Sunday, July 12, 2015

Closings of Note: Crown Heights Still Going Strong

Platinum Members told us they liked Crown Heights' 3-story reno at 905 Lincoln Place some $200K under its asking price of $1.5M.  As promised by the broker, it closed for some $200K over asking price, $1.7M.  Buyers from Park Slope made it happen with a million down.  One reader asked, "[H]ow come streeteasy is still showing this as 'for sale"' since November?"  Well, that's because the time between an accepted offer and a fully executed contract is usually weeks, and can often be months.  The wheels turn slowly sometimes, but they keep on toynin'.

After the dust settles from a crowd of bidders at 905 Lincoln Place, an unrenovated version with better details but struggling kitchens & baths commanded $1.64M to buyers from Fort Greene with some $400K down.  937 Lincoln Place closed last month.  The shiny pics and $1.395M asking price garnered it lots of attention, and the work needed some people off.  But it makes 905 Lincoln look like a deal.

Also in Crown Heights for $1.7M, the five-story 1249 Pacific Street closed two weeks ago all cash.  Fear not the armory nearby, this joins other closings on this block at prices that are double what people were too scared to spend over here in 2012.

Just off Franklin Avenue, by Franklin Park, the renovated 3-story sub-18' wide 608 St. Johns Place closes for its asking price of $1.8M with about $500K down from a buyer from LA.

Before you let the $1.8M townhome sales in Crown Heights get to you, don't forget, condos* in Williamsburg still go for $1.8M.  On first, 119 North 11th Street, #3A wanted "as little as" $1.4M with us last year, but was mid-renovation merging its 2-unit use into 1.  The reno was so hectic that our boy Hannibal Buress walked in and walked right out in a flash...

But by the time it combined, cleaned up, and listed with Corcoran for $1.8M, this condo closed for its $1.8M.  This week we got the early lead on a duplex condo even nicer than this - with parking - coming up for $1.65M on Park Place in prime Prospect Heights.

If you don't believe $1.8M or lower townhomes in Crown Heights are more attractive than $1.8M condos in Williamsburg, ask the buyers of the Crown Heights gem 926 St. Marks Avenue.  Buyers from a Williamsburg condo closed on it last month for $1.7M.

So if the finished 3-stories and the estate sale 5-story homes go for $1.7M - $1.8M, what does that do to the price for shells?  865 Sterling Place, just off Nostrand, was a boarded up 3-story FSBO that closed for $1.3M in May.  Remember when live-able fixer-upper 4-stories were $725K on this block back in 2013?

So to get a house in the $700K's you have to go much further east these days.  It sure ain't pretty on the outside, but 1335 Prospect Place is a renovated 2-Family at condo prices.  It closed for $785K in May.

Even the 1BR's on the Crown Heights/Prospect Heights border command $700K+.  475 Sterling Place, 2E closed just over asking price for $715K last month.

In an older building, deeper into Crown Heights, the 1BR at 943 St. Marks Avenue, #1B closes for $470K.  $610/sqft is probably a steal for what's coming over here.

Even further out at 1263 St. Marks Avenue, this quick Massada frame house flip closed for $985K to a buyer from Bed-Stuy.  Renovation and lots of financing with less than $50K down make this an attractive purchase.

Back in prime Crown Heights, $1.85M is the closing price for the huge corner 6-Family just off Franklin Avenue at 1 St. Francis Place.  It came out last year asking $1.95M, grossing only $105K/year.  It joins 70 & 80 New York Avenue as some of the best ~$2M pick-ups in Crown Heights in the past year.  Local gobblers who passed on those finally getting the hang of it with this one.  903 St. Johns Place for $1.95M in May falls in this same range.

Also in that range, 632 Sterling Place, a 7-unit just off Franklin for $2.05M in March after asking $2.1M for a minute.  Other purchases on the block not marketed are undergoing their reno's already.

Not a bad turnaround for Crown Heights' mixed-use 1388 Bedford Avenue, which was a no-brainer when we chased it in 2013 for $700K, closed that year for $800K.  Last month it sells for $1.6M.  Kaboom!  Now we're chasing another one off-market for $1.2M.

Similarly, sold for $700K in 2013, the small mixed-use at 307 New York Avenue trades for $1.05M this May.

1056 President Street may look more Queens than Brooklyn, but it's a good Crown Heights deal for buyers from Boerum Hill at $1.13M in May with just over $250K down.

Last month, an astounding price for a garage in Crown Heights over at 1104-1106 Pacific Street closing at $5.6M.  Makes the ones on the 1000 Dean Block look like steals.

But the buy & hold winner of the year in Crown Heights may go to 1054 Park Place, a 16-Fam on one of our favorite blocks.  Supposed contract price was $2.2M when it came out two years ago, then the value went up and it took litigation to compel a sale.  Closed for $2.5M last month.  Keep in mind when you look at some 2015 comps, you may be looking at prices negotiated in 2013, and then disputed in court in 2014-2015.

Even out between Kingston and Albany, near the projects, the Crown Heights gems don't stop.  Corcoran moves the double duplex at 1087 Prospect Place for $1.31M last month to buyers from Clinton Hill with some $400K down.  $100K over asking price is nothing in this market.

Asking $1.4M, buyers from Prospect Heights had no problem paying $1.565M last month for the Crown Heights 3-story at 659 Prospect Place.

No wonder we were bullish on the off-market contract flip at 264 Brooklyn Avenue - as seen on asking $1.25M - which closed for $1.1M.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Epic Castle in Crown Heights Closed Last Week: 669 St. Marks Avenue

After many months of delays and a few false starts, Platinum Members finally closed last week on one of our favorite buildings in all of Crown Heights - 669 St. Marks Avenue.  This enormous 30' wide building on a 40' wide lot features a drive way, windows all along the unattached side... extension on the parlor floor...

...a double-deep basement that's fully above grade in the back...

and a 35' wide two-story carriage house in the back.  We've been in contract on this bad boy for $1.5M with no financing contingency for over six months, and didn't even step foot inside until a few weeks ago.  That's how you roll the dice, y'all.  But we've seen this movie enough times before that the "risk" didn't even move the needle.  As soon as they brought it to us off-market, we didn't even finagle on price.  We met 'em outside the building within minutes and said, "We'll take it!"  And here we finally are.  Other buyers on the block already offered $2M for the contract and were turned down.  There's so much left to blossom on this property, it'd be hard to let it go at an as-is price.  The carriage house is what really gets us & everyone else weak in the knees...

Even if you converted the carriage house to living space, there's still plenty of room to leave a garage in it, and/or plenty of other space to park in between anyways...

We anxiously awaited the chance to get inside and check the condition of the details, and the interior didn't disappoint...

Original medallions and molding on the parlor, not pictured here, lived up to expectations too.  One room on the parlor with an original mantle is currently used only for storage...

The last time a castle this yummy in Crown Heights was copped, it was 875 St. Marks Avenue in 2013 for $1.4M and was promptly turned in 2BR & 1BR condos

All those units listed as in contract with a gross asking price just under $3.2M.  Appraisers at 669 St. Marks Avenue estimated the building value as-is between $1.75M & $2.45M.  One told us, "You know there's a total of 10,000 buildable square feet on this site, right?  Do you know how much that is as condos over here?  You're talking about $12M."  While we're not quick to call $1,000+/sqft the running price in Crown Heights for condos quite yet, the 10,000 buildable is worth exploring.  That would more than double the size of the existing building, but is ever harder to maximize with landmark constraints.  Even the brokers who sold it to us insist 669 is landmarked - afterall we too assumed such an historic 1888 structure would be - but our architect assures us it's not.  This block, while epic and full of a variety of fine architecture, is conveniently left just outside of all 3 Crown Heights North historic districts:

If you don't know your St. Marks Avenue from your St. Marks Place, don't worry, once upon a time we didn't either.  And even today's maps at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge will lead you astray...

But the OG 1800's era map at Coven Hoven didn't make the same mistake:

Recent activity on the block shows the trajectory of things over here, including the Crown Heights townhouse record breaker (east of Classon anyways...) at 672 St. Marks Avenue for $2.9M in December.  That was an astonishing price for an unrenovated building, even if it's 27' wide, unique, and full of details.  Currently undergoing its renovation...

The Aussies are gutting the 20' wide row house at 623 St. Marks Avenue down the block that they picked up in May 2013 for $1.02M...

They also picked up 641 St. Marks Avenue for $5.5M last year and have already listed it for $8M...

And they picked up 698 St. Marks Avenue for $1.5M last year, which has started its renovation this spring too:

Also the "five story 10-Family" at 692 St. Marks Avenue recorded its sale this year too at a steeply discounted price:

With studios on this block going for $1,600+/month, 20' row houses going for $1.9M even last year, and 27' record breakers going for $2.9M - it's not a bad place to be.  With the F. Scott Fitzgeraldian watchful eye of Biggie (or at least his Sprite ad) looking across Atlantic Avenue from Bed-Stuy into Crown Heights on Bedford...

Celebrating 5 years of keeping BK to the Fullest tastes that much sweeter getting our hands on a gem like this. 

Not much has changed since going into contract last year, the fruit's only getting more ripe.

Pro's:  huge, unique size & proportions, not your typical rowhouse, driveway with carriage house, great block with a variety of nice architecture, ballin' like Brooklyn Heights at Crown Heights prices

Con's:  gone already, tough to tackle, wasn't cheap, lots of work to be done

Ideally:  an historic Crown Heights castle with the potential for an epic project in the making