Winter’s Last Gasp

The frigid winter is finally beginning to thaw. This past weekend was a balmy 50+ degrees, and many people today had forgone their winter coat in favor of Brooklyn’s ubiquitous hoodie. While the warmer weather is good news for many, buyers are scrambling to find the “winter deal”, the much vaunted “still nice, but lower priced” home. Having found none, many buyers are asking — does it exist? Or is Q4 more like the dregs of last night’s party — nothing anyone wants.
Q4 being the slowest quarter is intuitive, there is just so much stacked up against it:
  • The massive amount of holidays. EVERY month has a holiday, a BIG holiday.
  • The psychology. People’s minds are just not in the “game”, they’re too busy getting last minute gifts on their weekends and skipping the open houses.
  • The weather. Most winters are cold, and while December in Brooklyn was practically tropical, February made up for lost degrees.

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School’s IN!

It’s official the hope and prayer of many a parent has been answered. New schools are coming to Downtown Brooklyn. Highlights from
  • DISTRICT 13 (Downtown north of Fulton / DUMBO / Brooklyn Heights / Fort Greene): 3 new elementary schools will be built somewhere in the area. Planning for the first 572-seat would start in April of this year forcompletion Sept. 2019! The second 476-seat school would be completed in Sept. 2020, and the third 572-seat school is scheduled for completion for July of 2021. Currently there is a new middle school opening up in DUMBO in fall 2016 and a new middle school under construction at Pacific Park / Atlantic Yards to open in 2019.


  • DISTRICT 15 (Downtown south of Fulton / Cobble Hill / Gowanus / Carroll Gardens / Boerum Hill) : 1 new 824-seat school to open either 2020 or 2021 in the area.  Also in the works is a 436-seat addition to P.S. 32 in Carroll Gardens.

Renting in Brooklyn is Affordable Again?

WHAT? Wasn’t Brooklyn just named the least affordable “city” a week ago? It is unthinkable and yet,  rents dropped. To be clear, Brooklyn real estate in general is still marching towards the apocalypse, but  some neighborhoods received their comeuppance, and the cheers are deafening.
Living in Brooklyn and talking about it far too often, I can’t help but notice people are far happier that Brooklyn has hiccuped than they ever were when ANY Manhattan neighborhood stumbled.  The reactions range from “perfect! My lease is coming up”, to “serves them right!”. Worry not, the days of cheap rent in Brooklyn are numbered, still, some once recently expensive neighborhoods are now posting deals once again:

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Brooklyn Q3 2015 Report

Brooklyn’s Q3 2015 Report has been released, and Brooklyn continues to perform strongly. Key highlights:

Second-strongest third quarter in seven years.  Despite a normal decline in re-sale activity in the third quarter, new development sales in Brooklyn rose – lifting the Third Quarter’s performance in 2015 to a significant height.

More sales. The pace of signed contracts increased by 9% year-over-year, as more purchasing options made themselves available.

Inventory growth. Once again, more listings entered the Brooklyn market, feeding a notable demand for property.  Nevertheless, the total listing inventory remains 29% below the peak in 2011.
The inventory growth is a key point as it means more selection for buyers, and more competition for sellers.

Q3 Manhattan Report

The Manhattan Q3 Report has been released. And, as many of you expected (but can hardly believe) the prices went up! Highlights and trends as below:

Continuing record prices.  With new development sales robust, the median price for an apartment in Manhattan reached $999,000, a ten-year high.  The median price per square foot is now $1,284, up 11% from a year ago.

More sales. The pace of closed sales was up 3% over the same quarter one year prior, and there were 11% more signed contracts.

Another inventory contraction. For just the fourth time in the last ten years, the number of properties available for sale in Manhattan fell below 5,000 – a dramatic shortage that is helping to maintain the rise of sale prices.

Brooklyn’s Next Affordable Neighborhood: DUMBO?

When I mention DUMBO as a potential to a buyer, the reaction is usually the same, a furrowed brow followed by, “I hadn’t really considered that”. Not because they don’t want to be in DUMBO, but because they’d dismissed it out of hand as too expensive. While no one can site sources many of people repeat headlines like mantras, “Dumbo is even MORE expensive then Manhattan”, “it’s SO expensive”, “it’s out of our budget” and my favorite, “prices can’t go any higher there.”  And yet, these same buyers are happy to look at Park Slope, where condos like this, go for $1,343psf, beautiful no doubt, but surely competitive to the prices we’re seeing in DUMBO?
And before you dismiss DUMBO, check out some of delectable listings coming  at IMO very market friendly prices, at least if you’re in the Manhattan – Park Slope – DUMBO buying triangle.
50 Bridge St. – I can’t go on enough about this unit. It’s stunning. AND it’s near the F (York) which in DUMBO is gold. And at less than $1,000psf (YES YES YES!!!) it’s practically a unicorn.
50 Bridge St.
28 Old Fulton Street – another duplex, more Manhattan views, and priced just a tad over $1,000psf, it’s love at first click.
28 Old Fulton St.
70 Washington St. Another gorgeous unit just a tad over $1,000psf  and a tax abatement to boot. Looks like the price has also been steadily decreasing.
70 Washington St
And I haven’t even delved into DUMBO’s secret step sister, Vinegar Hill! Happy hunting!

Battle of the Beaches: Rockaways vs Coney Island

Much credit to Rockaways, the beautiful beach that has captured NYC’s imagination even after the devastating effects of Sandy. People were all but ready to abandon this spot, calling its liquid yoga and surf board outposts “has beens”. But not so fast. Bushwick has practically annexed this neighborhood, running a dedicated bus service to Rockaways, known as the “Bushwick Jitney”. And on any given summer (or even well into Fall) day you would be hard pressed not to see the lines of surfer hipsters (surpsters?) making the transfer from the L to the A at Broadway Junction. Like a swarm of pollenating bees they’ve made the Rockaways a destination again and you don’t have to be a surpster to enjoy it.


Tacoway – the sumptous spinoff of Rockaway Taco, don’t miss the chorizo taco.
Anna Bow – must have pita tacos, but I hear the juices  and smoothies are good too.
Chicks to Go – part of the Peruvian wave taking over where Bonchon left off, the plantains are memorable too.


And the old mainstay favorites If you do choose to stick to old favorites, Edgemere Farm, Sugar Bowl, Caracas Arepa Bar, Conchos, and Rippers were in action for summer.


Trying not to be left in the dust is Brooklyn’s nostalgic home, Coney Island. It’s hard to define a “scene” in Coney Island that does not involve your grandmother, strong man contests or the polar bear swim club, but Coney Island has been trying to dust off it’s nostalgic glow for what seems like years.


Hearts break around Brooklyn as they tear down the board walk and replaced it with dubious and somewhat off putting concrete slabs. They’ve had better luck with the fun Coney Island film festival.  and fared even better with food:


Smorgasboug opened in Coney Island. Practically re-inventing the neighborhood by itself!
Wahlbergers — that’s right Marky Mark’s chain has also opened in Coney Island with mixed reviews.
And the old nostalgic favorites Totonno’s and Nathan’s.


I think it’s fair to say that Rockaways is easily in the hot spot right now, Coney Island still struggling to reinvent itself, but  glimmers of possibilities and potential continue to tantilize. In the mean time, we can look forward to next year’s surf season.

Downtown Brooklyn’s Rental Bonanza!

One of the first things people ask me about Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene is, what I know  about “all the new development”. And having watched the development for years now, as well as hungrily scoured the internet for news, I do know one or two things. One of things I do know is that the vast majority of the towers coming up, are rentals. This news is usually followed by a raise of the eyebrows, and more pointing to other towers with “and what about that one.” Rental. “And that one?” Rental. Incredulous look. Indeed.
For anyone who is even lightly reading some of the more popular blogs out there – curbed, brownstoner, YIMBLY, etc… the fact that these are all rentals should not be a surprise, and yet it always is. I assure my friends / clients / new acquaintance that this is not bad news, the rentals coming are a good thing. It means infrastructure, stores, restaurants, all things people attract when they start moving into a neighborhood. Yes, even though there are SO MANY rentals coming it’s still good, especially since these rentals are rather snazzy if massive:

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How to Rent Your Condo FAST! Allow Pets

How to Rent Your Apt FAST: Allow Pets

OK OK, so besides all the other stuff we’ve talked about before, good photography, nicely (if possible) staged furniture, but clean empty rooms will do, good light etc,.. what else can you do to rent your apartment fast? Allow pets. I can hear the chorus of “the repairs!”. Yes, pets can cause damage — they can chew on things, scratch the (beloved) floors, scratch doors, and urinate  – which if not cleaned up quickly can damage floors. There is no getting around this, and this is all true.

But I have rarely seen this happen, especially when the person(s) renting the apartment clearly loves the pet as much as they would their own child — and that is MANY a NYC resident. If you’re still apprehensive, ask to meet the pet, and don’t be deceived if they’re wearing their cutest sweater, check to see the pet is well maintained. You’re looking for a pet that is well cared for because that will indicate if this owner is willing to let the pet pee on the floor, not clean it and just let Lassie hang out in it. Not allowing pets deserves careful consideration, NYC is filled with animal lovers, and cutting all of them out of your market is significant.

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New York City’s Most Elusive Space

By now every buyer / seller / renter in NYC has discovered an alarming truth, the most scarce space in the city is NOT your studio apartment, or the kitchen jammed into the dining room that’s also doubling as your living room, it’s your barely there counter space. I’ve seen countless articles on home design blogs and what not offering up solutions, and in every one of these examples is a photo of a kitchen which IMHO has PLENTY counter space. I thought perhaps they were talking about some city far away that just thought they had little counter space, wait ’til they got a load of NYC living I thought. But lo! some of the articles were actually by people LIVING in NYC, who admitted that though they didn’t have a lot of counter space by most measures, they  probably more than average by NYC standards (example below).
 Plenty of Counterspace

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