Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tiny & Turnkey in the Heart of Boerum Hill: 82 Douglass Street

In beautiful, still ever-growing Boerum Hill comes another quaint little 2-Family right around $1.3M. 82 Douglass Street is just off of Smith Street and is around the corner from the F train. The location is unquestionable, the size gives us pause. 16' x 34' is skinny AND shallow, weighing it at 1,632 sqft on Property Shark. That said, it does manage to have the ideal layout for the 2-Family of an owner's duplex with a rental on top. And rents over here are bananas. So are condo prices. Wouldn't be the craziest way to drop $1.3M that we've EVER seen, but $750+/sqft ain't pretty. Although, even with a full renovation already done, the owner's sitting on all equity so a little price flexibility would be understandable. And Brown Harris Stevens is pretty legit in our book.

Thus the price isn't all-out wrong like 367 Degraw. Compare to something like 291 Hoyt, which didn't last too long with Corcoran and we're unsure whether it sold (hasn't showed up yet) or was simply de-listed. Still a better buy than something like 33 Cambridge because of its superior location and tenancy situation.

Pro's: location, curb appeal, layout, garden, turn key, rental income potential

Con's: skinny, shallow, pricey, someone is bound to overpay and outbid and reasonable bid

Ideally: we'd love to steal it at $1.1M, but still, somehow worth $260K down in somebody's book

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another Atlantic Commons Play: 357 Cumberland Street

Quickly following Corcoran's sale of 472 Carlton and 468 Carlton in Atlantic Commons around the corner comes 357 Cumberland. As turnkey 3-Family properties in Fort Greene go, this new construction is about as good a value as you're going to find. Especially on this street that doesn't face daunting housing projects like the other two properties.

The interior shows the clean, semi-generic interior that's pretty much the same thing we saw at the two places on Carlton:

But is $1.1M the price over here now? We got caught up last fall splitting hairs over price when they first hit the market, but it's not everyday that you come across a turnkey building that with $100K down or less can cost you around $6K/month total and generate up to $8K/month. You get a little backyard (although this one doesn't look as deep as the Carlton yards) and a parking space, all in a tucked-away but centralized location. Compared to the other prices going on in the surrounding blocks, it's easy to see why someone might come along and pay up for this. Especially if the next-closest play might be $1.3M and need $200K down.

Pro's: turnkey, new construction, true 2BR rentals, backyard, location, rental income potential, under the 3-Family FHA loan limit

Con's: a bit generic and cookie-cutter for those with unique taste, vinyl siding rear exterior, owners might want to update some finishes inside for themselves

Ideally: we looked to snag at a deal, but in this market, we can see how it's still worth it up to asking price

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Value Potential in Clinton Hill: 118 Washington Avenue

Just north of Myrtle, around the corner from the mixed-use building that was our last pick, comes a real listing from Corcoran. While 118 Washington Avenue might be smaller and have less units & less income potential than its slightly pricier neighbors 193 Washington and 204 Washington, at least you know it's a real listing that's poised to sell. And at a price not that much higher than the distressed 3-Family 146 Washington, this 16' wide 2-Family might just be worth a go.

Pro's: totally turn key, owners duplex, condo alternative, below 2-Family FHA loan limit, Myrtle Avenue has lots to offer

Con's: 16' wide, only a 2-Family, a hike to a city train, might be more value in Bed-Stuy

Ideally: owner's sitting on lots of equity, and you know the listing's real, so if the distance isn't a deal-breaker, there's value here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Clinton Hill Mixed-Use: 469 Myrtle Avenue

Much like Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights, Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill is a bustling avenue with existing businesses and new ones coming in all the time. Lots of sales activity has been going on too - at some reasonable prices. 469 Myrtle Avenue is another mixed use play, just off of Washington Avenue listed for $1M. It's around the corner from residential buildings in a similar price range like 204 Washington and 193 Washington. Buildings a few blocks away on this same avenue have sold from $850K to $1.2M to $1.6M depending on size, condition, rental income, and seller's circumstances.

This one looks pretty good at first, but it's hard to get a full read on. Massey usually does a really thorough job, so it's a little odd to see only the Property Shark picture and no rental income. Property Shark lists the building as 20' x 35' with 2,100 sqft on an 80' lot. The listing itself has the building standing at 20' x 80' with 3,000 sqft. Doesn't quite add up at first glance. Then there's 4 apartments, but 3 stories. The listing explains, "The commercial tenant only occupies 700 SF of the ground floor, which measures a total of 1,600 SF." We're also told the property "can accommodate an additional 2,520 SF of development rights" - which is a huge plus.

Although we're not given any picture of the rental income, we are told the apartments are free market and month-to-month, which offers lots of flexibility to a potential buyer. Similarly, the commercial tenant's lease end in August 2011, given flexibility to resign the tenant or find a new one. The building would take a commercial loan, but as that market goes, this looks like an opportunity with lots of potential. And people have certainly put $300K down on worse. Also, compare to similar plays in Prospect Heights. See what condition the apartments are in, what rents they're getting now, and take it from there...

Pro's: curb appeal, reasonable price, rental income potential, bustling avenue

Con's: commercial loan needed, some lack of clarity on building dimensions & condition & rents, noisy avenue to live on

Ideally: if the building's even remotely turnkey, this is the price. Even if it needs lots of work, the price isn't far from here. Probably won't last long.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another Prospect Heights Gem: 421 Sterling Place

We continue to love Prospect Heights as a more valuable play than Park Slope these days. So imagine our surprise when this hot little 3-Family limestone that's pretty much a mansion, 421 Sterling Place, slipped under our radar and went in contract during almost precisely the lifetime of the blog. Hitting the market for $1.699M on July 16th, 2010, this healthy 20' x 48' building dropped to $1.599M by October, then $1.499M in January 2011. The listing quickly went into contract two weeks later. The listing still says it's in contract (though, it's been many months now) and Ideal Properties (who has failed to call us back repeatedly) still proudly advertises the property in their window in Park Slope on 7th Avenue. Hmmmm....

If Ideal marketed the dang thing a little better in the first place (or called us back, EVER) we might've caught it sooner and actually been able to close in a timely fashion. There may still be an opportunity for a back-up offer, given that nothing appears to have happened over there yet. And take a look inside & out:

A little stuffy with the woodwork for our taste, but look at that yard! The value is definitely there. Compare to neighbors such as the 2-Family gem that sat around too long, but now is in contract 407 Sterling Place. Also compare to the fantastic buy of 414 Park Place for $1.28M.

Pro's: curb appeal, great block, great backyard, close to the train & Park, killer interior, even higher-end client will overpay for it in another few years if you ever decided to sell

Con's: not marketed well, a little stuffy interior (though fine), taken months to close (which could be an opportunity), doesn't seem to be used as a 3-Family currently

Ideally: probably a touch out of the FHA range, but definitely worth 20% down, if you've got it

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reaching in Clinton Hill: 48 Madison Street

We usually don't cover properties east of Classon, but we're starting to feel like the move towards Bed-Stuy is once again inevitable and perhaps desirable. And Halstead's calling this Clinton Hill, so we thought it's worth a stab at it. 48 Madison Street is a 3-story building with a crusty feel to the exterior and some clean pictures of the interior, currently re-listed for $798,500. It's an odd price to see after the place was first listed for $869K back in February 2010, then dropped to $824,500 in August of 2010. We're not sure what the de-list/re-list pattern tells us here. Maybe they took a pause for the winter, or a contract fell through. We're also not sure why we're splitting $500's at these price points.

StreetEasy and Property Shark will tell you this is a 3-Family home, but the listing says, "Present All Offers... SRO Property. Pending Certification of No-Harassment." That's not a good sign for a property that already has some question marks. That can be a huge situation to tackle and often it's hard to get the clarity needed to know it's worth it. Even with the Certificate of No-Harassment in hand it's tricky, but without it? Also note the layout, as the floor plan calls out 3 units, but by our count we can't see more than 2. The inside sure cleans up pretty nice, though:

With so many options in this price range east of Classon, it's hard to say this is the one that's worth it. We don't know the market well enough over there yet to single out the best in breed properties. But this one doesn't look like it's it. And you don't have to necessarily go east of Classon for a deal. Another Halstead listing now in contract, 137 St. James, still looks like a way better play - even if it needed a healthy renovation on most of the units. If you're willing to deal with an SRO, 189 St. James or 72 Downing would each be a better way to go than 48 Madison.

Pro's: nice interior at times, backyard, under a million

Con's: still not seeing the value, potential SRO status is huge headache, curb appeal

Ideally: know your Bed-Stuy, or just stay vigilent for a better deal in Clinton Hill

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2-Family Fixer in the Slope: 638 Union Street

638 Union Street is a cute, unattached 2-Family brick building in Park Slope. You've got what appears to be 2 community gardens on either side, in pretty centralized location on Union between the trains at 4th Avenue and all kinds of goodies on 5th Avenue. The location is prime, so is the Park Slope premium intact? Well, the few interior pictures we do get don't tell us much:

And the call to "bring your architect and imagination" for a ~2,000 sqft home listed at $1.3M says the rest. We're not sure how extensive of a renovation they have in mind. The original details we get a sneak peak of look fine to us. We'd love it if only a few cosmetic changes were all it took. The listing boasts, "The deep back garden allows room to extend the house" which would be a lengthy & pricey endeavor, but perhaps not too surprising to see even at this price considering how quickly the larger, much-less handsome 405 Douglas went into contract.

We really like the location, curb appeal, and post-renovation potential. But at only 16.5' wide and less than 2,000 sqft, the price leaves us stranded somewhere in the middle. If this purchase is going to require an all-out renovation, then there's gotta be some flexibility on the price to attract a tenant with Earthly funds. Because otherwise they'd head to a fixer-upper with more value like in Clinton Hill. Then again anyone with deeper pockets quick to drop on $1.3M AND a gut reno kind of money would probably find better value in a more flagship property that isn't too much more expensive, like 491 4th Street. Kind of a Goldilocks situation with it being a good value for neither the more modest buyers nor the ballers at this price. Which one is "just right"? Since the owner's sitting on all equity for many years now, only time will tell which kind of client he'll settle for.

Pro's: curb appeal, super centralized location, community gardens surrounding it

Con's: small, no interior pictures, work needed, no indication of extent of renovation needed

Ideally: this were more affordable or more turnkey, but most likely someone overpays for this location

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Another Mixed-Use Play In Contract: 593a Vanderbilt Avenue

Vanderbilt is poppin'. Almost identical to the mixed use plays we looked at the past few days comes another relatively affordable price point for a store plus 2 apartments, 593a Vanderbilt Avenue. This building on this ever-developing avenue in Prospect Heights hit the market at $1.495M in February 2011 and gradually dropped $100K each month until it went into contract on 5/12/11 with the latest list price of $1.25M. The motivation to sell was clear, and the property didn't last long once it found a reasonable price. We have to concur with the listing that "a savvy investor or a small business owner looking for a commercial space plus high rental income, will know immediately that this is a must-have."

It makes us interested in some of the other plays still availble on this block, with all this activity going on.

The apartments have great details, aren't legit 2BR's, but are a better look than we expect from 637a, which could also explain how quickly this moved.

As short as this stretch of Vanderbilt is, it's legitimately become Prospect Heights' answer to what 5th Avenue is in Park Slope. Locals know, and others will soon recognize. And being able to get in on this block at reasonable prices will be a solid buy as the surroundings only stand to improve.

Pro's: bustling location, turnkey renovation, rental income potential

Con's: noisy avenue without a residential feel, not 2BR rentals, commercial loan requires a lot down

Ideally: there's a play left to be made, perhaps for the FSBO down the street...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

More Prospect Heights Mixed Use: 637a Vanderbilt Avenue

Back on the bustling Vanderbilt Avenue for a look at another mixed-use property in a price range that competes with many 2 & 3-Family properties just around the corner. 637a Vanderbilt Avenue has 2 apartments plus a commercial space that's currently used as a restaurant.

Not much indication of what's going on other than that. "BUILDING HAS BEEN TOTALLY RENOVATED" is the only sense of the interior we get. The distinction between 637 and 637a has us a little thrown too. The pictures on Property Shark concur that 637a is "The Usual", but this listing shows 637 being "The Usual", listed before the crash for $1.35M and taken off the market right around the time of the crash.

Perhaps some tacos for lunch next door will clear this matter up. More info to come later...

But so far from where we stand this place might be a good way to owner-occupy and get rent in a great neighborhood for right around the downpayment it'd take to come up on some of the neighboring residential plays. The market and the block have certainly changed since 2008, so we understand the price increase. However, it looks like the owners picked the building up in 2003 for $620K, so even with some renovations put into it we're not losing sleep over a little price flexibility on their end.

Pro's: location, rental income potential, price point compares favorably to residential in this area

Con's: perhaps a noisy block to live on, commercial loan needed, not much info to work with

Ideally: definitely commands $1.2M-ish in our book, and depending on the condition and the rents, could be much more.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vanderbilt at Washington Prices: 597 Vanderbilt Avenue

We don't often focus on the mixed-use market, but with price points going berzerk in residential, and so much happening on these commercial avenues in Prospect Heights, it's worth taking a look at what's going on. Now we've covered a few mixed use spaces in this area and this exact price range before, like 188 Underhill and 692 Washington. Those needed updating, but perhaps not as extensive as 597 Vanderbilt needs. The listing tells us, "The building is in need of major repairs." And while there are no pictures of the interior, the listing details that "staircases, windows, beams, roof, floors, and plumbing are in place." Which is a nice start. We're at least not down to the joists here.

However, one of the most encouraging points on the listing is the claim that, "There are attractive purchase and renovation loans available for owner occupants and business occupants. There are construction loans for investors as well." Financing is usually the rub with these buildings, since 30% down or more is needed whenever there's a commercial space (or more than 4 units) and to have that kind of cash AND a renovation budget is tough. Being able to finance even modest construction costs makes a mixed-use building a much more viable option. The agent on 188 Underhill mentioned FHA loans for mixed-use properties and we requested a follow-up and never got it. Maybe this agent can fill us in a bit. We'll take a look at other mixed-use plays on these blocks in the coming days.

597 Vanderbilt came on the scene just back in January 2011 for $1.199M. The price came down another $100K in a month, and gradually settled at $999K where it went into contract in late March. Much like yesterday's pick, rapid price drops are a sure-fire indicator of willingness to sell. The Lis Pendens on this property from 2010 sure doesn't hurt motivation either. We imagine someone got themselves a nice deal over here, especially compared to some of the prices we'll take a look at soon...

Pro's: newly bustling block with rental income potential, price point, delivered vacant, attractive loan options?, across from Atlantic Yards project makes for a nice long-term play, just down the hill from Prospect Park

Con's: renovation needed, lots of Atlantic Yards construction nearby for some time to come, noisy avenue, sort of isolated from the trains, 30% down or more makes it prohibitive to us

Ideally: with the right loan, this could be an incredible buy

Monday, May 9, 2011

Small 2-Family with Value: 552 Clinton Street

Out last month for $1.295M, we noticed 552 Clinton Street took a quick price drop to $1.195M. That means good news - they're probably serious about selling. This small 2-Family on the southern edge of Carroll Gardens looks like an estate sale that has some value within range of the 2-Family loan limit. The exterior is quaint; the inside too:

This looks like the kind of place that's live-ably turnkey from the jump, but lets you make manageable renovations as you go along. Weighing in at only 20' x 35', and 2,100 sqft, you still get an owner's duplex with a backyard and a healthy 1BR rental that don't need a gut reno for a price that isn't off the charts. Compare to other small, outer edge turkney plays in the 2-Family market like the popular 279 13th Street. Throw in some original details, and proximity to Smith & Court Streets, and you've got yourself something that's worth a look. Has the potential to be a better play than even the funky 3-Family 511 Clinton Street.

Pro's: seems turnkey, original details, should be some price flexibility, rental income potential, lots of amenities to the north

Con's: BQE to the south, outer edge of Carroll Gardens, small

Ideally: with an estate sale and a quick price drop, there should be room to make a play both sides can be happy with

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Estate Sale needs TLC: 807 Dean Street

It's an estate sale. It needs TLC. And that's pretty much all they'll tell you about 807 Dean Street. They didn't even take the time to take a new exterior picture, just grabbing the Property Shark photo. This 2-Family listed at $550K got our attention. As cute joints pop up all over Prospect Heights to eat and drink, and rental/sales prices send people and development further east, a play like this one or 936 Pacific start to seem not that bad. And they make something like 468 Carlton really start to shine.

This price point grabs us, and then we wonder how much it would take to get things going inside. Not that wide, not that big of a floorplate, and not that great of curb appeal, but is there value in outer Prospect Heights at Bed-Stuy prices (even if you're walking across Atlantic into Clinton Hill for your train)?

Pro's: price, potential value, delivered vacant?

Con's: needs work, off the beaten path,

Ideally: if the work needed is affordable, or can be financed, there might good value here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spare Me: 204 Washington Avenue

You know how McDonalds brought back the McRib? And there was some anticipation & hype surrounding it, as if some people were really looking forward to it? But you were just like, "I didn't eat that junk before, I'm certainly not eating it now!" ??

Well, 204 Washington is back. This 3-Family brownstone in Clinton Hill first came on the scene last spring for $1.25M and it had lots of potential. Pretty nice interior, tall ceilings, and a good layout make the most of the 16' wide frame giving it an open feel. And this is a nice block close to Myrtle and not far from the G train, for what it's worth.

Rental income in this neighborhood has really come a long way, and Massey Knakal's set-up provided pro-forma numbers that reflected that rental income potential. But all it was WAS potential. The numbers they provided were much higher than the actual rents. The building couldn't be delivered vacant and our agreed-to price was irrelavent. This rendered the listing useless too. Owners then took the listing down & re-up'd the leases for the tenants, for 2 years.

So seeing this thing back out on the market for $50K less, and with tenants on all five floors paying below-market rent until August 2012, exhibiting no intentions of ever leaving... what the H? If you thought 33 Cambridge had a tenant taking up most of the house until August 2012, all five floors of 204 Washinton are spoken for, for another 16 months. This essentially isn't even a listing and it's goofy just to see it back out on the market. It's kinda sad too, 'cause it's a great place. The owners are sitting on lots of value. And it makes a great place for buyers in that FHA range with very little downpayment. But what good is a genie in the bottle if you can't get the genie out? If the owners had any intention of delivering this thing vacant in order to extract that full value, they would have already sold it to us last year for the price both sides had already agreed to with the assumption it would be delivered vacant.

Pro's: maximized layout, fairly turn-key, nice block, Myrtle's close, G train's close

Con's: 16' wide, has a few fix-it issues, exterior crumbling in places, city trains are far, oh yeah - and nobody else can live in it for 16 months at the soonest

Ideally: We're not quite seeing who's paying "genie out of the bottle" prices now after it's been locked up for two more years.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Park Slope FSBO: 491 4th Street

Bring your hefty renovation budget over to this primetime Park Slope shell. 491 4th Street is a 3-family house "set on a beautiful tree-lined block of 3 million dollar homes" that's for sale by owner. According to the owner's listing, the house is "gutted and is ready for renovation". According to Property Shark, this house was first listed back in November 2010 for $1.6M, then the price was dropped ten days later to $1.5M. Now it's been relisted for a month at the much higher $1.695M. This is a curious price drop then increase. Certainly, the market has turned since last fall, but we're still not sure it can bear this price.

Our best guess is the owner originally listed it in places that weren't getting much exposure, but now that she's gotten herself a NYTimes listing, she's bracing for more attention and more high end buyers with that higher price.

The block is cute and quaint, up the Slope close to the park. Although this house is right across the street from the gated entrance to the school parking lot. Proximity to a great stretch of bustling 7th Avenue, including a faux-french fave of ours "La Bagel Delight", is certainly a plus. All things being equal, we'd probably rather spend less money to make 432 Clinton happen. But seeing how fast the janky 405 Douglas went into contract, maybe this number isn't completely off. And, as we've seen, the Park Slope premium can often command this price for a not-that-incredible 2-Family home.

Indeed, having roughly 4,000 sqft to work with on a block this nice commands a premium. A key question will be how much it takes to maximize its potential, and if that's upwards of $500K, even wealthy clientele may want some give-back on the sales price. We get no pictures of the interior, or any sense of the layout, indicating that it's not even worth it to include because a total overhaul is in order. Compared to something like the quirky-yet-turnkey 706 Degraw, we'd much rather err on the side of turnkey for this kind of money.

Pro's: curb appeal, great block, proximity to 7th Avenue and the Park, great potential, big canvass to work with

Con's: lots of renovation budget needed, lengthy renovation, landmarked buildings can be pain

Ideally: something like this would still be affordable to commoners like us, but a wealthy client ends up with this house regardless. However, maybe that $1.5M price point is worth exploring again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Buyer Beware: 146 Washington Avenue

We jumped at the price point when we saw 146 Washington Avenue on the northern edge of Clinton Hill hit the scene for $575K last week. Then a few days later it was quickly bumped up to $775K. Now, we've documented the origins of a delayed priced increase on such properties as 632 Baltic, but this quick increase indicates lots of interest rather than lack of interest.

But caveats abound! This brick building is listed as a 3-Family on Property Shark, although the listing warns, "Purchaser must verify C of O." To complicate matters: "Bank owned property being sold as is with tenants in possession and no representations of warranties." Hmmm, not just that there are tenants "in place", but tenants "in possession". As in the building possesses tenants, or the tenants possess the building? Like a hostile take over? Sounds more like when Nino Brown took over The Carter building in New Jack City:

Very inviting. And, for anyone who'd like clarity on the matter, the listing offers, "Please do not to disturb or contact the tenants." Just great. Cherry on top? "Buyer pays NYC & NYS transfer taxes." According to Property Shark, this building was purchased in February 2010 for $1.05M by "Frank J Rio, Referee" on the day a foreclosure auction was scheduled as the result of a Lis Pendens for $1.5M from 2007 against the person still listed as the current owner, who appears to have puchased the property in 2005 for just over $1.1M. The plot thickens.

Even the Property Shark picture of the exterior from 2007 has a "For Sale" sign on the front! (see above)

Pro's: price point, curb appeal, amenities on Myrtle

Con's: messy history, all kinds of caveats not in any buyers' favor, "tenants in possession", question marks galore, price increase, gonna take an all cash purchase, not a lot of clarity on what's really going on

Ideally: worth looking into, but lots of questions would need to be answered. We wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Contract Signed: 33 Cambridge Place

A Halstead listing with no photos? A renovated 2-Family in Clinton Hill for $1.3M?
"The Triplex is currently occupied by a tenant whose lease expires on August 31, 2012"? We first mentioned 33 Cambridge Place about a month ago in comparison to the adorable 441 Waverly.

We love a deck, a backyard, and woodburning fireplaces.... but you couldn't even take a pic with your blackberry? Ordinarily, we're against that, but in this case it'd be better than nothing. Everyone we've talked to loved the inside, and got their FHA-ready offer of $1.1M quickly denied. Somebody fell in love with this place and said, "I'll gladly drop over a quarter-million dollars to live in the garden rental of my own house."

If you ask us, who wants to buy a whole house, only to have the option to live in 1/4th of it, and for about $200K more than we'd wanna pay? But that just shows you the temperature of this market.

Pro's: curb appeal, renovated, good rental income, great price per square foot

Con's: no pictures, somebody's got the triplex for the next 16 months, not a great 2-Family price

Ideally: if this moved this fast, 441 Waverly shouldn't last long