Monday, April 29, 2013

Castle Closes in Crown Heights: 875 St. Marks Avenue

While many of you are still catching your breath about $1.7M-$1.8M pricing hitting Bed-Stuy not once, but twice in the past few weeks, Crown Heights still offers the best value in town.  The castle at 875 St. Marks Avenue sold for $1.4M 2 months ago - and, boy, you Park Slope unicorn hunters don't even know what you're missing!  This house is a castle, surrounded by a park, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, incredible housing stock, trains that actually go to the city (we're looking at you, the G train!), and - gulp! - a diverse collection of people that some buyers tell us they're not ready to live next to.  Well, get over yourself.  This is one of Brooklyn's best neighborhoods, whether you're ready to believe it or not, and it only stands to get better.  Can you believe it was pulling teeth to get a mansion to trade above $850K barely a year ago, not once, but twice?  Platinum Members are taking down a great look west of here at 660 St. Marks Avenue at pricing closer to that end of the spectrum.  But now there's a handful of places listed with big brokers closer to Nostrand that are not even nearly this sweet and will trade at or around the price of 875 St. Marks Avenue.  But feast your eyes on the best in breed sub-$1.5M pick-up within miles...

Are those Ionic or Corinthian columns?  Heck, who's counting?  If the square stained-glass windows weren't already enough, why not go all-out vaulted Cathedral style for good measure?

You get some killer light on that unattached side too:

Wood detail for days and huge proportions, standing at 20' x 50' on a 150'+ lot.

Finishing touches to be done for sure, but who cares?  Show us another house from 1899 that's this sweet and this price.  Call us next year when these are sailing over $1.5M with ease, but don't say we didn't warn ya...

Pro's:  curb appeal, location, size, original detail, unattached side, extra-extra-deep yard, price, best of breed 100+ years ago & still to this day

Con's:  gone already, work left to be done, can't sleep on Crown Heights anymore

Ideally:  thank goodness for the folks who built a whole valley of sweet homes all around here.  Underestimate this neighb' at your own peril.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Closings of Note: Crown Heights Still Has Value?

When 834 Lincoln Place came out for $1.25M in Crown Heights, it sounded high to novice ears - even for a renovated piece off of Nostrand.  But that didn't stop crowds from lining up in the cold for a chance to see it, if only because... where's the next-best $1.25M in town?  Buyers from Williamsburg said, "Yes, please!" and took it down for $1.375M cash.  And if you've been looking around recently, for a finished 20' wide 4-story barrel front building... even that price is a relative value.  Who could foresee that a few of these would fetch north of $1.5M in Bed-Stuy by now?

We had the early lead on another Prospect Heights gems, near the Crown Heights edge.  613 Washington Avenue just closed for a cool $600K.

Further up the hill, a niftier mixed-use piece at 784 Washington Avenue fetched $1.2M all cash.  Can't wait to see who lands this neat commercial space.

Even little ol' 726A Union Street in Park Slope at 3-stories and 18' wide lists for $1.69M and closes for $1.6M.  Now an even smaller neighbor wants $1.3M.

285 Macon Street in Bed-Stuy didn't last long with a list price of $759K.  It closed for $785K last month.  This is a great look.  You say, "Over ask in Bed-Stuy again?"  We say, 4-stories of 20' wide brownstone on a great block for the price of a condo won't last forever.

Speaking of over ask in Bed-Stuy, brace yourself for this funky stone front off the Utica stop that listed for $749K.   346A Decatur Street sold for $799K.  Even 131 Decatur got $905K.  And just wait until you see what's next on Decatur.

Speaking of prices off of Utica, in Crown Heights 1459 Sterling Place listed for $475K and got $465K last month.

But who's the loveliest of them all??  Come to Crown Heights for the best limestone value in all of town.  257 New York Avenue closed for its asking price of $725K this month.  This gem lasted only a few days on the market.  A killer 3-family for the price of a condo?  The next one of these on this block wants $1M or more, and will get it easily.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Closings of Note: Migration Patterns, Part II

Successful business models vary.  When rapping about his 9-figure Vitamin Water deal 50 Cent bragged, "I took quarter water and sold it in bottles for $2 bucks / Coca-cola came and bought it for billions, what the f**k??"  He's simultaneously arrogant about his success and shocked at the power of business alchemy.  We knew 96 St. Marks Avenue on the cusp of Prospect Heights and Park Slope was primed to be chopped and flipped years ago.  A purchase of the entire building at $999K and the self-proclaimed first passive house renovation in the country net them four condos that sold above $800K each. 

The top floor just sold for $824K to a buyer from midtown Manhattan.  Just another example of who's heading to Brooklyn. 

A buyer from Clinton Hill buys a Bed-Stuy renovation that's 16' wide.  556 Lexington Street listed for $725K and just sold for $755K last month.

Buyers from Park Slope purchase a house a few blocks away in Park Slope.  565 7th Street closed for $1.9M last month.

Also in Park Slope, what seems like a relic from another age, 34 St. Marks Avenue finally closes for $1.865M.  But let's keep in mind how old this pricing is.

These days even renovations in Windsor Terrace that are too generic for some buyers fetch $1.78M with others at 598 17th Street.

Buyers from Carroll Gardens head to Windsor Terrace in search of value.  410 Prospect Avenue closed for $1.41M last month.

Buyers on 15th Street in south Slope headed down the hill to purchase 196 15th Street, a small frame house for $1.7M.

An opportunistic investment group takes down an estate sale in prime Fort Greene for an amazing price.  6 South Oxford sold for $1.3M last month.

Even at only 12.5' wide, it wasn't hard for a nifty little gem in south Slope like 365 14th Street to fetch $1.46M.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Look at Harlem for $2M: 20 Hamilton Terrace

We're putting part II of our eastward migration tracking on hold for today, because the shock and awe from recent activity in Bed-Stuy approaching $2M has got us thinking.  One of Brooklyn's top brokers told us he'd rather spend $2M in Harlem than in Bed-Stuy.  So let's take a look at what $2M gets you in Harlem.  Conveniently, a colleague of ours has his place in Hamilton Heights recently listed for that very price.  What do you think?

20 Hamilton Terrace is about as decked out as you're going to find for a 16' x 52' limestone in one of the niftiest little pockets of Harlem.  Plus, you get a little backyard action and a deck...

Pro's:  decked-out interior, perfect for single-family use, nice deck & yard, great location as Harlem goes, updated heat & A/C

Con's:  16' wide, no rental income, are you ready for Harlem?

Ideally:  if you had $2M, where would you spend it?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Closings of Note: Migration Patterns

If you draw lines on the map from where buyers are coming from to what properties they're buying, the migration pattern eastward that's been going on for a while becomes even more clear.  People always ask us, "Where are all these Brooklyn buyers coming from?"  The answer?  Brooklyn!

We already told you that Manhattan buyers are also heading across the river, but some of the realest buyers in Brooklyn are Brooklynites themselves.  Maybe you have to already live here to get over yourself on the Goldilocks Syndrome that holds so many buyers back.  Buyer who can't even afford Bed-Stuy anymore swear they're too good for Bed-Stuy.  But Manhattan buyers are happy to bid $500K over asking price on historic, iconic Bed-Stuy fixer-uppers.  We told you last year that the 'too good for Bed-Stuy' fallacy won't get it done, and that it's the savviest buyers who know which properties are actually worth MORE than asking price.  Some people still bid 10-20% under every asking price in town and call that a "strategy".

Who just bought a Bed-Stuy double-duplex for more than twice what it sold for last year?  None other than a buyer from Chelsea, Manhattan.  Still think you're too good for Bed-Stuy?  571 Madison Street just closed for $905K.

353A Monroe Street was a gnarly, painfully-generic renovation in Bed-Stuy.  But the list price of $479K sounded like a condo price to a buyer from Clinton Hill who picked it up for $445K.

"A generic multi-family renovation in Bed-Stuy sells for the price of a condo to a buyer in Clinton Hill?!?"  Yup, yet again at 659 Decatur Street, for $489K.

Even in Lefferts Gardens, the best places go above asking price.  235 Winthrop Street is a "mere" frame house, but the look inside cleaned up nice...


At a list price of $500K, Prospect Heights buyers said, "That's condo prices!" and took it down for $610K with a contract in a month.

"Buyers from Prospect Heights heading to Lefferts?!?"  That's right.  And other Prospect Heights buyers were at it again on 77 Rutland Road, taking an estate sale down for $925K.  Undeterred by the list price of $1.2M, they managed to compromise on a nice price.

71 Vanderbilt Avenue in Norrrrth Forte Greene by the BQE listed for $1.2M and sold for $1.05M to buyers from Brooklyn Heights.  Brooklyn Heights, people!

And where do buyers from Park Slope run to for value when the $1.5M unicorn hunt in their neighborhood runs dry?  None other than Crown Heights!  The 3-Family at 1521 Dean Street listed for $639K, and bids ran it up to $670K.  You can't find a 2BR condo in Park Slope for that price.  For those of you keeping score at home, note this is deep in Crown Heights, and probably why your impossibly-slim request for "west of Bedford under $800K" rarely clicks.

Hold on, let me get this straight, Bed-Stuy is good enough now?  Good enough for buyers from Cobble Hill to cop a 3-Family at 912 Putnam Avenue for $725K.

Maybe you're seeing a pattern here.  We'll pick up tomorrow where we left off with more closings of note...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cash is King in Crooklyn: 7 Arlington Place

We told you months ago that the house where Spike Lee's "Crooklyn" was filmed may never make it to market.  And, indeed, it barely did.  7 Arlington Place came out with the infamous Minsk Man last week, and didn't last long at all.  With a list price of $1.3M, this 20' wide 4-story 2-Family pricing may sound high for Bed-Stuy to novice ears.  Maybe you haven't been following the $1.5M market and how far east it's had to push because the money simply has nowhere else to go.  We knew cash offers would fly in right away as soon as we got a look inside for ourselves.  And financed offers above asking price were a no-brainer as well.  But what happened next will send shock waves through even the most up-to-date participants and observers in this market.  Rumor is an offer was accepted at $1.8M all-cash from a Manhattan buyer.  Now don't despair, there's a difference between an accepted offer and being in contract - a distinction lost on Brownstoner in a recent piece about another high-ticket Bed-Stuy gem.  Nothing is binding - either on the buy or sell side - until a fully executed contract of sale.  But, boy, is that offer alone another canary in the mineshaft of this market, y'all!  We've heard people say we talk bullish; we think we talk facts.  But let's let the house and the market speak for themselves...

Meh.  These listing pics don't even do the house justice.  Excuse us again while our haphazard iPhone pics run laps around the folks getting paid tens of thousands for this...

It's got period details for days, yet it's easy to forget what period we're even talking about.  If you just started giving Brooklyn a chance in recent years or even months, keep in mind that big ballers have been here for centuries.  At another pre-market gem in Clinton Hill the other night, we saw this same bath tile that Arlington has...

We asked the owner if it was the original tile.  She said, "No, it's not original.  It's from 1890 when they Victorianized the house.  The house is from 1870."  Ha!  We meant "original" as in "not from Home Depot", but she was splitting hairs between the 1890's and the 1870's.  Those of you who moved here from Michigan a few years ago and have been renting in the East Village, maybe this is all news to you.

Despite the listing's claim that 7 Arlington Place is a 3-Family, it's definitely a legal 2-Family.  But, again, when a house basically sells itself, what's the point in expecting accuracy from the listing agent charging as much as $90K or more?  This probably isn't $90K+ worth of pics on the agent's part either, but the lion sleeps 'cause it can...

If you've got less than 20% down and think somebody owes you something in this market, think again.  Where were you 2 years ago when all these houses were under a million and aching for you to make a financed bid at a reasonable price?  Where were you last summer when another gem on this block was up for grabs around $750K??  7 Arlington Place listed for more than many might think a Bed-Stuy house is worth (at first glance) and is set to go for $500K MORE than that!  If you're keeping score at home, that's TWO $1.7M+ cash offers in Bed-Stuy in the past few weeks on 4-story 2-Family townhomes, and this one will go for more money ABOVE asking price than many people's would-be downpayment.  And many of THOSE people still think they're too good for Bed-Stuy.  Don't call it a comeback, Bed-Stuy's been here for years.  And certainly don't call it "a bubble" when these prices are happening in cash, not some insane lending craze.  Although, rates in the mid-3%'s fixed for 30 years when inflation is hovering around 3%?  That's free money.  And for all you Chicken Littles, please believe this still beats any condo in Manhattan, any day of the week.

Pro's:  curb appeal, sick period details for days, one of Bed-Stuy's cutest little blocks, around the corner from the A train and Fulton - but without the noise, no huge open house with crowds of people

Con's:  gone already, quick sale propelled cash, how ya gonna beat $500K above asking price all cash in under a week?

Ideally:  killer house for sure, but yowza!  Even we're still digesting the implications of this one.  The $1.8M fixer-upper?  It ain't just for Park Slope or Prospect Heights anymore...