Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Platinum Member Closing in Bed-Stuy: 753 Jefferson Avenue

When Platinum Members reached out to us looking for a 2-Family in Bed-Stuy under $800K, we were hesitant to say it could be done as easily as last year, or even just a few months ago.  Then when they told us they wanted to be at the Utica stop, we said, "Now we're talking!"  The pattern of moving east for better value, especially when you've still got an express train within striking distance and a ton of great housing stock (see 242 Decatur Street) - it all made sense to us.

So as a juicy west Bed-stuy comparison, we checked out Corcoran's 1/2 SRO at 151 Herkimer Street with its open house in way-decent condition...

This was a great look at almost half the price of the high offers on other 4-story buildings around the corner.  But the asking price was $750K all-cash, the deal was no secret, and the SRO-related uncertainties were def' the primary obstacle.  Besides, this isn't "BK to the Corcoran"... it's BK to the FULLEST!  So when, that same day, our main-man Paul at Kian Realty lobbed up another great 2-Family opportunity under $750K, under the radar, and in just the right spot - we put out the bat signal.  We barely got a blurry glimpse inside ourselves, but it was love at first sight for Platinum Members who struck a great deal for buyer & seller.

With the help of one of our go-to real estate attorneys Alex holding the contract down, Platinum Members were making moves again on the block!

Pro's:  great value, exactly the location & 2-Fam configuration that the buyers had in mind, beats $700K condos any day of the week

Con's:  gone already, work to be done, you won't see that on your StreetEasy

Ideally:  looks like a great pick-up in our book, and a solid compromise on price, size, condition, and location

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Closings of Note: Say "Hello" to the $4M's

Did somebody say $3M townhomes popping up in Brooklyn?  Try $4M!  We saw multiple waves of $3M's recently, and now 160 Clinton Street closes for the asking price of $4.25M last month.  The 25' wide Brooklyn Heights house barely lasted 2 months on the market in the winter.

Brooklyn Heights isn't the only neighborhood going over the $4M mark.  165 Dean Street in nearby Boerum Hill cruises to its $4.2M asking price in 2 months too.  Another 25-footer that looks like a relative steal for these buyers coming from 5th Ave in Manhattan.  And these houses aren't alone.  161 Columbia Heights, 548 1st Street, and 197 Clinton Street are among other townhomes pushing $4M in the past 3 months in your favorite neighbs.  No, sorry, we can't find you a turnkey 3-Family for $1.5M in those neighb's anymore.  (Yes, we still get those e-mails!)  Likewise, the subway ain't a dollar fifty anymore either...

Given these sales, how does the park block on Carroll Street in Park Slope with top notch woodwork look when it lists for $4.2M and trades much lower?  861 Carroll Street "settles for" $3.625M last month.  Reminds us of Bed-Stuy's shockingly-pricey 7 Arlington at times, but for twice the price.  Likewise, let's keep in mind that in the West Village, you're getting a gut-rehab with squatters for these $4M pricepoints that are blowing folks away in Brooklyn for the top-notch product. 

535 3rd Street was a big-boy with some lovely woodwork of its own.  Even a fixer-upper in Park Slope fetches $2.95M last month after asking $3.3M.

Speaking of nice wood interior and a modern renovation, even nice pieces in Clinton Hill can fetch over $2M with ease now.  274 Lafayette Avenue gets its asking price of $2.4M with just a month on the market.  Could the neighbor - now asking $1.8M - be next?

Heck, even a "bring your architect" SRO in Boerum Hill can fetch $1.7M now, like 292 State Street, not even on the market for 2 months.

Not feeling the BoCoCa pricepoints?  Try a condo in Boerum Hill.  When you're over $1,000/sqft, and you've got 2,000 sqft.... well, you do the math.  46 Bergen Street, #5 sells for asking price of $2.15M last month.

Just before Sandy, Platinum Members were scoping 403 Putnam for some $700K, then it closed for that price in April.  Meanwhile, Corcoran was listing above that price and closing for a million for 406 Putnam across the street.  Now 403 Putnam lands $1.04M on the most recent flip last month.

Maybe you missed it back when it was a "canvas" for $650K.  Now 219 Gates Avenue cleans up nice and closes for $1.5M last month.  4-stories even on the Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill border commands this much.  A few more off-market plays left to be made on better stretches of Gates than this!

Over in south Slope, if you couldn't get $1.8M earlier last year for 349 13th Street, listing at $1.6M did the trick.  This 25' wide house was a "bring your architect" situation.

Over in Bed-Stuy, on a nice block, 202 MacDonough Street closes for $940K.  You won't find that sales listing on your StreetEasy, but the rentals are already up.

Over $1,000/sqft in Brooklyn - again??  You're looking at it.  Can't disregard when condos like another one at 1 Hanson Place, #11K sell for asking price of $1.39M.

Remember the good ol' days (last year) when a house deep in Crown Heights like 1332 Bergen Street could ask in the $600K's and go for less?  Now this year, the smaller 1406 Dean Street goes for $810K in May, and the duplex already wants $3,500/month!

Remember the good ol' days (last year) when bids could start in the high $700K's for a house on the 100-block of Hancock?  Boy, now you really gotta go far out to get that same price.  17' wide and 3 stories, 778 Hancock Street closed for $900K last month!  But they're not alone.  Buyers from Fort Greene are moving east too.  618 Willoughby Avenue went for $925K.  585 Macdonough for $999K.  448 Decatur went for $930K at 17' wide.  That's why we lean towards Crown Heights sometimes where a sleeper like 1072 Carroll Street for $925K is a way better relative value than some of these.

Luckily, this shows deals are still left to be made around the million dollar mark, all just 3 miles away from where houses go for $4M.  (Those are some million dollar miles!)  It's just getting harder & harder, plus you've gotta go deeper & deeper in, and - as always - these plays simply may never hit your StreetEasy or your NYTimes.  Over a decade ago, Jay-Z counted, "One million, two million, three million, four.  In just 5 years, you're looking at the forty million boy."  Ha, now he's worth over ten times that.  Who knows what the trajectory is after $4M in Brooklyn?  We just hope it isn't...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fort Greene Fixer-Upper: 69 Greene Avenue

Another fixer-upper hits the market that Platinum Members got an early look at.  69 Greene Avenue is a 4-story 21'-wide house that's asking $1.99M now.  With no interior pics on the listing, we took a few shots of the inside.  High ceilings on the parlor, tin ceiling's mint...

We were pleasantly surprised by an interior in much better condition than we'd expected.  Even when it still had carpet on the floor.  Now it's being primed for upgrades that we're sure the right end-user will make.  With all the price action in the $3M range we've been seeing over & over, the listing doesn't even sound far-fetched when they say, "If you've ever balked at paying $3 + million for someone elses renovation, this is a rare chance to do custom renovation in a PRIME location."  The sprinkler's not the best look as-is, but can be hidden, and is actually a plus that the system's in place.  Cousin John says the DOB's been calling for sprinkler systems even on 2-Fam's these days.  Some houses like 69 Greene Avenue and 138 Prospect Place come equipped already.

Also like 138 Prospect Place, the short backyard is workable...

Some original mantles intact...

 Work to be done, but it ain't too far away...

Even the landmarkin's kept the new project going up next door in line with the look of the neighborhood...

In a climate where Corcoran's supposedly getting more than this across the street for a building with tenants, 69 Greene Avenue is worth a look for those who can afford it.

Pro's:  slightly extra-wide, blank canvas, price in line with the neighborhood, totally vacant & ready

Con's:  short backyard, not a long residential side street, work to be done

Ideally:  presumably mortgageable now, certainly looks like live meat to an end-user in this market

Friday, July 26, 2013

Projects: Prospect Place, Pt. II - "The Earth Moved"

When you're adding a 3 story extension to a house in Prospect Heights - and one of those stories is underground - you've got yourself some Earth to move!  In our latest look at the project on Prospect Place that Cousin John is letting us follow, the task at hand was creating the space for the new foundation and cellar beneath the garden level.  This required excavating enough dirt from the backyard to fill 9 dumpsters, one bucket at a time.

It takes approximately 4,000 buckets of dirt to fill one dumpster!  And even more when the buckets are lighter, as they were when the hole got too deep to lift full buckets up the flight without steps.

It took weeks of manual labor to move just over 6 tons of Earth, until a step out the backdoor of the house became a steep drop into one big pile of dirt.

It reminds us of the door hanging over the sand dunes in Beatlejuice...

Now properly excavating in these tight confines is a lot more complicated than just digging.  The neighboring extension on one side had to be propped up with underpinning, which begins with one initial pit...

And then additional columns are added in a strategic order of segments, ultimately 4' of support underneath the foundation of the adjacent extension.

Underpinning can be a huge issue when not anticipated and not executed properly, as other cases we've seen show.  On the opposite side of the excavation that has no neighboring extension, supports had to be used to prop up the yard, but underpinning was not required.  An L-shaped footing of concrete poured over steel & rebar suffices.

With a vapor barrier underneath and 4" concrete slab with radiant heat as the flooring of the basement, this cellar will be as comfortable & quality as any other finished space.  Afterall, when you're doing it fresh from scratch, might as well do it right.  We asked about this carpetfoam-looking substance along the wall between the yards, which Cousin John says is a waterproofing material that melts and fuses to the concrete between the basement of the renovation and the adjacent yard.

Now when you go digging up holes like this that risk disturbing the structure and foundation of the neighbors, not only do you have to get the engineers to do it all right, you've gotta have the forensic documentation to prove you didn't step on any neighboring toes.  Engineers do a detailed report on the existing conditions of the neighboring structures, and even install crack monitors to track even the tiniest disturbances.  These crack monitors are actually mini seismographs that measure whether 'the Earth moved under my feet' on the adjacent properties.

Looking ahead to the plans for the floors above, we're excited about a glass floor detail to let light from the parlor to the garden level, just over 1" thick and roughly 4' x 6'...

Get a bit of this effect going on, perhaps...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Projects: 138 Prospect Place, Pt. I

After Platinum Members had a chance at it a few months ago (but passed), we were happy to hear from the recent buyers of 138 Prospect Place in Prospect Heights.  They shared some relatively stunning interior photos, and said we could chat about the renovation they're up to on this 4-story former SRO that's ready to be tricked-out for a more modern use of the house.

This is all pre-demolition, y'all!  House sure cleans up nice in pictures, but there's lots of work to be done to thoroughly restore this badboy.

Here's two floors of the preliminary architectural drawings that were done by the developer who sold the property, paving the way for the SRO conversion.  Calls for neat additions like a deck on the backyard...

Curious to hear the owners' take on it soon...