Brooklyn Secret Agent: Suburban Invasion


    Today we bring you the sixth of an anonymous weekly column about real estate by one of the most experienced agents in Brooklyn:
    People always ask me where the buyers for houses in brownstone Brooklyn hail from. They usually quickly answer their own question: “Manhattan, right?  With prices so high?”  While there are some buyers from across the river, recently many buyers are coming from a startling place — the New York City suburbs.

    Two years ago, over Thanksgiving, I found myself negotiating on behalf of a buyer I’ll call Two Lawyers for a wreck of a house on 2nd Place.  They did not get it, in part because their current house, a sprawling spread  in Bedford, had not yet sold.  They had two children, and one was already accepted at a Brooklyn private school.  They did get the next one and embarked on an innovative green restoration, renting in the meantime.  And the Bedford property was SLOW to sell.

    Last year, another buyer I’ll call Really Nice Couple came to an open house and started looking at properties with me.  They only wanted the P.S. 321 school district, even though their daughter was going to attend a private school. They got a second chance at a home that had a deal fall apart, and they struck very quickly.  Really Nice Husband said he knew it was the right house because the day that it came back to them, they also got an offer on their house in Greenwich.  Really Nice Wife could not wait to stow her car in a remote garage.

    Early in 2012, Fashion Exec and his partner came looking for the perfect house.  Their children had ended up in private school in their rural corner of New Jersey.  Realizing that the worst of both worlds had ended up in their laps — high taxes,  schools that didn’t suit their needs, and a soul-killing commute — they jumped at the first remotely plausible house in Carroll Gardens and have never looked back.

    And at a newly listed gorgeous house near Prospect Park, in waltzed Prominent Real Estate Executive, whose family is firmly ensconced in Scarsdale. Once the house was judged appealing, the talk quickly turned to which schools my children attended, why, and which would best suit their three children. Despite acknowledging that with three children, the high suburban school taxes made better economic sense than three tuitions, they are Brooklyn-bound.

    Apparently the suburbs have lost their appeal.  The time wasted commuting, the isolation in one’s car and home, and the homogeneity no longer win in the trade-off for one’s own backyard. Certainly the decision is more complex than that, but the suburban invasion has to be one reason there is so much competition for Brooklyn homes.

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