If there’s one reliable party line about Brooklyn real estate (besides that it is getting less and less affordable by the day), it’s that hey, it’s still not as bad as Manhattan. It’s a jungle over there, what person in their right mind would go near it? Well, probably the same people (hint: rich foreigners) who are still snapping up properties in Soho, and are rapidly closing the price gap between the two neighborhoods, Financial Times reports.
And while it won’t come as much of a surprise that demand, prices, and the rush to build new units are all on the rise in Williamsburg—2,818 new apartment units are expected to hit the market this year, with 2,766 more coming in 2014, and the average price for a luxury home in Brooklyn now hovering around $2 million—what is interesting is the degree to which it’s being driven by wealthy foreign buyers, who have long played a significant role in Manhattan’s insane housing prices. According to new numbers from Halstead property, a third of sales in Williamsburg over the past few years were to foreign buyers, and a Corcoran Agent told the Financial Times, “Williamsburg is now an established part of New York’s luxury property market. International buyers, as well as long-time New York investors, no longer see Manhattan as the only place to purchase upscale property.” One Chinese company, Xinyuan Real Estate, has plans in motion for 200 new condos on the Williamsburg waterfront, and Carlyle Group, a “global alternative asset manger,” is working on a unit with more than 200 apartments further south.
The article cites the 2005 re-zoning as the obvious turning point for all this, and notes that experts see Williamsburg as on pace to “follow the trajectory of Soho or Greenwich Village.” Other industry insiders reiterate, “Real estate values are now influencing the neighborhood and wealthy buyers are showing up.” So, between that and all the new big box retailers setting up shop in the neighborhood, this sounds a little dramatic, but mostly on the nose. Yes, it’ll all be just like Soho in no time.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.