It really is the borough of Kings.
Manhattan is no stranger to rental homes in the five-, even six- figure range — but across the East River, a neighbor is catching up. These days, Brooklyn is seeing a number of record-high rental listings hit the market.
Take, for example, a $40,000-a-month rental in Brooklyn Heights that listed with Sandra Cohen of Sotheby’s International Realty shortly before Thanksgiving. It’s a 4,000-square-foot condominium in One Brooklyn Bridge Park whose features include five bedrooms, a corner living room and a chef’s kitchen with Gaggenau appliances. Last month, broker Sarah Williams, the founder of SOCIETE Real Estate, listed a $36,000 spread at 130 Furman St. in Brooklyn Heights with four bedrooms — plus a private roof terrace with space for al-fresco dining and views of the Manhattan skyline. Available this June via Compass, a Greenpoint penthouse at 524 Manhattan Ave. with a triple-story living room, multiple outdoor spaces — including a landscaped roof deck — asks a cool $30,000.
Market data shows these aren’t just one-off examples. According to Brown Harris Stevens research, monthly rentals of $18,000 or more in Brooklyn have indeed seen an increase since 2021. So far this year — hardly two months into 2023 — the market has had 13 such listings with the average rent being $25,205 a month and the median at $22,000.
“Brooklyn is having its moment in the luxury sun,” said Compass agent David Chang, who lives in the borough and specializes in high-end rentals there. “It’s become a destination with renters moving in from the Lower East Side, the Village and Chelsea, and scooping up luxury properties.” At the same time, added Chang, limited inventory is driving rents up, and properties are being rented at or above market prices.
The rentals at Magnolia Dumbo, a luxury building on Front Street that launched in early 2022, are reflective of this mighty market presence. Jarrod Whitaker, the senior vice president of operations for RXR — the building’s developer — said that in less than 11 months, all 320 residences are fully leased for between one to two years. “We were estimating rents to be $81 a square foot but ended up getting $91,” he said. “This speaks to the vitality of the market.”
Sydney Blumstein, a Corcoran broker who has lived in Williamsburg for the last several years, said she’s personally cashing in on the Brooklyn rental market — which she describes as “on fire.” And she has experienced today’s sky-high prices for herself.
“My husband and I rented out our loft as of February 1st for the first time and are getting $24,000 a month,” she said — and StreetEasy shows that price is among the highest for a home ever rented in Brooklyn. Stretching an entire block, the 139 Powers St. property is a converted warehouse, and offers 4,200 square feet of interior space and an additional 2,500 square feet outdoors. It listed in November for a cool $35,000 per month, as The Post reported, which at that time made it Brooklyn’s priciest rental home on the market.
Blumstein said that she has seen many more pricey rentals of late in Brooklyn than she ever has before — and even at different price levels than the tippy-top of the market, these homes are still fetching higher sums of money.
“Properties that are being relisted are going for double in some instances compared with the last time they were on the market,” she said. “I’m about to list a 2,000-square-foot loft in Clinton Hill that rented for $4,000 a month, but this time, the asking price is $8,000. I have no doubt that it’s going to rent.”
The top end of the market aside, prices for Brooklyn rentals overall appear to have reached peak levels.
According to data from Corcoran, the median rent in Brooklyn was $3,695 in January 2023, up 5% from December and 23% year-over-year. The average rent was $4,220, a 25% increase compared with a year ago. What’s more, January was the 16th consecutive month of year-over-year rent growth in the borough.
In another data point, research from Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel’s most recent rental report shows that the average rental price in Brooklyn in January was $4,165, a record high since 2008. That’s up 31.7% from a year ago, the highest increase in history for Brooklyn, said Miller Samuel president and CEO Jonathan Miller, and 23.7% above pre-pandemic rents.
“Rents are high because mortgage rates are high,” Miller said of today’s interest rate climate amid a battle against languishing inflation. “People that are priced out of the purchase market are going to the rental market, and that’s why it’s historically high.”
In addition, Miller said that new development in Brooklyn has been focused on luxury rental buildings, which drive prices up. “These buildings are highly amenitized and upscale, and that means higher rents,” he said.
StreetEasy economist Kenny Lee agrees. The company’s research indicates that the median rent in Brooklyn is $5,148 — 20% higher than a year ago. “This increase is largely driven by a rise in new luxury developments entering the market last year, which contributed to one in five new top-tier rental listings in 2022,” he said.
Examples of these swanky developments include Eagle + West in Greenpoint, featuring a co-working center and even a stage for karaoke. Meanwhile, Torre House in Brooklyn Heights has three swimming pools, including one on the rooftop with city views.
Lee said that the neighborhoods with the most top-tier rentals are Downtown Brooklyn, Greenpoint and Williamsburg — and that, at 9,446 units, current rental inventory is 30% below the average inventory level in 2019. That number is down just 0.1% from last year.
The ability to afford super-luxury rentals aside, Lee and other industry experts said that Brooklyn has a number of appealing qualities that make it a desirable place to live. Lee points to the greater square footage that the borough’s properties offer per dollar, compared with those in Manhattan. “They allow for more space for home offices for hybrid and remote workers,” he said.
Blumstein said the outdoor space that residents get is a big attraction. “There aren’t as many tall buildings, and you see more sky. You’re still in the city but have a slightly suburban flavor,” she added.
Speaking from personal experience, Blumstein is also a fan of the sense of community. “Your neighbors in Brooklyn are usually friendly and happy to socialize or help out if you’re in a bind,” she said. “You’re never alone trying to find your own way, and there’s a reassurance in that.”