It seems like everyone is telling us that we’re in a seller’s market. Prices are gangbusters because there’s practically no inventory, and for every piece of property on sale, there are 20 hungry buyers willing to mortgage themselves to hilt for just a shot at becoming its owner. And yet while all of this is true, inventory is down and prices are up, there are properties that are languishing with prices that are dropping. Why?
First Case: 431 Sterling Place, $649,000 Co-op
This listing has gone through 2 price drops from $749,000 originally, down to $649,000 currently. It is in a pretty respectable part of Prospect Heights, coming in at a great value of ~$763 p/sf, which is below the current median for Prospect Heights ~ $840 p/sf (for coops). It’s also a 2BD which is in high demand nowadays. And while sparse it doesn’t look like it’s in tragic shape. That said, the photos aren’t doing a lot of favors for this listing, and the furniture is doing even less. Neither really highlight the strengths of the unit, and in fact make it feel and look dated with poorly managed space. I have a hard time believing however, that this is the driving reason for the price drops.
When we first discovered Ganso ~ 2 years ago, we were thrilled. Downtown Brooklyn was (and still is really) in severe shortage of good restaurants outside Metrotech chain food lunch spots, and while the situation has improved substantially (hello Hill Country!) we’ll always have a soft spot for the early pioneering restaurants. Ganso had immediately made it to the top of our list, it fast became my husband’s go-with-any-excuse restaurant, and we went on about the spicy miso ramen and its pork belly to anyone and everyone.
And we weren’t the only ones thrilled with Ganso, NYTimes covered it where they even divulged their mouth watering recipe for home made crunch spicy chicken wings! And a slew of blogs quickly got the secret out. Its small dining area was usually packed, and the days when the owner made impromptu sake tasting events at your table were a thing of the past, but the food kept us. Until, it didn’t. One day — a few months ago we noticed that the food had changed. The beloved spicy miso ramen had new charred cabbage added, and the flavor .. was different. We inquired and it turned out the chef had been replaced, hmmm. It’s hard to let go of old habits and we wanted to STILL like this place. But things continued to change, they let go of my favorite mackerel dish, and the kimchi pork belly buns were now overwhelmed by the kimchi rather than the careful spicy belly busting balance it use to be. So we’ve slowly been letting it go. Not that the food is bad, it’s just not great any more.
As we all know in this current market, new developments in Brooklyn are few and far between, especially if you’re looking into condos. So it’s not surprising that some buyers are looking at Manhattan, the borough that DOES seem to be sprouting some very interesting new developments. One great gem from TRD’s New Development Showcase was their brochure that provided an excellent laundry list of upcoming Manhattan developments. And I’ve taken the time and effort to summarize the list in an easy to understand worksheet (Manhattan NEW CONDO DEV – Sheet1) A couple highlights:
- Harlem, at less than $1,000 p/sf is clearly where the most value is at, followed distantly by the Financial District ($1,800+ p/sf)
- Midtown (no surprise) is getting a huge infusion of new developments, accounting for nearly 30% of the upcoming planned work.
- Financial District (again no surprise) and LES / E.Village are also getting their fair share of goodies.
Keep your eyes peeled, our skyline is getting more interesting this year (and next) as commercial and residential become increasingly blur.
It seems like I and just about every agent in the tri-state area has been waiting with bated breath for The Real Deal’s (TRD) New Development Showcase. And it’s no wonder, inventory being what it is — I half wondered if they were going to show case anything or just present us with a hopeful crystal ball. It turned out a little bit of both.
First, I think the event was a resounding success. Lines were out the door and agents, developers and everyone else couldn’t get in fast enough. The panel room was so full people were teeming from the seams, and standing on tippy toe just to get half an inch closer.
When we saw the graceful house on 71 Vanderbilt list in late 2012, we wanted to see it. It was rare to see a house in this condition (based on the photos), restored to this level, and offered at that price (those were the days!). Even better it was multi-fam, and we had been toying with the idea that our next venture would be an actual house with rental income. But it was located far from the subways, near the BQE and as we soon discovered next to its’ “twin” a shack of a house that was everything 71 Vanderbilt was not.
We went with mixed expectations, but were quickly won over. The house verifiably exuded charm, everything about it was a throw back moment. We were quite taken with it, and considering how strong our tastes tend towards new development that’s saying a lot. The agent was well versed on the house and neighborhood, it’s been around since before the Civil War she said crisply, and had been featured recently as part of Clinton Hill’s Houses / Architecture tour. In fact, this house has quite a storied past, as outlined in the Brownstoner, and it was clear that the owner respected that past, and had it meticulously maintained it including the picturesque garden.
I get this question more often than I ever expected. I always felt intuitively, of course it mattered — your home is a “product” and an important element of product marketing means making it look the best it can look. Yet, I’ve encountered some resistance. I’ve heard everything from, “Well, our home is in good condition so I think people can look past a bit of mess,” to “It’s just so inconvenient, and I don’t think it really makes that much of a difference especially in this market.” Undeniably, they could be right — They just might find the right buyer who can see past all of the mess, and in this incredibly favorable sellers market they would sell. That doesn’t mean however, that staging doesn’t matter in terms of perceived value and getting the best actual offer possible. Keep reading this post
I was pretty excited to have a Banana Republic open up at our esteemed Fulton Mall. There was a Banana Republic in Brooklyn Heights and now Dobro would get one of our very own, it was definitely an entrance maker of some kind. After all the rumors of a Banana Republic I was disappointed to see that it was a Banana Republic “Factory Outlet” that opened earlier this year. I (internally) sighed deeply — another factory outlet? Why couldn’t we at least get a “co-op” like Barney’s Co-op in Cobble Hill? Frankly, I’ve never seen so many factory outlets in NYC, I thought that was a suburb thing and yet they were all cropping up in my neighborhood.
After months of denial I decided to step in and investigate further. It looked nice, well kept with the clean friendly air often found in well organized retail stores. I even spotted a few items that looked like it was the same as the “real” Banana Republic. So I decided to interrogate an associate to get to the bottom of it, “Hi — what is the difference between Banana Republic and Banana Republic Factory Outlet?”, “The prices!” she happily chirped. OK. “But they (I motion to clothes) look the same as the ones I’ve seen in the real store. Are they the same?” She looked sideways before admitting, “No. They aren’t the same, they just look the same.” OK. “But how? Are these irregular somehow or discarded from the real store?”– “No, they come from the same factory, but Banana Republic Factory clothes were intended to be sold in Banana Republic Factory Outlet, they’re not sold at the regular store.” Ah. So basically what we have here is GAP?
It seems official now, Downtown Brooklyn discount shopping is moving up in the world. En route to become the next 14th Street, Nordstrom Rack is opening up in the Fulton Mall. Less exciting, it looks like TJ Maxx is also opening. The new chains are slowly but surely stifling out old Fulton Mall standbys Jimmy Jazz, Purdy Girl and about a dozen perfumer / mobile phone / wig and hat stores. And while I hate to say this a part of me is going to be sad to these stores go. Rumor has it that a non factory outlet Banana Republic is the next retailer to be making an entrance. True?
I’d heard about this “taco place” on and off for the past couple of years. During my Brooklyn Boulder days it seemed like a favorite post-climb hang out, but for one reason or another I always chose to go to Mission Delores for my after climb cool down rather than tacos. To each their own.
So when we stumbled upon Oxaca in Bed-Stuy during one of our neighborhood exploratory jaunts we couldn’t help but be intrigued. The place is no frills, simple menus, simple seating and simple staff BUT sophisticated selection of hot sauce, caliente! Their Coke comes in refreshingly nostalgic bottles, and has sugar instead of fructose. And I was sure that was as good as it was gonna get. Between my husband and I we’ve had about 1,000 tacos / enchiladas, we were not expecting much, but hoping for very good. We were very wrong. It was delicious. So delicious that I could not believe I was eating a lowly taco. My vision blurred and at that moment, my mind made a long term memory. Judging from the silence next to me, I would say that my husband did the same. Must return for more!
As everyone who is on the hunt now for a home in Brooklyn knows, there are hardly any – IF any new developments in Brooklyn. To make matters worse most of the planned developments are rentals, desperate times are ahead. So it is a rare moment when we do see nice new developments sprouting up in Brooklyn, such as 91 Grand Avenue.
At this point 91 Grand Avenue is sold out. And the lucky owners indeed seem to be a happy bunch. I’ve taken a couple clients to see the digs, and each time I go there’s a new owner perusing the development verifiably skipping down the hallways and waiting with bated breath to move in.
I myself am partial to new developments and was quite impressed with the quality of these. While not amenity packed it was clearly well thought out, and planned to appeal to the buyer who knows they won’t spend that much time in the residents lounge, screening room or other common elements that I myself fall victim to. The floors are a natural oak, the windows are generous though not all are floor to ceiling, the units with the outdoor space were quite expansive, and the finishes were good quality, stainless steel, detachable faucet head, and tiled backsplash. Some units even had skylights and windows in the kitchen.
The only challenge that might gave me pause was the distance to the subway — though in Brooklyn buses are a reality. And there aren’t any tax abatements so taxes might be steeper than some people hoped. Otherwise I too would be skipping if I owned one of these.