'Selling New York' Episode 10: Just Build Another One
Finally, it dawned on the CORE Group brokers and GHK Realty's Kleier crew that with so little inventory for sale within the high-end market, and no one buying what is available, the best way to get big dough from those needy, wealthy investors is to facilitate the building of that dream home themselves.
With "Build It Yourself New York," as we'll call it today, we are taken once again out of Manhattan. This time it is to the less-frenetic and more suburban Brooklyn, to check out some truly to-die-for Italianate brownstones, courtesy of CORE. Then we travel with the Kleiers way out east, to the pricey and hoity-toity beach towns in the Hamptons.
CORE begins their storyline with plates of untouched croissants and a meeting with a newly formed investor group. They have grand plans to invade Brooklyn's popular brownstones in hopes of making gobs of money from renting them. CORE Group's John Gomes is advising them on their endeavor but notes that often investors have lofty goals. They must choose between investing in the labor involved with a fixer-upper or opting for for a turnkey brownstone.
Corcoran associate broker Deanna Bowman is the Brooklyn lady of the half-hour. At first glance, it looks like Deanna has gone bald or is fresh out of the shower and wearing a white bathrobe. Upon closer examination her platinum locks are stylishly slicked back and she's wearing a sophisticated white coat. Sorry, Deanna; very chic!
She first shows John a property at 270 Sterling Place in Prospect Heights. This is the fixer-upper.
It's listed at $1.8 million and is 4,200 square feet with much of its original woodwork and refined details like a marble fireplace, tin ceilings, and some awesome pocket doors.
The potential to cut the badboy up into five individual units is there, but it won't come cheap since the building is seriously run-down.
Bowman shows John another property. This one is less challenging to envision for investors. It's 180 St. Marks Ave. and it shines in all its fixed-up glory. So the venture capitalists must decide: fixer-upper or turnkey?
Fortunately, CORE Group's Doug Bowen knows Brooklyn and rides into a meeting on his Vespa to share his expertise. With a team of architects they conclude that 180 St. Marks doesn't need any work because it's actually overbuilt. Meanwhile, 270 Sterling is a rough gem that can be polished and transformed into five rental units for just $1 million and roughly a year of construction.
The fixer-upper wins the challenge. For the record, both properties have been sold! (New show: "Buying Brooklyn," anyone?)
Captain Obvious: The new name for John because he channels his inner cartographer when explaining just how close Brooklyn is to Manhattan: It is "literally just across the Brooklyn Bridge." Magellan!
Meanwhile and, of course, no where near Manhattan, we find Samantha Kleier Forbes scoping out palatial compounds for her old friend Danielle Anderman. Danielle is clearly way rich and way lucky. She's spent the last decade throwing away six figures each summer to rental homes in the Hamptons because it's "easier." Smartypants Samantha suggests that she cut it out already and be a good friend by buying something, so that Samantha can enjoy a fat commission and maybe buy something for herself.
Samantha gets serious with Danielle and boldly tells her it's time to buy. It's not like Danielle can't afford it! (She's rented the same home Angelina Jolie & Co. once rented!) Of course because Danielle is wealthy that means she is too busy to look for property herself.
Samantha leaps at the opportunity to find Danielle a property. She meets with Brown Harris Stevens broker Chris Burnside in Sagaponack to check out an $8.95 million place that isn't even on the beach. (One house away, Samantha boasts, like it's a good thing.)
There's a pool, but no outdoor space for all the children that Danielle and her sister have. It's 5,000 square feet with six bedrooms and views of Sag Pond.
The second property Samantha finds is perfect and quintessentially Hamptons. This one is $10.95 million and 8,000 square feet. There are seven bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, an elevator, but only one master suite.
Danielle must have two master suites! Her sister has to have the same as her when she comes to visit. One sister scoring a bedroom, replete with a heated-floor bathroom and a sitting room, while the other one gets just a big, lovely room, won't make for a pleasant and relaxing summer.
Alas, Chris' summer is ruined too as he won't get the commission -- his property just isn't enough for Danielle. He makes an offhand remark: Danielle should just take her high-maintenance self and buy a piece of land and build her own place. Score! Samantha is dazzled by this idea. Danielle will totally dig the opportunity to build a Barbie dream house!
In the end, those two other dumps were too modern, too much house and SO Un-Hamptonsy says Danielle contradicting Samantha's instinct that they were SO Hamptonsy. (So what is so Hamptonsy then, readers?)
A sale is made. Danielle buys two acres in Bridgehampton that are empty and raring for development. Building will start later this year. That means just one or two more summers of six-figure renting!
Best line emoted from a Kleier: "I don't take elevators in houses," Samantha tells Chris dismissively. For once, we hear passion vs. the boredom of Upper East Side privilege in her tone. Actually, she tells him this twice.
Listen Samantha: If twice you come across an elevator in a beach home in one day, just ride it. Momma Kleier would have, since she always forgets and wears highheels on carpet.
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