Brooklyn Rental Market Continues to Set Records... Record High Rents, That Is

Published on Jun 20, 2012

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The Brooklyn rental market continue to set records, both in terms of rental prices that, on average, have never been higher (up 10% in 2010, and another 7% last year), as well as for the sheer number of new construction and development that's been pouring into the market of late.

Some of the surge in Brooklyn rental market activity can be attributed simply to the ever-increasing, overall appeal of the Borough of Kings--whether to young professionals, creative types, high rollers, or families--a transformation that's been explored in a thousand (often silly) trend pieces over the last few years.

But whatever you think of heavily bearded artisanal chocolate makers (to name just one recent Brooklyn stereotype), there's no question that that neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, DUMBO, Park Slope, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Greenpoint, Bushwick, and several others have been and continue to be in the throes of a profound change.

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Witness American Realty Advisors' purchase recently, as reported in the New York Times, of a 62-unit rental building on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg for a record-shattering $55 million, or about $895,000 for each of the Brooklyn rental apartments therein. They're going to have to charge plenty in monthly rent to make their money back, though that doesn't seem to be a problem these days.

As neighborhood broker David J. Maundrell says, “In 2006 and 2007, any condominium you put on the market sold, and now the same thing is happening with rentals. I wouldn’t say we are throwing darts, but we are pushing the envelope with rental prices and seeing how high we can take it.”

Granted this located on white-hot Kent Avenue, in white-hot Williamsburg, long stretches of which would be unrecognizable to time-traveling visitor from, say, 1995, but still, with mortgages remaining difficult to secure for many and stalled or unsuccessful condos hitting the jackpot upon conversion to rentals, expect more of the same in the near future.

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So when you find your dream Brooklyn rental apartment, how do you make sure you actually get to sign the lease, and move in? The good folks at Brick Underground recently featured an excellent interview with Brooklyn landlord Chris Athineos, whose family has owned small rental buildings in Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, and Bay Ridge for nearly five decades. The topic: the red flags and deal-breakers of would-be renters. Especially important in a Brooklyn rental market that is continues to be red hot, and landlords have the upper hand.

For instance, Athineos says that the first thing he looks for is well-organized paperwork and a fully completed application ("If the prior landlord reference is missing, that’s a very bad sign"); he gets uneasy when prospective tenants ask too many questions about things over which he has no real control ("When they seem to be obsessed with the noise issue and want a rundown on all of their prospective neighbors, I worry that I'll have a chronic complainer on my hands"); and he believes that student loans, and the on-time repayment thereof, are as important as any other part of your credit report.

One final bit of advice for seekers of Brooklyn rental apartments: "Dress as you would for a job interview, first impressions count." Noted.

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