Brooklyn Brownstones Are Booming


In the Real Estate section this weekend, The Times memorialized something we all know has been happening over the past year: Brooklyn Brownstones are booming like never before.

Developers in New York City have had a lot of success luring buyers to high-end apartments with the latest dazzling amenity. Heat reflexology flooring, anyone? But the feature still most likely to draw people is not something new and shiny but old and reliable: good bones. Many buyers re-entering the real estate market after years on the sidelines are discovering what they’re after in brownstone Brooklyn. In neighborhoods including Fort Greene, Park Slope, Boerum Hill and Red Hook, brokers are besieged by buyers.

There’s a lot more to the strong demand than a hankering for crown moldings and parquet floors. “Brownstones signify stability,” said BHS broker Jill Seligson Braver. “Putting roots down in a neighborhood for the long haul.” Also helping is the shift that’s been underway for a decade now of Brooklyn being many people’s first choice rather than a fall-back for priced-out Manhattanites. Appraisal czar Jonathan Miller (who came up with the data for the graphic on the jump) also notes that there’s an increasing demand in general for larger spaces, something which brownstones clearly offer. Tack on the occasional celebrity purchase and the never-ending press coverage of Brooklyn as the land of the cool and you’ve got a perfect storm that’s translating into record-breaking prices all over the borough.
Brooklyn’s Gold Rush [NY Times]

Price change in 1-3 family homes between April 2011 and April 2012.

47 Comment

  • Where ohhh where is Miss Muffett, Noklissa, The What and Brownstones half off? Looks like its time for them to eat crow.

  • Where ohhh where is Miss Muffett, Noklissa, The What and Brownstones half off? Looks like its time for them to eat crow.

    • Like much of Manhattan, brownstones, particularly in the central slope, will be safe.

      • no-permits

        did you just realize this? haven’t you learned anything at jonathan butler university?

      • brownstoneshalfoff

        No where will be safe. There’s only one economic pie from which we all take slices. What goes up, must come down. What we’re experiencing now is merely temporary relief.

        Brownstones have always been in demand and desireable. It is only credit expansion and all the corresponding fee-skimming from Wall St and the local economic trickle-down that has allowed astronomical prices. We hit a wall in 2007-09 and have been on life support ever since. The costs of this life support are spiraling out of control. This so-called recovery is all a dream. Stop pressing snooze. Wake up and face reality.

        ***Half Peak Comps Euroding***

    • Like much of Manhattan, brownstones, particularly in the central slope, will be safe.

    • brownstoneshalfoff

      I’m still fasting, Pmags. I appreciate the cerebrial preoccupation with BHO by you and your likers (worried deep down, need feel-good articles like the above to justify buys and holds). The bailouts, deficit spending and other scams used to prop up the dead cat bounce (okay, dead lion bounce) are simply microPonzis feeding the giant RE Ponzi. It’ll all come crashing down on ya. We’ve seen dislocations all over the global economy, from JP Morgan lately, MF Global, Unemployment, the Eurozone, etc. The camera is still very much rolling. What you see now is a mere snapshot. None of the underlying problems we’ve had in 2009 have been fixed. Just the superficial ones. The all out crash is dormant for now but slowly eating away like flesh-eating bacteria. Sell-side articles like these are imperative to keep the pump/dump charade going.

      ***Half Peak Comps Euroding (soon to be imploding)***

    • brownstoneshalfoff

      I’m still fasting, Pmags. I appreciate the cerebrial preoccupation with BHO by you and your likers (worried deep down, need feel-good articles like the above to justify buys and holds). The bailouts, deficit spending and other scams used to prop up the dead cat bounce (okay, dead lion bounce) are simply microPonzis feeding the giant RE Ponzi. It’ll all come crashing down on ya. We’ve seen dislocations all over the global economy, from JP Morgan lately, MF Global, Unemployment, the Eurozone, etc. The camera is still very much rolling. What you see now is a mere snapshot. None of the underlying problems we’ve had in 2009 have been fixed. Just the superficial ones. The all out crash is dormant for now but slowly eating away like flesh-eating bacteria. Sell-side articles like these are imperative to keep the pump/dump charade going.

      ***Half Peak Comps Euroding (soon to be imploding)***

  • For the second week in a row, the Times tries to redraw the southeastern border of Brooklyn Heights as Clinton Street. Wrong, gray lady, it’s Court Street. I assume this is their mistake and not Miller’s, since if he’s relying on City data would simply pick up all the Clinton-Court blocks the way the Department of Finance (properly) classifies them — as Brooklyn Heights.

    • no-permits

      the times made a mistake with the opening photo of 124 park place also. the original caption said it sold for $1.4 or something. they were off by $1.5MM that’s a pretty big mistake.

  • daveinbedstuy

    WTF, why did my comment have to be approved?????

  • daveinbedstuy

    It is I who have been right all along. Buyers from manhattan will continue to flock to brownstone Brooklyn after having sold 1,2 & 3 bedroom condos with huge ewquity gains.

  • Looks like Jonathan Miller is pushing the Prospect Heights border clear to Classon. And Windsor Terrace is eating Kensington. I’d like to see what kind of upticks Crown Heights, Bed Stuy, PLG and Sunset Park have seen (though judging from the range of numbers shown, there really aren’t enough data points for any of these percentage increases to be really meaningful.)

  • Once again, they leave out Sunset Park, which has thousands of brownstones, and has the largest national historic district in the United States because of its brownstones — yet they include Gowanus and Red Hook as brownstone neighborhoods, where there are but a handful of brownstones relative to other housing types there. Prices in Sunset Park have also boomed.

  • daveinbedstuy

    I’ve been right all along.

    This trend continues to be fueled by Manhattanites moving to Brooklyn after selling 1,2 & 3 bedroom condos and walking away with huge equity gains…STILL.

    • brownstoneshalfoff

      “This trend continues to be fueled by Manhattanites moving to Brooklyn after selling 1,2 & 3 bedroom condos and walking away with huge equity gains…STILL.”

      The very essence of a Ponzi scheme. Vacuum feed. Mathematically, unsustainable exponential function. The longer it takes to collapse, the worse it will be. This trend will reverse itself.

      ***Half Peak Comps Euroding***

  • Clearly since red hook’s sample size is so tiny, these results are statistical insignificant. We talking about 10 to 15 houses here.

  • daveinbedstuy

    Also, bed Stuy, one of the largest parts of Brooklyn with some of the most impressive streets.

  • PLG is definitely back to its 2006 peak with at least seven $1M+ townhouse sales in the last year, including a new record for the neighborhood (20 Midwood, $1.65M.) But I’d still guess that there aren’t enough data points YOY to give a meaningful percentage change.

  • cp

    the times is constantly writing about bed-stuy, yet it is left out in this article. why the hate?

  • stuyheightsarch

    The times wants to keep Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights a secret until all they buy all there brownstones for under a million… Then they will come out with articles on you shoulda coulda woulda but it is too late now…

    • USGrant

      I was thinking the same thing. Probably nothing organized, really, but certain types are attracted to certain papers and/or certain editors have a certain subjective views of things. Who knows? I consider it a blessing of sorts. Maybe I will get more of my friends to buy here in the interim. (Great to meet you at the Historic District-ing meeting at P.S. 5.)

  • I’m surprised that the Columbia Street Waterfront has been left out of the data on this map. It’s gotten a lot of press coverage recently.

  • The problem with BHO’s thesis is that many of the recent buyers (in the high end townhouse market) are puting down 40%, 50% sometimes 100% cash. Just look at the time from contract to close in the Last Week’s Biggest Sales column. These people are not going to have a crushing underwater mortgage. They might be dismayed if their investment tanks by a third (which I don’t think will happen anyway) but it’ll be a blip to them. Some could need to sell to cover other losses but I don’t think there will be a crash here.

    • brownstoneshalfoff

      Beside the point. 100% equity does not guarantee the avoidance of loss and downward pressure on comps. Most brownstone buyers are levered up. All cash can easily go underwater with a line of credit. Happens all the time.

      ***Half Peak Comps Euroding***

  • Another NYT article that ties into this is the front page article today about the American food truck craze in Paris France. Apparently, for food to be “tres Brooklyn” is the epitome of chic!

  • Bloomberg has done an excellent job in diversifying the economy in New York and people are still moving here. The population is expanding as NYC becomes ever more the global city of choice. We will see this pattern grow even further as Europe struggles. Real estate brokers here are inundated with foreigners looking to park money in NYC real estate, and many love the charm found in Brooklyn’s beautiful brownstones. None of this is a surprise to those of us who love the area. in 10 years, NYC will rival Silicon Valley in terms of tech jobs and the boom that will be felt across Brownstone Brooklyn when NYU opens its new school in Downtown Brooklyn has yet to be understood. Brownstone Brooklyn is going to become the Atherton/Menlo Park/Cupertino area of NYC with all of these high tech, high paying jobs locating to Brooklyn. NYC has added 60,000 jobs in the first 4 months of 2012, it’s really quite impressive. Bloomberg is to be commended for keeping this city afloat while the rest of the nation lags. He’s not perfect and I don’t agree with everything he’s done, but he continues to diversify, add parkland, lower the crime rate (this year is 30% below last year’s record low crime rate) and more people than ever before come as tourists to visit this city, spending over 53 billion dollars last year alone. Brooklyn is the epitome of cool to those who follow the arts, culture, food and fashion.

  • daveinbedstuy

    Why can’t more people understand what’s really going on like prospectperk???? BHO has been in denial for over 10 years.

  • NeoGrec

    The stats are at best annoying, at worst misleading. In neighborhoods like Prospect Heights, they are skewed by the inevitably small sample. If more houses had sold in 2012 (there have been very, very few brownstones available this year to date), I think we’d see a much higher rate of increase. Some of the asks are certainly way higher than we’ve seen in the past — including the previous peak of 2006/7.

  • daveinbedstuy

    In case you’re new to this, BHO, people don’t finance brownstones with lines of credit. They can get mortgages at <4% nowadays.

    • brownstoneshalfoff

      “In case you’re new to this, BHO, people don’t finance brownstones with lines of credit. They can get mortgages at <4% nowadays."

      In case you've absolutely missed my point, DIBS, they have these things called Home Equity Lines of Credit. Free and clear one day, taking on water the next.

      ***Half Peak Comps Euroding***

      • I hate to tell you BHO, it ain’t Wall Streeters buying these houses, because they have no cash. HELOCs are not free and easy, but have very stringent lending criteria, and deferred compensation (cash or stock) is not accepted collateral. @ProspectPerk is much closer to the reality that you are refusing to accept. Foreign buyers and new industry growth and success is where the demand is coming from.

  • brownstoneshalfoff

    “Europe stands on the edge of an abyss, its most dangerous financial crisis since the 1930s. Greece, Spain, and Italy are the closest to tumbling over, but all the others in the eurozone are roped together like Alpine climbers, the fall of one threatening to bring down the rest. And the drag on the rest of the world, very much including the United States, would be calamitous. Say au revoir to our faltering recovery.” – http://finance.yahoo.com/news/mort-zuckerman-eurozone-survive-171747755.html

    Remix: very much including the United States…very much including the United States…very much including the United States…

    ***Half Peak Comps Euroding***

  • daveinbedstuy

    You don’t buy a house on a HELOC, BHO. You have to own it first before you get one. We’re talking here about people buying houses.

    You’ve been soooo wrong for sooo long, BHO. I think the only reason I engage you is because I feel sorry for you.

  • callalily

    Sorry, didn’t have time to comment today. Too busy working my ass off (thanks to a layoff because of the poor economy) to pay my health insurance and mortgage on my moldering but wise investment in brownstone Brooklyn.