A narrow three-story house at 537 Hancock Street in Bed Stuy, pictured above, with a foreclosure judgement against it of $334,279, sold for $900,000 at auction in December.

A three-story three-family house at 284 Schaefer Street in Bushwick, closed for $910,000 that month. Close to the cemetery and apparently built in the early 20th century, the house had a lien of $10,702.

Townhouses in Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, Bushwick that would have sold for $200,000 or $300,000 in 2011 are now going for $600,000 to $900,000 at auction — tripling in four years. (That is for average houses, usually three stories and about 3,000 square feet.) The prices of large commercial properties have also risen.

Prices started to skyrocket at the end of 2012. By 2014, auction prices of many properties drew close to market rate prices, with little to no discount.

One reason, according to one auction veteran we spoke with, is the pool of buyers is increasing, because online info makes the auctions easier to find.

“New investors plus end buyers coupled with the recent steep increase in Brooklyn property values has made getting something cheap at the auction almost impossible,” Mordy Getz of Transition Acquisitions told us. The Williamsburg-based company specializes in acquiring and improving distressed residential and retail buildings in New York City.

“Once upon a time, auctions were a place for sophisticated investors,” he said. “Investors had to physically go down to the county clerk and search newspapers for upcoming auctions. There are two asset classes at auctions: Townhouses and investment properties. The fact that only sophisticated investors attended caused the price of both assets to be very cheap at auctions. With the Internet age more and more people easily find the info thereby increasing the pool of buyers. That in itself is pushing up the prices.”

He continued: “This public info has even brought some end buyers into the game for townhouses. End buyers always pay a premium, more than investors/flippers. That has caused townhouses to go for full price lately. Investment properties have also become more expensive due to the large pool of investors.”

Considering the properties are purchased blind, with no site visit or tenant info available, “it’s crazy that auction prices became so high,” he said. “Add the adrenaline rush one gets from bidding — and you have a bunch of drunk bidders,” he said, speaking metaphorically.

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark


A beautiful Amzi Hill house built in 1886 but in estate condition at 136 Macdonough Street sold for $1,650,000 at a Kings County public auction yesterday. It was an eye-popping price for a house of its type at auction — so much so that the buyer “got 60 seconds of applause,” according to a developer who attended. Another, smaller house with less elaborate detail at 716 Monroe went for $505,000 at the same event.

“A developer looking guy bought it and I hope he does not ruin this super-intact home,” another tipster said, referring to the house at 136 Macdonough Street, which is 20 feet wide and four stories.

The developer told us he was somewhat skeptical of the recent steep increases in sale prices but said offers for “finished product” and rents “are still booming,” so they seem to be justified.

One of our contacts sent us his photos of 136 Macdonough Street. Click through to the jump to see more. What do you make of the sale?



It’s rare that a brownstone comes up for auction, but the four-story Neo Grec-Italianate house at 29 Schermerhorn Street is scheduled for December 11. From what we can piece together from online documents, the history of the house is complicated, but it appears the current owner bought it in 1978, and it is being sold at the request of her guardian.

There have been several tax liens and lis pendens on the property over the years, and at least one court case related to it. The house is currently classed as “over six families without stores,” according to PropertyShark.

The official listing doesn’t give much info on the property, but a listing over at Weichert says it is divided into nine units, eight of which are studios and one of which is a garden level floor through apartment. “Deferred maintenance needed throughout,” it continues, and says “sold as is no interior viewing.” A tipster who spoke to the broker tells us it will be delivered vacant.

29 Schermerhorn Street Listing [BS&A]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark 


A once-elaborate brownstone at 272 Jefferson Avenue will be auctioned off by New York State Aug. 21. It’s not a foreclosure auction; rather, the property has been owned by New York State since 1971, and now they’re getting rid of it. At one point, it was operated as an alternative school by the state, but has been empty for a few years, a tipster told us. The garden floor “is pretty much an industrial kitchen,” but the parlor floor and staircase are intact and in “beautiful condition,” she said. We’re not sure who designed this house, but it is across the street from the George P. Chappell corner house at 271 Jefferson Avenue. They’re not giving it away; the minimum bid is $770,000.

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

According to an article in DNAinfo, the owner of the Brooklyn Lyceum, the long-standing arts venue in the historic public bath building on 4th Avenue, is trying to rally support to try to fend off a pending foreclosure auction at the end of this month. On the Lyceum website, the owner, Eric Richmond, says that much of $5 million owed stems from a dispute with his former architect Jean Miele over a next-door lot and what Richmond claims are “exorbitant architectural fees and interest.” He says that the landmarked building might become a Duane Reade–perhaps he’s been reading our coverage where that speculation was the topic of a long thread of comments. Richmond has asked supporters to attend a hearing in Brooklyn Supreme Court on February 19.

Brooklyn Luceum Owner Warns That Venue Could Become Duane Reade [DNAinfo]

Photo Via PropertyShark

The Brooklyn Lyceum on 4th Avenue and President Street on the border of Park Slope and Gowanus is headed for a foreclosure auction. The café and theater space in the former bath house is facing a lien of over $5 million. The property is owned by an LLC run by Eric Richmond who converted it to a cultural space in the 1990s–it now has three separate stages. According to The Real Deal, the lien consists of four separate mortgages taken out between 2003 and 2006. The building was a public bathhouse from 1908 until 1937 and re-opened as a city-run gymnasium in the 1940s before closing in the early 1970s. It was then used by a transmission repair business. It was placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 1985, and had been landmarked a couple of years prior to that. The building is scheduled to be auctioned on February 28 at 360 Adams Street in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Lyceum Building to Hit Auction Block [The Real Deal]
Building of the Day: 227 Fourth Avenue [Brownstoner]

Photo via PropertyShark

Kings County is auctioning off ten Brooklyn properties, all houses except for one mixed-use building, tomorrow. Most are estates; one house was in a fire. The open houses for the properties took place over the weekend. We anticipate a lot of interest in a Bed Stuy brownstone, a two-family wood frame in Bushwick, and a brick townhouse in Williamsburg. (That’s 51 Havemeyer Street, above.) Opening bids for the three are set at $370,000, $250,000 and $890,000, respectively. Participants must arrive at 12:45 to pre-register for the 2 pm auction at the Brooklyn Supreme Court Building at 360 Adams Street. They must bring a certified or bank check with 10 percent of the opening bid price and a blank check for the rest of the balance. Has anyone ever attended one of these? If anyone checks this out, let us know. (more…)

A big Brooklyn auction was held this Tuesday, and the surprising bid of the day was 463 86th Street, pictured above. Says a tipster: “463 86th Street starting bid was $1.6m. 4 sharks bid against each other and it went for the high price of $2,820,000. It’s 2006 all over again. I believe that the bidder was a front guy for Thor equities Joe Sitt.” A real estate blog confirms, and says it was the smallest purchase for Thor in NYC. The buyer was vague about development plans; right now it’s a modest building with a clothing store on the ground floor and an apartment on the second level. Of the 16 properties on the auction block, all but three were claimed. The minimum bid for the 13 purchased properties was $6.777 million, $7.225 million came in. 163A Halsey Street was picked up for $415,000, 244 Hawthorne Street for $475,000, and 151 Prospect Avenue for $340,000. See the full list of sales here.
True bidding war erupts at auction in Brooklyn [Malcolm Carter]

Are people ever going to live inside 525 Clinton Avenue? The troubled Clinton Hill high-rise sat empty for years, and then a foreclosure auction was finally scheduled last September. At that point, the lien was $25 million. Then the auction was pushed back to December. Now, according to Property Shark, it’s scheduled again, for February 23rd. The lien has risen slightly, to $25,121,971. Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries previously focused on 525 Clinton Avenue in an effort to turn the failed luxury developments into affordable housing, but what the future holds for this building is really anybody’s guess. Thoughts on why other developments have been snapped up recently and re-positioned as rentals, while this one sits on the sidelines?
Another Foreclosure Auction Set for 525 Clinton Avenue [Brownstoner]
525 Clinton Avenue [PropertyShark]
Foreclosure Auction Scheduled for 525 Clinton Avenue [Brownstoner]
Stop Work Order at 525 Clinton Avenue [Brownstoner]
525 Clinton Avenue: Something Happening Here? [Brownstoner]
Will 525 Clinton Avenue Really Go Affordable? [Brownstoner]
The Ghosts of 525 Clinton [Brownstoner] GMAP

A reader wrote in with a question about a former COTD at 302 Washington Avenue: “There is a huge sign on the DeKalb side of 302 Washington, by the bus stop, saying “3 Bedroom Apt. Auction.” This building took a long time to sell initially – I wonder what this auction thing means?” Turns out the duplex unit is in fact up for a sealed-bid auction. The minimum bid is $549,000 and the deadline is December 15th. The sales history of the condo is a little murky, but the 1,800-square-foot space was asking $899,995 as of last month. The unit’s listing is still up on the Brownstoner Marketplace with a few more details. We’ll see if someone ends up getting a really good deal.
302 Washington Avenue [Fillmore]
Auction: 302 Washington Avenue [FRE]
COTD: 302 Washington Avenue, #1 [Brownstoner]