No news about the cost of living in New York City—and in Brooklyn more than ever—is shocking. It all ends in: This is a largely insupportable place to exist comfortably. DNAinfo just reported 40 percent of New Yorkers say they can’t afford to live here (according to a Quinnipiac University poll) and, indeed, Brooklyn itself is among the least affordable places to be a home owner in the country.
While it was Manhattan a decade ago that was most responsible for the steepest home-listings, the city’s housing market looks radically different in 2016. Brownstoner reports that in 2006 the median price per square foot in a Brooklyn townhouse was $320—which even now is nothing to sneeze at. But ten years later, the median price per square foot for any Brooklyn home is $908, according to a report from Corcoran.
This is, of course, insane, and all the more so considering that the housing market and the country’s entire economy collapsed within that period of time. And yet, when it rebounded—and the housing market along with it—it did so with a vengeance, especially in Brooklyn.
Brownstoner says that, as late as 2009, the New York City housing market had dropped 10 percent over the year before, while the entire country’s market was down 30 percent, at “late-2003 levels,” in the wake of the dot-com bubble. But by 2012, the Brooklyn market was on its way to a robust recovery, becoming the second-most expensive place to live in the country (followed only by Manhattan) and, the very next year, in 2013, home prices here were the highest they’d been in a decade. Still, the average Brooklyn home price even then—$694,777—was a pittance compared to today. Which meant, of course, that rates would grow less affordable fast.
In 2014, Brooklyn became the “least affordable” place to purchase a home in the country, taking the spot of Manhattan, and also edging out San Francisco. This was a time when rich foreigners were starting to place their money in a more stable market, i.e., New York City homes, while income here, meanwhile, wasn’t budging.
Enter 2015, says Brownstoner, and the Brooklyn townhouse market emerged as positively prohibitive: a Cobble Hill Townhouse sold for $15.5 million to photographer Jay Maisel, a Brooklyn record (though this was pocket change compared to the home he had just sold on the Bowery in Manhattan for $55 million). By October of last year, Brooklyn home prices overall were 18 percent higher than the year before, and brownstones were hottest: prices increased 28.9 percent in just on year, bringing the average sale to $2,704,844.
Finally, enter the monster that became 2016: Not just in historically expensive neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill were homes so decisively out of almost anyone’s price range: homes in Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Clinton Hill—the 11216 zip code—had increased 194 percent since 2004, according to Brownstoner, which represented the highest hike in the entire country.
Finally, Curbed reports that, while the Manhattan luxury market is actually went down in 2016, in Brooklyn, prices continue to be on the rise (the designation of “luxury” in Manhattan begins at $10 million, whereas in Brooklyn, it begins at $2 million). And so, while $908 is merely the average price per square foot in a Brooklyn home, it can, of course, get much, much higher—for example, in Cobble Hill. There, the average price per square foot is $2,773, according to Curbed.
A shock, to be sure. And yet, come to think of it, in a world where the OED word of the year is “post-truth” and a reality show host is our president-elect, housing market numbers—even ones so rarefied as these—feel, unfortunately, like the sanest thing around.