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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Listings: North Bed-Stuy New Construction Brownstone - 906A Lafayette Avenue

New to the Listings section of the blog, we checked out this new construction brownstone 2-Family yesterday on the north end of Bed-Stuy towards Bushwick.  906A Lafayette Avenue is almost finished, and coming to market for $1.5M.  Now you might've doubted the listing broker Nevo before, when he dropped Crown Heights' 852 Park Place on ya for over $1.5M a few months ago.  Platinum Members passed on it at $1M-$1.1M a few months earlier, but the house is now closing above $1.5M this month.  So we can't say where the price goes next, but this Lafayette house sure is an upgrade from the vacant lot that was there before...

With high ceilings on all floors, large windows, and a good brownstone look on the facade - especially as new construction goes - this house is a welcome addition to the row...

The height and the bare modern interior space remind us of Williamsburg new construction.  The width is barely 17', but we're told it's 60' deep. Set up as a double-duplex plus finished basement, there's separate central heat & A/C for each unit.  We're told the larger duplex could rent for as much as $4,000/month.  We don't the rents on this exact block, but there are plenty of beds and baths to back up the potential.  Even if it's not your taste, it is all new...

Generic is often a decent trade-off for functional.  Like lots of these renovations, the house has little affordable touches here and there, much like 610 Willoughby Avenue.  Washer/dryer, skylights, lots of closets wherever possible, creative layouts.  We're not feeling the skylight instead of a window for a bedroom, but might make a living room solution.

Oh, and did we mention the roof deck in the back??

That's the stuff we go for in Fort Greene executed properly on the outskirts of Bed-Stuy.  Some landscaping yet to be done before the yard reaches its fullest potential...

Lots of would-be buyers tell us they want a vacant lot to build a house on, but few realize it takes years, lots of capital, headache, and know-how even for the pros to pull it off.  If you can do it better than them, then you do it.  It's definitely lame when developers rip original details out of historic houses to make them cheap & modern, but if someone goes modern ground up and throws a nice brownstone facade out front, it's actually kind of a cool blend.

90% of Bed-Stuy buyers are bound to find this house too far, too expensive, and too generic - and we can't really argue with them.  But a few people might cop themselves another freshly finished hipster hideout at a good price, much like 179 Park Avenue, that's still plenty of profit for the developer.  It took a few years, but the whole here is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.

Pro's:  ground-up new construction with a brownstone look, rentable double-duplex, high ceilings, 60' deep, finished basement, roof deck, skylights, central heat & A/C, interesting look for the Bed-Stuy/Bushwick tweener buyer

Con's:  off the beaten path, generic style, skylight as only window in some rooms, not the price we expected

Ideally:  not where we'd head first at this price, but the right buyer will appreciate it

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Marketing Boost for Bed-Stuy 2-Family: 435 Putnam Avenue

Usually when a big broker gets their hands on a property that's dwindling under-market, they boost the price along with the marketing.  But not at 435 Putnam Avenue.  Asking $1.2M for sometime (up from $899K), Brown Harris got their hands on it with a new price of $1.1M.  For a 19' x 45' in mid Bed-Stuy, this actually sounds like a bargain, even for a house that "is in need of a renovation."  No pics yet, but under $350/sqft and well under $1.5M for 4-stories, even if the top floor is attic-y, we're not pumping Bed-Stuy, but it's worth a look in this market.

The listing broker tells us it's "Delivered vacant.  Has a massive extension on lower 2 floors.  Bed-vine right across the street... and inside is surprisingly livable.  Not lots of details, but was used as 4-Family until recently."

If the similar 453 Putnam Avenue gets even close to its asking price of $1.85M - not saying it will - then 435 Putnam's a no-brainer.  Maybe you missed 528 Putnam already in contract.  Platinum Members sure didn't.  For a look at what a difference marketing can make, just see the case of 419 Halsey Street.

Pro's:  price went down, full-sized 4-story on a tree-lined block, rental income potential

Con's:  no pics, needs work, not the most convenient location, competition is bound to come out for it now

Ideally:  we'll need to take a closer look, but all signs point to 435 around this price so far

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Greene: 64 South Portland Avenue

It's easy to wanna live a block from Fort Greene Park in prime Fort Greene, but finding the right house is hard.  Even when money's no object, you've gotta play bidding war in this market well over asking price of $2.595M on fixer-upper gems like 252 Carlton Avenue.  I'm'a tell you like Kermit told me, "It's not that easy being green".

When you've got a park that only runs for 5 blocks, and only 2 or 3 of those blocks on one side of it are even considered that desirable, it's bound to be slim pickings, regardless of the market.  But with little to no product available in the most prime locations, even in the $3M-$4M range, something relatively turnkey under $2.5M actually spells value.  64 South Portland Avenue is a nifty 2-Family used as a 3 that came out last week just off the park.  It's got an owner's duplex, amazing rental income upstairs, and - our personal fave - a roof deck:

Lots of original mantles throughout, but not gonna wow you with historic grandeur.  They pulled off a huge extension that brings the house to 20' x 55', and still leaves a great backyard.  What it lacks it gobs of original character, it makes up for in restoration-style updates that aren't everyone's taste, but are a lot of money you don't have to spend right away if you don't want to...

The garden floor's got unfinished parts to it, like the floor that's down to the subfloor at times.  But that's a modest fix.  Cousin John said you could easily spend a millie on it doing a magazine-quality full scale renovation with all new mechanicals, fixtures, and finishes.  But you could also get it off the ground relatively easily and ride the working condition of the current renovation for years to come.  So while it's not the most grand of raw canvases you'll find in Fort Greene, the tweener status of the reno is a plus for the right buyer.  When the more stately houses over here fetch $3M+ and still need work, this could be a good look at a live-able house below that number.

Pro's: top notch block, huge extension with roof deck, pretty decent condition as-is, relative pricepoint, rental income is bananas over here

Con's:  pretty generic renovation with work left to be done, not the most grand house you'll find in the area, bound to go over asking price, competing with cash offers is tough

Ideally:  listing broker told us his mortgage guy says it can easily be financed at 25% loan to cost, making it one of the most affordable places out there for the 3-Family under $3M seekers.