Thursday, December 29, 2011

The $700K Condo Game: 33 St. Marks Place, #2

Some friends of ours were recently looking for a 2BR condo in Park Slope, with a healthy-sounding budget like $700K. Okay, maybe that's a healthy budget for a young couple - the question would be, is it a healthy budget for Park Slope? It didn't sound like too tall an order, given that the median price on Streeteasy for 2BR's in Park Slope is currently $795K with a median size of 1,100 sqft at a median price of $715/sqft. Certainly there's an 800-1,000 sqft condo for around $700K, right? But then our friends weren't too happy with what they were seeing available in that price range. They didn't want to be over in Williamsburg at 37 Orient Avenue - and we can't blame 'em. Williamsburg isn't for us either, so it didn't really matter that this was the best buy in Billyburg at the time. They weren't feeling the co-op application process either, which just seems like some nondescript pain that few understand and everyone fears. 4th Avenue offered some big new developments, but then you're on 4th Avenue. It takes recognizing the Park Slope market and making some trade-off's accordingly. So what do we think of this 2BR condo in a brownstone conversion that just closed for $702K?

33 St. Marks Place, #2 is just past 4th Avenue in what we'll liberally still call Park Slope here. So that's one trade-off already in terms of location, even though it is a quiet block around the corner from transportation and a short jaunt to the same avenues in Park Slope that everyone pays higher prices for. Remember, St. Marks Place is not to be confused with St. Marks Avenue, which takes over at 5th Avenue. This 3BR/2B on just over 1,000 sqft listed for $759K in August, went in contract in November, and just closed on 12/6/11 for $702K. What do we think?

Not too bad for something that comes in below Park Slope's average pricing. Not having seen the layout or the inside ourselves, we're a little agnostic on this 3rd bedroom of theirs (especially with the 2nd bathroom), but we'll give 'em the benefit of the doubt. It's not gonna wow you, but the quicky & clean renovation fits. Just up the street at 33 St. Marks Avenue you can see what just about $100 more per square foot can get you:

Which our friends gushed over, but was out of their price range with a starting list price of $925K.

And, keep in mind, $700K can still get you a shiny, turnkey 2-Family in Bed-Stuy with new appliances and some original details that gives owners a duplex with a yard and a rental unit on top to help with the mortgage. What do you think is the best place in Brooklyn right now for $700K?

Pro's: newly renovated, 3BR's, condo not a co-op, not a huge developement, location has upsides

Con's: not all that special, location has downsides, is it really 3 legit bedrooms?

Ideally: there's still a 2BR in Park Slope in this price range with a private outdoor deck that comes to mind

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carroll Gardens Sale: 15 3rd Street

For all the mediocre listings that want over $2M in BoCoCa and Park Slope, it's nice to see a relatively healthy (even if it feels frothy) sale at $1.75M. 15 3rd Street is a great-looking 3-Family in the heart of Carroll Gardens that listed in September at $1.75M, went into contract in October, and just recorded its closing in November for asking price. Pretty nice, right?

While not as modern as the stylish 536 Court Street that closed over here under $1.7M, 15 3rd Street has some nice, turnkey space whose renovation is more traditional & incorporates some of the original elements. Not to be confused with 19 3rd Street, the similar-looking multi-family two doors down that's been in contract forever. The sales history of these two neighbors is a microcosm of the bullish shift this market took from fall/winter 2010 to spring/summer 2011. 19 3rd Street is like a vestige now from a time when the prices of even the nice properties were dwindling a bit and the 4-Family FHA loan limit was even still in the conversation for these properties. Then, properties sat on the market for months and many rounds of price drops. Nowadays, 15 3rd Street closes within 2 months. The final post-crash flush-out has been seen in the sales (still above $2M, mind you) of places like 122 Carroll Street. Paving the way for a new breed of $2M wanna-be's like 328A Clinton Street.

Pro's: curb appeal, heart of Carroll Gardens, 2 blocks to Carroll Street F/G trains, turnkey space with original details

Con's: didn't last long, things this nice want $2M over here on a regular basis, $1.75M is the new $1.5M (or worse)

Ideally: pick your spots, know what you're paying for, and find the value that works for you. In this market, the gap between $1.75M to $2.75M doesn't even seem as wide as it used to.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Nothing Special: 122 Gates Avenue

If the interior of this 2-Family brick building in Clinton Hill doesn't wow you for $1.425M, maybe how fast it sold will. 122 Gates Avenue spent barely 2 months on the market starting in September before going into contract. We got a shot of the back yard, and two different angles on a decent kitchen:

This 122 Gates listing is reminiscent of 419 Sterling Place a month earlier, but Gates wanted more money in a less ideal location. Nothing's wrong with Clinton Hill - it's great. And $1.425M isn't the MOST expensive or anything. But the combination leaves us saying, "Meh." No wonder 112 St. James Place didn't last 2 weeks. It makes us wonder how far off 187 Gates Avenue could be at $1.1M.

Pro's: nice kitchen, original mantles, owner's triplex, pretty good rental income, seems turnkey

Con's: we'd love to see a little more of the house, is this all that ~$1.5M range gets us in Clinton Hill these days?

Ideally: this makes some of the listings under $1.75M in the Slope look like steals

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Crown Heights Mansions Keep Coming: 1142 Dean Street

We've been saving this one for BK to the Fullest "Platinum Members" only, but it's too juicy not to share. This is simply one of the best places that $999K can buy in Brooklyn. 1142 Dean Street is a huge 5-story, 2-Family in Crown Heights, just past Bedford Avenue. Kitchens and bedrooms galore spill out of this 20' x 50' (with extension!) 4,000+ sqft mansion:

It could be a cash-cow rental if you ran it as a hipster frat house. In fact, the pool table's already in place:

Ginormous mansion that costs $6,000/month & makes $8,000/month... what more are you waiting for?

Pro's: curb appeal, huge, all kinds of space, original details, crazy rental income potential, multiple outdoor arrangements, extension

Con's: set up like a hostel or housing co-op, smorgasbord of space might not be for everyone

Ideally: get in and get this place! Wouldn't be surprised to see it go above asking price.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Save Your $2 Million: 382A Clinton Street

Fresh out in Carroll Gardens, it's a new member of the no-longer-illustrious $2M club, 382A Clinton Street. While not as embarrassingly mispriced as 137 Adelphi, this simply isn't what we'd spend $2M on. You get 3,000 sqft & all, but at what price? 14' wide & so-so interior ain't cuttin' it at this price, even if it's on Clinton Street & Sackett:

As $2M 3-Family's go, this isn't even the best one within 10 blocks. It's okay, though. When fetching $2M in a nice neighborhood starts seeming simpler than playing "Who's smarter than a 5th grader?", you can't get mad at owners & their listing agents for wanting to come along for the ride. Don't hate the player, hate the game. But, while one reader points out, "There's no shame in losing to Jordan," there is shame in losing to Cliff Robinson.

Pro's: location, deep building, some original details

Con's: price, 14' wide, nothing special inside, not nearly the best in breed

Ideally: good thing we're off to look at 3 places bigger & better than this today, for $100K-$500K less.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Williamsburg's Best In Contract: 37 Orient Avenue, #3

Williamsburg's best 2BR condo just went into contract! It's not usually our move, but this was the best in breed for months. 37 Orient Avenue, #3 came out in August 2011 for $799K and went into contract last week. On our radar since its first week, this unique 2BR duplex in a small row house development has looked like a compelling buy since day 1. You get a top duplex with your own private roof, a working fireplace, a huge 2-story arched floor to ceiling window space:

$199 is as low as you're gonna find monthly maintenance for a 3BR/2B condo. $644/sqft for a condo with this kind of quality is a really compelling price with the median listings in Williamsburg sitting at $739/sqft.

Pro's: unique space, fresh interior, low maintenance, outdoor spaces, huge 2-story window, price, not a huge building

Con's: narrow space, not everyone's taste

Ideally: there's more product like this to come. Sleek, modern renovation comes to quaint row house living with great results.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Open Listing Single Family in the Slope: 429 11th Street

With the flurry of high closings in Park Slope these days, it's almost a little surprising that as recently as this April and this August, you could slide into a great barrel front multi-family on 11th Street for $1.35M. Granted, this is between 4th & 5th Avenues in south Slope, but still! Nowadays, further up the street, they want $1.399M - $1.445M for a 14' wide, vinyl-siding 1-Family.

429 11th Street appears to have been picked up this February 2011 for $475K in an estate sale and they put the quick, fancy flip-a-roo on it by this November:

Appears to be an open listing that everyone from Brooklyn Properties to Aguayo & Huebener have had a crack at, with prices varying too. Some small, clean spaces with modern renovation & a cemented-in backyard, but where's the awesome master bedroom for $933/sqft?

The reader who sent this in to us asks, "What are they smoking?" We hate to 2nd guess taste here, but why'd they keep the vinyl siding if they were going to do anything to the exterior? We'd actually rather be in 33 St. Marks even, for much less money or live right across from the Brooklyn Museum at 125 Eastern Parkway.

Or there's an even bigger & better place in Carroll Gardens we have in mind.

Pro's: shiny new renovation, backyard space, location

Con's: vinyl siding, "enter through the basement", 14' wide, 1,500 sqft, price

Ideally: gotta pass on this one, for so many reasons. So many better places to devote that kind of dough.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

4-Family After Top Dollar: 405 Clermont Avenue

With $2M the new benchmark price in Park Slope, everybody wants to come along for the ride. That's why the 4-Family gut reno on 572 Pacific wants $2.295M. Now we have 405 Clermont Avenue, a gut renovated 4-Family brownstone on the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill border for $1.8M. Reading the dinky description, it pretty much looks like they texted this listing in. And besides, who wants to just read for $1.8M? Would you rather hear about "GUT RENOVATED FIRST FL DUPLEX CUSTOM MADE KITCHEN" or see it? Too bad there aren't any pictures either. This is all we get...

Worse yet, they raised their price from its original $1.6M in the first 3 weeks! You want a meaty house for this kind of money, not 35' deep.

Pro's: curb appeal, location, great block, renovated

Con's: no pictures, price is tough, way better $1.8M's to be had, only 2,800 sqft on a 20' x 35' floorplate

Ideally: they show some pictures and drop the price.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Keep the Woodwork Coming: 931 St. Marks Avenue

If you need a break from so-so Park Slope listings around $2M (and lord knows we do!), why not take a peak at the variety of great exteriors and interiors that under $1M gets you just a little further east?

931 St. Marks Avenue is a huge 20' x 50', 2-Family limestone in Crown Heights with some out-of-control original interior woodwork:

You never saw so much wood around a sink before:

This is reminiscent of our all-time top-viewed post for 287 Dekalb Avenue, which also had some great original period details. As in that house, you also get some fresh, clean spaces too...

They'd be asking $899K for one floor of this place elsewhere. Instead, here, you get the backyard, the drive way, the owner's triplex, a garden apartment, the great limestone exterior, all located on a peaceful (don't mind the high school across the street) cul-de-sac right next to the "Brooklyn Children's Museum". It's nice to know that almost a million dollars can still cop a legit mansion, even though a mediocre condo is bound to sell today for this same price. Every time a Park Slope condo sells, a Crown Heights mansion gets its wings (and becomes a way more attractive buy).

Pro's: curb appeal, straight-up mansion status, original details, wood burning fireplaces throughout,

Con's: across the street from a high school, are you ready for deep Crown Heights?

Ideally: compare to a few similar plays we have in mind to get the absolute best buy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bed-Stuy Bubbling: 407 Stuyvesant Avenue

Seeing our last pick get swooped up so fast was a sign of the price resurgence in Bed-Stuy. In lockstep with the wave of prices picking up all over Brooklyn, Brown Harris Stevens comes out with another spiffy place on Stuyvesant Avenue at $925K in Bed-Stuy.

407 Stuyvesant Avenue is a 3-Family in Stuyvesant Heights - which is worth specifying, but we won't separate from Bed-Stuy for these purposes. Or should we? When Barbara Corcoran gets in the game at $1.46M for a limestone 5-Family right at the time of the crash in 2008, people pay attention.

Now we can't wax as philosophical on the architecture & history of this area as others, but take a stroll around and you'll see it's nice & classy. The only thing holding it back now is a killer commercial avenue, and people will flock to this housing stock. This home is about as close to the train as you can hope for over here too. The original interior here on 407 Stuyvesant Avenue is reminiscent of 338 Clinton Avenue, which we're told has multiple offers at its asking price of $2M. We managed to dig up some pictures for 338 Clinton Ave...

Not sure what price 407 Stuyvesant will land at, but this is a great look at a buy in the area and not likely to last that long.

Pro's: original details, in the middle of stately blocks, close to the train, under $1M 3-Family works on so many levels

Con's: very residential area that has some ways to go yet to maximize its commercial space, might need some updates, may not be the best buy under a million as these go

Ideally: definitely worth a look. Which do you think we see first, Park Slope buyers popping up in Stuy Heights or Stuy Heights prices popping up in Park Slope?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bed-Stuy's Back: 324 Stuyvesant Avenue

After a little lull during the post-crash dip in real estate prices from Fall 2008 to Fall 2010, Bed-Stuy is officially back. With everything decent from Carroll Gardens to Park Slope bubbling up to $2M, and $1.5M becoming the new range even in Clinton Hill, the push east is inevitable. And we're getting swept along by the wave. Block after block of good housing stock for 1/2 or 1/3 of the price seen just a couple of miles west. 324 Stuyvesant Avenue didn't last long at $625K with so-so photography of a few interior details...

... and only one full room shot:

Where else can you find 3,400+ sqft of bay windows, stone front, 3-Family goodness for barely the cost of a nice 2BR condo? The next door neighbor 322 Stuyvesant Avenue just sold for $490K on 10/21/11! With the pace of pricing in established areas, the push east could be rapid, especially within the FHA loan limits.

Pro's: curb appeal, lovely block, original details, price point

Con's: multiple offers in already, needs renovation, are you ready for deep Bed-Stuy?

Ideally: luckily there are some great buys left on this very same avenue...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Larger Than Life: 572 Pacific Street

The Park Slope premium is officially larger than life. You didn't hear it here first, but you've definitely heard it here many times. 250 Garfield Place went in contract before we could even cover it. And, to hear Brownstoner tell it, Anne Hathaway even looked at the place. One reader sent us that Brownstoner link, while yet another tells us of the documentary "My Brooklyn" showing next week in Tribeca. A film that "documents how an obsession with upscale environments driven by the Wall Street bubble is threatening the very economic, racial and ethnic diversity and neighborhood character that have historically drawn many generations to Brooklyn" sounds poignant at times like these. Despite the macro-economics of the country, FHA loan limits coming down, European debt crises rattling all sorts of markets, the tip-top Brooklyn housing market is as hot as ever. Be appalled, if you will, but we can't really be surprised. People aren't spending that kind of money in these neighborhoods for the chance to see Anne Hathaway walking around in her yoga gear. These neighborhoods are becoming West Village and Upper West Side alternatives. Have you tried pricing townhouses in one of THOSE neighborhoods recently?

572 Pacific Street will wow you... with its high price, bare floor plan, and expansive view of the Modell's parking lot across the street:

And don't let the respirator mask during the demolition on the Google Streetview fool ya:

They did a full renovation with central air & heat, all new fixtures & finishes. When you go after a 4-Family in Park Slope for $2.295M, however, you might think you'd get more than for your money. This dry renovation may - frighteningly - just be where prices are these days. We can't say it's worth this much, but we honestly can't blame them for trying either. For sure, the renovation is thorough and added all kinds of features. You'll never have a problem renting out these fancy 2BR units. But is this the location where someone ultimately wants to land, just to get these top-notch features? 572 Pacific sits kind of in between what 33 St. Marks did and what 35 St. Marks would like to do. It's not for us, but we can't wait to see what this frothy market does with it.

Pro's: spanking new renovation, close to transit, sliced into a 4-Family rental income machine, 2BR rentals

Con's: not residential-feeling block, across the street from Modell's parking lot, too close to the stadium?, pricing, over-renovated?

Ideally: contact us for the 3-5 places we'd buy all day before this one.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Carroll Gardens Mixed-Use: 299 Smith Street

Mixed-use buildings sort of confuse us at this point. Especially in areas like BoCoCa where we've seen how small the cap rates can be on a building such as the one that houses Sweet Melissa's. Sometimes mixed-use can be a sweet spot, and sometimes it's hard for us to figure out who's after these places. Investors don't usually find the cash flow they're looking for, and homeowners don't want to deal with commercial space or live right on a bustling avenue, or get a place with no backyard access. Perhaps in the booming BoCoCa where everything half-way decent wants to be $1.75M-$2M these days, getting 2 apartments plus a store for $1.6M is attractive.

299 Smith Street is in a prime location in Carroll Gardens, near the F/G trains, Carroll Park, all kinds of amenities, and a coveted hit & miss (misses probably determined by staggering commercial rents) retail corridor. If you wish you snatched up the building at 179 Smith Street where Camp is, listed for $1.5M, that sold for $1.425M all cash - you might get another chance here. Looks like the owner's had the thing since 1979 with almost no cost basis or equity pulled out of it. The only snafu we can foresee is the suspiciously-recent Lis Pendens from 10/17/2011 for "Partition Of Property". Somebody sure had some fun with photo shop sepia effects after taking the only 2 interior shots provided:

Do not adjust your television sets. This is the real color of the pics posted to sell this thing for $1.6M. 20' x 44' on a 60' lot with some dated interior? Check the rents, get clarity on the Lis Pendens, and expect some price flexibility if the owner's reasonable. If you can even sniff this, and you have a renovation budget, you'll be kicking yourself for not picking up 489 6th Avenue in time for slightly more. 258 Dekalb Avenue at its latest price drop looks like a more compelling buy in our book.

Pro's: prime location, rental income potential, income of the building is top priority for underwriting, price flexibility

Con's: commercial loan needed, where's the upside?, maybe head over to 258 Dekalb

Ideally: perfectly poised listing. Nothing grabs us about it, but if this is the kind of thing you're looking for, this is a great look at it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Park Slope Imposter: 220 Garfield Place

Imagine you were minding your own business with $2M+ burning a whole in your pocket for a nice brownstone in a prime part of Park Slope. You'd think if you were on the website for one of the Slope brokers like Garfield Realty (whose tag line boasts, "Service is Everything") you could get a realistic sense of what they have to offer. Afterall, the Corcoran broker you went to only showed you Corcoran listings, and the same thing happened at a few other places. So you started just seeking places out yourself. You don't care who has the dang listing, you simply want the best house for your money. So you click on Garfield's website and you see this 3,200+ sqft meaty chunk of "Renaissance Revival Brownstone" on a great block between 7th & 8th Avenues. Tell me more, right? Wrong.

220 Garfield Place is a 2-Family which has bobbed & weaved with different brokers at this $2.15M price tage since 2009, and actually just sold for its asking price on 11/9/2011. But don't expect the "Service is Everything" broker to tell you that. Afterall, why would you think some place called "Garfield Realty" would have their finger on the pulse of real estate on "Garfield Place"? After collecting upwards of $100,000 in commission, how hard would it be to put "SOLD" somewhere on your listing, at least out of a courtesy to your next potential $2M+ buyers? (Granted, it looks like an open listing, and it's unclear to us if Garfield collected any commission.)

Much like our last pick north of $2M, this long-listed property finally got swooped up by the rising market. The difference with this place on Garfield is they were in a prime enough area to sit at their price and wait for the market to meet them, without having to come down in price to meet the market halfway. While Garfield Realty couldn't be bothered to show any interior pics - and, from the looks of it, neither could Aguayo & Huebener or Brooklyn Properties when they had their shot at the listing - Brown Harris Stevens was able to muster a few grimey shots back in 2009.

At least Aguayo & Huebener had the decency to put "IN CONTRACT!" in big red letters on their version of the listing:

And Prudential was happy to tell us their $2.6M listing for 250 Garfield Place had a signed contract too. Compare these prices to the $3.75M asking price for the immaculate renovation of 178 Garfield Place that a member of the BK To The Fullest team did.

As soon as we work out the details of how to display it, we should be putting an imposter list together on a seperate page within the blog. It's long overdue.

Pro's: curb appeal, top notch location, double duplex

Con's: sold and nobody told us, so-so interior, another sign of a frothy market

Ideally: still kind of surprising to see this sale at this price with the best two $1.8M's in Park Slope still dangling out there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Price Drop in Contract: 122 Carroll Street

In Carroll Gardens - and BoCoCa in general - things you might think are expensive actually move pretty quickly. 364 Union Street didn't last long at $2.5M before it was in contract with multiple back-up offers. 116 1st Place, listed at $1.9M, has a contract out with a back-up offer already. This place on Warren Street didn't last long at $2.1M. Today we look at 122 Carroll Street, which came out at $2.699M on 10/6/11. After a big price drop 3 weeks later, down to $2.35M, this 4-Family used as a 1-Family quickly went into contract. While there are no pics of the interior anywhere on this latest listing, you can get a peak inside back when it was listed for $3.5M, and it fetching even $2M seemed absurd this time last year to the Brownstoner editor. What a difference a year makes!

At this level of decadence, we'd be a little surprised to see the building retained as a 4-Family, though using it as 1-Family seems a little over the top too. But those are decisions we leave to others. Popping a huge skylight in there was a nice touch:

All & all, not a suprising turn of events for something so shiny in such a coveted area. Being around the corner from Lucali's doesn't hurt matters. This is the kind of sub-$2.5M quality that should make the over-priced, horribly photographed 486 Warren Street a little ashamed of itself.

Pro's: great renovation with all kinds of original and modern features, hefty price capitulation, 4-Family status leaves options, neighborhood,

Con's: curb appeal, lots out there for this price, renovation may not be your taste, used as a 1-Family

Ideally: as prices rise, the previously over-priced suddenly becomes the best of breed, especially if its price is coming down.