Friday, July 30, 2010

Fort Greene Favorite: 70 Lafayette Avenue

Right across the street from one of our favorite listings that may have gotten away for under $1M, 79 Lafayette Avenue, comes another well-priced 3-family brick building that the window of opportunity may have closed on too, 70 Lafayette. StreetEasy had this listing up since November 2009 for $1.199M and as of January 2010 it says the listing is "no longer available". From what we can tell, it hasn't sold, and we remember seeing some kind of for sale sign on there pretty recently. Though that's worth double-checking. The listing says it's an "Estate Sale", so that may have complicated things. Looks like a nice amount of space, though, at a comparatively reasonable price. We love this block.

Anybody know anything else about this building?

Pro's: curb appeal, location, size (4,900 sqft)

Con's: interior needs upgrades, may not even be available anymore

Ideally: this is still around at this price. we'll look into it and update you

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fort Greene Showdown: 308 Clermont Avenue

In the spirit of yesterday's match-up in Caroll Gardens, we've got another showdown of 3-family properties on the same street. 308 Clermont is a 3-family in Fort Greene listed at $1.694M. It's a block away from our first house 204 Clermont. We don't really see this price happening. Property Shark says this listing has been up at this price since April 2010. 204 Clermont is probably the better house, but it's been up since 2008 and the price has already dropped to $1.545M. For less money, we'd much rather have the corner lot and the garage. Both seem pricey compared to one of our faves, 258 Adelphi. And for almost $1.7M, we'd much rather head to 407 Sterling Place.

Just like yesterday's match-up, the better listing may win the day. 204 Clermont's listing has nice, shiny pictures of the interior. 308 Clermont has a listing with pictures, but they're pretty dim and grim.

Pro's: location, fair condition, fair curb appeal

Con's: price, price, price

Ideally: Prices need to come much closer to the FHA 3-family loan limit of $1.2M. If you absolutely love this block, 308 Clermont makes bidding on 204 Clermont seem reasonable.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Carroll Gardens Shoot-Out: 43 4th Place

Last week we covered the nice house vs. dinky listing situation over on 77 4th Place. Now, just one block over, we have another 3-family brick house at 43 4th Place. Today's pick is listed at almost the identical price, $1.495M. The size and layout are almost identical too. The biggest difference between these two is the quality of the listings. Corcoran always does a good job with photos, floorplans, and descriptions in full sentences. This listing even plays up details like the wood burning fireplace and the buildable air rights. Both of these properties came on the market within 3 weeks of each other, between May and June of 2010, but our money's on the Corcoran listing to go sooner. Not because it's a superior house, but because it's a superior listing. Although, we did have to go to Google Maps street view and the Property Shark for a true picture of the facade.

The interior pictures show a very presentable space. Nice floors and fixtures in most rooms. Corcoran is pro, what can we say? They can make even a lousy space shine. So what happens when two properties of the same size on the same street list for the same price around the same time? It's an old fashioned Carroll Gardens Shoot-Out!! May the best man win!

Pro's: curb appeal, yard, location, rental income potential

Con's: what's going on with the unattached side of the building? neighbor's parking lot?

Ideally: we see this house going much sooner than its opponent, if only on the strength/visibility of its listing

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

4-Family in "Slope Heights": 33 St. Marks Avenue

Listed with Fillmore since May '10, today's pick is a nice-looking 4-family brick building just off of Flatbush, nestled right between Park Slope and Prospect Heights, 33 St. Marks Avenue. Oddly enough, the listing on Zillow has more pictures than the Fillmore listing itself. Both listings claim, "Lets Go Mls!", which might make sense if there really were a such thing in place, being utilized on a regular basis in this area. Not sure what that call to arms is referring to here.

We LOVE this area. Believe in its rents, transportation, and amenities. The jury's still out on what effect the stadium will have long-term, but this house is about as close as one can be to the stadium without (hopefully) dealing with the inevitable construction and traffic back-up from the stadium. Who knows?

The listing says its rents are below market and that it needs some TLC. However, this place has lots going for it if the apartments are in even half-way decent condition. At 20' x 65', there's a nice, juicy 1,300sqft floorplate to work with, which makes us believe in the 3BR lay out on the top floors that one of the various listings (one discloses the address, one doesn't, for example) refers too. There's even a nice wooden deck above the brick-paved little yard in the back - plus!

With the FHA 4-family loan limit at $1.4M, this $1.6M list price is close to some very interesting territory for an owner-occupied purchase. There's a Lis Pendens filed in June '09 and it looks like the current owners bailed the previous owner out later in September '09. Looks like they may have a nice flip on their hands.

Pro's: location, size, deck & yard, rental income potential

Con's: price may be a little frothy, how much "TLC" are we talking?

Ideally: This place compares favorably to pretty much any 4-family we've seen, especially for this location and size of floorplate. If there's any flexibility in price, this could be a great pick-up!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Prospect Heights for Under $1M: 622 Bergen Street

Just down the street from our recent listing for 636 Bergen comes another 3-family brick building on the same block for under $1M, 622 Bergen. Corcoran's had this listing up for $975K since March '10 with only pictures of the exterior and back yard. The listing touts 2BR floor through apts on each floor, although it's not quite what we'd want out of the 2nd bedroom at 6'3" wide. The location is great for amenities and trains. Avoiding the mansion tax in a nice area like this leaves us wondering what kind of condition the inside is in.

Unfortunately, the listing's in contract, so we'll only get to see what it closes at for curiosity's sake...

Pro's: location, price point

Con's: layout, condition inside?

Ideally: Give or a take a few, this property could be right there for this price. It will be interesting to see what it closes for.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Size Matters: 505 6th Avenue

Around the corner from yesterday's small 3-family comes an even smaller one 505 6th Avenue. Also in South Slope, this narrow 15' wide brick building comes in at a relatively low price point. Listed with Century 21 now for $1.095M, Googlemaps shows a VLS listing that was $1.275M once upon a time. The pictures on the listing show some exposed brick, rooms in nice condition, the back yard, and even a layout. We're not sure exactly how this is a 3-family with Property Shark listing the building class as a one-family, and the listing details a duplex & one bedroom rental. Might make closing as a 3-family harder to do with the bank. Either way, given our "owner-occupied + rental income" slant on these properties, not a lot of space or opportunity here.

Pro's: location, condition, price

Con's: size, questionable 3-family status, little rental income potential

Ideally: this makes the price of yesterday's listing seem much more reasonable. If you can only close with this as a two-family, the $960K loan limit comes into play. Between that and the mansion tax, we can't see this fetching anything above $999K.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

3-Family with plans in the Slope: 345 13th Street

A few smaller buildings at relatively more affordable prices show up in this stretch of Park Slope. This listing for 345 13th Street has the 17' 3-family brick building at $1.2M with Marcus & Millichap since May '10. Marcus & Millichap listings are often under the radar because it appears you have to register with them to see their listings and they don't always market them to the public otherwise. Property Shark shows Fillmore with the listing at $1.29M in December of '09.

The price drop should help. 17' x 50' is a modest floor plate to fit two full bedrooms on, which the listing says the rentals are. The floor plan given shows a railroad-esque set up. Not sure if there's a good way to provide seperate, convenient entrances to the BR's and still make it all feel like 1 apartment. The lay out also includes a "schematic property analysis" from an architect with some of the building's other possibilities, including adding another floor on top with the buildable FAR available. Although, we imagine anyone with that kind of cash might aim for a different building altogether.

While it's not on the most quaint block, the proximity to the F train and vibrant avenues on 5th & 7th will always command a good price and good rents. We'd love to see the condition of the inside.

Pro's: location, price, plans to expand

Con's: width, layout, what's the condition?

Ideally: with a lot of options for modest buildings at this price point, it's hard to say whether this is the best one for the money in this area. We should take a look at the others...

Friday, July 23, 2010

2-Family with Potential: 202 Bergen Street

202 Bergen Street looks like a quaint, affordable 2-family in Boerum Hill at $1.1M. Listing says it's an "estate sale... priced for a quick sale." Indeed, it's not hard to wrap our heads around the list price. Especially with the FHA 2-family loan limit at $960K. A pretty small place, but at $595/sqft for the current asking price, it could make a nice alternative to a condo. And it's one of lowest price points within blocks of here. Staying close enough to the delights of Smith Street and Court Street is a huge plus too. If you can afford the renovation after the purchase price, there's nice potential here.

Pro's location, price point

Con's size, not much rental income potential, needs update/renovation

Ideally: Too small for the kind of multi-family play we go for here, but if this could go for under $1M to avoid the mansion tax, you'd have a nice place to work with.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dinky Listing, Nice House: 77 4th Place

Located at the southern tip of Carroll Gardens, on a pretty block, comes a lovely 3-family for $1.5M, 77 4th Place. Located just off of Court Street, right around the corner from the lovable Italian eats & ambiance at Frankies 457, and a short couple of blocks over to the F train at Carroll Street. All this charm makes it easy to look past the listing, which looks like a camera phone picture and a text message in short-hand. We almost can't believe there's not an "OMG" of "LOL" in the listing.

It's never a good sign when we can find a higher resolution, more appetizing, more informative picture of your $1.5M listing on Google Maps Street view than your listing itself.

But such is life in Brooklyn real estate. Sounds like rentals might only be 1BR's, but even those command great rents in this area, as the listing says the 3rd floor is gettin $1,800. The text also taps out some hints at renovations on some units, which would be plus. We would love to see more pictures, a lay-out, hear more about the rents, see the yard... but this definitely is worth a closer look from what we can tell.

Pro's: curb appeal, neighborhood, transportation, rents, perhaps even the house itself

Con's: none from what we can tell, maybe only the price

Ideally: Look at what else has closed in the area. This could be a lot of house for the money. Especially if there's some price flexibility, there's a chance this is the best way to dedicate that kind of money within 20 blocks of here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Price Drop on Clinton Hill Renovation: 312 Greene Avenue

On the market since 2008, but the price continues to fall, it's the 3-family in Clinton Hill 312 Greene Avenue. Don't get me wrong, I've entertained many a fantasy of waking up in this neighborhood and bearing the long line of hipsters at Choice to enjoy their yummy coffee and bacon/egg/n'cheese on a grilled roll. But is this the place to do it?

When an agent first brought this property to my attention, she told me it was an immaculate renovation, and that I couldn't go see it unless I understood that the $1.5M asking price was absolutely non-negotiable. "Not a penny below $1.5," she told me. This was in the Fall of 2009, mind you. Needless to say, I didn't go see it, because I told her $1.3M's probably the top for this place. Now, here we stand, with the price at $1.3M, and we're probably still looking at an overpriced property. The pictures look nice, but my buddy who went to see it says that's the only nice unit, and that the rest are a very bootleg renovation. The rents, presumably, are there to justify this price. But that's worth taking a closer look too.

Zillow's price history for this property shows its slow slide from $1.65M. A familiar story in the post-2008 crash that left properties like this and 204 Clermont behind. Especially when you consider what our beloved 175 Greene Avenue closed at, this price becomes harder to justify.

Pro's: decently renovated place, decent stretch of Clinton Hill, decent price

Con's: check the renovation, check the rents, check the price

Ideally: if owner didn't want to sell, wouldn't they have taken it off the market long ago? There's probably room around the $1.2M 3-family loan limit to make something happen here, as long as the rest checks out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't Believe the Hype: 79 Lafayette

If you're like me, you'd love a renovated 4-family property with great rents in the heart of Fort Greene right next to the train for a cool $1M, right? Throw 3.5% down FHA-style and call it a day, right? So, imagine my surprise when I found 79 Lafayette. Only, there's a few problems:

- this isn't the building's exterior, it's the building next door

- this isn't the listing agent, it's actually Marcus & Millichap, who are highly professional & responsive, but manage without marketing their listings publicly online or elsewhere, except for signage on the property

- not only is this not the listing agent, these Rapid Realty agents don't know much about the building, don't have actual access to it, AND don't relay offers to the sellers. In which case, why they troll the listing as theirs is beyond me. (My best guess would be for bait & switch to their own listings, but they didn't even have the correct info on those they switched me to.)

- the property taxes are some $22K anyways

- and the kicker: this listing is in contract already

So, this is another odd case that could only happen in the fractured, disjointed world of Brooklyn real estate. Until there's a legitimate place with all the listings in one, we'll keep scrounging the 7 Seas for what's out there.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stately Indeed: 407 Sterling Place

Walking around Prospect Heights this weekend just past Vanderbilt, I couldn't stop shoving my friend and saying, "Omg, look at all these gorgeous buildings!" It's actually uplifting to just see block after block of this good architecture. To that end, we bring you 407 Sterling Place.

Another Brooklyn Properties listing that's a lovely house. Not only a gorgeous, tree-lined block, but we believe firmly in this neighborhood. The listing even has floorplans! As a legal 2-family, this is pretty out of reach for buyers looking to keep their downpayment down with FHA. Not sure where the 2nd unit even comes into play with only one kitchen in the layout. And the list price of $1.7M+ might make even a few Park Slope houses blush. But a nice, hefty chunk of space with original finishes doesn't come along that often in these parts. And who knows, given where 170 St. Marks Avenue closing at $1.92M in February, 2010.

We don't have a play on it, but certainly some distinguished baller might. Would the $1.4M territory make sense?

Pro's: curb appeal, original finishes, over-all neighborhood

Con's: price, width, not the most train-friendly stretch, is it basically a 1-family in disguise?

Ideally: A distinguished baller should get a nice house, but for a nice price?

Clinton Hill "3 Family": 72 Downing Street

Tucked away in the part of budding Clinton Hill that's actually close to the C-train comes 72 Downing Street. This "3 family" is listed at a cool $999K. Except, we fear there might be SRO issues here, which we covered in our discussion of 392 10th Street. This house on Downing is just a few blocks from one of our all-time favorite opportunities, 175 Greene Avenue, a gorgeous, recently constructed 3-family in need of no renovation which closed in November '09 for $1.19M.

This house on Downing has potential, but needs some upgrading from the looks of it. This listing has been out for a while, and we can't see it fetching this price given what's gone and is going on around it. Up-to-date 3-family's just a few blocks from here are still asking in the low $1M's.

Pro's: Location - namely, train access (as Clinton Hill goes), price is getting there

Con's: SRO issues?, needs renovation

Ideally: there's probably an asking price where this could be a nice owner occupied home with rental. But brace yourself with a renovation budget.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fort Greene Flawless: 54 St. Felix Street

Now this is what a listing should look like! Layouts, pictures, descpriptions - even an address. 54 St. Felix Street looks like a gorgeous renovation, just off the main stretch of Fort Greene, more towards downtown. This 2-family has an owner's duplex, a "2BR" rental, and a 2 car garage. They definitely put some work into this one. Second bedroom in the rental is pretty fakey at 6'7". But this is a higher-end spot that'll wind up in the hands of someone less concerned with pumping out sheer rental income.

On a pretty block with lots of trains around. Fort Greene park is just around the corner. The only thing that gives us pause is the width, and perhaps the price.

Not the kind of place we make a play on, with the 2-family loan limit well-outta reach (and there's better places for us to devote 20% down these days). But someone's gonna love this place.

Pro's: location, renovated, curb appeal

Con's: width, rental isn't 2 real bedrooms

Ideally: a baller comes along and calls this place home

Friday, July 16, 2010

Prospect Heights Gem: 636 Bergen Street

Prospect Heights... it's not just "the poor man's Park Slope" anymore. Everytime you stroll down the stretch of Vanderbilt from Atlantic Avenue to Prospect Park, there's a new establishment, store, restaurant, or bar. (anyone else still mourning the loss of Bob Law's Seafood Cafe?) Just up from the 2/3 train at Bergen, comes 636 Bergen Street listed for $1.2M. Nestled between Beast, bike lanes, Le Gamin, an artist painting portraits and landscapes on glass panels on the corner. About as close as one could be to the stadium without (hopefully) bearing the brunt of the construction process. This stretch of Vanderbilt and Bergen may have surpassed its 5th Avenue and Bergen counterpart.

This legal 3-fam with 18' x 50' dimensions gives ya a decent floor plate. Listing claims it's three 2BR apts, and we imagine rents have to be cooking over here nowadays. A couple of pictures would be nice too. However, we've become accustomed to these undercover listings. Anybody seen the inside?

Pro's: location, proximity to Prospect Park, 2/3 train at Bergen, "fully renovated", competetive price

Con's: let's SEE the renovation, 18' isn't the optimal width, neighboring Beast might be loud and/or oderous, sort of an industrial stretch of Begen on the north side of this block

Ideally: the Pro's certainly outweigh the Con's from what we can tell, so far. Listed right at the FHA 3-family loan limit too? I wanna go take a look...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Further Down the Slope: 286 10th Street

Just further down Park Slope from yesterday's place comes 286 10th Street, a brand new listing at $1.3M. Yeah, maybe some of you will call this Gowanus, over there on the other side of 4th Avenue from Park Slope "proper". I understand. But you can see why it's already demanding more than the SRO up the street. Okay, besides the handsome brick you can't exactly ~see~ why. It's not like there's any real pictures. The 2nd photo they posted is so cock-eyed, they almost shouldn't have bothered.

According to the listing, though, all kinds of renovations have been done. It sure would be nice to see them. You'd think the owner's (and the agent) would want to showcase all the work and value they're put into the property. It wouldn't hurt to know what the arrangement/layout of the 3 units is either. At least they're pitching its $6,100 rents. This a top-notch property for some buyer out there for sure. Shouldn't last long at this price.

Just like yesterday's listing, location's great in terms of trains, and it's a short jaunt up the hill to some prime Park Slopage. Only concern might be if it's too close to 4th Avenue and a noisy place to be. Either way, check this one out!

Pro's: location, renovated, handsome brick piece

Con's: perhaps too noisy on 4th avenue, let's hear the layout

Ideally: with the 3-family FHA loan limit at $1.2M, someone could come along and pick this up tomorrow. We don't like these half-baked, picture-less listings, but this might not even need it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Park Slope "Four Family": 392 10th Street

Our first entry in Park Slope is not the easiest listing to find, or the easiest building to tackle. I found this one on Google Maps real estate function, which takes you to a listing on that lists this building as 4-family for $1.599M. Only our friends at Massey Knakal, one of the more professional companies in the biz (specializing more in commercial property) had the listing for 392 10th Street at the more reasonable price of $1.15M, but the reason why becomes apparent. It's an SRO.

Not gonna belabor the point now, but an SRO is not a 4-family. The Massey Knakal listing has the integrity to tell it like it is. Heck, they even provide the rent roll for the units in the building - ya gotta love 'em!

Look up the Wikipedia definition of SRO to educate yourself a bit on the matter, if you don't know already. But basically there's no using this place as a 4-family without a bunch of renovations, paperwork, attorney's fees, work permits, and many months. And before that can even happen you've got to get a Certificate of Non-Harrassment signed by all previous registered tenants. Or something to that effect. It's a mess. The listing says all the paperwork is in place. However, our best lawyers on the case say it can take some 6 months and $50K alone to do the conversion. And that's without any of the renovation costs (and imagine the carrying costs in the meantime). Lord knows how the bank will treat this place when you're trying to close, in terms of downpayment needed, loan limits, etc. Needless to say, it's a beast.

But everything has a price... and to position yourself in this prime an area of Park Slope, just off bustling 5th Avenue and around the corner from the F/M/R trains down on 4th Avenue. It's got tons of potential. Anybody seen the inside? Ballpark on what the conversion/renovation might cost??

Pro's: location, location, location

Con's: less than 17' wide, SRO, conversion/renovation costs

Ideally: if nothing else, ya gotta figure a buyer wants to dip the purchase price below $1M in order to avoid the 1% "mansion tax", but wouldn't be surprised to see someone with some real cash make this into the 4-family cash cow or single-family home of their dreams

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Delightfully Do-able: 133 Waverly Avenue

This isn't the prettiest horse in the stable, but at prices cheaper than many condos, 133 Waverly Avenue could be a great way to own in Clinton Hill. A legal two-family puts this asking price well within the FHA loan limit. Again, talk to your mortgage man. But 3.5%-5% down to own over here wouldn't be too shabby. Just off Myrtle Avenue, which has lots to offer. Nice wide lot with a back yard and a back balcony/deck in both apts. Not sure how it's being used as 4-family, but that's worth looking into. Could be a place where owning costs close to the same as renting with not too much money upfront. Having the G as the closest train, though, will make some cheer and others wimper. Although the bus running down Myrtle is the way most in the neighborhood commute to a Manhattan-bound train.

On the same block as yesterday's Clinton Hill "Mystery Meat", but a much wider building for some $75K less.

Also, this agent has lots of multi-family listings in Clinton Hill that might not come up in searches in the usual places. So there's lots to uncover. I'll try to get more info on a few more and take a closer look.

Pro's: affordability, size, yard

Con's: not much curb appeal, a little off the beaten path train-wise

Ideally: this could be a great way to own, and there's gotta be a happy medium just below offer price.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Clinton Hill Mystery Meat: 111 Waverly Avenue

So I'm saying to myself, "Enough with the stale, over-priced listings, right?" Time to move a little off the beaten path for something below a million, within the FHA loan limits for a multi-fam where all the mortgage guys still insist deals can get done with 3.5% down.

That is, as long as 85% of the appraised Gross Rent can carry the entire PITI payement (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance). AKA, the bank won't let you buy the house with that little down unless it pays for itself. Makes sense. They've been burned the past few years for sure. You know the ol', "Fool me once, shame on you..."

Imagine my excitement when I find a sub-million dollar listing in what appears to be a totally viable stretch of Clinton Hill, Waverly and Myrtle. Click the link on the Google Maps real estate function, and it takes us to VLS Homes, which appears to be just another aggregate of other places' listings. Have to re-do the search, and what do we get? Clinton Hill Mystery Meat.

Is there even a point in putting this kind of listing up? (for the listing agent, the homeowner, a potential buyer, or even for me for that matter?)

If a homeowner whispers "I wanna sell my house" into an empty tomato can, does it make a sound?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Private Compound" potential: 341 Sackett Street

For another look at a rehab situation off Smith Street in the ~$1.4M range comes 341 Sackett Street. Again, not the freshest listing ever. Let's be honest, it ain't pretty either. Zillow says it's been listed just under this price this time last year with VLS Homes and then ReMax (whose sign was outfront at the time this Google Street view picture was taken). Why they've actually raised the price since last year is unclear. There's another listing or two on this block that we'll take a look at later this week. This one says there is an additional 3 story carriage house in the back yard included, encouraging buyers to: "Create your own private compound!" Just what you've always wanted, right? If they'd really considering that a selling point, it'd be nice to get some dimensions on that thing.

Double-duplex layout. Interior looks dated but in fair condition. Exterior shows some damage from leaking and cracking around & between the middle column of windows.

All in all, a really funky building. Reminds me of when Silky Johnson asks Buck Nasty, "What can I say about that coat that hasn't already been said about Afghanistan? It looks bombed out and depleted."

What do we think it'll close at?

Pro's: location, "Private Compound" potential

Con's: exterior issues, curb appeal, needs renovation, pricing

Ideally: $1.4M gets dedicated to a much better property in that neighborhood, perhaps even on that very block.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Boerum Hill Sleeper: 82 Dean Street

Sort of a stale listing here too, but an interesting case. The location of 82 Dean Street can't be beat. Just off Smith Street in the heart of Boerum Hill. Around the corner from the F & G one block away, a short train to the city. Trader Joe's just over on Court Street. A nice walk to the Brooklyn Promenade. Quality neighborhood. Listening to the smooth sounds coming from Bar Tabac on the corner...

This place has been up for over a year at this price. Listing says it "needs to be totally renovated". Which is what happened to 190 Dean, a much larger mixed-use place on the corner two avenues further off Smith that closed in December '09 for $1.4M.

Much shallower building here at 82 Dean, 36' deep, giving it a 720 sqft floorplate. What do we think a renovation might cost to get it up to speed? Winding up with 1BR's on each floor that command good rents or converting to a single family? Similar to the turn-key 354 DeGraw, which closed around its $925K asking price in April '10. Except 82 Dean's about 50% pricier.

Anybody seen the inside? How extensive a renovation might we be talking here? What's the destiny for this place? I would've said there's no way it gets converted into a condo or co-op until I saw a garden level apt across the street close in October '09 for $650K.

We're also not sure what the relationship is with the next door/attached building 133 Smith Street, which it's listed with on Property Shark. Wonder what kind of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issues might be going on with that.

Pro's: location, rentability

Con's: size, costly renovation needed, potential C of O issues

Ideally: you got 354 Degraw! Can't see much going on here at 82 Dean above the $1M range.

Friday, July 9, 2010

First up, 204 Clermont is NOT my "House of the Day"

Don't get me wrong, we all love This guy's got his finger on the pulse of Brooklyn for sure. But I was so disappointed to this see this stale listing for 204 Clermont show up as the brownstoner "House of the Day" pick for the 3rd time. Nothing much has changed at this property since it was first listed pre-crash '08 for $2.5M.

I guess the nice part about draggin this one out of the closet now is the advent of the pricing widget on brownstoner, where the users can estimate their price for the property. At time of print, they're estimating this place at $1.24M, which would make a lot of sense given it's limitations and what neighboring properties have sold. Limitations? Well, the rentals are 1BR's that are already at the top of the market around $1,800/month. (We prefer true 2BR rentals, where the per/BR price in the area puts $2,000/floor within sight, and room to grow towards $2,400/floor) The floorplate is odd too because of the shape of the lot. It's also a legal "4 Family. Used as 3 Family" according to the listing. We don't know if this means the bank will let you close with it as a 3-fam or a 4-fam, which could be crucial around this price point. FYI, these are the FHA loan limits in Brooklyn for now:

1 Family - $729,750
2 Family - $934,200
3 Family - $1,129,250
4 Family - $1,403,400

So if the bank will let you close as a 4-family, you're much closer to asking price. If not, you're looking at $400K+ down on a place that doesn't make much income.

Neighboring properties? Well, we would much rather be closer to the Lafayette C train and the main drag of DeKalb over at 258 Adelphi which closed back in February for $1.05M. Those looking at this property might also want to have 308 Clermont on their radar.

We gotta give it up to this agent for doing a real listing with descriptions, dimensions, and nice pictures. Agent also put the listing on so it has some visibility. Plus, the condition of the interior looks great for the building itself.

Pro's: interior is quality and needs no renovation, corner lot, garage, location

Con's: odd shaped lot & building, 1BR rentals, 3 vs. 4 fam status needs resolution, pricing

Ideally: the sellers get religion and accept an offer around $1.3M, bank calls it a 4-fam and lets buyers put 3.5% down FHA and have a healthy chunk of their mortgage paid off by rental units

"Welcome" and "You're Welcome"

Brooklyn is one of the best places on the planet. And yet it's missing one of the simplest, most useful things on the planet: a search engine. That's right. All over the country, if you're looking to buy a house there's a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that you can search. This is a place where all the real estate agents or realtors put all the houses they have for sale. In most places, this list is open to the public, like in Florida. Guess who doesn't do this? Brooklyn! It's as if they didn't have a unified phone book in Brooklyn, but 20 partial phone books that you could only find 12 of. Okay, bad example, no one uses phone books anymore.

It's as if Bing, Kayak, Orbitz, and Travelocity all stopped searching for & selling tickets to JFK. Could you imagine having to track down tickets the old-fashioned way, for one of the biggest, busiest airports in the country?

Well, in fact Brooklyn real estate is even more bootleg, fractured, and Wild West than that. Take a look at this listing from St. Louis and this listing from Brooklyn. Do you notice any differences? Well, the St. Louis listing has the property's address, 20 high rez pictures, a paragraph description, the dimensions of the rooms, a date and time for the open house, a map, a printable flyer, and clearly labelled contact info for the listing agent. The Brooklyn listing has no address, few details, and a grainy picture that my camera phone would run laps around. I've seen missing cat flyers taped to trees with more information than this listing for a $2 million building. Adding insult to injury, agents are usually paid 3%-6% of the property's sale price, depending on the listing and whether they co-broke. So that means, the guy in St. Louis who stands to make no more than $14,000 for his services is doing all this much more to market his property than the Brooklyn agent who stands to make over $125,000 for his services. Can you imagine?

So how does one go about finding real estate in Brooklyn? You can go to, Google maps has a real estate function, streeteasy is good, trulia aggregates pretty well, the big brokers are out there (Corocran, Halstead, etc), the volume brokers are out there (Filmore), and there's countless mom and pop local brokers. Again, no one place. And even the existing places aren't comprehensive.

So, as a guy who's been frustrated by the splintered state of Brooklyn real estate, I bring you "BK to the Fullest". We're devoted to multi-family buildings in Brooklyn in the $500K-$2M price range in our favorite hoods Ft. Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, and Cobble Hill. Sorry, that's all I care about. But if that's your bag, baby, you're gonna love this site! Great houses that are for sale shouldn't live under a rock! Let them out into the light of day. Plus, we've got insight from some of the top people in the business from renovation experts, real estate attorneys, real estate investors, real estate agents, and tenants. Consider your finger on the pulse!