1.8M and flipping it right back for $2.99M didn't quite work, but we think the condo conversion will.  It was adorable to see would-be developers pull out their crayons and draw pro-formas on this place just over two years ago, back when the owner would've let it go around $1.5M and nobody wanted to pay a penny over $1.25M.  But now that it's obviously hotter than hot in Brooklyn right now, guess how much comparable off-market SRO shells are going for?  $2.7M a piece, like 218-220 Park Place last month!

No pics yet for the condo, but the floor plan shows a duplex with a private roof deck.  For all those that say nobody will pay this price for a 4-floor walk up, just watch 'em...

And don't act like $1,000+/sqft hasn't happened over here before.  And don't act like the same broker didn't just move a similar brownstone conversion for some $1M/floor just across Flatbush at 777 Carroll Street.  It's not what people wanna hear, but it is what's going on it the streets.  We ain't over here "touting" jack, despite what people might claim.  We're just telling it like it is.  Prices like these ain't pretty for buyers, but still a value over comparable product in Manhattan or "better" parts of Brooklyn.  Sometimes you just gotta say "wow".

Would-be developers take heed.  Sleep on off-market 5-story estate-type sales around $500/sqft at your own peril.

Pro's:  prime renovated Prospect Heights duplex condo with private roof deck, not a 50+ unit building

Con's:  certainly ain't cheap, no pics yet, it is a four-floor walk-up, quality reno or not?

Ideally:  a valuable lesson for some and a buy for others.  Certainly too rich for our blood, though.  Maybe this is why Bed-Stuy gems go for this price now?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bed-Stuy Open House this Sunday: Chauncey Street on Park Block

Available exclusively on, it's a totally renovated 3-story brownstone on Chauncey Street directly across from the park.  Do the prices off the Nostrand Avenue subway stop have you down?  Well, sit on the train one stop further and get off at Utica!  Crazy concept, we know, but many of the houses over here are even nicer.  Local Bed-Stuy extraordinaire Morgan Munsey points out that Stuyvesant Heights was the second district in all of Brooklyn to become landmarked - shortly behind Brooklyn Heights - back in the 1970's.  Yup, before half you Bed-Stuy haters were even born, people were loving up on this architecture from the historic house hey-day of 1870's to 1900's.

Cue this house from circa 1899, a brownstone that's 3 stories at 19.5' x 45'.  Original details meet modern upgrades in what we're told is a legal 3-Family used as a single-family.  With 2 kitchens still intact, it could easily be used an upper duplex and garden rental...

The deck out to the backyard...

And the parlor that folks look for in these hundred year old homes...

If you're looking for an alternative to 336 Hancock Street, this could be it.

Wood details, orginal mantles, parquet floors, shutters, exposed brick... park & express train right outside your door.  No wonder people come here instead of condos in Manhattan (or other parts of Brooklyn) for $1.5M+.  With an asking price of $1.6M and no big broker's commission on the scene (as of yet), this house is just what dozens of buyers have been looking for.  Who needs REBNY to tax the transaction?  With 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, plus a "finished functioning basement" - this is still condo-alternative pricing in this new wave Brooklyn.  Open house by appointment this Sunday, October 19th from 1pm to 2pm.  To register, e-mail

If the "median" town home price in Bed-Stuy is truly $1.85M, then this is a steal, y'all!

Pro's: prime time Stuyvesant Heights "3-Family", across from the park & A train, totally renovated with modern upgrades and original details, easily converted for more rental income, 

Con's:  not the fanciest pics, 3 stories instead of 4, not everyone's taste, "Utica is too far" rings hallow but will still be heard, set up as single-family currently, no address for the looky-loo's

Ideally:  happy medium in this market, and with an open house this weekend, it's easy to go see for yourself.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sneak Peek at Prime Crown Heights Passive House Renovation Rentals: 583 Lincoln Place

Was it really 2 years ago that we were doing this off-market deal at 583 Lincoln Place with Platinum Members and one of our favorite local brokers Celeste Moses?  Boy, time flies when you're running laps around the traditional retail industry!  Now this passive house renovation is wrapping up, Franklin Avenue has blown up bigger & faster than anyone could've imagined, and these prime time Crown Heights rentals are almost ready for their close-up,  poised to fly off the shelves like hot cakes.  The owner gave us a sneak peek last week before the open house this weekend for the two rentals available for November 1st.  The facade cleaned up totally nice...

This huge corner building is located just steps off Franklin Avenue, and a few blocks from the 2/3/4/5 trains, and makes a great alternative to the likes of 341 Eastern Parkway.  When your neighbors are renting studios for over $2,000-$2,200/month on a regular you basis, you know you're in a hot rental market.  The upcoming rentals at 583 Lincoln Place include a 2BR and a 1BR with private roof deck...

There is common laundry in the basement as well as bike storage.  But these aren't just any rentals.  The owner walked us through some of the unique design aspects of the house.  There is a common roof deck that's green, where the owner tells us tenants can pick kale off their organic rooftop farm maintained by the owner.  A rain water collector irrigates all of the plants on the ground level. The building has been completely renovated with energy-friendly features such as solar panels on the roof that provide 80% of the energy for the hot water system (supplemented by a gas powered system)...

The owner raves, "The great thing about this was that after all of the rebates and tax incentives, the solar system was only a few thousand dollars to add on top of the gas system, which pays for itself in 5 years, and after that 80% of the hot water for the whole house is provided by the sun!"  Other "green" features include the air-tight passive house construction, which lowers energy loss and energy bills.  We're no experts, but from what everyone tells us, these passive houses really breathe.  The owner tells us 90% of energy is recovered through air exchange in the ventilation system.  So you're not "heating the whole neighborhood" like pops used to tell you not to.  The entire house has a water filtration system.  The insulation - one made of a plant-based biodegradable material - also provides extra sound-proofing from outside noise pollution.  There is an emergency back-up generator for electric power.  The European "tilt & turn" windows are sleek, stylish, versatile, and easy to use.  Mitsubishi mini-split heating and cooling systems provide comfortable temperature control while the building maintains its temperature more easily anyways.

And while the fixtures and finishes aren't totally complete yet, it's almost there.  Hand-made tile from the Dominican Republic in the bathroom for that Spanish flare...

Modern kitchens (with countertops and backsplash coming in this week)...

South, east, and west exposures on the corners...

Even if you're not weak in the knees for any of the eco-friendly features of this place, the house speaks for itself on the feel, location, and quality of the renovation alone.  The rest is just gravy!  Throw in competitive pricing with what else is going on in the neighborhood, and you've got a recipe for happy landlord and tenants.

Pro's:  curb appeal, size, location, tons of bells & whistles for the eco-conscious and the purely self-conscious, not a huge building with no soul, common roof deck - laundry - and bike storage, great alternative to 341 Eastern Parkway

Con's:  there's only 2 available, rents ain't cheap over here, this ain't your father's Crown Heights - or even last year's Crown Heights!

Ideally:  after a lot of work, this flagship passive house renovation is finally spreading its wings

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Closings of Note: The 4 Horsemen

With real estate headlines that include 86% price leaps in one year for townhomes in "emerging" Brooklyn neighborhoods, putting the "median sale price" at $1.85M, you can only imagine that the Chicken Littles are certain this is the next sign of the apocalypse.  Readers of such pieces continue to list their first wave explanations for how this pricing could be possible.  That's right, while we still get e-mails just this week from folks looking to purchase a house no further than 9th Street and east of 3rd Avenue in "Park Slope/Gowanus" for $1.5M with financing, the median sale price of homes in less-coveted areas from Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Lefferts, and Bushwick (let's call them the 4 horseman!) is supposedly $1.85M.  But instead of averages and medians in reports from Corcoran, or individual buyers pulling a number out of thin air for their favorite neighborhood, let's take a walk through some of these areas and see what the case-by-case numbers are really like...

Whoa!  No wonder it's hard to find a house north of 9th Street that's under $1.5M, even the jokers at this local brokerage managed to get $2.5M for this tiny house on 16th Street.  Asking $2.195M, this renovated 2-Fam at 346 16th Street had a cute yard, central A/C, and a Home Expo interior.  Just 3 stories, not 4, but close to the park.  A buyer from the Upper East Side zoomed by the asking price and closed last month for $2.5M.

The coveted stretch of South Elliot in Fort Greene is precisely one block long, so it's no wonder houses there are hard to come by.  This estate sale at 23 South Elliott closed last month to a buyer from the West Village for $2.2M.  It takes a lot of cash to pull it off, and a lot of cash to finish the renovation, but this is a relative steal for the area.

But Clinton Hill can play over $2M too!  The peanut gallery reluctantly acknowledged that 22 Lefferts Place was a "relative value" at its asking price of $1.9M, and some expected it to go for more.  Alas, Manhattan buyers closed on it in August for $2.125M.

But Prospect Lefferts Garden can play over $2M too!  94 Midwood Street, a "mere" single family, stunning, with a lot of yard, driveway and garages!  Closed for $2.25M last month.

Speaking of Manhattan buyers, Park Slope's 145 Berkeley Place sells to some last month for $3.45M. says they have 5 more just like this, and Platinum Members are scoping out a handful of homes just like this pre-market in this pricepoint on these blocks in Park Slope and Prospect Heights that you won't find on

Over in Crown Heights, Platinum Members got the early lead back in May on this neat little 2-Family at 858 Lincoln Place from a local broker.  A buyer from Prospect Heights closed on it last month for $1.2M.  A great purchase compared to what the big brokers are getting on this very block.  And a far cry from a "median sale price of $1.85M".

Case in point, 814 Lincoln Place listed for $1.35M this summer and a buyer from Manhattan closed last month for $1.5M.  It wasn't long ago that more finished 4-stories in this row like 852 Park Place were going for $1.5M.  At the broker's open for 814, Platinum Members complained to us about the extremely short yard and said, "The house is great, 'but'....  There's always a 'but'..."  Even the NYTimes knows about "buts":

Trust that we here at BKTTF are no strangers to "buts".  Maybe a $1.5M sale like this on east of Nostrand in Crown Heights is why that $1.5M "Park Slope/Gowanus" search is so elusive.  Or why people can rarely this kind of pricing on Franklin Avenue.

Also in Crown Heights, 681 Franklin Avenue is a mixed-use building that sold for $1.4M last month.  Now this 3BR/1 bath rental wants $3,800/month.

$1.5M in "Park Slope/Gowanus"??  Try over $1.5M in Lefferts!  181 Fenimore Street is a cute 3-story barrel front that listed for $1.495M and closed for $1.545M last month to buyers from the East Village.  And these folks are no dummies either; we're talking Harvard Business School, y'all!  You think those are the fools rushing into some real estate bubble?  Or are they just buying the dopest house in Brooklyn that their budget and search could yield?  It's funny when renters in Brooklyn Heights think they can't go past 9th Street in Park Slope, but folks from Manhattan are cool with Lefferts.  Oh, when will you myopic upper class ever learn?  They call us telling them the truth a "schtick" - we call it "the truth".

$1.5M in "Park Slope/Gowanus"??  Try the Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy border!  419A Classon Avenue listed for $1.5M and closed last month for $1.45M.  Super generic, and not what most people have in mind.  But then again, it is a better pricepoint than neighbors who spent $1.85M-$2M+ for narrower finished houses.

$1.5M in  "Park Slope/Gowanus"??  Try $1.5M mortgage on a $1.875M purchase in Lefferts, made by buyers coming from Park Slope!  This 3-story single-family at 190 Maple Street closed last month.  Sure cleans up nice, but that's a big number, and no rental income.  This is where Corcoran must be pulling their "median" sale price of $1.85M for these areas, no?

Or, for more of a deal, slide further towards Flatbush to 1 Parkside Court where a fixer-upper closed for right around a million.  On Platinum Member radar for over a year, the aggressive flippers got to it before we could, cleaned it out, brought it to the retail market, and made a pretty penny for their risk and effort.

$1.5M in "Park Slope/Gowanus"??  Try Ditmas, where Manhattan buyers took down 229 Stratford Road last month.  Platinum Members renting in Brooklyn with high-brow businesses in Manhattan asked us just yesterday if buyers from Manhattan are really part of the Brooklyn real estate story.  The sales don't lie.

Speaking of Mahattan buyers... listed for $2.95M, closed for $3.5M last month, 305 Cumberland Street is a frame house with the sickest, most stylish renovation.  Views ripped from the headlines of an interior design magazine, this is how you ball out in Brooklyn.  It didn't quite sell for what Jenna's house sold for a few years ago, but this is the stuff Brooklyn real estate porn is made of... especially for a frame house.  And while the price will shock most, there are $5M apartments in Manhattan jealous of these interiors.  But don't despair.  Fort Greene isn't the only place where stunning renovations get a 3-handle on them.  We can't wait to show you this month who's bringing that number east of Classon Avenue with style.

Who's selling you a house in Park Slope/Gowanus for $1.5M when Bed-Stuy gets $1.85M?  290 Jefferson Avenue closed in August for full asking price to buyers from the Upper West Side.  Noticing a pattern, anyone?