A House Hunt That Followed the Market


A New York Times “The Hunt” story trailed a couple as they looked for a house to buy in Bed Stuy. They were renting a studio in Brooklyn Heights and decided to make the jump into home ownership when their rent increased to $1,850.

Two years ago they started hunting in Bed Stuy, with a budget starting at $600,000. They saw a great place for $700,000 but passed because it was located in Crown Heights. Then the market took off.

Prices kept rising, investors were buying at high prices with all cash, a house they liked didn’t appraise — it’s a familiar story.

Eventually, they ended up buying an SRO in Crown Heights for $950,000. They closed in mid-summer. Now they are waiting for a certificate of non-harrassment and plan to move in with their new baby, who is due in January.

A recent post on the Forum asked “Is it even possible to buy a decent home in this market?” The poster is looking in far east Bed Stuy for a non-flipped house in OK condition with a budget of $800,000 and $200,000 set aside for renovations. What do you think?

In Crown Heights, a Victory Over Sharp Elbows [NY Times]

11 Comment

  • Bob Marvin

    This makes me nostalgic; my wife and I even looked a bit like that couple way back when [yes, I had hair once]. It WAS l-ess competitive though in 1974, when nobody, except crazy people like us, wanted an old Brooklyn house.

  • I think the poster should be able to find a place in that budget range but will be tough. It will be a smaller house, not in a much desirable area or street of Bed Stuy and not so close to the subway.
    Was at a real estate event yesterday that was attended by a number of RE brokerage firms, developers, investors and banks. Based on the different panels and presenters, Bushwick, Bed Stuy and Crown Heights are the areas where everyone is looking at now as they present great value and upside potential.

  • Wow, just wow, on the economics. They start looking to buy because their rent goes up, and they end up buying for close to 60% more than their original starting budget, and have to settle for an SRO at that. So they’ve been how many months, paying both a jumped-up rent AND a mortgage on a building they haven’t moved into yet?!?!

    Yowza. I am glad I am not buying right now.

  • dash

    “If there is anything my generation values, it’s authnticity. Brooklyn is dripping with it.”

  • I can totally relate to what they went through! I passed on a lot of really good properties as well.
    But there seems to be a little more on the market now. And the area of Bed Stuy near Broadway and Myrtle still seem to have some “deals” to be had.

    • Bedstuyreno, you are right, there are more properties on the market but everything at much higher prices.
      One property just got listed; 119 Hancock Street.
      SRO in need of full gut – $1.295M.
      Excellent value in a great part of Hancock Street.

  • The Times chose discretion as the better part of valor by not permitting comments on its article (so glad to know we’re “dripping with authenticity”). But as an “older owner” not in “dire financial straits,” who is sufficiently curmudgeonly and long in the tooth to be part of the “authenticity,” I’m getting a little tired of the constant letters and phone calls that presume, based most likely on the date I bought my house, that I must be senile and/or broke, and easy prey. My favorite was the preppy kid with a briefcase who rang my doorbell and informed me in all seriousness that he was here to buy my house, and could offer “what FOR YOU would be a great deal of money.” He added cheerfully that I had to understand that it was “time for you to go.” (Presumably, to a nursing home, and I’m not even eligible for Medicare yet…just unfortunate enough to have bought so long ago that I’m marked as an easy target.) So I explained to him politely (twice) that no, it was time for HIM to go. Presumably enough seniors fall for this nonsense to make the effort worthwhile, which is a shame. Because what for that kid is a great investment is, for me, affordable housing in NYC. The other difference is that when I bought, lo those many moons ago, the economics actually made sense: rental income paid the mortgage and utilities. Today the mortgage is history, and the income is welcome. But buying at today’s prices? Good luck to those who do; unless they’re Bloomberg’s pet billionaires, they’re going to need it.

    • NeoGrec

      Those letters drive me nuts too. Fortunately no one has actually knocked on our door. If they did, I’d call their bluff. “Sure, I’ll sell. $2.75 million. Cash on the nose please.” “What do you mean you don’t have that much in your briefcase? OK, I’ll wait while you go to the ATM.” “Hey, maybe I should follow you back to your office — make sure this all-cash offer is the real deal.” “Wait up, fella, I coming with you!”

      • I did call the bluff in response to one of the callers this year. “All cash deal! No need for an inspection! Don’t waste money on a broker, we pay top dollar!” So what would that be? I asked. Uh, said the caller, whatcha got? Well, I got a legal two family four story FG brownstone on a quiet tree lined block, upstairs triplex and downstairs garden apartment, with all the original detail in fine condition, seven original fireplaces, nicely finished woodwork , and easy access to a good subway line. “Aha!” He replied, “it’s your lucky day! For that we can give you $650G cash!” He was offended when I started to laugh, and asked what I thought it was worth. I told him. And that was the end of the conversation.

  • Here are a couple of listings I see on Streeteasy for the Forum poster to check out:
    476 Chauncey — asking $699K on rowhouse block. Only a single family though. The broker claims it’s Bushwick, but it’s really Ocean Hill (which is what I assume is meant by “far east Bed Stuy”. Assuming a home inspection comes through ok, then from the photo it really only needs cosmetic work IMO.

    42 Covert — asking $637.5K. House itself is meh looking but on streetview the block itself looks nice enough visually. 2 family with an existing curb cut actually on the Bushwick side of Broadway between Halsey and Chauncey stops. It’s not clear from the listing how much work is really needed.