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A look back at the biggest stories of 2014, in no particular order:

1. Property prices and rents continue to climb and surpass the highs of 2007, with prices in “prime” Brooklyn now exceeding $1,000 per square foot. The Pierhouse condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park, pictured above, sets records with average prices per square foot (in contract) at $1,850. A four-bedroom penthouse there is in contract for $11,180,000. The median for all types of homes in the borough stands at $587,515 at the end of the third quarter, a 4 percent increase over the year before and a record for Brooklyn, according to Douglas Elliman. It is also 8.8 percent above the high before the financial crisis — and Brooklyn is the only borough where sale prices are now higher than they were before the crash. At the same time, a lot of high priced houses (asking over $10,000,000) FAIL to sell. (Truman Capote’s old rental, 70 Willow Street, continues to hold the record for priciest townhouse at $12,500,000, set in 2012.)

2. The price gap between “emerging” and “prime” Brooklyn narrows. A narrow but nicely renovated house at 242 Gates Avenue in Bed Stuy, not far from the Clinton Hill border at Classon, sells for $3,000,000, topping the previous record of $2,250,000 (22 Arlington) by $750,000, while equivalent townhouses in Park Slope continue to sell for between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000. The median sale price of a townhouse in Crown Heights, Bed Stuy, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Bushwick leaps 86 percent in one year to $1,850,000, according to a third quarter market report from Corcoran.

3. The construction boom that took off last year advances to Bed Stuy, Bushwick, PLG, and Flatbush. Brookland Capital leads the pack — in sheer number of projects with more than 40 in the pipeline.  Walks through Bushwick over the summer and fall reveals two or three construction or renovation projects on just about every block.

4. National retailers and other big firms replace mom and pops in Williamsburg. Apple finally inks a lease for its first Brooklyn outpost, on Bedford Avenue. Starbucks, J.Crew, Madewell, Urban Outfitters open; Dumont, Moon River Chattel, and Northside Pharmacy close. Glasslands and Death by Audio prepare for their last shows.

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Bed Stuy has been having a year or two of “record growth,” both in prices and volume of deals, said a story in real estate trade pub The Real Deal. Upward prices and lots of construction in the neighborhood “are signs that record growth could continue.” The story’s headline is “Betting on the Bed Stuy Boom.”

What is happening in Bed Stuy mirrors much of the rest of Brooklyn, where deals are setting new price records and the number of deals is rising.

While acknowledging Bed Stuy’s special architecture, a “wealth of highly detailed brownstones,” the story also mentioned “limestone row houses,” which do exist but are more typical of Crown Heights, and focused on condos, which at least for now make up a very small proportion of the housing in the area. As an example of Bed Stuy’s record setting prices, the article cited “condos that top $1 million” (a record set in June 2013) rather than row houses that cost $3 million (last week).

The story spoke with five real estate agents, all of whom said condo prices — now $500 to $700 a square foot — have nowhere to go but up.

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An unnamed real estate firm is setting up shop at 11 Greene Avenue, a worker inside told us when we stopped by recently. This is in one of the 19th century storefronts in three Italianate row houses near the intersection of Fulton Street in Fort Greene.

Unfortunately, the new cement window surround looks out of place, but at least it didn’t replace anything historic. The retail space, previously the longtime home of Jessy’s House of Styles unisex salon and barbershop, had a modern metal facade. GMAP

Update: A Corcoran spokesperson just confirmed this will be Corcoran’s sales office for the Lefferts Place Mews condos in Clinton Hill.

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It’s cheaper to buy than to rent in 94 of the top 100 largest metro areas in the U.S., according to a report from Zillow quoted in a story in Business Insider. Renters spend 29.5 percent of income on rent, on average, vs. only 15.3 percent of income home owners spend on mortgages. (The comparison doesn’t seem to take into consideration repairs, heat, insurance and other costs — or the homeowner’s tax deduction either.)

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Greenpoint has a charming old-world European feel, as anyone who has visited its Polish grocery stores knows, but house prices have moved into the stratosphere in the last two years, despite new apartment developments. A look at the area in the Times real estate section yesterday started off with a slightly misleading anecdote about a couple who almost gave up but then found their dream house there – in 2011.

Prices for two and three family row houses, most clad in vinyl siding and often in need of renovation, have risen from $750,000 to $850,000 in 2012 to $1,300,000 to $2,000,000 today, according to the story. The story also described other amenities in the area, including “destination restaurants” — and the ever-popular “destination” donut maker, Peter Pan — as well parks and schools.

The coming of 5,500 new units over 22 acres at Greenpoint Landing was noted briefly in passing without additional comment. Notably, the story did not mention “Girls.”

Living in Greenpoint [NY Times]
Photo by Bridge and Tunnel Club

This Romanesque Revival home and former House of the Day at 66 Midwood Street has just sold for $2,300,000, beating the neighborhood record for Prospect Lefferts Gardens by $450,000. The landmarked five-bedroom, five-bath house hit the market in March for $1,975,00. The 1898 townhouse is dripping with original details, including ornate wooden mantles, dressing rooms and four functioning fireplaces. It hit the public records last week. Its sale price blew through the previous record of $1,850,000, set by Dixon with its purchase of 36 Rutland Road in January.

66 Midwood Street [Halstead] GMAP
House of the Day: 66 Midwood Street [Brownstoner]

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The creme de la creme of Brooklyn listings is clotted. The handful of Brooklyn properties at the very top of the market, asking between $10,000,000 and $16,000,000 and sometimes more, aren’t moving. There’s a multi-million-dollar gap between asking and closing prices at the tippy top of the Brooklyn market.

The Real Deal took a look at the top 10 Brooklyn listing prices and the top 10 Brooklyn closed sales, and found a discrepancy. Since 70 Willow Place — where Truman Capote famously rented — closed for $12,500,000 in 2012, several higher priced properties have failed to sell, and it remains the borough record.

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Not all Brooklyn neighborhoods are equal: The much-vaunted inventory shortage is easing off in some areas while it’s only getting worse in others. Inventory in Red Hook, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Prospect Heights and Park Slope decreased the most in the last year, according to a detailed and fascinating look at Brooklyn real estate in The Real Deal. Guess where inventory is actually increasing?

Bushwick and Bed Stuy led the pack, with whopping increases of 45.5 percent and 41.5 percent in inventory over the last year.

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The Midtown-based real estate company RES opened up a storefront last month at 291 5th Avenue between 1st and 2nd streets in Park Slope. The company handles sales, rentals, commercial property and development. While the company has an office near Times Square, this location is its first storefront. As part of its Brooklyn expansion, the brokerage has hired several new agents and is already searching for more locations in the borough. Click through the jump for interior photos. GMAP

Photos by RES

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Average co-op prices in north and northwest Brooklyn have spiked 71 percent since January to $687,000 and the average condo in Brooklyn now costs $1,080,000, according to a report from Ideal Properties. Both DNAinfo and The New York Daily News carried stories on the report, which is not yet available online.

A lack of inventory, especially of townhouses, is driving the increase, said an executive with the firm. Bidding wars are routine in Brooklyn, where inventory in general is lower than in Manhattan, an executive from Warburg Realty told DNAinfo.

Brooklyn Now the Borough of Kingly Prices [NY Daily News]
Brooklyn Co-op Prices Rise 71 Percent in Past Year, Reports Show [DNAinfo]