Saturday, June 30, 2012

"No Way To Know"?: 104 Berkeley Place

On Platinum Member radar since day 1, this killer 3-Family house in Park Slope at 104 Berkeley Place lists 6 months ago with a smaller broker who doesn't take very good pictures of the place or get it the exposure it deserves.  Which is why it took so long to sell and didn't fetch its asking price.  Corcoran could've gotten $2.5M easily for this place in this market, but it dipped down to $2.35M, closing this month.  Brownstoner claims, "We had no way to know if the home was worth the $2,500,000 asking price."  Well, what ya do, see, is you go visit the place to find out.  We checked it out with Platinum Members early in its listing history.  They passed on it because it wasn't turnkey enough, but the house was simply super.  As Brownstoner aptly points out, you wouldn't know it's nice from these pictures:

But if you're actually shopping, rather than voyeur-ing, this bad-boy was worth the look-see.  A 20' x 50' 3-Family that's live-able & rent-able, with nice details and a spacious backyard.  A few spots needed TLC, but definitely within range.  When listing agents who stand to make tens of thousands in commission decide to save a few hundred dollars by not taking good pictures and not listing everywhere, savvy buyers can save a few hundred thousand dollars on the purchase price.  Their loss is your gain.

After all, it's not rocket science.  Good homes sell themselves in this market.  These guys didn't need to pay a broker a penny and they did just fine for themselves.  And the house next door could've gotten $100K+ more too if marketed better.  But that's in Crown Heights, which some still consider adventurous.  104 Berkeley Place is sitting in prime-time Park Slope and drops 6% off ask, which is what some other brokers would've charged them.   They save a little on the commission and lose A LOT on the sales price. Ya gotta love that in the Information Age, there's still $150,000+ market inefficiencies sitting right under everyone's nose on the very brownstone Brooklyn block that Corcoran gets a few hundred thousand ABOVE asking on a narrow 16-footer at 117 Berkeley Place.

Pro's:  size, location, being under-marketed created some added value

Con's:  some fixing-up to do, not in PS 321, we're still talking about a ton of dough

Ideally:  we haven't said "value" and Park Slope in the same sentence in a while, so it's interesting to see the marketed-vs.-under-marketed pattern playout in such a prime location.  Luckily there are still a few more out there...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In Contract in Crown Heights: 1379 Pacific Street

We've been telling you for weeks now, as it's become more apparent, good bones in Crown Heights under $700K is a good move.  And the market has concurred. But if it's not on the with shiny interior pics, it's simply invisible to some people.  Like when Marge & her new pal turned the headlights off in a car chase with Chief Wiggam and he thought it was a "ghost car":

On Platinum Member radar, 1379 Pacific Street was asking to be swooped up at $699K or ~$200/sqft.  Especially when the tricked-out 3-Family house next door, gushing with stylish upgrades, listed for $825K, was bum-rushed at their first open house, and had offers $100K over ask in a matter of days.  The writing was on the wall.  With a chance in 2012 to pick up the house 3 bricks away for around the same price that architect team picked theirs up for 6 years ago?  No wonder it didn't last long.

If you missed this house, or this house, or this house, or this house, or this house, or this house, or this house, or this house, or this house, or this house in Crown Heights, or any of the others we've covered - don't worry! There's plenty more great housing and plenty more great listings in Crown Heights. They're just not on NYTimes.

Pro's: 4-Family status, good bones, pricepoint, 2012 house at 2006 prices, neighbors next door demonstrated a great blueprint for maxing this house out

Con's: no interior pics, gone already, needs some updating

Ideally: if the NYTimes is your only source of real estate info, you'll be late to the game and perhaps even off by $1.5M

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crown Heights Winners Don't Last: 1259 Dean Street

In case you've been living under a Park Slope rock for the past few months, chasing $1.5M shells and underbidding $3M+ winners, you might not have gotten the memo that Crown Heights is pretty hot right now.  If you missed (or struck-out underbidding on) turnkey, sub-$1M Crown Heights winners like 1142 Dean Street or 931 St. Marks Avenue, here's your chance to drop $1.3M on a beauty.

Oh wait, no it's not... it's in contract already.  That's right, nothing good over here lasts a month, even at these pricepoints. 1259 Dean Street came out 5/31/2012 with no pictures and a showing set for no sooner than June 10th. Then quickly de-listed in a few days, back on the market the next week, now, "OFFER ACCEPTED. - OWNER SUSPEND SHOWING OF THE BUILDING!!!" This from the same agent who brought you 1310 Pacific Street already in contract the day it hit the market. If you had this nice of a place to sell, you wouldn't wanna co-broke either!

This 20' x 50' barrel-front 3-Family will wow you with its original details, surprise you with its pricepoint, and infuriate you that it's gone long before you even had a shot at it.

Pro's: curb appeal, great block, size, original details, true 3-Family, true backyard, incredible value

Con's: it ain't a steal, it ain't available

Ideally: don't be tardy to the party

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Washington Ave: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Lease

We told you don't sleep on Washington Avenue on the edge of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights.  And now it's more ripe for the picking than ever, especially for commercial.  With Vanderbilt almost fully-saturated, Franklin Avenue blowing up quickly and filling in, Washington Avenue is like a sleeping giant in between.  Yes, some of the look is grimey, sketchy things do go on semi-openly on the street, but you're down the hill from the Brooklyn Museum, easy 2/3 train access, Manhattan skyline views, a bike lane that runs straight to Clinton Hill, in the neighborhood the NYTimes posited as an alternative to the UWS.  If Prospect Heights is the Upper West Side, then the Brooklyn Museum is like the Natural History Museum, and Washington Ave is like Columbus.  Besides long-standing dining landmarks like Tom's Restaurant and The Islands, we told ya months ago about two recent tenants that are signs of the times.

Foodie favorite Bar Corvo probably locked in a steal on their lease, did their straight-forward build-out inside, pimped-out their backyard easily:

"This is canary-in-the-coal-mine territory, culinarily speaking," says the NYTimes.  Does the Times sound more in-the-know or out-of-touch when they say, "Thirteen years ago, no one in Manhattan went to Brooklyn for dinner by choice."  How about no one in Manhattan was on Washington Avenue even 3 years ago?  Now the space two doors up the hill from Bar Corvo is building out and will inevitably create synergy.

The kimchi taco spot is doing the dang thing day-in/day-out with flavorful combinations, making the most of a small space with a sleek, simple build-out:

Now the space on that corner is building out too.  But don't despair.  Owners and brokers are hip to the activity, and there are no fewer than 10 commercial spaces for lease in this corridor of Washington Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Atlantic Avenue.  Some large, some small, some corners, some attached, some semi-attached...

In Brooklyn, "if you build it, they will come".  And there's pent-up demand for even more variety in this neighborhood.  Even just basics like soup & sandwich have a place on this street, but especially anything with a neat-o twist to it will instantly capture the attention of the local & visiting market.  Then the Times, then the Vanderbilt crowd, then... you get the picture.  Heck, by the time the stadium's here (and certainly when the residential component is complete), Washington might be a welcome commercial refuge away from how packed Vanderbilt might get.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sold in Crown Heights: 1077 Dean Street

You already know how tough the $700K condo game is in the best parts of Brooklyn, and you know that 4 places in Crown Heights have gone above ask in the past few weeks - none of them under $700K.  So anyone care to guess what a whole townhouse listed for $700K in Crown Heights just sold for?  This 20' x 48' 3-Family brownstone at 1077 Dean Street listed for $700K for a few months with the under-marketed, non-responsive jokers at Century 21.

Don't expect too much finished luxury inside at this pricepoint for a guardianship sale, but there is plenty of original detail.  They took their usual mediocre pics and called it a day:

Throw in the true backyard on this 100' lot and you're looking at a great buy on a great block in a neighborhood many will be priced out of by the time they've finally caught up to the curve:

Platinum Members getting in UNDER $700K over here don't know how good they really have it.  Don't despair, though, there's still a play on this same block under $800K.  It's simply not as good, however, as the last 5 in this neighb' that we've been recommending.

Pro's:  healthy size, 3-Family status, great pricepoint, original details, fully green backyard

Con's:  gone already, needs tidying-up

Ideally:  can't say we didn't warn ya

Friday, June 22, 2012

What a Difference 6 Months Makes (Pt. II): 678 Dean Street

It seems like just yesterday that 678 Dean Street was this ratty little 25' x 25' that a developer swooped up for $680K and tried to flip for $999K just a few months later.  Ok, well not yesterday.  But it was still available for $899K just 6 months ago.  To and from watching soccer matches at the lovable bar Woodwork across the street, we'd notice the renovation going on over the past few months at the house and wonder how much they'd want for it renovated.  The answer?  $1.575M as of 6 days ago.

What's the renovation like?  What'd they do to inject another $675K of asking price into this tiny place?  Well, they blasted the paint off the brick exterior for more curb appeal, and they went shiny & generic inside:


That mantle looks mighty lonely in the corner amidst this renovation that will remind many of 16 Hunts Lane, 400 Bond Street, and 643 Degraw.  But none of those tiny, generic renovations were asking above $1.1M.  The developers on Dean threw a little brick down and landscaped the "yard" (with recently-sawed tree stump intact) in the back & called it a day:

The Prospect Heights market is burning hot, but we don't know that $1.575M is quite the price.  We'd much rather have gotten you into 542 Carlton Avenue at a cheaper price, with more original details, a block closer to the train, on a more quaint block, just a few months ago.  But that's long-gone.  This project at 678 Dean Street wouldn't be the first time we saw a developer try and turn a quick flip sans renovation to no avail, only to decide to try their hand avec renovation for much more money.  208 Lefferts Place went for $600K last summer, then wanted $849K last fall as a shell, then decided to start a renovation as an attempt to fetch $1.5M just last month.  Very similar play-book to what we see here at 678 Dean Street.

Who doesn't love making a quick buck, right?  Oh yeah, that's right... the people the buck's being made off of.  Just look at the salty comment on 643 Degraw Street, a property that actually managed to finally get in contract after a price drop to $899K.  One reader with the handle "smartbuyer" moaned, "Not that sweet considering this house was purchased a few months ago for $525,000."  As if that actually has anything to do with it.  The world we live in is full of mark-ups that we gladly pay for things we can't do ourselves or can't be bothered to do.  For everything else, there's the Karl Marx Mastercard:

"I can't imagine anyone paying close to $375,000 more than this place was purchased for a few month ago when they see the cheap work that's been done," the reader goes on to groan.  Well, across the street from 678 Dean, there's nothing like the hanger steak at The Vanderbilt to cure a hangover on a Sunday.  Of course you can buy a dozen eggs (not just two) at the store for a few bucks, the steak couldn't cost more than a few bucks, so does that mean the béarnaise is $10?!?!  No, it just means we live in a world where mark-ups abound and we make cost-benefit compromises about them every single day.  It is what it is.

The buyers of tons of great properties all over Brooklyn over the past few months could sell them for a profit this very instant just a few months later (even if they had no intention of being flippers) simply because the market's run up so much.  In fact, as we speak, buyers are inking contracts on some places at prices that will seem appallingly low, and on other places that will seem appallingly high, to spectators when the sales are closed and the prices are recorded publicly a few months from now.

Don't want 678 Dean Street for $1.575M?  Neither do we.  But that doesn't mean you can get in your time machine, go back just 6 months, and go buy the infinitely-superior 270 Sterling Place for $1.537M either.  We were inside 270 Sterling on a cold winter day with a 2nd chance to get it for a crowd of Platinum Members.  Where were you?  Wanna buy some Apple stock before it goes back to $600?  Guess what... you might be buying it from someone who paid $315 for it just last spring.  Are you going to be salty about their profit?  That's just how buying and selling things in markets works.  But please don't hate the player; hate the game.

Pro's:  it's technically renovated, it's technically a double-duplex, it's technically a good location, it technically has a backyard

Con's:  small, how they're calculating 25' x 25' into 3,000+ sqft we'll never know, the renovation in will elicit a "Meh" from most

Ideally:  Huff & puff about the owner's cost basis if you must.  The reality is some people make the mark-up and some people pay the mark-up.  The good news is, depending on the scope of the product, sometimes you can choose which one you'll be.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Above Ask in Clinton Hill: 377 Grand Avenue

We've been telling you all this month how above-ask pricing is sweeping its way through Crown Heights.  And we told you months ago that $2M+ isn't just for Park Slope anymore - it's also in Clinton Hill.  Well today's pick is both $2M+ and above ask.  If you wanna get in on the same block as Brownstoner, you'd better be ballin' outta control like Brownstoner.

377 Grand Avenue, on a truly grand block in Clinton Hill, listed for $2.4M in April, was in contract in under two weeks, and just closed last month for $2.545M.  For all of you keeping score at home, and you low-ballers who think 30% off asking price is a bidding strategy, keep in mind this house was purchased in October 2009 for $1.149M (above its asking of $1.1M).  The owner pulled out another few hundred thousand in additional mortgage, presumably to finance the renovation, and voilà...

This healthy 21' x 48' 2-Family brownstone features the usual suspects like parquet floors, wood burning fireplaces, original marble mantles, and restored moldings.  Throw in modern appliances & central A/C and you get the best of both worlds that everyone is looking for.  All ya need now is a little style, a little character, some staging, a Corcoran listing, and it's a wrap!

This makes 101 Gates look like a great buy at $1.43M.  Some people (inexplicably) still look down on Clinton Hill, and this sale will confuse them.  However, this is a gorgeous block and quality of house that you'd have to pay another $500K or more for in Park Slope.  It's simple trickle-down economics:  Brooklyn Heights is the new Upper East Side.  Which means Cobble Hill is the new Brooklyn Heights.  Which means Park Slope is the new Cobble Hill.  Which means Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill are the new Park Slope.  You figure out the rest...

Pro's:  let us count the ways

Con's:  ain't going cheap

Ideally:  Brooklyn isn't "over", people!  You just have to step your game up and know where to look

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Foreclosure Auction Time: 905 Sterling Place

We've been telling you for months not to fear the brownstones trading in & around Park Slope at prices that condos sell for everyday in Manhattan.  Now some are pressing the panic button about above-ask prices in Crown Heights, 4 of which we've covered this month.  However, let's keep things in perspective here.  Townhouses in Crown Heights still trade like condos just a few blocks west.  And prices in Crown Heights still haven't surpassed some of the sales logged back in the go-go, pre-crash mid-aught's of 2006.  That fall of 2006, someone picked up this 16' x 45' 7-Family at 905 Sterling Place for $1.2M.  With lots of rental units just 3 blocks from the 3 train at Nostrand, we see the potential that buyer saw.  But then came the crash in 2008, finances worldwide were disrupted, and this property faced various liens from the bank for $996K in 2010 and 2011.  Now the property's headed to foreclosure auction this Thursday:

People gravitate towards distressed properties with the perception that there's a deal to be had.  The hardest part with foreclosure auctions, though, is all the uncertainty.  Who's living there?  How much are they paying?  What condition is it in?  Why should I step into the shoes of an owner with a failed venture?  With a limited or non-existent window to check out the property prior to the auction, it's hard to quantify the property's value and its potential headaches.  There are a few due diligence techniques available to the savvy, but typically there's truly an element shooting in the dark when bidding sight-unseen at a foreclosure auction.  If you want to walk by & scope out the exterior, maybe the address is still spray-painted on the stoop, so it shouldn't be hard to find...

We've got our eye on a different play going to auction this week, but this one's also interesting for sure.

Pro's:  extra-deep lot and plenty of buildable sqft, does distress mean a deal?

Con's:  narrow, huge questions marks including tenancy & condition, gotta have the funds at the auction

Ideally:  tread carefully with auctions.  Price for the worst and hope for the best.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Smells Fishy: 1310 Pacific Street

On Platinum Member radar for months before it came out, this pre-foreclosure in Crown Heights hit the market this week already in contract.  Now how exactly does that work?  1310 Pacific Street is a huge 20' x 60' 3-Family limestone on a deep 114' lot.  In need of work, but with lots of original details, it would make a great pick up for an end-user, investor, or even a condo conversion.  The property's been headed to foreclosure with an outstanding lien around $600K, then suddenly, "Listed in StreetEasy, already in contract, by Douglas Elliman at $710,000."  Hmmm... something's not adding up.

We were practically begging listing agent Barbara Brown-Allen (who brought other Crown Heights gems such as 931 St. Marks Ave to the market) repeatedly for weeks for a peak inside 1310 Pacific Street before she brought it to market, but we were told they were cleaning, then inspecting, and then suddenly it's in contract before anyone gets to see it?  Unless there's a ton of default interest going on, this list price (if you can even call it that) leaves pretty much nothing leftover for the seller but fees and the agent's commission.  Billed as a "SHORT SALE WITH TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL", we don't doubt the tremendous potential, but it's only really a "short sale" if the sales price is lower than the seller owes the bank.  Which in this market, it shouldn't be.  We've already seen 4 places in Crown Heights - some right around the corner from here - go for well above ask price in the past few weeks, and none of them for less than $710K.  What could the seller of 1310 Pacific Street possibly stand to gain by accepting an offer before the property ever even hits the open market?  This same brokerage is currently listing a shell for $750K more than the pre-market bids were coming in at.  How much more could 1310 Pacific Street fetch if anyone had a real chance to bid on it?

From where we're sitting, this is simply a case of a listing agent going with the first buyer who'll ensure she gets as much of her commission as possible, and totally breaches her fiduciary responsibility to look out for the seller's best interest.  If the seller were someone who owned for decades, sitting on all equity, who wanted to sell to the first buyer who caught their fancy - that's one thing.  But this is a pre-foreclosure where every penny of possible equity counts, and where avoiding a short sale (and the resulting hit to the seller's credit) should be a top priority for both listing agent and seller.  With Platinum Members who would easily bid well over this ask price waiting in the wings, what other possible explanation could there be than the listing agent is simply looking out for #1?

This shouldn't be a short sale because the true market value surpasses the amount owed.  This shouldn't be in contract before actually being on the market.  And no seller should accept a broker doing them such a disservice.  The seller could have fetched this price without paying the broker a penny.  Why she'd pay ~$45K to not even list on the open market and not fetch the most money for her property is beyond us.

The only silver lining is... if this truly is a short sale, any offer has to be accepted by the bank anyways.  So interested buyers should go straight to the bank with your offer, sans listing agent commission, and let's see who wins...

Pro's:  curb appeal, size, location, price, original detail, potential

Con's:  came to market "in contract" already, is it actually a "short sale"?, buyers are getting cheated out of a true chance at this property AND the seller's getting cheated out of tons of potential upside

Ideally:  don't trust a broker as far as you can throw them

Friday, June 15, 2012

Low-Ballers Need Not Apply: 10 St. Charles Place

Crown Heights is rapidly becoming the worst-kept secret in Brooklyn.  We guess people finally woke up and realized they can't chase "deals" in Park Slope anymore (as we've been screaming for seasons now) and that Park Slope isn't the only place where people built block-after-block of amazing houses ~100 years ago.  Well, if you thought you were the only one who this had dawned on and that it's time to make a steal in Crown Heights, we got news for ya.  That ship might've sailed too.  Just in the past few weeks, 653 St. Johns Place went above ask, 1332 Bergen Street went in under a week, 1377 Pacific Street went well above ask with multiple offers in under a week.  And none of those were listed by Corcoran (or anybody else you've even really heard of).  So guess who's next?  10 St. Charles Place is up for grabs for anybody willing to go about 10% above asking price of $920K.

We were even naive enough to think it was a little over-priced at the first open house a month ago.  You don't need to be a math whiz to tap the rental numbers of $1,100, $1,300, and $1,700/month into your calculator and see the place grosses under $50K/year as-is.  That means so-called "investors" would slap a price tag less than $750K on it and call it a day.  They'd also never end up with a property in this market with that strategy.  "30% off ask" was barely a strategy in the doldrums of 2009-2010; it certainly isn't one now.  When Corcoran gets involved with a shiny pic of the handsome exterior, a real listing, a real open house, and their second-to-none exposure, you know the people who'll pay up will see it and react accordingly.

Does the interior not wow you?  Us neither.  But this is what's happening.  "The house will easily be north of a million in a year or two," is what we nonchalantly told Platinum Members after walking out of it last month.  We also thought Apple would hit 400 by 2012, yet it touched that by July 2011.  Sometimes being right happens sooner than you were expecting.  Either way, the person who goes up another $25K-$50K (which isn't hard when leveraged 5:1 at 4% for 30 years), is the person who gets on this block...

And everyone else is just spectating.  So "get your popcorn ready."  Reports of "why Crown Heights is so popular among foodies and the culturally inclined" are not exaggerated at all.  If you don't know about Franklin Park, Dutch Boy, Barboncino, Chavela's, Pete Zazz, Bar Corvo, the Kim Chi Taco spot, etc. - you'd better ask somebody.  Before you get all Chicken Little about this above-ask phenomenon in Crown Heights, keep in mind all these pricepoints are still superior to $2M-$3M townhouses and what lots of condos are getting just a few blocks west.

Pro's:  curb appeal, top-notch location for Crown Heights, has a nice backyard (even if it's shallow & paved), 2/3/4/5 trains around the corner

Con's:  going way above ask, could use some work, interior hallway cuts through the middle of the floors, not a huge green backyard, not much by way of impressive original details inside

Ideally:  pay up for the name brand, or find opportunities on fewer people's radar

Thursday, June 14, 2012

6 Is Bigger Than 4: 655 Vanderbilt Avenue

Some large commercial brokers laughed at us last summer when they asked the question and we slapped a back-of-the-envelope $1.3M number on a mixed-use building in one of our favorite commercial strips: Vanderbilt Avenue between Prospect Park and Atlantic Avenue.  We were up and down this avenue all last year, so we kinda figured we knew what we were talking about.  The place in question grossed a "mere" ~$70K-$80K/year.  The brokers wanted to slap a number lower than $1M on it, even though they had a listing on a worse block of Myrtle grossing less that was asking over $1M.  Go figure.

We've been loving this stretch for years, but the cat's only really outta the bag once the hipster-approved highlights like Chuko (the ramen spot) start arriving on the scene.  On the same block there's even a mayonnaise store, which friends have called the "excessive touchdown celebration dance of gentrification".  Gentrification, by the way, recently hit the wire this week on Brownstoner after Michael Petrilli at the Thomas B. Fordham institute slapped some 2010 census numbers together for "places with a large increase in the white share of the population" and called it "gentrification".  Surprise, surprise - none other than Bed-Stuy and Billyburg popped up in the top ten.  The story immediately gave us (and others) pause because it equates white people with "gentrification".  Indeed, Petrilli points out his analysis "isn’t perfect, because you’d really want to look at changes in income levels, but those data aren’t available yet for 2010."  We'd rather he have taken the time to specifically point out that affluent, educated people of color moving into a neighborhood, for example, is gentrification too - but some people seem to be taking his study at face-value for now.

Race politics aside, Vanderbilt is a sign of the surrounding gentrification that's happening at a rate so fast, many can barely keep up.  Just a few months ago, Platinum Members were sniffing a mixed-use deal on this stretch of Vanderbilt under $1M, even after the huge corner opportunity at 603 Vanderbilt was in contract with a list price of $2.4M.  603 Vanderbilt is over 5,000 sqft and a 6.25% cap rate at asking price.  Well, guess who wants $2.4M now??

655 Vanderbilt Avenue is just over 3,000 sqft and a 4% cap, just came out for $2.4M.  4 thumbnail pictures, a sign out front, and a Corcoran listing is all they figured it would take to get the job done at this absurdly-inflated number.  How times have changed since just last winter when you could've gotten a bigger, better building for the same price - or essentially the same building for almost a third of this price just a few months ago.  $2.4M is a price and 4% is a cap rate that would make even properties in Brooklyn Heights blush.  We're not sure what they're thinking here, but this is what's happening.  Can you say, "Meh"?

If you think this commercial stretch is popping now, just wait until the stadium and surrounding development comes!

If even a fraction of the residential side of Atlantic Yards gets built, this Vanderbilt block will irrevocably change even more.  But that's still no reason to pay out the wazoo now for mediocre product.  Run, don't walk, to better buys not far east of here.

Pro's:  top-notch block for mixed-use, stadium & towers to come, 4% cap is better than 1% CD?

Con's:  should've bought 603 Vanderbilt if you would even consider this anywhere near this price, should've bought another mixed-use play we had a couple months ago, way better buys out there for this kind money

Ideally:  this block isn't finished yet if you have anywhere close to this kind of cash.  A few places come to mind...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Knocked It Outta the Park: 1377 Pacific Street

If you're priced out of some neighborhoods, yet you still look down on neighborhoods you can afford, you're simply behind the curve.  Today's pick is another winner in Crown Heights, 1377 Pacific Street.  Barely out for 4 days with a list price of $825K, it had more than a handful of offers (all above asking price) after their first open house the weekend before last.  This wouldn't be the first time this month we've seen a Crown Heights property go well above asking price.  It's also not the first time we've seen an offer accepted in Crown Heights within 2 weeks.  What made this renovated brick 3-Family go so fast?  The super-stylish renovation "designed by award-winning architect owners" - period.  Pictures don't even capture how stunning and stylish this place is on the inside...

Honestly, the photos (while decent) can't communicate what it's like to walk into this space where every square foot is pleasantly & functionally configured.  Each floor has its own unique touch.  It's more MoMa at times than townhouse.  The backyard has a wooden deck and nice ivy growing over the brick to the rear of it.  They even cut a ~5' x 5' window on the bottom floor looking out to the yard, that brings in so much light you can see straight out to the backyard through it from the front sidewalk.  Central A/C for the owners duplex?  Yes, please!

The success of this "for sale by owner" listing is a great example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and cutting out the broker middle-man when you've got a product that sells itself.  Sure, there are a few rough edges to the renovation; like they did a better job on the more difficult penny tile than the simpler subway tile.  But what the renovation lacks in quality in a few places, it more than makes up for in style.  Many will pay up for this aesthetic because they wouldn't even know how to duplicate it if budget were no object.  Which is why we're looking forward to the next project from this form & function-conscious crew.  In fact, we'd like 'em on the team for our next renovation!

Pro's:  totally turnkey, stylish renovation, backyard with deck, central A/C for owner's duplex, close to the express trains at Nostrand

Con's:  basically gone already, up against other bidders who'll chase the style, many aren't ready for Crown Heights, not for the original detail fans

Ideally:  generic renovators should take note and see what a difference an eye for design can make

Monday, June 11, 2012

SRO Sandwich: 270 Dean Street

270 Dean Street is a 20' x 45' brownstone on the eastern edge of Boerum Hill between 3rd Avenue and Nevins Street.  Lodged between SRO's at 272 Dean Street and 268 Dean Street, this legal 2-Family listed at $1.695M might be the first in this row of 3 for sale to actually sell.  "Third time's a charm?"

No interior pictures on the listing and not much description typifies the mail-it-in approach of many brokers.  We are told, however, "bring your contractor" and "delivered vacant" - which is nice to know.  But even 414 Dean Street decided to take some interior pics so folks could see the floors and mantles they're picking up for over $1.5M.  Brown Harris Stevens was kind enough to take pics of 200 Wyckoff, another vacant $1.5M+ fixer-upper over here.  Really, is it too much to ask at this pricepoint for some pics?  Since they don't have the kind of exposure that the big brokers have, you'd figure these brokers on 270 Dean would throw at least a few hundred at a photographer for quality photos as a smart way to try and keep up with the Joneses.  But, nah... just another bootleg day in Brooklyn real estate.

A picture of the 50' yard would've been nice too.  Location-wise there's the school across the street to consider, and potential renovation projects on either side of you looming when those SRO's do manage to finally sell.  This area doesn't seem quite as no man's land as it used to with everything filling in between the heart of BoCoCa and Park Slope.  Also, for better or worse, the stadium IS here.

And any way to avoid the impending cluster-F that will be 18,000 fans pouring out 40+ nights a year into what was already one of the busiest intersections in all of Brooklyn, where its 3 largest street all converge... avoiding that by being just west of it starts to sound more appealing than having to cross it to get to or from Manhattan.

This blog explores the issues with the stadium way better than we ever could, but we've gotta point out here that these jokers need a pedestrian overpass for this stadium.  All the current renderings of it show a completed project with only 20 people around it.  Where do they think the other 17,980 people will go?

And when's the last time you saw only 6 cars and 4 buses at this intersection?  You don't need a crystal ball to see that these guys haven't thought the whole thing through yet.  Sensible places all over the world like China have highly-functional pedestrian overpasses at major intersections...

In Bogotá they have pedestrian overpasses at all their bus stops along the major roads.  It wouldn't be hard to make a snazzy, modern overpass that blended with the style of the stadium.

Either way, we can see how 270 Dean on the eastern edge of Boerum Hill, tucked away from some of the traffic, might sound more appealing than north Slope to some.

Pro's:  vacant brownstone canvas, technically in Boerum Hill, not on everyone's radar, tucked away from the stadium a bit

Con's:  no interior pics, no sense of any original details or how extensive the renovation might be, SRO's on either side, not that nice of a block, sorta still no man's land, not like it's cheap or anything

Ideally:  with an owner sitting on all equity and a broker that doesn't get the word out to everyone, there could be some price flexibility to make this a more attractive pick-up