Friday, July 29, 2011

4-Family in Cobble Hill: 348 Baltic Street

We'd love to snag a nice 4-Family in Cobble Hill - who wouldn't? That's why 82 Butler Street was such a good pick-up and went so quickly above asking price. Especially now that the just-plain-silly prices have popped back on the scene, if a frame house like 193 Washington can mark itself up an extra $450K, why can't the pricest neighborhood in Brooklyn give it a try? 348 Baltic Street is a tall, skinny 4-Family in the heart of things in Cobble Hill. In this market, we know where their pricing is coming from. While the property is totally turnkey "and boasts new stairs, updated electrical, dishwasers [sic] and granite counters", nothing in the pictures really wows us either for this price range:

Sure, over here people pay up for the school district, the avenues, the F train, at almost more of a premium now than in Park Slope. At $822/sqft, though, we'd dare say you're better off with a great condo. While not as embarrassingly bad as 137 Adelphi, $1.975M seems a little steep for 16' wide and nothing special on the inside - even in Cobble Hill. While some readers lamented to us yesterday that their $2,400/month 1BR rental in this area might be headed towards $2,900/month - we're still not sure that's grounds to overpay here. Especially if $1.975M could get you something better. Lots of better places come to mind. Contact us for more details...

Pro's: 4-Family, turnkey, great location, backyard space, "private terraces" on 2nd & 3rd floors

Con's: 16' wide, price, inflated premium for the location, layout is probably only 1BR rentals, doesn't "wow" us on the inside

Ideally: get MUCH more for your money somewhere else.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Prices on the Rise, Again: 193 Washington Avenue

If this frame house looks familiar to any of our regular readers, that's because it is. We covered 193 Washington Avenue way back in September 2010 after they accepted our offer of $975K last summer, and later demanded $999K. The market has turned since then, to be sure, but has it turned to the point where it makes sense to re-list this badboy for $1.3M on 6/24/11 and rise THAT price to $1.45M this week?

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Is Washington the New Vanderbilt?: 704 Washington Avenue.

You know we love Prospect Heights. And last month we took a look at all kinds of mixed-use activity on the main commercial drag over there, Vanderbilt Avenue. Two avenues away another commercial stretch is budding, Washington Avenue. Readers of ours just rented a railroad 1BR apt renovated with decent finishes for $1,800/month on this stretch of Washington. A handful of standard 20' x 40' commercial spaces are listed over here for $4,000/month or more. These sound like Vanderbilt prices. Accordingly, Corcoran has come out with 704 Washington Avenue for $1.365M. This 16' x 66' mixed-use building has a storefront on the first floor and two apartments above that. The storefront appears to be vacant when we walked by, even though the listing adds, "Commercial storefront is currently set up as a coffee bar." They're obviously flossing the new stadium as a selling point too. To hear the market tell it, you might assume you could get $1,800 for each apartment and $4,000 for the commercial space, for a decent monthly gross. But if places in much better locations like 637a Vanderbilt or this one between Vanderbilt and Flatbush can't get over $1.35M yet, who's going to spend it all the way on Washington down the hill?

Interestingly, two other listings for the same property can be found for $1.3M here and here. Perhaps Corcoran doesn't have the exlusive listing.

From what we can tell, the owner is sitting on all equity. So if they are at all motivated, perhaps there's room to make a deal at a more reasonable number.

Pro's: budding commercial area, pretty raw canvas, curb appeal

Con's: narrow at 16' wide, no sense of tenant situation or interior condition/layout, down the hill from the train, Washington Ave at Vanderbilt prices

Ideally: not sure if the area needs another coffee shop, or if this is the price for this avenue yet. We'd make at stab closer to $999K.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

4-Family in the Slope: 268 9th Street

We continue to be astonished at the fractured, bootleg state of Brooklyn real estate. An article featured in the New York Times real estate section 2 weeks ago chronicles the shift many brokerage firms are making towards sharing their listings. Is this honestly a novel approach to anyone? In the Information Age, we search & compare prices for everything from pizzas to airlines tickets to iPods, but nobody can be bothered to supply their clients with $1,000,000+ to spend that same luxury to find their house? Is it really because they simply don't want to co-broke? What good is an exclusive listing if it's underground and nobody can see it, so it never sells?

50% of something is something. Last time we checked, 100% of $0 is zero.

Prudential doesn't appear to be on board with showing other brokers' listings yet, but at least they get the word out pretty well about their own listings. They caught our attention with this totally turnkey 4-Family in Park Slope. 268 9th Street is an 18' x 35' brick townhouse right next to all the trains on 4th Avenue and 9th Street. The inside looks great and the price just came down from $1.676M to $1.598M:

The house is on a pretty busy block with 2-way traffic, very close to 4th Avenue, and the funeral home directly across the street. Nice homes, however, trade at a high premium over here, so the price isn't that far off. Buyers in this price range, though, are usually looking for more than just a 1BR for themselves, and usually lean towards 2-Family properties with the double duplex set-up. On the other hand, 1BR's do get lots of rent over here - and in this market nothing would surprise us.

Pro's: turnkey, good rental income, backyard space, close to lots of trains, close to 5th Avenue amenities, rental income potential is high

Con's: small, just 1BR for the owners unless you combine or convert, not the most residential-feeling block

Ideally: worth a look-see for people in this price range who want turnkey in the Slope

Friday, July 22, 2011

Quickly In Contract: 238 Bergen Street

We go on vacation for 3 weeks, and it only takes this place 3 weeks to go into contract. 238 Bergen Street is a healthy 20' x 50' 2-Family brick building "in the Greek Revival style" that went in a flash. We're kind of surprised since - while Bergen is a great street - being between Nevins and 3rd Avenue is kind of "no man's land". We saw this with the SRO 268 Dean Street. However, this 2-Family on Bergen is no SRO, delivered vacant, and only in need of modest updating. That said, we know this market's turned - but Jeez!! 238 Bergen isn't anything special on the inside either. Looks like laminate flooring, so-so finishes, and just a lot of white paint:

And if you're paying for just nice big bones, wouldn't you want a better location? For the same money we would much rather have gone with 491 4th Street or even 432 Clinton Street. This BoCoCa area sure commands some top dollar, somtimes even if it's only shell. At this rate, you'd think 82 Dean would have sold by now. Nobody brings 'em out like Corcoran, though.

Pro's: curb appeal, huge, original details, yard (even though it's paved), entry into overall high-end market, buildable FAR

Con's: in need of modest renovation, ain't cheap, far from the train & amenities, went really quickly

Ideally: is $1.6M is the new $1.2M?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Carroll Gardens Best of Breed Back on the Market: 473 Union Street

Look past the pebbly exterior, the tiny size, and the Gowanus-y location... because this is hands-down the best condo alternative on these blocks.

473 Union Street has been relisted for $799K!

We first covered it back in September 2010, but then it disappeared.

In terms of comparative quality, this shouldn't last long. In terms of marketing, probably nobody knows it's out there. So go snatch it up!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recent Closings Of Interest: Bullish

A few pretty hefty sales of nice places just came in:

287 DeKalb Avenue, our all-time most viewed post, started at $2.25M last August, came down to $1.995M in February, and just closed for $1.8M.

116 Willoughby Avenue, a fancy 2-Family, closed just $10K under list price at $1.585M.

121 Vanderbilt, another quality 2-Family, listed for $1.499M and just closed for $1.425M.

491 4th Street, a Park Slope shell for sale by owner, closed for $1.6M after wiggling around that price.

The market's really turned...

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Million Ain't What It Used To Be: 138 16th Street

Deep in South Slope, towards Windsor Terrace, there's certainly value to be had. We're not sure 138 16th Street is it, though. While we jumped at the price tag of $999,750 momentarily, just a closer glance reveals a 16' wide 3-Family that's only 1,796 sqft (the listing says 2,170 sqft, by the way, which must be the extension). While this is roughly $550/sqft and might compete with some condos, we think anyone with this kind of downpayment ready to go might just be better off with a condo (dare we say it?) or better yet a $999K play with more value to it. After all, we've seen more impressive turnkey things for this price:

It's hard to see what the trade-off in the buyer's favor is out here. The owners look to be sitting on lots of equity and relatively small mortgage from 2002 that was $350K. We don't want to sound like a broken record, but dropping $999K all the way out here on something so small is hard to do just on principal, after the closing of 96 St. Marks for a million. It also confuses us why another small condo alternative 279 13 Street isn't in contract yet with all the interest it sparked.

Pro's: close to the train, within striking distance of Park Slope proper, under $1M, 3-Family status, original details, backyard

Con's: narrow, not much value, pretty far out there, close to the highway, not the best fixtures inside for the price

Ideally: unless there's a price cut, we can't see it. Better value still in so many other places.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Open House... It's a Condo!: 475 Sterling Place, #4F

Prospect Heights has been one of our favorite neighborhoods for a while and still offers the most value by the park. Some of our readers have recently moved here for affordable rents. Many of those looking to purchase don't have the kind of downpayment necessary for the multi-family buildings our blog specializes in. So we thought we'd take look at a more affordable way into the neighborhood...

475 Sterling Place, Unit #4F is a 1BR condo in a new building with lots of windows, lots of light, and some high-end fixtures - listed at $450K. The space sure cleans up nice...

This unit's on the 4th floor and has an unobstructed view of the backside of the building through a paved park to the next block.

Our mortgage guy says buyers with good credit and income of at least $80K/year can purchase this condo with less than $25K down. For the numbers of couples renting comparable spaces in the $2,200/month range, paying roughly the same amount in mortgage to own doesn't seem so daunting.

The building has car and bike parking, an outdoor garden space with grill, basement storage, a gym, and a finished roof deck where you can grill out in the summer. Even the New York Times dubbed it "The Social Building". This unit in 475 Sterling Place compares favorably to other new or renovated 1BR's in the area, such as like 426 Sterling Place, which is $50K more expensive and more than twice the monthly maintenance. 475 Sterling also stacks up better than smaller brownstone renovations for the same kind of price like 626 Grand Avenue.

With an open house this Sunday from 2pm-4pm, it's easy to come see if this condo might meet your needs. We're told the seller is only interested in engaging principals, not brokers.

Pro's: lots of light, nice space, low monthly maintenance, 20+ year tax abated, open house makes scheduling a cinch

Con's: might be more value in 2BR's if you can swing it

Ideally: stop by the open house Sunday 2pm-4pm

Price Cut on Prospect Heights Mixed-Use: 75 St. Marks Avenue

We took a look last month at a series of activity on the up & coming (read: "already came"?) stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue, lodged between the park and the new stadium. Lots of mixed-use places around the $1M range went into contract in a matter of months. We're still not sure why some of the remaining for sale by owner buildings over there haven't changed hands as the entire block becomes re-positioned. Today comes another mixed-use play, on a mostly residential block, right across the street from our beloved, stolen 96 St. Marks. Massey Knakal just cut the price of 75 St. Marks from $1.65M to $1.35M. How does this price strike you?

Standing at only 3 stories, this healthy 20' x 60' brownstone has a retail space on the 1st floor, and 2 huge apartments above it. Yet the dang thing is only grossing $142K/year, and wants a GRM that's in line with its neighbors. Which isn't too much to ask, except the thing isn't grossing $142K/year. As good of a job as Massey Knakal usually does, they tend to provide pro-forma rents as if they were the real rents and not call them out as pro-forma rents. Other commercial real estate pro's like Marcup & Millichap, for example, never do this kind of semi-misleading tomfoolery. The listing, however, does take the time to point out the drama:

"The second floor apartment is currently vacant and will be delivered as such. The owner has initiated an eviction procedure for the first and third floors since the tenants are not paying rent and do not have leases. Thus the entire building may potentially be delivered vacant at closing."

Not knowing the lay-out or condition of the space, we still think their pro-forma rents are probably wishful thinking, but isn't that what the majority of this industry seems to run on? We can only imagine what they'd be asking if anyone was paying any real rent over here. What's the ideal tenant for that commercial space? Is $5,000K+/month really the going rate for that space?

Pro's: location, curb appeal, potentially delivered vacant, there's only so many of these left

Con's: not a lot of income at the moment, lay-out & interior condition unknown, realistic potential income unknown, potential tenant issues, pricey, commercial loan needed, may need renovation

Ideally: even with the price cut, it's not getting our interest. We figure someone will over pay since this is some prime location.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

SRO Dealbreaker Pt. II: 121 Cambridge Place

(Celebrating our 1 year anniversary)

Yesterday's pick was a pretty much hopeless SRO case on all fronts, but at least the listing and the agent were super forthcoming about all those drawbacks - be they as insurmountable as they are. Today's pick is more a wolf in sheep's clothing.

121 Cambrige Place is a huge, 5-story brownstone just off of Fulton Street in Clinton Hill. While listed as "Two family Miscellaneous" on Property Shark and the agent's own listing claims an "Owner's Garden Level Triplex with Income Producing Three Bedroom Upper Duplex", the DOB has it as an SRO. And the agent wasn't quick to reveal this material fact upon first seeing it - which really disappointed us. Unclear what the status of the Certificate of Non-Harrassment might be, but at least it's vacant.

Without the SRO issues, this place would have lots of potential. It's a HUGE 4,300+ sqft with high ceilings on many floors and some great original details. While it's in need of several repairs, it looks like mostly cosmetic things from what we saw. We just wish we'd known it was an SRO sooner. The list price of $1.2M is pretty much academic at that point. We'd love it at $900K, if it weren't an SRO. But for all the huff and puff, you're at least better of with 103 St. James Place - and we can see why even the teenie-weenie turnkey 347 Grand went into contract so fast.

Pro's: size, location, original details, not the worst condition, close to Fulton and the train

Con's: definitely requires renovation budget, SRO status, essentially impossible to finance

Ideally: should've been called out as an SRO sooner, and if you can swing this play, there's better moves to be made right around the corner. Contact us for more details.

Friday, July 8, 2011

SRO Dealbreaker: 268 Dean Street

Across the street from a school in a "no man's land" stretch of Dean Street that isn't quite Boerum Hill, Park Slope, or Gowanus comes the re-listed 268 Dean Street. This 4-story, 3,600 sqft brownstone is a great size and a decent location, but the SRO factor is the dealbreaker. We've documented before some of the pains of the SRO, and this one's got 'em all. 268 Dean Street has a C of O from 1954 talking about 3 rooms on each floor. The listing says the house comes without a Certificate of Non-Harrassment and with tenants. The interior needs work to even be nice, the SRO takes lots of time and money to remedy to any other status, and that's IF the tenants are co-operative. We don't imagine the tenants are in any hurry to leave with the yearly rent roll at just $44K.

By the time you throw in how impossible these SRO's are to finance, at $899K you've got something that's barely feasible or desirable to even the most wealthy buyers. More earthly buyers might not even be able to handle it at half the price. Case in point, the current owner bought in 2003 for $450K and took out some additional loans in the coming years which led to a Lis Pendens in September 2010 for $360K. Even before the Lis Pendens, they'd listed for $995K in December 2009. After the Lis Pendens, the house was shortly-relisted in November 2010 for $895K. Even with the turn in the market since the original listing, we don't see who'd be in any hurry to swoop up something with so many uncertainties. Especially with all the other similar & superior deals out there for those who could even consider affording this.

Pro's: large, decent location, techinically a low pricepoint for the neighborhood

Con's: SRO, no Certificate of Non-Harrassment, impossible to finance, needs repairs, delivered "As-Is" with tenants

Ideally: even as SRO's go, this isn't very appealing

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Back In Action on SJP: 103 St. James Place

We're back from a quick hiatus with a play in Clinton Hill that should be very familiar to our readers. 103 St. James Place is 20' x 40' 3-Family brick building in a nice stretch of Clinton Hill that's seen lots of activity. Par for the course is the $999K price tag, no interior pictures, only the Property Shark exterior picture, and little to no details about the place other than "HOUSE NEEDS TOTAL RENOVATION & IS PRICED TO SELL" on the listing and "SUBMIT ALL OFFERS". This could be a good sign that it's poised to sell. With the listing not even out for a month, and the other things that have managed to sell like this, we don't imagine it'll last long. Compare it to another fave of our, 137 St. James, which was in a similar price range and need of repair.

We like the location, the exterior, and the potential. As always with these, the devil's in the details. The expected renovation budget and availability of financing is going to determine the feasibility over here. But it's certainly a genie waiting to be unlocked from the bottle, with decent 3-Fam's over here fetching closer to $1.3M+.

The owner should be sitting on plenty of equity and they're calling for all offers, so any flexibility you can get in the price might open up more room in the renovation budget. And a buyer may be able to fit the whole thing into an FHA construction loan, with a little room under the 3-Family loan limit... as long as it's not a dang SRO (which even the best places sneakily sometimes are).

Pro's: legal 3-Family, price point, curb appeal, nice block, customizable, poised to sell

Con's: no interior pics or details, needs total renovation, financing is tricky

Ideally: If you've got the funds, there's definitely plenty of value to unlock here.