Sunday, November 24, 2013

Baffled by Bed-Stuy? Join the Club!: 364 Jefferson Avenue

It was almost a year ago that we were telling you "Parents Just Don't Understand" this whole Brooklyn real estate resurgence.  And, though the pattern repeats itself month after month, even the top dogs in the industry still can't come to an agreement about what's really going on here.  Case in point, the much-republished headline this month that posits, "Bed-Stuy Is The Next Williamsburg", which these jokers are calling "a headline that shouldn't exist but does."  It's true; that headline shouldn't exist.  But not because of some sentimental notions about where gentrification should or shouldn't go, or because of fatigue over neighborhoods people cynically think are simply renamed by advantageous real estate brokers.  That headline shouldn't exist 'cause it's just plain incorrect, and it shows how misunderstood Brooklyn continues to be.  Bed-Stuy is categorically not the next Williamsburg.  Not long ago, Williamsburg was a quiet little neighborhood of old factories, warehouses, and mediocre vinyl-siding housing stock, until a hipster critical mass discovered it as a more affordable alternative to the East Village and Lower East Side with an L train right into downtown (if you can imagine the days - just 10 years ago - when getting priced out of no-brainer Manhattan neighborhoods like those was a novel thing).  Williamsburg was a sleepy little place, a blank canvas ready for conversions, new developments, big spaces at affordable prices where artsy establishments could take affordable risks.   The likes of these guys felt no problem invading the quaint, mostly-Polish confines of Williamsburg and Greenpoint virtually overnight...

(Yes, for the record, that's a white blazer, stone-washed jeans, and an ironic vest on display along with vinyl-siding and green astroturf in Greenpoint, Brooklyn's 2nd hipster Mecca behind Williamsburg.)

Bed-Stuy is almost the opposite of Williamsburg.  It's a valley of amazing housing stock built during the rowhouse heyday that everyone loves - ahem - Park Slope for.  That's right, if Bed-Stuy is the new anything, it's the new Park Slope.  And before you start gasping, try looking at the historic townhome activity going on in Bed-Stuy.  Townhomes you'd be hard-pressed to duplicate in Williamsburg, even if money were no object.

In case words don't paint the picture, let's let pictures paint the picture.  Observe, these are Williamsburg houses...

 These are Bed-Stuy houses:

If you had to choose, which houses do YOU think are worth griping over the fact that their sales prices are approaching $2M?  Does Bed-Stuy housing remind you more of Williamsburg, or of - ahem - Park Slope??

Then, to top it off, some of the biggest deal-makers in the industry are going around saying that the Brooklyn townhouse market's cooling off.  We're sure they don't say that to seller's faces during listing presentations, but they're happy to make it an "insider" talking point all over town.  Which is data we'd more than welcome, if we could only find a concrete example of it.  The folks at Evans & Nye are part of a wave that's almost single-handedly bringing Bed-Stuy closer to Park Slope by the day, and they've got nothing but bullish news to report to us.  Take 364 Jefferson Avenue which Ban Leow listed for $1.7M and has in contract for $1.85M with a buyer from Soho.  They tell us this is a neighborhood record for a 3-Family (they set the 2-Family record too, by the way) and that the house appraised for its contract price.  Good luck finding housing stock like this anywhere in Williamsburg, at any price...

Does this barrel-front gem look exactly like Prospect Heights' $2.5M+ 398 Sterling Place to you??  Does it look just like 314 Park Place that sold for almost $3M last year, and would easily fetch higher today?  That's because these houses were built at the same time by the same folks!  This isn't the vinyl-siding that time forgot, like Williamsburg.  These are the mansions that time forgot (and that everyone is rapidly remembering at a pace virtually no one can keep up with).  It wasn't long ago that millionaires were too chicken to offer this much for a lesser townhouse on a park block in Park Slope, like 635 10th Street!  Think about that for a second.  And now $1.35M being a record-breaker in Bed-Stuy feels like yesteryear.

But Ban's not done there.  He had 663 Putnam Avenue asking $1.6M, now in contract for $1.8M, with another buyer from Soho...

$1.8M, y'all!!  For a great house, granted.  But this is pretty much no man's land in terms of train access by many accounts.  If you were shocked when a fixer-upper on a killer block in west Bed-Stuy, that was featured in Crooklyn and located a mere 100 yards from an express train, commanded $1.7M a few months ago... did you think $1.8M would start popping up in relative transportation deserts?  No, Bed-Stuy is not the gentrification sprawl of 20-something hipsters trying to find the next flop house near a coffee shop, a train station, and a bar.  (Although, those will come too...)  This market is being dictated by true home buyers who are willing to be 10 blocks from the train just to be in this valley of amazing housing stock.  And at prices that some people - to this day! - remain too chicken to bid on in prime Prospect Heights, let alone "deep" Bed-Stuy.

'And even after all my logic and my theory, I add an SRO so you ign'ant buyers hear me...'  If you weren't convinced enough by two $1.8M+ contract prices deep in Bed-Stuy, peep game on the SRO market.  615 Jefferson Avenue was asking $1.495M, but goes in contract 5% over asking price.

If you can tell us what any of this Bed-Stuy activity has to do with Williamsburg, feel free...

1 comment:

  1. According to the listing broker, he "closed on 364 Jefferson Ave for a record breaking sale price of $1.85M just before the holidays."