Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our First Foray into Bed-Stuy Proper: 533 Greene Avenue

Admittedly, we barely know Bed-Stuy. The neighborhood is filled with listings at comparatively crazy-low price points, but we have yet to know how to seperate the wheat from the chaff. As we've seen, not all sub-$1M listings are created equal. In our primary neighborhoods we can read between the lines because we know what's going, but in Bed-Stuy we're almost at the mercy of the prices, the pictures, and the self-proclamations of the real estate agents (yikes!). But we're sure the picture will start to clear up once we take a few stabs at it. Greene Avenue takes you straight from Clinton Hill into Bed-Stuy as you go east of Classon, where our coverage usually stops. And we've covered a ton of places on Greene in Clinton Hill. So a property on that street seemed like a fitting start for our first foray into Bed-Stuy. Even the New York times recently covered the changes Bed-Stuy's been undergoing.

533 Greene Avenue is 3-Family brownstone between Nostrand and Marcy listed at $699K. We've heard tales of the Bed-Stuy 2-Family in the $600-$700K range before, so it's nice to see one in the flesh for analysis. Oddly enough, while Property Shark has it as a 3-Family, the listing says a 2-Family and that it has 2 rental units. The listing doesn't say much else besides it being a "gut reno", but the postage stamp pictures they managed to take of the inside show space that's in fantastic shape as gut reno's go:

The listing also says, "Close to the A and C trains on Nostrand Avenue." Proximity to a city-bound train has always given us pause in this area. One man's "close" is another man's "11 block walk down Nostrand Avenue". The Bedford-Nostrand G train is around the corner, but that's not helping much. This house is actually much closer to one of our favorite places in Brooklyn, Choice Market, than it is to the A/C train. Which just goes to show you what a conundrum Bed-Stuy can be as a no man's land outpost, frustratingly closer to Clinton Hill than it is to a train that'll take you anywhere. In an unfortunate tug-of-war, the A/C trains over here move southeast as you go east of Classon, while some of the nice residential blocks in the neighborhood move northeast.

Accordingly, Bed-Stuy was certainly hit harder by the financial crisis of 2008 than any of the areas we cover. Lots of houses got ahead of themselves and quickly faced foreclosure when values receded. 533 Greene appears to be no exception. Looks likes the place was purchased in 2005 for $689K and a Lis Pendens for that amount was filed a year later. It then appears to have sold in 2007 for $860K, with a Lis Pendens coming just 8 months after THAT, and an additional Lis Pendens in 2010. The property then sold for $440K in February 2011 (most likely a foreclosure or short sale), then listed in June 2011 for the $699K it's currently asking. We can't imagine this kind of hot potato is a good sign, and yet it's a familiar one in Bed-Stuy. Hmmm, the jury's still out...

Pro's: price point, curb appeal, original details, 3-Family status

Con's: "gut reno", Lis Pendens hot potato, far from the A/C, quirky block

Ideally: a much more manageable play, but nothing truly compelling here yet