04/11/14 9:00am

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We’re sure you’re tired of hearing how expensive Brooklyn is getting, and the last market report out for the quarter only confirms it.

In a kind of good news-bad news scenario, prices per square foot in all of Brooklyn fell in the first quarter compared to the year before, while average prices for townhouses and other homes shot up amazingly in “emerging” Brooklyn — that is, Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Bushwick. The 5 percent decline in average square foot prices (to $635) should be good news for priced-out buyers, but it’s really not.

The reason for the decline, according to the report from Corcoran, is that lack of inventory in the borough’s most expensive neighborhoods has pushed buyers into more affordable ones, such as Sunset Park, East New York and Coney Island.

It was the first drop in nearly two years, The Real Deal reported.

The category of home that is rising in price most quickly is one- to four-family townhouses. “The average price of a single-family townhouse grew to $2.2 million from $1.5 million year-over-year,” said The Real Deal. Median prices for new development also rose, increasing by 15 percent to $875,000.

You haven’t been imagining things: Townhouses in Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, Bushwick, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens saw huge price gains. The average price of a single family townhouse in these areas, which Corcoran now tracks as one submarket, increased 51 percent in the year, to $1,138,000 from $755,000. The average price of a two- to four-family townhouses increased 41 percent, from $760,000 to $1,074,000.

Perhaps because of the low inventory, the market share of northwest Brooklyn declined in the first quarter while areas in southern Brooklyn grew, to 30 percent from 18 percent over the year.

Here is Gawker’s take on the news:

Brooklyn used to be “cool.” Now Brooklyn is expensive and horrible. Here, based on the latest figures out today, is a fun bar trivia game to play: ask someone, “Do you know what the median rent in Brooklyn is?” Then, as they’re thinking about it, ostentatiously empty a container of cyanide into your beer….Nothing screams “a welcoming place of refuge for young people and their artistic youthful energy” like a $2,900 a month median rent.

How do you feel about it?

04/10/14 11:30am

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Average sales prices in Brooklyn hit an all-time high in the first quarter, according to a report out today from trade association the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). In the world of condos, that meant an average condo sale is now $734,000, an uptick of 8 percent over the same period last year, the highest in all the boroughs.

Inventory was still low in the first quarter. Median sales prices for the quarter reached a six-year high while inventory declined to a six-year low in Brooklyn, said a report from Douglas Elliman. Listing inventory was 4,092 units for the quarter, down 13.2 percent vs. the same period last year. Days on market was 131, down 18.1 percent. The luxury median sales price shot up 8 percent, to $1,650,000.

The average sales price for one-to-three family townhouses in Brooklyn rose six percent, to $748,000, according to the report. The neighborhoods that saw the most sales were Bed Stuy, with 183 sales, Park Slope (142), Gravesend/Mapleton (105), East New York/Spring Creek (102), Bushwick/Wyckoff Heights (100) and Williamsburg, with 96 sales.

Brooklyn rents increased 6.39 percent in March, vs. the same period a year earlier, said a report out from MNS.

Graphic by Douglas Elliman

04/09/14 9:00am

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For years people have been wondering who is buying luxury condos and multi-million-dollar townhouses in Brooklyn. Frequently the answer was people who had sold a one- or two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. But times have changed, and the new buyer in Brooklyn more closely resembles the traditional buyer in Manhattan: Buyers with a household income of $300,000 or more who work in finance, accounting, sales, law or marketing, according to a report from Brooklyn real estate firm Ideal Properties.

“The number of these high-income earners who bought homes in these areas shot up more than 316 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous year,” said a story about the report in DNAinfo. “They accounted for 30 percent of the buyers.”

The number of buyers earning between $100,000 and $199,000 accounted for only 1 percent more of buyers, 31 percent. However, even buyers who can afford a given property may find themselves having to settle for something else because buyers with bigger assets or who can pay all cash have the edge, according to DNAinfo.

Interestingly, almost 25 percent of buyers in the first quarter were self employed, with the vast majority (74 percent) of those identifying as principals or owners of their own companies. This was a 16 percent increase from the fourth quarter and a 45 percent increase from the year earlier.

Slightly under half of all purchases were made by couples; singles accounted for 40 percent of buys.

Most buyers — 39 percent — already lived in Brooklyn. Seventeen percent came from Manhattan, 9 percent from California, and 12 percent from outside the U.S.

The numbers are based on information submitted to Ideal Properties Group from buyers. The area studied is the North and Northwest sections of Brooklyn only. Areas such as Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, PLG and Bay Ridge were not included.

Profile of Home Buyers in Brooklyn Q1 Report [Ideal Properties]

04/03/14 9:00am

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Prices are up, crime is down, and business is booming in Crown Heights, according to an article in The New York Post. “Crown Heights’ reputation has greatly improved in the past two years, but it always boasted great housing stock,” said the Post.

The paper recounts the story of an artist, whom it calls a “pioneer,” who bought a brownstone in the neighborhood 12 years ago as a studio and investment property while living in Park Slope. Eleven years later, he and his family bought another townhouse and moved. They paid $400,000 for the first house, $840,000 for the second, and now “recently comparable brownstones have sold in the $1,200,000 to $1,600,000 million range,” said the story. As the years went by “there was a lot less crime, walking down the street was more comfortable. There were more shops opening. It just felt better,” he said.

Investors and developers are also doing more in the area, and land prices are up. More than 15 condo developments are currently in the works, with a seven-unit building at 875 St. Marks Avenue slated to open in the next two months with prices starting at $449,000 for a one-bedroom.

The story also notes that Brownstoner’s 1000 Dean Street office space will open this month, and Brooklyn Flea’s Berg’n beer hall and restaurant will open in May.

But, with brownstones in Fort Greene and elsewhere going for $3,000,000 and up, the neighborhood is still relatively affordable. “If you want a really classic Brooklyn brownstone, it’s one of the last affordable neighborhoods where you can get it,” the story quoted Douglas Elliman broker Alex Maroni as saying.

Brooklyn Neighborhood With a Bad Rap Finally Makes Good [NY Post]

03/12/14 9:30am

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Halstead is opening an office in Bed Stuy at 316 Stuyvesant Avenue, the company told us. The former Bed Stuy team of Evans & Nye — Ban Leow, Morgan Munsey and Donna Myrie — will work out of the space. Halstead executive director of sales in Brooklyn, Trish Martin, will oversee the office, said DNAinfo, which was the first to write about the opening.

This will be Halstead’s sixth office in Brooklyn. It will open sometime in April, said Munsey. The large, Manhattan-based company joins many other medium- and neighborhood-based real estate firms in the area, including Aptsandlofts.com, Evans & Nye, Flateau Realty Corp., and Stuyvesant Heights Brokerage.

Bed Stuy Team of Evans & Nye Decamps to Halstead Property [Brownstoner]
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

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In yet another sign of Bed Stuy’s increasing hotness, real estate wise, Fillmore Real Estate has signed a five-year lease at 366 Lewis Avenue, between Macon and Halsey. That’s the old Tin City ice cream and sundries space next to Therapy Wine Bar, for those of you who’ve been around for a while.

This will be Fillmore’s 12th office in Brooklyn. The match was made by local agency Evans & Nye, who also took a moment to update us on their own office space situation.

Owner William Ryan Hobbs and agent Suzette Bather are open for business at Evans & Nye’s Bed Stuy office at 378 Tompkins, following the departure of agents Ban Leow, Morgan Munsey and Donna Myrie for Halstead earlier this month.

In November, Williamsburg-based real estate firm Aptsandlofts.com opened an office at 308 Malcolm X Boulevard. A few months prior, real estate developer Brookland Capital bought the building and opened its own offices there. GMAP

02/05/14 10:00am

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After years of helping others buy houses, the mysterious blogger behind BK to the Fullest has finally bought one himself. When we first spoke back in August, he said didn’t own.

What neighborhood? Crown Heights, naturally — the one he’s always writing about it. The closing was Thursday.

If you’ve come across the Brooklyn real estate blog, which profiles townhouses for sale in Brooklyn, you may have wondered who is behind it. Is the author a real estate agent? An appraiser? Who are these “platinum members” he keeps talking about? Platinum members of what? (more…)

02/05/14 9:00am

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In one of its “Living in” columns, The New York Times took a look at Kensington, a slice of a neighborhood sitting between Green-Wood Cemetery and a corner of Prospect Park, with Windsor Terrace to the north and Ditmas Park to the south.

“Kensington is the last affordable neighborhood before you get to Windsor Terrace and Park Slope if you’re trying to move closer to the city,” the story quoted a broker, Liam McCarthy, who founded the agency JMKBK, as saying.

The “historically working class area” has a large number of immigrants from more than 15 countries, including Russia, Mexico, Pakistan, Haiti and Poland, said the Times. It is also attracting “increasing number[s] of young professionals, many of them unable to afford Brooklyn neighborhoods closer to Manhattan, like Park Slope and Windsor Terrace,” said the Times.

Prices range from $750,000 to $1,200,000 for a townhouse, according to the story. A two- or three-bedroom co-op or condo will set you back $400,000 to $650,000. There are also plenty of rentals, with two-bedroom apartments going for about $2,000 a month, said the Times.

Would anyone familiar with the area care to chime in? What do you think of Kensington?

Living in: Affordability in Kensington [NY Times]
Photo by Google Maps

378-tompkins-avenue-012814The Bed Stuy team of real estate firm Evans & Nye, which has been setting price records left and right for Bed Stuy brownstones and getting tons of ink in the New York Times, has moved to Halstead, Evans & Nye co-founder Ban Leow confirmed. He said Halstead did not purchase Evans & Nye and that more details would be forthcoming later.

No word yet on what will become of the Evans & Nye office at 378 Tompkins Avenue (pictured), just down the street from Bed-Vyne Brew, where they frequently held parties. Halstead has five Brooklyn offices, all in the more established areas of Brooklyn, including one in the Heights and two in Park Slope. Leow, Morgan Munsey, and Donna Myrie made the move.

Photo by Carl Ice

01/24/14 9:30am

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The median price in Brooklyn increased less than half a percent in 2013, going from $458,000 to $460,000. But that sleep-inducing overall number doesn’t tell the whole story: Prices in some neighborhoods increased dramatically. Carroll Gardens, for example, was up 43 percent in the year, to $985,000, making it now the borough’s most expensive area, The Daily News reported.

“Don’t believe the hype” about escalating prices, said the story. “In the prime areas, there’s just nothing to buy, and that’s really holding down prices,” the story quoted Corcoran broker James Cornell as saying. In Cobble Hill, prices were down 29 percent, to $537,000, because “nothing was for sale,” said the Daily News. Sales were up in Carroll Gardens was because there were so many new developments on the market.

Greenpoint followed in second place with an increase of 38 percent to $665,000. Prices were also up dramatically in East New York, by 38 percent, to $355,000. The News said buyers appeared to be “speculators.” The explanation from MNS CEO Andrew Barrocas: ”The L train is lined with gold.”

Prices fell in Ditmas Park and Kensington and some Sandy-ravaged areas such as Gerritsen Beach. Coney Island and Brighton Beach improved slightly.

Stable Real Estate Prices Hide Big Changes in Many City Neighborhoods [NY Daily News]

01/09/14 11:30am

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A report out today from Douglas Elliman echoes what many others have shown in the last few months: Brooklyn prices are skyrocketing. In the fourth quarter of 2013, home prices set an 11-year record, as The Real Deal noted. The median home price — for all types of dwellings — is now $570,110, an 11.2 percent increase over $512,500, which is what the median was in the fourth quarter 2012.

Ideal Properties also jumped into the report game today with “Brownstone Brooklyn and Beyond.

“Rental prices increased rapidly with inventory dwindling throughout 2013 and a number of factors attracting new residents to Brownstone Brooklyn, including more job opportunities in technology, film and the arts, and improved shopping around Barclays Center, Borough Hall and other retail corridors. A growing desire for historic homes and neighborhood experience were also strong contributors,” said Ideal Properties Group Managing Director Aleksandra Scepanovic.

She predicted rental and sales prices will continue to increase in 2014.

01/09/14 10:00am

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WNYC has been doing a series on middle-income neighborhoods in New York City. Yesterday it was Bed Stuy’s turn.

They spoke to three residents about their households — two who with their families have been in the neighborhood for many years and own property there, and a couple who just arrived and is renting. While the story doesn’t get specific about all their incomes, ironically it looks like the renters, who are public interest lawyers, have the highest incomes, but are also living paycheck to paycheck with crazy student loan debt and relatively high housing costs. They are struggling to save a down payment to buy something, and note that by the time they do, if they do, they won’t be able to afford to buy anything in Bed Stuy.

All those interviewed identify as middle class, as most U.S. residents do, although a sociologist would probably disagree. The series assumes that “middle income” is also “middle class,” which is not necessarily the case, depending on how you define class.

One of the long-time residents plans to pass her house on to her children. The other one intends to cash out and move someplace warmer.

The story extensively quoted Evans & Nye co-owner and Bed Stuy resident Ban Leow, whose agency has been setting price records left and right for exquisite brownstones in the area. With a refreshing honesty, he acknowledged real estate firms play a role in gentrification. “A lot of middle class people are looking for homes around here, it also seems they’re being priced out,” he said. ”The vigorous activity of Bed-Stuy became suddenly so hot, we are partly the reason for it as well…Brokers are always the person that brings the right people in, creates this vibrant mix of people, and hence business will come in, prices will go up and you are liked by some, hated by many.”

The story also has many beautiful photos of Bed Stuy’s amazing architecture. (Above, some brownstones we photographed — but click through to the WNYC story to see their great photos.)

The bottom line, according to the story? Bed Stuy is not going to remain middle income for long.

The Middle Class Squeeze in Bedford-Stuyvesant [WNYC]