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Bensonhurst, a middle class Italian enclave for generations, is booming with Chinese immigrants. A similar transformation occurred in Manhattan’s Little Italy decades earlier. Bensonhurst is now officially 36 percent Asian, although informal estimates put it even higher, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Signs for businesses along 73rd and 74th streets reflect the changing demographics. “At the Sciacca Social Club, a large poster celebrates Italy’s 2006 World Cup win, while a few doors down, signs for both the Brooklyn Center for Musical Arts and C&K Art Center are written in both English and Chinese characters,” said the story.

Chinese are increasingly drawn to the area as they are priced out of Sunset Park. Real estate prices in the area are rising, driven “in part” by demand from Chinese buyers, according to brokers interviewed by the Journal. About 13 percent of the locals are Hispanic and 49 percent are white, according to Census data. Interestingly, the Asian influx is fairly recent, with the population “growing 57 percent between 2000 and 2010,” said the Journal.

The median sale price for homes is $699,000, which is 17 percent higher than the median for all of Brooklyn. The commute to midtown is about an hour on the subway.

The quality of life in the neighborhood is good, the streets are clean, and politicians listen to the locals, said the story. A BJ’s Wholesale Club plans to open in mid-September in a new shopping center on Shore Parkway and 24th Avenue.

One development residents are not so happy about, though, is a garbage-processing facility on Shore Parkway. Construction is supposed to start before the fall, and end in mid-2017. Locals say they are concerned about increased pollution from the plant.

Although not mentioned in the story, the area does have some older housing stock, including turn-of-the-last-century brick row houses and early 20th century apartment buildings. Would you consider living in Bensonhurst?

Signs Denote Changing Times in Bensonhurst [WSJ]
Photo by David Tan

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Brooklyn blogger and real estate consultant Jonah Landman of BK to the Fullest and real estate agent Steven Szczur have launched an online real estate matchmaking service for Brooklyn. HomeCanvasr gives members access to secret, off-market listings not available elsewhere and also lets buyers publish what they’re looking for.

The idea for the site came about as a way to automate the service Landman offers his one-on-one clients, who pay $2,000 and up for individual consulting, and also as a place to use all the off-market listings Landman finds. Szczur, a licensed agent who works in New Jersey, was already working on a similar service on his own.

The site, which went live Monday, officially launched today with about 30 listings and 40 buyer members. (Pictured above is a property on the site, a single-family house in Bed Stuy asking $850,000.) Anyone can join and see partial listings, although to see addresses and connect with sellers, members must pay an initial $200 fee plus $50 a month. Buyers fill out a questionnaire that is similar to the “intake” screening Landman uses with his clients. In addition to the obvious questions about housing type, neighborhood, and price range, it also asks buyers what they have purchased before, what they will compromise on, and what is a must-have.

Landman gets his listings from brokers who hope to find a buyer without an agent so they don’t have to split the commission and from property owners he calls “sell-curious.” The plan is to expand to Manhattan and then to other cities where demand is intense but inventory is scarce, such as San Francisco and D.C., said Szczur.

BK to the Fullest Buys a House [Brownstoner]

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As readers here may recall, Seth Weissman of Weissman Equities has been buying up and renovating mixed-use buildings in east Bed Stuy with a goal toward revitalizing the neighborhood by bringing new retail into long-empty spaces, much as his firm did in the Pines on Fire Island. Now he’s created an investment company called CityShares whose first fund will be focused on Bed Stuy specifically, he told us.

To advertise the fund, he’s created a video about Bed Stuy that features local residents and business owners Brownstoner readers will recognize, including cafe owner Superfrench, Halstead agent and preservationist Morgan Munsey, and Seasons garden center owner Deborah Young. Small-time investors with $100,000 or more to invest can buy shares in the $5 million fund, which he will use to buy properties.

The fund is officially launching this week, and will close in July. Weissman already has about 20 investors, he said. Once the money is in place, CityShares will use it to buy eight to 10 buildings in the neighborhood, both mixed-use and multifamily. The focus will on cash flow from rent and improving cash flow by making improvements over time, he said.

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Brooklyn-based real estate firm Realty Collective will open an office in Clinton Hill, its fourth location. The official opening of the office at 466 Grand Avenue will take place Sunday April 27, the firm said in a press release.

The new location will also handle business in Fort Greene, Bed Stuy, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights. Its other three offices are clustered in Red Hook, the Columbia Street Waterfront District and Carroll Gardens.

 “Over the past few years, our agents have been migrating into Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy and Crown Heights. So have our listings,” said Realty Collective founder Victoria Hagman in a statement. “It just made sense to open a branch closer to the action.”  GMAP

Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

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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?

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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

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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

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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?

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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