Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Closed Yesterday in Prospect Heights: 475 Sterling Place, #4F

Even in this bull real estate market, there are relative values.  Platinum Members had this 1BR apartment on the Prospect Heights end of Crown Heights sewn up before it could even hit the market.  475 Sterling Place, #4F had trouble getting $450K a few years ago, but in this market it was still a no-brainer at $550K.  Not too shabby in a building where the 2BR's have commanded no less than $775K this year, and well over $800K a few times this year.  This one bedroom at a little more than half the size for a little more than half the price is the perfect fit for a few buyers...

Maybe you missed the duplex units this year trading well over a million.  In a building with a finished roof deck with views of the Brooklyn Museum...

... plus parking, and a backyard.  All in a neighborhood that's been getting better and better by the day, this 1BR was a great little deal.  Perfect starter apartment for those who dig this end of Brooklyn.

Pro's:  turnkey & stylish 1BR with floor-to-ceiling windows, manageable pricepoint, good amenities with low fees, tax abated for another decade plus

Con's:  gone already, never hit the open market on this go-around, big glass condos aren't for everyone, don't remind yourself how much house this could get you in the 'burbs elsewhere

Ideally:  whether you go by whole dollar or price per squarefoot, this one's a win

Monday, December 30, 2013

Closings of Note: No Bull to the Bullishness, Pt. II

Yesterday we told you how it's hard to be a bear in this bullish Brooklyn real estate market.  Yet, just because a few off-market estate sales trade all-cash at a steep discount to on-market deals, doesn't mean we're in a bear market either.  1121 Bergen Street sold in August for an astonishing $400K.  There were supposed SRO issues, possibly tenants, and rumored to be as much as six-figures on the side in addition to the recorded closing price.  Cash offers at an even higher price were rejected by the sellers right in front of the house, right in front of our eyes.  Don't call this a comp unless you're ready for an off-market all-cash deal that took some arguing in the streets to get done.  And it certainly isn't any indicator of bearishness, given the activity across the street at 1134 & 1138 Bergen Street.

Another off-market estate sale deal closes for an astonishing price, this time in Park Slope.  The narrow 321A 4th Street is only 15' wide, needs a ton of work, but actually wasn't as bad as we'd expected.  It closed in November for $300K and ostensibly wanted several times that amount on the contract flip.

If this market's not bullish, we don't know what is.  Once again, just a couple of months can mean a few hundred thousand dollars in upside for the right buyer.  734 Bergen Street in Prospect Heights closed for $965K in September, then $1.25M a few weeks ago in December.

While people still e-mail us dreaming of a turnkey 4-story in Clinton Hill for $1.4M with 25% or less down, that's what Bed-Stuy costs now.  186 Macdonough Street, past Throop Avenue, couldn't get near a million dollars 6 years ago, but lists for $1.295M this year, spends barely a month on the market, and cruises to $1.41M this month.  Isn't that the definition of bullish?

Over in Lefferts Garden, the 3-story 178 Lincoln Road closes $900K this month.  Without much marketing, these houses were going for less than $700K as recently as last year.

In case you needed another ~$1,000/sqft comp for apartments, 163 Prospect Park West, #3R listed for $969K and closed for $995K this month.  Just another million dollar condo?  That's Park Slope for ya.

But million dollar condos aren't just for Park Slope.  In Fort Greene, 162 Washington Park, #5 closes for $950K, almost another $1,000/sqft condo comp.  And people still wonder why we're "bullish" on townhomes for this price just a few miles east.

In south Park Slope with a dreary exterior, 392 11th Street, #3A goes for $780K, demonstrating again how tough the $700K condo game is.  $835/sqft sounds like a bargain after seeing some of the other condo trades in town.  With an asking price of $749K, could you call this activity "bullish" too?  Guess where the buyers are coming from?  Manhattan.

Bond Street sounded too far off the beaten path back in 2010 when 202 Bergen Street was out for $1.1M.  It's funny what a difference a few years, a gut reno, a different market, and shiny pictures can make.  Now it lists for $2.5M and sells for $2.55M.  In a word, bullish??

But maybe a few condos well over a million will put this anti-bullish talk to bed.  Park Slope's 101 Berkeley Place, #4 closes for over their list price of $1.4M according to Corcoran's site.

Also in Park Slope,  53 Lincoln Place, #3 lists for $1.625M and closes for $1.635M.  It ain't looking too bearish out there if you ask us.

If this kitchen is looking a bit brown and drab to you, keep in mind you're looking at an apartment that listed for $1.65M and sold for $1.82M.  That's Park Slope's 27 St. Johns Place, #1 for ya.  And you still think a Clinton Hill 4-story house isn't worth $2M or more now??  Boy, if this isn't a bull market, we'd hate to see what IS!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Closings of Note: No Bull to the Bullishness

When the New York Times called us a few weeks ago, they called us "bullish" about lots of these Brooklyn neighborhoods.  We hear that a lot and find it pretty odd.  It's the market that's bullish, not us.  We're not making this stuff up.  If you report the facts in a bullish market, does that make you bullish?  The New York Times reports facts during wars, does that make them "hawkish"?  Even if we were bullish - in this bull market - doesn't that mean we're just plain "right"?  But let's set the semantics aside and just let the facts speak for themselves.  Case in point, we predicted that the smallish frame house on the north end of Park Slope at 413 Dean Street would go for just over its asking price of $2.5M.  We were bullish and wrong.  Buyers from Brooklyn Heights just picked it up for $2.375M.  But at over $800/sqft for a single-family house, don't call it a bear market either.

This corner Boerum Hill property at 140 Bergen Street couldn't get over $2.6M in 2011, but it closed for this price this month.  But don't get your bear mace ready quite yet.

Almost $1,000/sqft for a condo on 4th Avenue??  The bears must be doing in their pants what they do in the woods when they see that number.  560 Carroll Street, #3D spent barely a month on the market asking $1.25M and closes for $1.26M this month.

OVER $1,000/sqft in Hanson Place?  Yeah, for about the dozenth time this year.  1 Hanson Place, #21A listed for $1.369M, lasted barely a week on the market before contract, and closed for full asking price this month.  When $1,174/sqft sells this quickly & easily in Brooklyn, would a better word for the "bears" in this market be "wrong"?

Doesn't this raggedy 2-story in deep south Gowanus look pretty?  96 16th Street listed for $850K and just closed for $885K, AKA in the bullish direction.  This is probably not the location, size, or condition you were expecting to spend $790/sqft in.  However, it's still about the cheapest you can get in striking distance of Park Slope, unless you source something totally distressed off-market all cash.

In reality, we're not bullish, but we have been screaming for years now where the comparative value is.  Why go drop $885K for a 2-story turd in Gowanus on 16th Street that needs a gut when you can live in style in Lefferts for less??  The stunning Tudor house at 30 Chester Court sells for $875K.  Oh yeah, and they listed for $829K, so that's technically still bullish too.  And guess where the buyers came from... Park Slope!

A $4M+ sale in Crown Heights south??  That's right.  The 28-unit at 1154 President Street closes this month for $4.2M.  This is a big 23,000 square foot buy & hold monster with lots of apartments still below market.

It's down from its asking price of $2.1M-$2.35M, but when a renovated carriage house in Carroll Gardens gets over $2M, are you still sticking to your bearish story?  246 Union Street closed for $2.035M a few months ago.

When a 3-story house in estate condition in Crown Heights moves off-market for $900K cash and already supposedly has pre-market offers of $1.3M cash from investors, but is holding out for $1.5M from an end-user on the flip... where does bearishness fit into this picture?  That's 934 Pacific Street for ya!  Up at least 44% in a matter of a few months?  Not exactly what you'd call a "bear market".

Crown Heights isn't the only place where you can make a quick $300K+.  Back in everyone's beloved Park Slope, 535 3rd Street closed for $2.95M in June of this year.  Then it trades again this month for $3.275M!  We don't call ourselves bullish, but boy would we feel silly if were bearish in this market.

So many more to cover tomorrow....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Brooklyn Heights Penthouse Co-op: 85 Livingston Street, #PHO

Today we're taking a look at a one-bedroom penthouse co-op in Brooklyn Heights, asking just $389K.  The last time you saw a property in Brooklyn Heights with a 3 in front of it, it was probably 3 million, not 300 thousand.  The listing broker at 85 Livingston Street, #PHO tells us this 600 sqft 1BR is on the 18th floor with great views.  The pricepoint jumps out at us, especially considering that 600 sqft 1BR's go for $550K+ in Crown Heights these days.  (In fact, Platinum Members are closing on one pre-market any day now!)  We usually lean towards townhouses over apartments, but this place screams value to us.  When it takes at least $389K down to compete for even fixer-upper townhomes as far out as Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Ditmas Park, and Prospect Lefferts Garden - a co-op for that price, just steps from the Brooklyn Promenade, looks like a steal.  With about $100K down, your mortgage would be barely $1,500/month at prevailing rates.  There are dozens of people with six-figure incomes who should be giving this place a look as at least a starter apartment.  Pay rent instead of a mortgage for a while, and you think someone ISN'T going to want a pied-a-terre like this for well over $500K in the next few years?  So what if the lobby feels more like the Upper East Side?

So is Brooklyn Heights itself.  Brownstones effortlessly command $3M-$6M over here, so the co-op play is looking pretty nice right about now.  The apartment's probably got more of an old-timey wood feel than the modern buyer is looking for, but at least it's turnkey, nice, and easily update-able...

Is it small?  Sure!  But not comparatively.  And the entry price is comparatively small to match.  The $800+/month in charges is no picnic, but the broker says it includes all taxes, maintenance, and utilities.  Whether you want to measure it by whole-dollar or price per square foot (under $700, btws!), we defy you to name a better value in a better location.  It's not for everyone, but this place is perfect for a few buyers who may not even know it's available.

Pro's:  pricepoint, location, turnkey, top floor, lots of light & views, size makes sense for a 1BR

Con's:  pretty high monthly charges, old-timey style not for everyone, smallish, the slippery slope to a 2BR is common anyone thinking about apartments

Ideally:  looks like a great starter apartment for a young professional or couple, or a nice pied-a-terre launchpad for dozens unfazed by the price

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The South Slope 2-Cap is Back: 359 12th Street

If you missed this Park Slope 8-Family back when it wanted $1.6M last year, it just closed for $1.5M in August of this year.  Now it's back on the market this week with a $2.65M price tag on it.  359 12th Street is another genie in a bottle for sure, but we're not sure the right way to rub it.  It's a hefty 28' x 60' with railroad apartments.  This listing makes larger 8-Families with more vacancies in more centralized locations look like better deals even in the $3M+ range.  359 12th Street is asking over 27 times rent roll.  Even at $2,000/month per apartment, you're at 13 times rent roll.  And, we're not seeing that anytime soon, with the current rent roll hovering around $1,000/month per apartment.  This price doesn't even leave enough meat on the bone for most developers if it were ready to roll at $1,000/sqft on condo conversion sell-out.  But it's large and it's in Park Slope.  And, while we might've taken an updated photo if we were the ones listing a building over two and a half million dollars, we're sure it won't stop anyone from sniffing this deal.  And this listing is certainly in better hands this time around than last year.  359 12th Street is worth more than the sellers paid for it, but it's certainly not the first place we'd deploy $2.65M in this market if we had it.

Pro's:  south Slope 8-Family, curb appeal, under $500/sqft in a neighborhood that isn't shy to sell for $1,000/sqft

Con's:  pricing, railroad apartments, rent regulation capping upside, not really a condo conversion or a buy & hold at these levels

Ideally:  if there's a solid move to make on this thing, we'd love to hear it

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

West Bed-Stuy Pre-Market 3-Family: 131 Jefferson Avenue

On a snowy December day in Brooklyn, we still keep it BK to the Fullest.  Not yet on your StreetEasy, your Trulia, your New York Times, your Zillow, or anywhere else... it's a pre-market vacant 3-Family building in west Bed-Stuy asking $1.35M.  Now, mind you, 131 Jefferson Avenue isn't the prettiest horse in the stable, but it is a solid 20' x 60' 3-Family house with 4BR rentals on 2 of its 3 floors, and a semi-above grade basement that may get some extra use out of it yet.  Local broker Elan Kels showed the house to us pre-market  Geographically, the block is prime as Bed-Stuy goes just off of Bedford, but also not the prettiest block either.  Which is why we think this house has modern renovation buy & hold written all over it.  Granted, the exterior is currently very Fred Flintstone.  The interior is currently coming along as the space is being cleared out for showings soon.  Pretty high ceilings on the parlor...

Not "dripping with details" or anything, but original mantles are intact...

131 Jefferson Avenue is 4,800 square feet by some estimations, but we're in no rush to count the basement just yet.  The days of picking up a gem like 489 Park Place with extra-deep 3-4BR rentals for this cheap is over.  Have you seen what those rentals go for, by the way??  And to think developers bidding $1.1M cash last year were surprised that deal went higher.  Smh.

Friends of the blog around the corner from 131 Jefferson Avenue, renting in the $900/BR range, think they're getting a steal because their landlord hasn't raised their rent in a year or two.  So what do you think 4BR rentals at 131 Jefferson Avenue go for these days?  Have you checked out the newfound hipster destinations on the corner at Bedford Avenue??

Having spots like Corner Grind and Bedford Hall alone will legitimize this neighb' even to newbies who've never stood here before.  Or, as one of the Bedford Hall owners told us, "Amenities!"  131 Jefferson's electrical has been updated.  It's on gas heat already.  We can't wait to see what a little clean up will do to it, let alone renovation.  It's not everyday you see 20' wide mortgageable property in West Bed-Stuy delivered vacant for $1.35M anymore.  For the right price, we see it as an owner-occupied end-user buy & hold with great rental income.

Pro's:  delivered vacant, mortgageable, extra deep floorplate, 4BR rentals, not on everyone's radar yet, West Bed-Stuy location

Con's:  essentially a 3-story as-is, lots of updates to be done, not the prettiest landmarked block or anything, not full of details like many of Bed-Stuy's favorite homes

Ideally:  worth a look-see in this market.  By the time it looks exactly the way you want it to, it certainly won't cost what you want it to...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Listings: Crown Heights Limestone with Parking - 1307 Union Street

New to the Listings section of the blog, it's a totally legit 2-Family with parking in Crown Heights.  1307 Union Street is a 20' x 55' limestone on a 31' x 80' lot asking $1.099M.  We took a look yesterday and it's fairly impressive.  The house is being delivered vacant with lots of original details in great condition like ceiling beams and parquet floors...

About as rare as you'll find in brownstone Brooklyn, it's actually got a curb cut and a driveway with parking that goes all the way to the back yard.  You could fit a ton of cars in this bad-boy, or greenify some of it back to a yard and still keep a ton of parking space...

It's got windows on the unattached side that face west, getting lots of light...

It's totally live-able, the mechanicals are updated.  It's just ready for some cosmetic upgrades because we doubt the finishes in the kitchens and baths are everyone's taste.  It's even very serviceable as a 3-Family with the mechanicals tucked away cleanly in the basement, and full kitchen down there with finished rooms.  It's missing a kitchen on one of the upper floors, but we're told the owners can put that in for asking price.  The styles of many eras converge in this house.  There's a pink and coral bathroom that Cousin John usually dates in the 1960's.  There's split-pea green carpet on the ceiling heading down to the basement.  Go with the kitsch of this wall tile or redo it your way...

Could make another great hipster hideout.  Forget thinking this is too far east with the parking next door.  Can't hate on the owner's cost basis unless you're prepared to source & do deals in cash, plus handle tenants.  If you think this is a better-located version of the 289 Lincoln Avenue attempted flip for a million, we agree with you.  If you think this is almost twice the price of what a similar house around the corner was available for just last year, then you're right again.

With an open house this weekend, it's easy to come check it out for yourself.

Pro's:  curb appeal, curb cut & driveway, quiet little block in Crown Heights south, original details in great condition, vacant, updated mechanicals, use it as a 3-Family for even more income

Con's:  cosmetic updates to be made, missing a kitchen upstairs, no green backyard, no use hating on the owner's cost basis

Ideally:  could be a great alternative to the pricing in Crown Heights north for the right buyer