Monday, November 5, 2012

Solid Crown Heights Buy & Hold: 1243 Dean Street

When we strolled down a popular stretch of Montague Street one time with a developer, she told us, "Welcome to Brooklyn Heights."  When we strolled down the historic blocks of Crown Heights on Dean, Pacific, and Bergen Street with her a few months later, she was in awe of the architecture.

"I mean, this isn't just Italianate," she marveled, "this is Greek Revival and Beaux-Arts!"

Welcome to Crown Heights, home of beautiful architecture for blocks & blocks.  Where this spring a killer 20' x 50' 5-story 2-Family with original details at 1142 Dean Street sold for the relative steal of $930K:

And across the street, a renovated 2-Family at 1139 Dean Street easily fetched over $1M just before that:

Now, just on the other side of Nostrand, another killer 2-Family at 1259 Dean Street is closing higher than that:

On the same block, 1243 Dean Street is a 5-story 8-Family on a tree-lined stretch that wants $1.2M.  This 20' x 50' row house has been chopped into way-decent 1BR and studio apartments, rent stabilized, but pushing $100K gross annual rent.  There's even more upside in it if you know what to look for.  It took us weeks of reaching out to the Elliman listing agent to get a response, but the broker at Space Real Estate (who had the listing even prior to Elliman) got us in the house in no time.

The gameplan on the house is nuanced, but with stunning houses to the left and right of you, it doesn't take much vision to see where a block this nice will sit in a few years:

With 1BR's around the corner already fetching $1,350/month and higher, there will always be a place for affordable studios and 1BR's at the current rents of 1243 Dean Street and above.  (Just ask the buyer of 1379 Pacific Street!)  And that's before you factor in how Brownstoner's "empire" setting up shop at 1000 Dean will reshape the area.  Or do you not think so far ahead?  It was just 4 years ago that something as simple as a bar with nice space and decent burgers like Franklin Park contributed to repositioning Crown Heights as we know it today.  You already saw it happen in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, once a certain demographic got the green light that it was okay to descend upon great housing stock.  In 2009, a Fort Greene native wrote in the NY Times:

"I’ve been gentrified, and while I’m not as mad as hell, I’m not entirely comfortable as an artsy, graying black man of 51 when I walk the streets of the neighborhood where I’ve lived half my life.

There are plenty of men and women pushing strollers, all of them white. Lots of interracial couples. I walk past a bodega where the 'clockers' used to sell drugs by the pay phones. My friends and I used to joke that the presence of these crack dealers on select corners 'protected' us from real estate speculators and home-hungry Manhattanites.

Once the aura of danger left Fort Greene, its many charms could no longer be hidden. When Corcoran opened a real estate office on Lafayette Avenue several years ago, it was clear to me that my Fort Greene was history."

That's right - while neighborhood newbies worry about protection from the drug dealers, neighborhood natives tease that the drug dealers are protection from the newbies.  Cue the Connecticut Muffin that just opened on Nostrand.

$1.2M may not be the price on 1243 Dean Street, but with an owner sitting on a ton of equity, there may be some price flexibility.  Wouldn't be a bad look to pick up even the grimiest 8-Family's going on any of these soon-to-be even-boudgier blocks, and this one isn't even grimy by any stretch.

Pro's:  great block, relatively turnkey investment, upside potential

Con's:  different category than the luxury 2-Families, deferred maintenance to be done, not for buyers who say they "don't want to be a landlords"

Ideally:  with the cash offers people are throwing around on properties at this price and below in these neighborhoods, 6%+ cap with "just" 30% down is a great way to participate in the long-term trajectory of this area

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