Wednesday, April 27, 2011

South Slope Open House: 577 6th Avenue

A well-renovated 2-Family in South Slope for $1.245M?? The Property Shark exterior picture of 577 6th Avenue won't entice you, but the interior will...

It's a wonder what a few nifty details and even an Ikea kitchen can do:

Corcoran doesn't even bother with an updated picture of the exterior. They know the power of squeeky-clean pictures and accentuating the positives. Everything in the house is shiny & new. They'll get a bunch of activity and give the house the best chance of getting the top bid possible. Much like 536 Court Street, a nice renovation off the beaten path deserves nice pictures and can find its buyer. Throw in an open house and you get things rolling right away. 577 6th Avenue is worth checking out this Sunday 2-4pm for anyone in the Park Slope market looking for a turnkey value not too far away from what people love about the Slope. Especially if you want a little deck, a little terrace, and a little yard. The triple threat! The feel over here on this block might not be as residential, but see if this house stacks up favorably to 279 13th Street. Way more bang for the buck than some of the other shiney 2-Fam's in the $1.4-$1.6M+ range, like 209 8th Street or 354 5th Street.

Another quality over quantity play, and at a price relatively within reach. You'd think it would inspire a stale, over-priced listing on a KILLER block like 308 Clermont, to roll-up their sleeves & take a nice picture or two. Throw an open house, give yourself a chance. Until then, at least there are a few professionals out there.

Pro's: squeeky-clean renovation with nifty details, fairly priced, proximity to park, trains, and Slope

Con's: not the most neighborhood feel to the block, not the biggest house, someone's bound to overbid ya

Ideally: We'd snatch this up for $1.1M in a heartbeat, but someone might pay as much as $1.3M. It's also encouraging to see how nice a manageable renovation can come out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

South Slope Flip-a-roo?: 490a 7th Avenue

490a 7th Avenue is a 3-Family deep in South Slope, towards Windsor Terrace. One goes out here for proximity to the park, the trains, and prime Park Slope, but at South Slope prices. This listing with Century 21 (the people who brought you the 96 St. Marks debacle) has a list price of $1.195M. Anybody interested at this price would have like it much better at Prudential's list price of $899K that lasted only a few days on the market. Not sure if someone was able to buy it in that time and is now trying to flip it.

This stretch of 7th Avenue starts to get more residential than the north end, but it still makes for hectic surroundings to have a house. The bus stop a few doors down on the corner doesn't help matters. The interior has that 70's Ladies' Man feel not seen since the likes of 238 Lafayette and neighbors like 313 12th Street also in South Slope. The house obviously will need plenty of updating to maximize its potential:

If you look at the layout, the 6' wide "Bedrooms" in either corner don't really count, and you end up with a windowless interior living room. That should be re-worked, probably into a master 1BR with a more open layout. We're not in any hurry to drop ~$1.2M for something that needs this much work in south Slope. There are a handful of houses with more promise for the same money on these same blocks if you're married to the Slope, and even better opportunities in Clinton Hill.

Pro's: a true 3-Family, location has lots to offer, delivered vacant, backyard

Con's: noisy avenue to be on, layout, needs updating, 1BR rentals, are we buying a flip here?

Ideally: we're hard-pressed to drop even a million over here with what else is out there.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A True Home: 116 Willoughby Avenue

The fancy-pants 2-Family market is alive & well. $1.595M for a 2-Family is not our speed, per se, but we keep you posted. 116 Willoughby Avenue is a gorgeous, landmarked 2-Family limestone that sits on the north side of Clinton Hill. Willoughby is a quiet, one-way street with some great-looking houses, just a block from all kinds of commercial amenties on the ever-growing Myrtle Avenue. Although, the G is very close, the walk from here to a city-bound train can be draining on a daily basis. Many take the bus down Myrtle to the train. That said, the house looks immaculate and the proximity to nice stretches of Myrtle and DeKalb, Fort Greene, and the park give this place lots of charm and value to buyers who want a building with a true home feeling.

Fireplaces everywhere, nifty style, great floors, owner's triplex, and a backyard make the house a hands-down YES to us. Being across the street from some tall housing complexes on Clinton Avenue might be a turn-off to some buyers. The neighborhood might not trade with the same premium as Carroll Gardens or Park Slope, but that's why people come over here. There's a different feel and often more value. Speaking of value, what's the flexibility on the price? Considering the owners paid $1.4M in 2005, probably not much. And there is lots out there for $1.5M and up. If we're going to spend $1.6M for a great 2-Family, we'd rather have 407 Sterling Place.

Pro's: great house, curb appeal, backyard, amenities abound, private entrance for rental unit

Con's: 2-Family, hike to a city-bound train, across from some tall housing complex, maybe not the best in breed

Ideally: you'd really have to fall in love with 116 Willoughby Ave to make it happen at this price, which we're not ruling out, but make sure you've checked all the other options out there first

Friday, April 22, 2011

South Slope Winner: 531 11th Street

531 11th Street looks like a great 3-Family house on a great block. It's close to the park, close to the train, on a tree-lined block between 7th and 8th Avenues in south Slope. It's a healthy 20' x 50' building with a backyard and sparkling interior that shows the owner's nifty touches:

The listing is great, complete with pictures, a layout, the rental income of $4,600 from the non-owner occupied units, and the lease dates. We want this house. Conspicuous in its absence, however, is the property's address. Maybe the sordid listing history for this house is something they'd rather not drag up. StreetEasy shows this property first hitting the market in August 2008 for $1.895M, just a month before Lehman Brothers went under & the financial crisis kicked into full gear. The rest is a familiar sight in the post-crash world of real estate:

08/07/2008 - Listed by Corcoran at $1,895,000.
12/05/2008 - Delisted temporarily.
03/23/2009 - Re-listed by Corcoran.
03/23/2009 - Price decreased by 5% to $1,795,000.
06/25/2009 - Price decreased by 5% to $1,700,000.
09/30/2009 - Price decreased by 3% to $1,650,000.
10/01/2009 - Listing is no longer available.

A few years later, is $1.575M the price? There are opportunities in South Slope here and there, but no 3-Family's as turn-key as this one. 443 11th Street had a nice price point and the same broker Brown Harris Stevens got that into contract pretty quickly. The newly-relisted 345 13th Street has a nice price point too, but needs extensive renovation. It's also worth comparing to 706 Degraw. The owner has a quality house here at 531 11th Street, we're pulling for her, but the equity situation is looking tough. We love the house, but can't really get behind the price for our purposes.

Pro's: location, curb appeal, rental income potential ($2,300/month 1.5BR's?), stylishly renovated

Con's: basically 1BR per floor, renovation may not be your style, pricing pressure

Ideally: it's a shame to see owners getting hung out to dry from the financial crisis, but this is probably $1.5M in somebody's book, right?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

North Slope Renovation Candidate: 405 Douglass Street

405 Douglass Street is a 3-Family in north Park Slope, just off 5th Avenue that "is ready for your renovation." The listing also boasts "its original details including fireplace mantles, pocket shutters and mouldings." Take a look inside and see for yourself:

Great original details wasn't the first phrase that came to mind. Lots of renovation is needed and it's unclear what the ideal end-product would be. Your neighbor 632 Baltic can't fetch $1.5M and it'll take more than $200K to get up to speed with him, so the whole isn't greater than the sum of the parts. 405 Douglass is still a way better buy than our pick 292 1st Street from earlier this week at their current list prices, but anybody with this kind of money and renovation budget should take a look at 432 Clinton Street. We'd be kicking ourselves even at $1.1M.

Pro's: location, delivered vacant, close to trains and amenities

Con's: curb appeal, funky block, lots of work to do, pricey

Ideally: if you can afford the renovation, give the owner an aggressive offer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Less Than You'd Expect: 292 1st Street

We don't really specialize in homes as pricey as $1.895M. Then again, this same broker Century 21 also listed 96 St. Marks for $1.9M last summer and it closed for $1M even. So you can't really set their list prices as your benchmark. 292 1st Street is a 20' x 40' 2-Family brownstone in Park Slope with some neat-o blue cornice molding up top on the exterior. Of course the location will lure the Slope-o-philes with its proximity to trains, the Park Slope Food Co-op, Union Hall, etc. But does the price match the interior?

The pictures kind of speak for themselves. Some serious updating is in order to keep up with the pricing. The only thing we could say is that at least this place isn't thin and it's in a better location than some of the other over-priced 2-Family's out there. Around these very blocks, though, way better things can be picked up for these prices or less like 290 8th Street or 596 Carroll Street. Which kind of tips Century 21's hand here, if you ask us, showing that they're unapologetically overpricing and just hoping to lure that buyer.

Pro's: location, curb appeal, a bit of a yard

Con's: price, interior condition, not a lot of BR's

Ideally: with tons of equity and work to be done, $1.4M starts sounding interesting.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Prime Time Cobble Hill: 362 Degraw Street

If you like the BoCoCa vibe (Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens), then the location doesn't get much more prime than this. 362 Degraw Street is just one door in from Smith Street, surrounded by lovable places like Zaytoon's, Cafe Luluc, and Bar Great Harry. The exterior looks great, and "with a nearly finished conversion by its architect/owner" there have been lots of nice updates, including a bulkhead on the roof with a roof terrace. Let me repeat: ROOF TERRACE

How about this nice, bright space with the exposed beams and the interior staircase?

While other parts of the interior have more of a cottage feel...

You even get a small yard on just a 60' deep lot. Oh wait, that's also because the house is only 32' deep. Listed as a legal 4-Family on Property Shark, the listing calls out only one garden rental 1BR, putting this more in the 2-Family category. As the pricey 2-Family market goes, this one certainly holds its own at $1.675M. Either way you cut it, somebody's gonna wanna pay top dollar over here, even if the interior style isn't always up to their taste.

Pro's: LOCATION, curb appeal, renovated & updated, ROOF TERRACE, cute little finished backyard

Con's: no pictures of the roof terrace, interior look is fresh-but-dated, 32' deep

Ideally: a great quality-not-quantity play in a primo neighborhood, especially closer to $1.5M

Friday, April 15, 2011

Back to Lefferts, Again: 112 Lefferts Place

It seems like every other house on this quiet little block deep in Clinton Hill has been for sale at one point or another. Lots of turnover going on for one little Lefferts Place. 112 Lefferts Place is a 16' wide semi-attached 2-Family brownstone with an open house this weekend on Sunday April 17th, from 2:30-4pm. Taking a look at the listing and sales history the past few years, this place has been hot potato since the crash, most recently purchased for $750K in November 2010.

The interior is fresh, but the quality feels like a rental. Although, they did manage to squeeze an incredible 5 bathrooms and 5 legitimate bedrooms (16' x 16' at the smallest) on this minimal floorplate:

Make sure you see what else is on this block. Compare to such neighbors as the slightly smaller, more home-y 20 Lefferts Place or the renovation candidate 26 Lefferts. For another semi-afforadable 2-Family in Clinton Hill with a higher price but perhaps more value, there's 441 Waverly. With all those big bedrooms and no renovation needed, 112 Lefferts is certainly no lemon, and has lots of value for certain buyers.

Pro's: delivered vacant, renovated, "five story" allows for triplex over duplex, lots of bathrooms & bedrooms for such a small 2-Family

Con's: quirky block, 16' wide, next door to the driveway, maybe not the best house for this price on the block, feels thin, feels like a rental

Ideally: $1.195M sounds high to us, has lots of value much closer to the $960K 2-Family FHA loan limit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Classic Carroll Gardens 2-Family: 42 4th Place

42 4th Place is an unmistakably great house. Who doesn't want a 21' wide double-duplex brick home with a big front and backyard on a tree-lined quiet street in Carroll Gardens?

Inside you get exposed brick, nice floors, crown moldings, and a few dated fixtures. We imagine any buyer in this price range would want to bring the place up to date a bit, which wouldn't be hard at all.

Despite some cosmetic updating, this house belongs among the best in a neighborhood where $2-3M isn't unheard of. Do we see $1.865M over here? A few doors around the corner, the dinkier, workable 511 Clinton Street closed last fall for $1.17M after having a once-upon-a-time contract north of $1.5M. And make sure to check out the other activity on 4th Place. If you don't need a yard and you want it modern out of the box, check out 536 Court Street.

Pro's: size, yard, block, Carroll Gardens, totally turnkey, double duplex, 4 baths

Con's: pricey, could use some cosmetic updating

Ideally: we agree this belongs on the must see list for some. Lots of house, but lots of equity too...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Masked Man Revealed: 124 Wyckoff Street

Smith Hanten has been sitting on this listing for a little while in a very undercover way, and now they're finally giving us the address. 124 Wyckoff Street is a 3-Family brick building in the heart of lovable Boerum Hill. We like Smith Hanten. They kindly laughed us out of their office many years ago when we inquired whether anything in their neighborhood could be acquired for $1M anymore. A broker literally had to excuse herself to put down the phone and enjoy laughing at the very concept. They also gladly snatched one of our finds before the crash on Warren Street. Now they're offering something for $1.6M, the kind of price for which we'd like to see pictures of in this neighborhood (see 476 Degraw).

Instead, all they're telling us is the rent roll of $65K/year, which doesn't move the needle, but might give us a small glimpse into what the interior might be like. We're told there are "separate Boilers and hot water heaters", which is pretty standard in these buildings. Nothing to boast about there. And the most specific, and perhaps useful, detail is the "1st floor apartment rented until July 2011" letting owner-occupied buyers know when they might have a chance to get in. We still think you need more than just this exterior picture to get things moving over here:

Compare to one of their other listings around the corner, the incredible buy 82 Butler Street or the stale, unmovable 82 Dean Street. To add a little irony to things, the title history shows a mortgage from the previous owner with the failed sub-prime lender New Century. And we've gotta assume the "illegal realty firm" this building once housed is all taken care of.

Pro's: truly great neighborhood, close to the F/G train, rental income potential

Con's: what's the inside like?, around the corner from the projects, how long are the other leases for?, current rental income doesn't match price

Ideally: not the pricing or look for a high-end rehab, and there are better ways to spend this kind of money, even over here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Park Slope Premium: 290 8th Street

We'd love to see more 3 and 4-Family homes hitting the market, but we're dedicated to covering what's out there, and the onslaught of 2-Family's continues. One of the latest additions to the club is 290 8th Street. This 19' wide 2-Family brick home is smack-dab in the center of Park Slope around the corner from the trains, the library, the Chipshop (fried Mars bar anyone?), the farmer's market, and all the other things people get weak in the knees for Park Slope about. The layout is a typical owner's duplex on the bottom and floor-through rental on top. All the pictures show a clean, white interior with well-maintained (or restored) original details. While Corcoran likes to use the wide-angle lense and capture the entire room in the shot, this broker was content to just take pictures of a wall or the corner of a counter:

19' wide isn't thin or anything, and it's certainly an upgrade from 14'-17' wide. However, no picture shows a room with a large feel to it, even though the layout doesn't look chopped-up at all.

Though our absolute favorite is, "This house also boasts a gorgeous South facing garden with an atrium, a true gardener's delight!"

So what are we really paying for here? Is it the location, the condition, the atrium? Besides its stellar centralized location, the pricing here is stuck in no man's land. With so many far-superior renovated places in the $1.6-$1.7M range, and a handful of places just a few blocks deeper into Park Slope in the $1.1-$1.4M range, it's tough to say what makes this a compelling buy besides location. Know that you're paying the Park Slope premium when you're bidding over here. The owner looks to be sitting on tons of equity, so there's a healthy price cut in this place's future if a premium buyer doesn't step up in the first round. If you're not married to Park Slope, something like 441 Waverly offers a much better value.

Pro's: location, curb appeal, garden & atrium, totally turnkey

Con's: kinda bland interior, not the best photos, feels small, priced for Park Slope premium

Ideally: know what you're paying for and only pay up for what you really want.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Not Too Shabby: 290 11th Street

Take a look at this house. No, it's not in Crown Heights or Sunset Park or Spike Lee's "Absolut Brooklyn"... we're in Park Slope! 290 11th Street is a 20' wide brick building with that bay-window action we love to see. This 2-Family house is set up as a 3BR owner's duplex with a 2BR third floor rental. There's only one picture of the interior available, but it shows nice wood-y original detail:

In exchange for no pictures, we get 2 (count 'em, 2!) open houses this weekend. Saturday and Sunday, April 9th & 10th, from 2pm-4:30pm. How do you think it stacks up to the barrage of 2-Family properties out there? Compare to smaller 2-Family's in South Slope like 279 13th Street.

Pro's: curb appeal, bay window, delivered vacant, original details, 20' x 47', 2 open houses

Con's: perhaps a bit pricey, only 1 interior picture

Ideally: get yourself a lox sammich at the Bagel Hole one morning this weekend and check out the house.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Open House Yesterday: 536 Court Street

Okay, okay... so the open house was yesterday. We're a day late (and a few hundred thousand dollars short). Would've liked to give you more of a heads up, but who has open houses on a Tuesday anyways? No biggie. Today's post is all about quality over quantity, and getting what you pay for. 536 Court Street is a stellar modern renovation on the bottom edge of Carroll Gardens. As usual with Corcoran's pricey listings, we can let the bright & shiny pictures do most of the talking:

We're loving the deck, the garden, the interior staircase, and the marble around the fireplace. From the A/C to the radiant heat floors to the sound system, someone definitely played "Pimp My Ride" with this house.

The new translucent glass front is an interesting way to jazz-up the old store front:

It makes over-priced places like this in the Slope oughtta be ashamed of themselves. And don't even get me started on the embarrasingly-mispriced 137 Adelphi again. The pricey 2-Family game is a well-documented market on our pages, and this one stands head and shoulders above many. A 2-Family above $1.5M isn't our kind of play, personally, but if you're in that market, you've gotta go for best of breed. And it's nice to get a finished product in this neighborhood for this price range compared to, say, 297 Court Street or 432 Clinton Street.

Granted, this edge of the neighborhood is also funky. You're as close to the lovable Prime Meats and Frankie's 457 as you are to the detestable BQE overpass. Surrounded by grimey areas on many sides may not appeal to the average buyer in this category of house. It can be a pretty industrial, Gowanus-y walk to the Smith-9th Street stop. And 2 or 3 blocks in any direction but north and - Dorothy, we ain't in Carroll Gardens anymore...

Pro's: totally turnkey & modern renovation, back yard & deck, close to the train, neighborhood to the north has lots to offer

Con's: being right on Court street is noisy and hectic, only 3BR's, only 2,500 sqft, at the very end of Carroll Gardens

Ideally: if you fall in love with this house, there's some room on pricing. However, if you've got this kind of dough, there's also plenty more out there to love.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Half Baked Housing in the Slope: 706 Degraw Street

Yay! Finally an actual 3-Family to sink our teeth into. 706 Degraw Street is a large brick 3-Family near the train and the heart of Park Slope. At a healthy 20' x 45', Property Shark gives it 2,565 sqft, while the listing gives it over 4,000 sqft. We've gotta assume they're including this semi-finished basement to get to that number. Very funky interior design sense has left quirky details that could be pro's or con's depending on the taste of the buyers (you can't fool all the people all the time):

(backyard baby not included)

The layout is worth looking at too. As much as we love interior staircases, we're a little confused as to how the 2nd floor looks to be split into one bedroom from the owner's duplex and a not-floor-through 1BR rental. There's lots to offer here in some ways, but the house feels kind of half-baked to us. There are more finished products with better style (or at least more universal style) that one could snatch for the same $1.675M price tag. In fact the same brokerage got one of our favorites 584 10th Street under contract recently, listed for the identical price.

Pro's: location, curb appeal, 2 rentals, interior staircase, turnkey condition, backyard

Con's: not the best taste on the inside, pricey, feels half-baked to spend the Park Slope premium on

Ideally: this is a meaty chunk of house, so if the interior or layout isn't a deal breaker for you, make an aggressive bid

Monday, April 4, 2011

An Interesting Blend: 441 Waverly Avenue

The skinny 2-Family parade continues, this time in Clinton Hill. 441 Waverly Avenue is a four story brick building less than 14' wide. Cocoran brings you nice, well-staged photos of the eclectically renovated interior. We like the deck and the flooring, and some of the modern touches. Although it looks like it needs no renovation, the building currently has only 1 kitchen even with the C of O for a 2-Family. That complicates things just a little for those looking to include rental income in the picture, especially if the loan requires that.

However, if you want bright & shiny in a decent location at a price tag lower than 476 Degraw or the nearby 347 Grand Avenue, then there's definitely a play to be made here. Also compare to the larger 33 Cambridge Place.

Pro's: turnkey, curb appeal, lots of interior details, on a pretty centralized & quiet block near the train as Clinton Hill goes

Con's: less than 14' wide, one kitchen, perhaps a little steep on the price

Ideally: just makes us miss 175 Greene for $1.19M

Friday, April 1, 2011

Prices on the Rise: 632 Baltic Street

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Some properties that find it hard to sell at one price do the logical thing and continue dropping their price until they can lure a buyer. Post-crash casualty 368 Park Place is a good example. This other place has been dropping $100K every week since it came out. Other properties flip the script and actually raise their prices in the face of not being able to sell. Now to the untrained eye, this isn't intuitive at all. It's like, "Oh, you don't wanna buy ice? Well, let's see if this Eskimo does..."

But it's actually a technique that one agent explained to me supposedly deters lowball offers and increases the sellers' chance of netting the real number they want. We've seen price raising employed so far on the immaculate 54 St. Felix and on the absurd 347 Greene. But today's entry 632 Baltic has raised its list price from $1.4M in November of 2010 to $1.51M on 3/7/11. Which is even sillier to trained shoppers like us, because during that exact same stretch, a much superior neighbor just a few doors up (and one of the best buys in Park Slope this year) listed for $1.499M, went into contract, and sold.

So who's going to pay more money for something that's not nearly as good? Sure, the garage might be a perk to someone. The 22' x 50' floorplate leaves enough room for some healthy 3BR rentals with pretty good income potential. The building was built in our lifetimes, unlike many of these old buildings with dated plumbing and electrical issues. The interior is very live-able, but dated:

But 645 Baltic was such a better play, it's hard just psychologically to get our heads around worse house for more money on the same street. This kind of property, while replete with certain upsides for some buyers, will never sell like a brick or brownstone. And you'd walk past a better buy everyday on your way to the train. Even if the numbers work investment-wise, who wants to make that glutton for punishment purchase?

Pro's: 3BR rentals, rental income, tucked into a quiet corner of Park Slope, close to trains, close enough/far enough from the arena, garage, newish construction, turnkey

Con's: curb appeal, price is going up, dated interior, best buy on that block already happened, can't sell like a brick or brownstone (not now, or for the future owner)

Ideally: you got 645 Baltic, or you're looking for more out of your $1.5M