House Hunters: Fixer-Upper Apartments

Buying a Fixer Upper Apartment: Tips from an Experienced Renovator/Real Estate Agent

Many people think of “fixer uppers” as tackling a gut renovation of an historic Bed-Stuy brownstone or Ditmas Park Victorian, but fixer uppers come in all shapes and sizes, so if you’re looking to purchase an apartment consider a co-op or condo in need of work. The majority of buyers do not want to take on projects as minor as small repairs, paint, and floors. Even in our current more buyer-driven real estate market, it’s no surprise that the most stylishly renovated homes are still seeing high demand. And who doesn’t want a move-in ready Instagram-worthy home?   

I worked with this client to create an updated space that sold for almost $200K above the pre-renovation value.

If you can see past dated cabinets, vinyl tile, poor layout, and even sad staging, you might be able to score a better deal, build equity, and achieve your dream home. If you have the enterprise but lack vision, work with an experienced real estate agent who can help you see past the crud, estimate costs, and connect you with renovation professionals. As it happens, I am an experienced renovator and real estate agent (!!) and here are a few fixer-upper apartment tips:

Tip #1: Establish a Budget

Whether you’re buying with cash or financing, you need a budget. Work with a qualified lender to determine your maximum purchasing power and how much cash you’ll have left after your down payment and closing costs. Establishing whether you have $5,000 or $100,000 for renovations will help determine how much work you can do – from a flooring and paint refresh to a full fresh start. If you cannot live in the unit during renovations, be sure to plan and budget for alternate housing (including extra takeout while you wait for your new kitchen or a nice gift for the friend who lets you crash).     

Refinishing the floors, a new railing, and fresh white paint were all budget solutions with a huge impact in this narrow condo.

Tip #2: Scour the Real Estate Listings

An experienced real estate agent knows how to scour hundreds of listings to find a unit with real potential. Here are a few insider tips:

Look for “sponsor unit” co-ops. A sponsor unit is still owned by the original owner or the corporation that first converted the building into co-ops. These are sometimes in original condition or renovated with minimal basic finishes. This is a chance to start fresh or add your own personal touches if some of the more major work has already been done. As an added benefit, sponsor units do not require co-op board approval and will often allow for less than a 20% down payment. 

Estate. Condition. These two words could be your best friends if you’re on the fixer-upper hunt. These units are not necessarily being sold by the heirs to a deceased owner. “Estate condition” more often refers to the condition – ranging from total wreck to in dire need of style and function updates.

Units that have been actively on the market more than 90 days without much interest might be suffering from dated finishes – or even just poor staging – and could be a good opportunity to grab a great apartment if you’re the buyer who is able to visualize the potential. A word of caution: Not every fixer upper has potential. Look for a good existing layout (or one that can be easily changed). Moving plumbing and electric are two big ticket items, and very often it is difficult, if not impossible, to move toilets and sinks in an apartment. Ask to see the building’s renovation policy and any history of renovations in the building before making an offer or signing the contract.

Search units just above your preferred max price. You might find a negotiable fixer-upper in a neighborhood you thought was our of your price range, and you can make upgrades over time. Some “move-in ready” units might have inexpensive or outmoded finishes, but have natural light, great views, a highly desirablelocation, potential to create a second or third bedroom, or original details. A unique or redeeming factor is a must and will add to future resale value. 

Gutting the lower level transformed a dingy duplex basement into a fresh lounge, and increased the pre-renovation value by almost $200K.

Tip #3: No Pain, No Gain

Whether you are handy or need to hire everything out, every renovation takes time and money, and makes a mess – so just embrace the temporary madness. Minimize stress by making a solid plan BEFORE putting a hammer through a wall. Make a list of everything you think you want to do and spend some time surfing Pinterest for design ideas. Then, get multiple bids and decide where you’re willing to compromise and cut down your wish list. Choose finishes – tile, paint colors, light fixtures, etc. – before you start work. Because unexpected issues come up with every renovation, front-end planning will help you manage changes during work. Are renovation pains worth it? Yes! You have potential to build instant equity while creating a customized apartment and achieving your dream home. Whether you’re ready to dip your paintbrush or tear down walls, there is a renovation project to fit every budget and level of enthusiasm.  

Easy Cosmetic Fixes

  • Paint. Paint. Paint. It’s no joke that paint is the cheapest and easiest way to refresh and reimagine your space. Don’t be afraid to use color…appropriately.
  • Refinish wood floors. Changing the stain color can take your apartment from dated 1980s oak to light Scandi-modern or rich traditional. 
  • Kitchen cabinet refresh. If your cabinets are in good shape, altering the color and updating hardware is an economical way to achieve a big impact. Hire a professional who specializes in cabinet painting. Trust me.
  • Bathroom tile and vanity. If your tile is satisfactory, new grout can go a long way to making the entire space feel new again without creating a huge mess. Changing out the vanity, medicine cabinet, and light fixture might be all you need to to go from blah to spa.

  Bang for Your Buck

  • Lighting. Think about improving the amount, quality, and placement of light, in additional to stylish fixtures. 
  • Built-ins. Custom or semi-custom, when you live in an apartment, storage is everything and built-ins can be life-changing. 
  • Exposing brick, beams, or other original features. Create something your friends will want to Instagram. Unique features can also set your apartment above the competition upon resale.
  • Doors, Moldings, and Hardware – oh my! These items are often overlooked, but details are like the accessories that perfect an outfit and make an apartment look like a million bucks. 

  Pricier Projects

  • Replace kitchen cabinets. There are endless cabinet options to fit every budget. Just be sure to buy quality so they last for more than 6 months. Replace the countertops, sink, faucet, and everything else while you’re at it. It’s true that kitchens and baths sell, so if you don’t over-invest in finishes you will likely see a return.
  • Air Conditioning. If the building will allow AC, consider installing a ductless system. It changes quality of life, can reduce electric bills, and improvesresale value. 
  • Windows. If you’re buying into an older condo building, consider replacing old windows with sound and heat-reducing windows. 
  • Electric. Make sure your home inspector checks the electric. Installing a new electric panel and rewiring an apartment is doable but not cheap. 
  • Structure, foundation, roof, heat, hot water, sewer line. Keep in mind that when you’re buying an apartment, you’re also buying into a building. Review building documents for recent or planned work and have your home inspector look at these elements. The overall health of the building can affect maintenance/common charges and financial assessments on owners to pay for projects. 

One-Room Design Giveaway!


Free Buyer Consultation + Design Consultation = Win-Win

Receive a 1-hour design consultation  + custom mood board by Interior Designer PJ Mehaffey of Alchemy Eclectic! PJ will visit one room of your choice in your Brooklyn or Manhattan home (hopefully your new home!) to discuss your needs, wishes, goals and glam desires, and then create a custom mood board with style and product recommendations so you can create the room of your dreams! Winner will be chosen by random drawing and announced via Instagram on October 2, 2018. No purchase necessary. Please see all the boring (but very official) giveaway rules below.

Two ways to win your Design Consultation:

1) Meet me for your free NYC buyer consultation before September 30, 2018. I’ll give you all the behind-the-scenes NYC real estate tips and make sure you’re prepared for a successful buying process! Schedule your buyer consultation HERE.

2) Refer a NYC buyer or seller friend! I love my buyers and sellers. Your referrals mean a lot – thank you! Send this link to a friend today!

Erica Keberle_Brooklyn Real Estate Agent_Brooklyn Condos

Erica Keberle (“Sponsor”) is running the One-Room Design Consultation Giveaway (“Sweepstakes”). The Sweepstakes related to my sponsorship is governed by these official rules (“Official Rules”). By participating in the Sweepstakes, each entrant agrees to abide by these Official Rules, including all eligibility requirements, and understands that the results of the Sweepstakes, as determined by Sponsor and its agents, are final in all respects. The Sweepstakes is void where prohibited by law.
The Sweepstakes is open to anyone currently residing in the US who is 21 years of age or older by August 4, 2018 where not prohibited by law. Sponsor has the right to verify the eligibility of each entrant.
The Sweepstakes start date is August 4, 2018 and ending date is September 30, 2018. All entries (submissions) must be received on or before the conclusion of the Sweepstakes Period. Sponsor reserves the right to extend or shorten the Sweepstakes at their sole discretion.
You can enter the Sweepstakes in one of two ways:
1) Meet Erica Keberle for your free buyer’s consultation before September 30, 2018. Buyer’s consultations are for buyers seeking to purchase residential property in New York City, NY only.
2) You can refer a buyer or seller to Erica Keberle for services related to buying or selling residential property in New York City, NY.
After completing one of either of the above actions, your name will be entered into a drawing. Completing multiple buyer’s consultations does not qualify you for multiple entries. You may make multiple legitimate referrals to be entered multiple times (one entry for each referral).
Winners will be chosen by random drawing by the Sponsor from all eligible entries at the end of the Sweepstakes Period. The random selection process run by the Sponsor is final. The winner will be announced via Instagram on October 2, 2018. Announcement and instructions for prize will be sent to the e-mail address supplied to the Sponsor. Each entrant is responsible for monitoring his/her e-mail account for prize notification and receipt or other communications related to this Sweepstakes. If a potential prize winner cannot be reached by the Sweepstakes’s administrator (or Sponsor) within fifteen (15) days, using the contact information provided at the time of entry, or if the prize is returned as undeliverable, that potential prize winner shall forfeit the prize. Prizes may not be awarded if an insufficient number of eligible entries are received.
One-hour on-site design consultation for one room in your Brooklyn or Manhattan home with Interior Designer PJ Mehaffey of Alchemy Eclectic. One mood board by PJ Mehaffey with style and product recommendations. You must complete your on-site Design Consultation before February 28, 2019 or otherwise forfeit your prize. Design Consultation provides product recommendations only, and not the actual products. Design Consultation and mood board is for one room in your Brooklyn or Manhattan home only. PJ Mehaffey will select number and type of furnishings at his sole discretion, not limited to furniture, wallpaper, accessories, etc., and his selections do not warrant a guarantee that items are actually available/in stock in marketplace for purchase by you if you chose to purchase once mood board is presented. Any purchases/deliveries/installations of recommended items from mood board are the sole responsibility of client and PJ Mehaffey cannot be held liable or responsible for said purchases.
Design Consultation Giveaway – Prize for each of one (1) winner is one (1) prize.
Prizes are non-transferable. No substitution or cash equivalent of prizes is permitted.
All disputes arising from or relating to the Sweepstakes shall be submitted exclusively to the jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in New York County in the State of New York, and each entrant hereby irrevocably consents to the jurisdiction of such courts and waives all objections thereto. Each entrant hereby irrevocably waives any and all right to trial by jury in any legal proceeding in connection with the Sweepstakes, the Official Rules & Regulations and any and all further transactions contemplated hereby. Except where prohibited, each entrant agrees that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between or among the parties and any claims or causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes, any prize awarded, or the determination of the winner shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action. Any and all disputes that arise relating to the Sweepstakes must be filed within one (1) year from the date that the winner(s) is announced.
By participating, the winning entrant grants Sponsor permission to use his/her name, likeness or comments for publicity purposes without payment of additional consideration, except where prohibited by law.

Brooklyn Real Estate Outlook: Summer 2018

The first half of the 2018 real estate season is over and the numbers are in.

Erica Keberle_Brooklyn Real Estate Agent_Brooklyn Condos

Inventory is High
– Brooklyn inventory reached an all-time high.
– Manhattan inventory reached the highest level since 2011.
Sales prices started to Cool…slightly
– Overall Brooklyn prices stagnated….however…
– The Brooklyn townhouse market remains strong up to $4M.
– Desirable Brooklyn properties are still commanding multiple offers.
– Manhattan prices dropped 3% since last year.
– Queens was the only borough where prices increased.
Rental Prices are Up
– Brooklyn and Manhattan rentals reached an all-time high.

What This Means For My Buyers

Shop Around this Fall: After a typical mid-summer lull, StreetEasy predicts a large new wave of listings which will increase options for buyers.
Be Prepared: Despite high inventory we are still seeing competition among well priced, highly desirable and/or well marketed properties. Work with your Buyer’s Agent (that’s me!) to make sure you’re prepared to close a deal when you find your dream home. Prepared buyers could find they have more negotiating power as motivated sellers get nervous about moving property.
Don’t Wait TOO Long: Although it might be tempting to wait and see if the prices drop even lower, the NYC market is complicated and the buying process is deeply emotional. Now is the time to lock in the lowest interest rate to stretch your dollar as far as possible. If you have a FICO score of 720 or more and can afford a downpayment of 30% or more, you will qualify for the very best rates available. You are already starting to have a bit more leverage, particularly with listings that have been sitting on the market for more than a few weeks, which is the peak time frame during which bidding wars are most likely to occur.
If you’re serious about finding a home, take advantage of this buyer’s market NOW and realize the benefits of long-term investment in NYC’s real estate market. Find a space where you can live comfortably for 5-7 years so that you have more control over when you sell. Given historic Brownstone Brooklyn area trends, you are likely to reap a profit on your investment.

What This Means For My Sellers

Time it Right: If you are looking to market your home, list sooner rather than later (and as soon as possible after September 1st). Appreciation rates have slowed. Compounded with rising interest rates, new tax laws, global uncertainty, and stock market fluctuations, we are starting to see a leveling of the market overall. Most buyers are bidding more conservatively, and some are postponing their search, which can lead to a surplus of inventory, putting you in a position to compete for buyers’ interest. There are still plenty of motivating factors for buyers to make a move, and the market remains active with buyers seeking to expand their families, explore new job opportunities, upgrade their lifestyle, downsize, and more.
Price Wisely: Brooklyn homes are spending more time on the market at a median 53 days. Pricing is always critical, but becomes even trickier in a transitioning market. You don’t want your listing to go “stale” and face multiple price cuts, so evaluate your selling goals and active competition, and price accordingly. I can help you analyze comparable sales data and advise you candidly about market trends, including the optimal price and time in which to list your property, and any upgrades that will help facilitate your sale.
Look Better than Your Competition: Stylish staging, gorgeous photos, and targeted marketing is even more critical in a buyer’s market to ensure your property stands out as a highly desirable property, even for the pickiest buyers. Make sure to highlight your home’s best features and mitigate issues that might give buyers a reason to move on.

Erica Keberle | Brooklyn Real Estate Agent

Determining the “right” price for selling or purchasing a home is part analytics and largely a matter of experience; it’s more an art than a science. If you’re feeling puzzled about your right price or how to make your home look amazing for a sale, use the below form to contact me. Pricing and staging consultations are always on the house (pun intended)!

[contact-form to=”” subject=”Real Estate Help”][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Message” type=”text”][/contact-form]

Cuba! with Postmambo Tours

I recently returned from the most incredible travel experience in Cuba organized by Postmambo, and led by well-known Cuban music historian, Ned Sublette. I say “experience” because this was not your typical tour riding around Old Havana in a 1950’s Oldsmobile. The entire trip was structured around rumba music – a tangible way in which to feel Cuba’s rich history, culture and worldwide influence. We saw no fewer than two live music and dance performances EACH day, in venues ranging from a converted factory art space packed with Havana hipsters, to a countryside farm miles away, to a block party in more urban Matanzas, to THE Copa Room at the Hotel Riviera.

More Video Clips & Pics Below!

Wherever we went, it was all about the drums. This is a major oversimplification…but unlike most of America, African slaves brought to Cuba were allowed to practice their African dance and music traditions (during slavery until 1886), which heavily influenced music in Cuba, America, and around the world. For in depth reading, Ned’s book Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo is a thick but very accessible and fascinating read. It’s difficult to convey the Postmambo experience in words, so please check out pics and vids below for just a *taste* of what we saw and heard. 

A Few Music/Dance Highlights

Los Muñequitos de Matanzas: Very famous traditional Cuban rumba group started in 1956, now educating the next generation of rumberos through their school La Rumba Soy Yo.
Asociación de Rumberas de Matanzas:  Urban community organization started and led by amazing women who saw a need for a space for seniors and children to gather. Supporting drum and dance traditions through education and performances in a small open air plaza.
Grupo Tambor Yuka: Rural community keeping tambor drumming traditions alive.  African slaves working 16+ hour days needed their owners’ permission to dance the tambor at the end of a grueling week.  Drums made from hollowed avoacodo trunks and animal skins were heated  with bonfires while a crowd gathered around a dancing couple.
Telmary: Super cool female hip-hop artist incorporating traditional Cuban beats and references.
Issac Delgado: World famous salsa and timba performer who PACKS the house at the Copa Room in Havana.

↓Check out Upcoming Postmambo Tours In 2018/2019

Postmambo is kind of a secret organization (shhhh) that acquires travelers mostly via word of mouth. I’m an avid traveler and rarely repeat trips, but once you’ve Postmambo’d you’re #PostmamboForLife and I can honestly say I’ll be going back.

For more info, please visit:

A very special thanks to the Postmambo Team:
Ned Sublette, Leader and Walking Rumba Encyclopedia
Caridad Diez, Tour Producer and all around #LadyBoss
Jesús García, Cuban Guide Extraordinaire
Arián Sabatés, Driver and Guardian Angel


Brooklyn Real Estate Outlook: Spring 2018

The first quarter of 2018 is over and the numbers are in: Brooklyn prices continued to set records amid a drop in the overall number of sales. Manhattan sales numbers dropped even more dramatically, accompanied by a drop in median price.

Brooklyn prices continued to set records amid a drop in the overall number of sales.

Though the new tax plan may be giving some buyers more reason for pause, other factors, like the need for more space for growing families, a desire to live within a certain neighborhood, job relocation, etc., continues to motivate purchases. There is still a high demand for homes and little inventory, which has historically translated into prices rising steadily, but we may have finally reached a point where buyers are willing to wait out the market to a certain degree.

Rather than a heated bidding war after the first weekend, the new norm is a trickle of offers. Buyers can be more hesitant to follow through and are more apt to negotiate terms and/or walk away if their needs aren’t met, but it’s still not a buyer’s market and for desirable property, competition is still fueling above-ask bids.

It’s still not a buyer’s market and for desirable property, competition is still fueling above-ask bids…Lowball offers are not necessarily effective.

For Brooklyn sellers, with available inventory selling faster and at higher prices, it is still a good time to sell. Pricing your home appropriately for the market is more critical now as you don’t want your listing to face multiple price cuts and appear stale. Staging and marketing is even more important to ensure your home  stands out as highly desirable. Our goal is to convey a lifestyle within your walls that creates a sense of urgency as soon as buyers walk in the door, so that we can bring you multiple bids and ensure a quick and easy sale.

Staging and marketing is even more critical to ensure your property stands out…

For buyers, the market remains competitive and lowball offers are not necessarily effective. Negotiations might be more possible for new condos in the $1.5M+ range as developers compete for buyers, and in the high-end $4M+ market where inventory is currently superseding demand, but sellers will also be hesitant to accept what they might consider a below market price.

Erica Keberle | Real Estate Agent | Garfield Realty

Determining the “right” price for selling or purchasing a home is part analytics and largely a matter of experience; it’s more an art than a science. If you’re feeling puzzled about your right price or how to make your home look amazing for a sale, use the below form to contact me. Pricing and staging consultations are always on the house (pun intended)!

[contact-form to=”” subject=”Real Estate Help”][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Message” type=”text”][/contact-form]

Featured Artist: Benjamin Heller

Great art can transform your home from “nicely decorated” to a mindful space. With Brooklyn as arguably one of the world’s creative epicenters – look no further than our own extended backyard for cutting edge art (and music!) to fill your home. I love collaborating with artists when I stage a property for sale! Showcasing art in a home – in contrast to a gallery – helps visualize how the piece might feel in a more personal space, and even allows the art itself to take on a different life and energy.

My interior styling for our listing at 939 Union Street in Park Slope features works by Brooklyn-based artist Benjamin Heller from his recent photographic exhibition Echo and Convergence at the Robin Rice Gallery in the West Village.

Since meeting through a mutual dancer friend, it has been a joy getting to know Benjamin and glimpsing into his studio and thoughts behind his work. His photographs feel bewitchingly theatrical but not staged, and both intimate and hugely powerful – where each image provokes the imagination into uninhibited story-telling and inward reflection for all ages. So up your art game today and support the arts by seeking out new artists to follow, purchase art and music that expands your mind, and visit open studios and live performances!

View More of Benjamin Heller’s Work Here:

View Full Listing Here: 939 Union Street, #10 – Park Slope, Brooklyn $2.35M Condo – 3 Beds, 3 Baths, 2 Private Terraces –  uninhibited skyline views just steps from Prospect Park.

Should You D.I.Y. Real Estate?

Real Estate Agents are often characterized as sleazy, knuckle-headed – or possibly both (or worse). The “Phil Dunphy” although dedicated and good-hearted is portrayed as the classic doofus who maybe couldn’t hack it at another job.

Or the scheming Alec Baldwin “Glengarry Glen Ross” real estate salesman with questionable morals and contrived pitches. You might have even run into one of these characters while open house browsing on  your own. As is the case in any industry, there are good, bad AND great real estate agents, and I can attest that I’ve had the pleasure of working with some true professionals in the business.
But maybe the more important issue is: Why use a real estate agent at all? And, it’s a good question. Buyers and sellers today have access to *most* of the same online search tools, so the value in working with an agent is having an experienced, organized, smart professional with good instincts and a solid B.S. radar, to help you navigate a complex process involving numerous players  when a significant amount of your hard-earned money is at stake:

  • How does the market look right now and where are we headed?
  • What neighborhoods make the most sense for short-term v. long-term investing?
  • I’ve lost two bidding wars… What else can I do??
  • How much is my townhouse worth? How much would it be worth if I renovated the kitchen?
  • Is that condo overpriced? How much are closing costs?
  • The buyer’s attorney is not returning my attorney’s phone calls. Help!
  • The buyer/seller is threatening to back out of the deal. Help!
  • We have 2 kids, a dog, and a cat – how am I supposed to stage to sell?
  • I can’t keep track…Did we see that unit last weekend? Did I like it?
  • Can we move that wall/sink/oven? How much will it cost?
Bottom line is Real Estate Agents can play many roles during the buying and selling process: consultant, analyst, advocate, salesperson, marketer, business manager, and therapist – just to name a few. So, as you consider your options keep in mind that DIY Real Estate is as risky as DIY Plumbing: You might end up with a bigger mess going at it alone after a couple YouTube tutorials, so know when it’s time to call in a professional and work with someone you trust!

5 Catskills Instagram Accounts to Follow

 Here are 5 of my favorite Instagram accounts to inspire Catskills adventures. Have you made your #EscapeBrooklyn summer plans yet?

@TheGrangeHall Coming For Sale July 2017 – “The Grange Hall” is a 1930’s community dance hall undergoing extensive renovations by Major Jacks. Is this a shameless self-promotion of my latest Catskills renovation project? Yes, absolutely. But who doesn’t love an in-progress-fixer-upper?! This farmhouse sits on just over 2 acres in rural Cochecton, NY – fabulously located smack between the Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center and picturesque Main Street in Narrowsburg on the Delaware River. It’s hard to say whether the incredible bucolic views or the restored stage and dance hall take the cake for “favorite feature.” Wait…did you say “DANCE HALL”? Yes! This farmhouse has its own stage in the now Great Room with almost 12′ ceilings, original details, and wood stove.

@MaisonBergogne Maison Bergogne is a beautiful antique shop that feels like a museum of treasures. Owner and curator, Juliette Hermant, transformed a 1920’s warehouse just off the Delaware River and quickly became part of the Main Street renaissance well underway in Narrowsburg, NY. Feast on unique objects and oddities, vignettes, and French-Catskills style sensibilities.


@igercatskills Meditative landscape porn. @igercatskills is a photo gallery of the Catskill Mountain area. When you don’t feel like leaving your cozy Catskills AirB&B to go for a hike, this is the account for you. Or a breath of fresh air when the Brooklyn August humidity gets a little oppressive…


@dveightmag DVEIGHT Magazine covers Catskills “modern rural living” with a Kinfolk vibe. Think Brooklyn hipsters turned weekend or permanent hicksters. Stories about local artists, City transplants, food, farms, and favorites mix with stunning photography thus nailing their stylish and sophisticated aesthetic. Leave Brooklyn without leaving Brooklyn!


@thefarmhouseproject The guys at @thefarmhouseproject post dreamy scenes as they DIY decorate, style and preserve their 217-year-old Sullivan County farmhouse. This restoration is much further along than my @thegrangehall, but their fun aesthetic and gorgeous vignettes inspire #farmhousegoals as you consider creating your own #farmhouselife.


(All photos courtesy of the respective Instagram accounts)

How to Spot an Up and Coming Neighborhood in NYC

Guest post by Bernard Klein – Founder, Blooming Sky

The spring house hunting season is kicking into full gear. With the cold weather finally in the rear-view mirror, weekends are bustling with activity. Open houses will be swarmed with buyers ready to shell out their hard earned money creating a frenzy of activity that is sure to leave many outbid buyers disappointed and confused about the home buying process. So how do you beat the crowds and find places that match your need for value and utility? You must go where the masses are not.

In plain English: Instead of looking in the established neighborhoods, seek out the up and coming neighborhoods. It will be an opportunity to find value and buy into a neighborhood that is continuing to rapidly accelerate in price. You will have the opportunity to reap the rewards of a great investment, while at the same time avoiding some of the madness you might face in the more established neighborhoods.

Quiet moment during a packed open house in Flatbush, Brooklyn: Up and Coming Neighborhood?

Quiet moment during a packed open house in Flatbush, Brooklyn: Up and Coming Neighborhood?

So what is an established neighborhood anyways? First of all, it’s probably a neighborhood filled with co-ops that are multiple decades old. Let’s take Brooklyn for example. You have neighborhoods like Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. While Brooklyn as a borough has gotten more popular, which has driven up prices all around, neighborhoods like the aforementioned haven’t really changed much in the past ten years. Is that what you want? A neighborhood that hasn’t changed? That sounds a touch boring.

On the flip side, you have neighborhoods like Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens which are transforming as you read this. They’re changing with new development, new residents, new restaurants, new coffee shops and new boutiques on every corner. While still maintaining their rich heritage, these neighborhoods are attracting new people with new ideas, undergoing transformations that will continue to attract additional investments. Now imagine buying into that! 

So how do you spot an up and coming area? The first thing I always recommend is trekking out to a neighborhood you’re not familiar with. Check out Google Maps or Yelp on your smartphone and type in “coffee shop.” Look for the most highly rated shop in the area, and take the coffee for a spin. Does the shop give off a good vibe and serve good coffee and pastries? If yes, then great. Ask the barista which restaurants s/he recommends in the neighborhood. Listen closely! You now have lunch plans, armed with a list of choices. Hopefully lunch was good, and you’re now excited about seeing what else is in the neighborhood. Walk around within a five block radius and see what’s going on.

What should you be looking for? More restaurants. More coffee shops. Trendy, experimental retail. Most importantly, look for construction. Are people gutting town homes? Are new rental and condo developments coming up? Great, then you’ve discovered an up and coming area. Do you see none of this? Okay, well hopefully coffee and lunch were decent. 

Up and coming areas definitely attract a certain type of crowd. They also attract people who see the longterm potential of buying into something that is rapidly changing. This usually makes for an opportunistic investment. However, investing in change isn’t for the faint of heart. So which part of New York City do you plan on checking out this weekend?

Bernard Klein is the founder of Blooming Sky ( He has invested in real estate across Manhattan and Brooklyn and is currently helping his clients do the same, whether they are seasoned investors or first time home buyers.


Styling is the New Staging

In today’s visually saturated Instagram/Pinterest/HGTV world, buyers expect their home search to feel like stepping onto a shelter magazine shoot. And the old staging rules: declutter, remove personal items, and bake cookies are no longer enough for today’s buyers who are more sophisticated than a vanilla Yankee Candle. Particularly with new construction options, buyers struggle to see past someone else’s “lived-in-ness” and don’t want to tackle even minor updates.

But as staging has evolved over the past decade, many real estate professionals say it has become more important — and more sophisticated — than ever. (The New York Times)


My staging approach is more about “styling” to find a balance neutral enough to appeal to buyer masses, while creating some personality – because no one wants to be labeled a Basic Box. I like mixing CB2, ABC Home, vintage, IKEA, Craigslist and flea market finds, and then like Coco Chanel, remove one accessory before leaving the house. This also helps fit staging costs into any budget. I might also suggest minor updates – particularly for kitchens and baths – to get the best return on investment, because whether you have a $3M penthouse or a $450 studio, you still want the highest price and fastest sale.