Brooklyn has always been number 2 in NYC.

It was for the hipsters. It was for the young broke. It was for those who “abandoned” Manhattan.

But the pandemic ultimately changed that attitude, as thousands of longtime Manhattanites flocked to spacious townhouses and new construction towers laden with equipment.

Tribeca residents Catherine, 40, and Ricardo McKenzie, 42, plan to be among these expats in the city soon.

After renting in downtown Manhattan for the past 11 years, they are now looking in Brooklyn for a long term home.

“Brooklyn looks like a new beginning, a new direction as we change our minds to focus more on our family,” Catherine, who co-founded handbag boutique Min & Mon and whose two children, told The Post. are educated in Brooklyn. “Experiencing the pandemic in Tribeca made us realize that we no longer want to feel in the middle of things. While [downtown Manhattan] feels like home, now there is this idea of ​​feeling more exposed being in Manhattan.

Brooklyn brokers were the first to know about the influx of families, like the McKenzies, who crossed the East River.

A row of unique apartment buildings with stoops on New York Ave.  in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
A row of unique townhouses with stoops in Crown Heights.
Alamy Stock Photo

“We’re seeing a big increase in Brooklyn, both in rentals and in sales, because of that sense of community,” said MaryElizabeth Smith of Corcoran, who represents the McKenzies in their ongoing home hunt in Brooklyn. “There is a small town vibe in many areas of Brooklyn that is not as common in Manhattan.”

In the first quarter of the year, Brooklyn recorded 2,822 sales, up 11.8% year-over-year – the highest first quarter total in 14 years, according to Douglas Elliman.

The median selling price during this period reached $ 900,000, an increase of $ 100,000 from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the number of new lease signatures in the borough quintupled, year over year, to 2,175 – the highest number on record, according to the Elliman report. The median rental price was $ 2,730 over the same period.

For many Manhattan dwellers poised to play a part in Brooklyn’s real estate boom, these numbers beg the question: is it better to rent or buy?

Aerial view of downtown Brooklyn New York with the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
Brooklyn recorded its highest first-quarter sales total in 14 years, according to Douglas Elliman.
Getty Images

Of course, that depends, said agent Corcoran Vicki Negron, who works with both the rental and sale of properties in Brooklyn.

“The good news is you can get what you want from both sides of the equation right now,” she said. “You just need to look for it.”

For those looking for a good deal, renting is the way to go, she added, noting that there is a “hyper supply of rentals” in the market that is driving rents down.

“The power has really shifted in favor of the tenant side of the market, which means now may be a good time to rent right now,” confirmed Jim Kerby, broker at Douglas Elliman Specialized in Brooklyn. “Landlords had to lower their rents, and many also got rid of various transaction fees, like the first month’s security deposit.

A Brooklyn skyline.
In the first quarter, the number of new lease signatures was the highest on record.
Getty Images

This means that many renters are currently able to make the switch from a bedroom to a two-bedroom with a large outdoor space – much like the “Girls” episode where Hannah hangs out in this rich dude’s brownstone. and they roast in his sweet courtyard.

“In the end, it comes down to spreading out a bit,” Negron said. “At this time last year, we were in fallback or leave mode, and now we are in recovery mode, which calls for people to think about expanding their living spaces. Now that we know that many people can work from home, it comes down to making room for home offices and home gyms that can sit around for a while.

“One big thing that we are seeing in the market right now is people making offers without any contingency to protect themselves. They want the property so badly that they are not as risk averse as they should be.

Compass Agent Shii Ann Huang

But for those with a lot of cash in the bank, now isn’t a bad time to make a lifetime investment in the city’s most populous borough – don’t expect a discount.

“Interest rates are low and house prices are likely to go up,” said Shii Ann Huang, a Compass agent who works in Brooklyn. “We hit rock bottom last year, and now we’re already rocking bottom – so houses are probably only going to get more expensive.”

It’s a perfect storm that leads to bidding wars and final deals.

“People saw the pandemic prices drop and thought, ‘Wow, this is such a good deal,’ then the number went up because there were multiple deals,” Huang said. “While we saw a drop in prices across all areas of rentals and sales in the last quarter, we are actually seeing a big change now. And it will continue to happen.

But a word of warning: while it can be tempting to pull something off now, it’s important not to let the frenzy – or what Smith called the “Real Estate Hunger Games” – tamper with your judgment.

“One big thing that we are seeing in the market right now is people making offers without any contingency to protect themselves,” she said. “They want the property so badly that they’re not as risk averse as they should be.”

Ricardo, left, and Catherine McKenzie, near vacant storefronts near their home in TriBeCa.
“I want a place that makes me feel like I’m at home, but I don’t want anything at any cost,” says Catherine McKenzie.
Stephen yang

His advice? Slow down.

This is precisely the logic the McKenzies adopted in their research.

Although they’ve lost a few big houses in bidding wars, they’re still hoping the right Brooklyn house will find them – on their terms.

“I want a place that makes me feel like I’m at home, but I don’t want anything at any cost,” Catherine said. “I want the right seat at the right price because ‘winning a seat’ isn’t me. I will not be able to be at peace with myself if I win something that was not wise.

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