By Liani Greaves
I recently got a call from a new homeowner (a former client) who is concerned because they’d seen a news item online about a prolific Brooklyn developer submitting plans to the DOB to demolish the 2-family home next to their newly purchased Brownstone and transform it into a 5-family home.
If that construction is right next door to you, no doubt, you have questions and concerns. Will it be a safe renovation? Are the contractors licensed and permitted? No homeowner wants to experience the nightmare that neighbors over at 97 Quincy Street late last year when a contractor was performing illegal work and caused the building to collapse.
All any local resident or homeowner needs to do is turn the corner to see evidence that Bed-Stuy is under construction. Contractors are hammering away, block after block and the scope of the work is substantial: in NYC, the ALT 1 permit allows major alterations on properties that will change the use, egress or occupancy. According to the DOB’s building information website, from January 1st – May 1st 224 ALT 1 permits (alone) have been issued in Bed-Stuy’s Community Board 3. (This number doesn’t even include full demolitions)
And what about the unscrupulous developer or contractor? The one who is in it for a quick flip? A “flip” is defined as a home that is bought and sold for a higher price within a 12-month period. The Center for NYC Neighborhoods published a report listing Bed-Stuy as number four on the list of NYC neighborhoods with the highest volumes of flips. In 2015 alone, 75 homes in Bed-Stuy met the criteria and it’s fair to say that 2016 is off to a fast start with recent sales like a Jefferson Avenue property held for 3 months and sold in March for $1,905,000, and a house on Hancock Street purchased in October 2015 for $1,500,000 and resold in February for $2,275,000. It’s important to note that the homes being resold at those numbers have all undergone substantial and most times, complete renovations.
Homeowners do have resources: If you’re curious or concerned about development in the neighborhood, know that at anytime you can find details on the permits at the Department of Buildings’ Building Information website. There, you can easily do a property search and immediately view issued permits, complaints, violations and more for any building in NYC.
Every Tuesday night from 4:00pm to 7:00pm the Department of Buildings hosts an informational session for homeowners at the local borough office. (In Brooklyn, that’s 210 Joralemon Street, 8th floor.) There, homeowners and residents can learn how to check on a contractor’s license, get advice on the permitting process, get advice on how to secure or change a property’s Certificate of Occupancy and understand how to use the DOB’s Buildings Information System (BIS) to research property history. Liani Greaves is a Licensed Real Estate Broker and owner at LGM Real Estate, LLC.