Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stretching for Park Slope Premium: 37 Prospect Place

It's interesting that this time last year, Brooklyn Properties offered a gorgeous 2-Family in Prospect Heights for less than $1.8M that sold for $1.5M in February. Nowadays, the Park Slope premium has been applied to this north Slope 2-Family 37 Prospect Place. There's nothing too compelling to us about the size or price point. The 17' x 50' floor plate gives you some narrow, but ample, space. If you want original details in a great location, maybe there's a play to be made. With so many other places that want to be $1.795M too these days, it's hard to say this is the best one.

Is this really where prices are these days? We imagine most buyers will factor in a modest renovation budget in mind for some of the more dated parts of the house.

Pro's: original details, north Slope location, separate entrance for 1BR rental

Con's: narrow, curb appeal, some dated interiors, price

Ideally: why pick this up when there are 2 superior $1.8M multi-fams in Park Slope still available?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Keeping Up With The Joneses: 866 Prospect Place

Once everyone gets religion and realizes European debt crises and threats of double-dip recession aren't going to shake Park Slope price points, and the plain fact that you don't need to be in the lame/tame Slope in order to simply not get mugged, suddenly even the Wall Street Journal wants to Occupy Crown Heights these days. And we're all aboard. Despite odd, racially-motivated aversions to the area that we've heard from some buyers, who is running from this incredible housing stock? We sniffed a great buy & hold brownstone 3-Family over here below $800K a few weeks ago (not covered on the blog so far), but today we take a look at who wants over a million east of Franklin Avenue.

866 Prospect Place is a huge, 5,700+ sqft limestone 2-Family that wants $1.35M. Note, there's certainly a disconnect between what they want and what they get. In June 2010, they wanted $1.77M, and only dropped to the current list price in July of this year. Meanwhile, a fave of ours in piping-hot Clinton Hill didn't last 2 weeks on the market at $1.3M.

Somebody was really pushing the limits of their Blackberry when they took these dark pics, and couldn't be bothered to move the fan or the spitoon away from the fireplace before snapping the shot that presumably was going to get them $75,000 in commission...

If you want a real home with original mantles, stained-glass, and great wood detailing... you're not going to find it for this price in the Slope, kids! While, the current Slope winner in this category just dropped price $200K, and sits at $1.8M, you might be able to nab 866 Prospect Place at a very attractive price.

Pro's: curb appeal, size, original details, owner's triplex, roof deck

Con's: pricing, needs lots of TLC, talk to me about the trains, are people ready to trek further east?

Ideally: there's a $999K place a few blocks from here that has it all over this place.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Open House Sunday: 341 12th Street

Many readers write us lamenting the woes of the sub-$1.5M multi-family housing market in the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and it's true. Everything decent, anywhere decent, "wants to be" at least $1.5M these days. Heck, in BoCoCa they want to be $1.75M or $2M! And in some of the best neighborhoods, like Park Slope, even shells command $1.5M or more. We say, "If ya can't beat 'em, join 'em... or don't." But you can't fight where the market's at. If prices are high, any owner looking to sell ostensibly wants to get in on the action. (Just look at 35 St. Marks.)

341 12th Street is a 3-Family that just hit the market at $1.595M with an open house this Sunday 1pm - 3pm. This time last year, we would've been able to show you a handful of bargains at this price or below in South Slope. Nowadays, the Park Slope premium is alive & well, and this is probably close to what 17' x 45' anywhere near Park Slope in turnkey condition can command.

Ghost dog not included...

Sure, while the kitchens are dated, and the deck is (nice, but) nothing special, and the floor thru rentals on a 17'-wider are going to be 1BR's... that's how it's going down in the Slope these days. Keep in mind, if your heart doesn't go pitter-patter for Park Slope, you're much better off in other neighborhoods, where this kind of money gets you something that really sparkles. We actually think south Slope is kind of over-rated, as these things go, but that's often a matter of taste. With so-so places wanting big ticket prices, you can see why things like 112 St. James don't even last 2 weeks on the market, and why even the 14' wide 267 St. James probably won't last long either.

Slope lovers, don't despair! Just sit back and size up what you're really paying for. Do you wanna drop that Park Slope premium for the name alone? Or are there other neighborhoods that offer the same amenities that you can get more value in? Or can you pick up a Slope property that needs a little cosmetic work for a steeper discount? We say, "Yes." Your heart will go on...

Pro's: 3-Family, rental income potential, backyard, deck, great floors, totally-turnkey

Con's: dated kitchens, 17' wide, 1BR rentals, pricey

Ideally: we'd go much bigger somewhere else for this price, or a little fixer in the Slope comes to mind for less...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Slope Alternative: 238 Windsor Place

Yesterday's pick got lots of attention because of its beautiful interior and Park Slope location at a sub-$1.5M price point. Today's pick is another 2-Family with a clean, classy renovation and curb appealing barrel front on a quaint residential block. But you've gotta go to Windsor Terrace to get it. 238 Windsor Place just came out for $1.29M. We barely know these blocks well enough to say how well this stacks up for this area overall, but we like Windsor Terrace more than certain parts of south Slope. 238 Windsor Place might have potential as a Park Slope alternative. What's been renovated looks great...

We agree the garden really tops it off. If you want a cute block close to Prospect Park, could this be the play for someone? Even if it's small, worse condos have been purchased for much more than this $600/sqft. If it was picked up in February 2010 for $1.125M, we're not sure what's changed besides the market. If the garden level "awaits your renovation", you might watch out for some added costs upfront. This pricing sure makes the larger, better-located 419 Sterling Place look like a steal.

Pro's: curb appeal, nice renovation, proximity to the park and the F train

Con's: small, more renovation budget needed for the garden level?, more value might be found in areas not linked to Park Slope

Ideally: we'd rather have gotten 112 St. James Place

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

13th Street Beauty

This spring, 279 13th Street splashed onto the scene as one of the top condo-alternative/affordable-in-the-Slope candidates newly, actively available in the market that had done a 180° pivot towards bullishness from the bearish fall season before. It quickly became one of the all-time top viewed posts on BK to the Fullest, which is always a sure-fire sign the property's due to close any minute. In July, it closed for its list price of $1.179M, which was pretty compelling at $671/sqft for a small, turnkey 2-Family with some nice details.

Today we take a look at another beauty on 13th Street, just a block away...

For just under $1.45M, this 18' x 35' 2-Family sits happily between the likes of the TLC-needing Prospect Avenue place we just peaked at and the horrendously mis-priced, untidily-photographed 725 President Street. Sure, it's not the biggest, or the best location, but what it lacks there it makes up for in truly sparkling interior...

What do get when you mix high ceilings, a skylight, an interior staircase, a washer/dryer, a private deck, a garden rental getting $3,500/month, a real Park Slope block, and "motivated" sellers? We say it's a "buy".

Pro's: curb appeal, sparkling interior, rental income potential, price point is actually moderate in today's market

Con's: the building isn't deep, not that much sqft-age, not the most quaint stretch of this block

Ideally: It would be a steal to grab this at a price per sqft similar to 279 13th Street.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Follow Us By E-mail

We finally figured out a good way for readers to receive daily e-mail notification whenever we submit new posts!

Unfortunately, the e-mail notification isn't instant ('cause it's not like we're living in the "Information Age" or anything, right?), but maybe someday those tech gurus will get the memo...

Fool Me Once: 489 6th Avenue

You know you want this gorgeous, Victorian brick 4-Family + store in Park Slope between 11th & 12th Street. You know you want a healthy 20' x 60' floor plate, weighing in at a robust 4,600+ sqft. Especially after they listed in 2009 for $2.01M and then in 2010 for $1.95M, making it to $1.89M in April 2011. You get the sense that they're finally getting closer to accepting its real price. Ahhhh, but don't let this active listing on StreetEasy for 489 6th Avenue fool ya. The dang thing just sold on 9/9/11 for $1.745M.

We were bummed to see the thing go before we could even get a proper stab at it. But, maybe it's what we should come to expect. We've already seen any number of imposters walking around like real listings. It's even more distressing when beauties like 706 Union Street re-post their listing on October 28th as active, but it's actually in contract when we talk to them the very next week. We guess it's just a case of, "...fool me twice, shame on me," in this topsy-turvy world of Brooklyn real estate. (Some prefer the more eloquent George W. version.)

As much potential as there is here on 6th Avenue, it's not like the building is a steal either. Once you get past the great exterior...

We're given only one interior picture, indicating a pretty extensive rehab...

So even if you could get a commercial loan on the thing (which requires a hefty down payment), you're probably facing another half-million or more in renovation, which is some pretty serious intial cash outlay. For that kind of money, you'd think these jokers over at Lion Head Realty would have the courtesy to update their listings. In Brooklyn? Nothing doing, sir.

Compare to something totally turnkey like the darling 158 Garfield Place that had 30 suitors in 30 days in order to see what kind of value swing that free market vs. rent stabilized can represent.

Pro's: curb appeal, location, size, mixed-use flexibility, all free market

Con's: commercial loan, hard to finance, renovation needed, ****tease listing

Ideally: as gut renos in the Slope under $400/sqft go, this is going to be a flagship property - if executed properly. Others may long for something totally nice & turnkey at these prices, and we couldn't blame them either.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Prospect Avenue Piece

Today's pick is a little semi-mystery meat 2-Family in South Slope on Prospect Avenue. How frikkin' quaint is this block? Who cares if it's only 16' wide and 2,400 sqft? This thing is adorable, especially at $899K. There'd be 20 people at the open house if they had one and it were properly marketed. But it'll live under a rock and everyone will pile into 643 Degraw instead.

Someday, someone will create a fully-comprehensive list of all properties for sale in Brownstone Brooklyn, that will give million dollar properties the same searchability, information, photos and respect that gives $10,000 used Honda Accords - but until that fateful day, there will always be... BK to the Fullest!

Pro's: curb appeal, pricing, location, original details

Con's: needs some work, 16' wide, lives under a rock

Ideally: this is a slam dunk for the right buyer. Contact us for more details.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Topics: The House Whisperer

[Celebrating our 250th post!!]

We don't usually bother with houses over $3M, but we couldn't help but notice when one of the often-published renovations of a long-time reader & member of the BK to the Fullest team goes on sale. John Buchbinder, whose handle is "johnsailor" here, founded Grand Renovation, and has been fixing, rehabbing, and restoring homes in Brooklyn for decades. He spoke to us about the renovation he did on this house at 178 Garfield Place, which he says was really "a dump" when the owners bought it, and that the purchase price around $1.3M would be adventurous "even in today's terms."

John says this "complete gut" included "entirely new mechanicals, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical." He acknowledges what a unique taste the renovation has, and that it's not for everyone [a fact the always-snarky commenters on Brownstoner are quick to disparage it for]. John adds, "But it's in a primo spot," and the high-profile owner will definitely help it attract more attention.

We like to think of John as "The House Whisperer". He walks into a house and instantly knows more about what's going on than the brokers, home inspectors, even the owners themselves. He can take a condemned building and turn it into something fit for walking house tours and interior design magazines. He can instantly diagnose a building and give incredible estimates of options to remedy any problems or simply to "pimp your ride". He was able to diagnose 419 Sterling for its buyers, who were able to confidently step ahead of the crowded open house with their bid and now are getting one of the best purchases in that neighborhood all year. He can tell you if a wall is load bearing, how the slanted floors can be fixed, how affordable it can be to cut a new skylight into the roof or floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors leading out to the back deck. He can restore original details or rock an all-out modern extension.

If you've got a problem-house that needs the healing powers of The House Whisperer, there's nobody else in the biz doing it like John.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Mr. Scott, Tear Down This Sign!": 417 Grand Avenue

It was a defining moment in the collapse of Communism when Reagan challenged, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Today we continue to call out those real estate imposters who claim to have a saleable listing, but don't. Today we declare: Mr. Scott, tear down this sign!

Don't ****tease us with a for sale sign in front of this massive 25' x 70' building weighing in at 7,200 sqft on a gorgeous block in burgeoning Clinton Hill. Worse yet, the sign boasts a "cash back rebate program" where buyers are eligible to get a cut of the participating broker's commission. Too bad no sale will happen in the first place. Call this man. Here's his number. Just ask him. Tell him to take down this sign. Let him join the other imposters like 414 Dean Street and 138 Prospect Place. Tell 829 8th Street to put "In Contract" on their listing. Tell 706 Union to put "In Contract" on their listing. Tell 347 Greene to take their ad down when their seller has already turned down offers at asking price.

Like Reagan plead for, let's usher in a new era of transparency. It's hard enough to find the REAL listings out there; let's not clutter up the field with more imposters. Is it too much to ask that a buyer ready to shell-out as much as $2.9M get to know whether their prospective buy is actually available or not? Should we start a seperate page exclusively for imposters? Who else out there is faking the funk?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tiny Condo Alternative: 643 Degraw Street

Now when we tell you that Corcoran's selling a 3-story brick building in Park Slope for $999K that isn't a gut reno and isn't in outer south Slope - you're still wondering what's the catch, right? Well, you might look at 643 Degraw Street and think you've found yourself a steal. You tell us. The rub here is that this single-family building's only 27' deep, so only 1,600 sqft, and right on 4th Avenue. Okay, it's not ON 4th Avenue, but it might as well be. The same way 584 Washington Ave might as well be ON Atlantic Ave.

Still, if you get inside and you don't hear the cars humming & honking with the windows open, just over $600/sqft ain't bad to get an entire private house in a neighborhood where condos & co-ops easily command more than that. The lot is shallow like the house, so the patio is only 7' deep, but it's there. The renovation appears to have a dinky-looking shiny finish on the floors that reminds us of cheap rentals in Morningside Heights, but we do agree with the listing that "the renovation is not overly ornate or demanding." It's nice to see somebody not over-renovated for a change, hitting a nice medium between gut renovation blank canvass and "Here's an overload of my unique taste".

And you know we love the candor of the agents, who honestly lay it all out...

"Could you live here? Is this the one you have been looking for? That's up to you. Come see it on Sunday or by appointment and you decide."

As small houses go, this makes 111 St. Felix look like even more of a steal. As condos & co-ops go, it also makes the price per sqft on 125 Eastern Parkway, #1A look more compelling.

Pro's: some curb appeal, an entire house at condo prices, totally turnkey, back patio, technically Park Slope

Con's: right on the 4th Avenue, next to vacant or developing lot, tinier than you'd expect for a house

Ideally: with a better buy in Fort Greene at this price still available, this one's a tough sell to us. But we're sure Corcoran will find their buyer.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Killer Co-op in Contract: 110 Clifton Place, #1E

While we rarely cover condos or co-ops, we're still fond of 125 Eastern Parkway, #1A. We also couldn't help but notice 110 Clifton Place, #1E which is a pretty killer space for the price. $669K for 14' ceilings in a 1,248 sqft 2BR ain't too shabby. Maintenance of almost $1,000/month can be tough, though. Taking a look at the rest of it, it's no surprise it went into contract in just over a month...

Pro's: great floors, high ceilings, lots of light, private roof space, additional loft space

Con's: a few blocks east of here, you get whole houses for this price

Ideally: this one may be be gone, but there's another one that's this quality in Williamsburg that comes to mind

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fort Greene Mystery

It's a who-dunnit mystery in Fort Greene! Real estate agents have put out an APB on a 4-story, 2-Family brick building that needs a full gut reno for $1.35M. We're given no address, no interior pictures, and it must be all-cash.

They're not telling us anything, so we're not helping them out much more either.

Can anyone solve this myster for us?

Pro's: curb appeal, size, price (for some), "photos to come"

Con's: no address, delivered vacant?, no pics, needs to be all-cash

Ideally: this is a better play than 135 St. Johns if it can be delivered vacant. Pretty crucial info, one would suppose, for an all-cash buyer at these levels.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When Premiums Collide: 529 8th Street

When you go to Park Slope, you know you're paying up for the name brand of a neighborhood that even the most pedestrian, non-NY'ers can rattle off the top of their heads as prime real estate. And when you go to Corcoran, you know you're getting top notch service (usually) and a real listing at a premium price. So when you combine the two, Park Slope and Corcoran, you know you're in store for some serious premium being added to the price of your listing.

Corcoran is kind of like the Bloomingdale's of real estate. They're big, bright, shiny, and they always give their more spendy customers first dibs on overpaying for a particular product when it first comes out, before ultimately slashing the price if it doesn't manage to sell with the premium on top. They even tell their sellers flat-out before listings, "Ok, we can sell your house for X dollars. So we're going to list it for X + Y + Z dollars. That way we can drop the price by Z dollars, and still have Y dollars to negotiate with or drop again, to arrive at a sale for X dollars." While price anchoring has its powerful psychological effects, it's not always how things work in the real world. (But don't tell that to your wife who wants a $5,000 trip to Brazil, just because she got a Groupon e-mail that "saves" $500 on the hotel)

529 8th Street is a 12-Family limestone in PRIME Park Slope, between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West. But don't let the $2.9M price tag fool ya. The identical (except without the exterior fire escape dragging down the curb appeal) next door neighbor just sold for $2.3M on 8/24/11. That's right, after listing for $2.9M with Corcoran in 2007, 2008, and 2009 - it then came back on the market in the spring of 2010 at $2.75M, then $2.6M, then back out this summer at $2.4M, before finally fetching its price (minus $100K). Sensing a pattern, anyone? At least that listing for 533 8th Street had a few interior pics. Now on 529 8th Street, we don't even get the pics Corcoran threw in there for the rentals:

Because why should the person supposedly spending $2,900,000 on this place see what the tenant paying $2,000/month sees? Even the exterior pic they're lifting off Property Shark, they couldn't bother to save in a higher rez version than the 8-bit-looking photo they have now. Furthermore, we get no clarity on the rent roll, other than the fact that it's two-thirds full of incredible, rent stabilized steals for the tenants, and 4 free market apartments. But we understand why they may not want to blast that gross income number over the airwaves. Worst of all, our calls into the agent were shut down when they told us they have an accepted offer a few months ago, and aren't accepting back ups. So it's basically in contract and doesn't even say so. Considering how fast 158 Garfield Place went, we're not surprised at all. We're very curious to see what price it ends up at, and if these 2 added premiums prevail.

Pro's: location, huge, will never go unrented, curb appeal

Con's: price, where's the upside?, is it still listed?, why does the rental listing have more info than the sales listing?

Ideally: when it comes to 8-Family+ bow-front limestones, we still haven't given up on 234 St. James