A few blocks from the nearest metro line? It’s OK for tenants in the coronavirus era


“My listing at 440 Atlantic Ave. is located just minutes from almost all of the major Brooklyn subway lines, not to mention the LIRR station and many bus lines, ”Compass agent Jamie Fedorko told Crain’s. “Not a single person mentioned this or asked a question about it. They were also not particularly interested when I told them about all the means of transportation during the screenings. ”
The flip side of the trend has taken hold with Fedorko’s Degraw Street listing in Brooklyn’s Columbia Street waterfront neighborhood, a neighborhood that doesn’t have good subway access. Rather than asking Fedorko about the metro, people visiting the house have instead focused on parking options.

“I hear a lot of stories where people want to know where the nearest garage is rather than the nearest metro station,” he said. “It’s an increasingly common component of what we do now. ”

Searches for homes with parking increased every March through October compared to last year, according to data from Brown Harris Stevens. The peak occurred in June, when 658 people searched its city listings for homes with parking, up from 88 in June 2019. The trend has just shown its first sign of reverse potential, with 173 people searching the homes site. with parking last month compared to 434 in November 2019.

Buyers vs tenants

The decrease in the importance of metro access has opened tenants to more parts of the city, several agents said. Some of the biggest year-over-year spikes in house demand have been in Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Sheepshead Bay and Bay Ridge. A long commute to Manhattan is no longer seen as a major inconvenience in the context of widespread work from home, said StreetEasy economist Nancy Wu.

Corcoran agent Daniel Kandinov said many of his clients are willing to expand their search parameters up to 10 blocks given they are not currently commuting. Some have opted for electric scooters or Citi Bike subscriptions to make up for the extra distance from public transport.

Buyers are more likely than renters to prioritize access to the subway because they generally want a more permanent commitment to the city, said Warner Lewis, an agent for Brown Harris Stevens. Renters who plan to stay in their current apartment for only a few years are more likely to get a good deal on housing with little access to public transportation now, knowing that they might look for one closer to the metro the next time they go. move.

“The buyers that I have, they’re always very focused on ‘My work is here, and I want to make sure I’m near a train line to get to work’ because they have a point of view much longer, ”Lewis said. . “For tenants, number one, two and three right now is interior space. ”

The central role of transportation before the pandemic was arguably most important in Williamsburg. Lewis said he had had some success with rentals in the neighborhood despite the pandemic, but the market was shaken long before Covid hit following the potential L-train shutdown last year for repairs to the Canarsie tunnel. The shutdown was avoided when Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January announced a plan to limit L service.

“I would say the L train did more harm to Williamsburg than Covid – which is crazy,” Lewis said. “But when you take away transportation to and from a place altogether, people just say, period, ‘I won’t be living there,’ whereas during Covid they’ll be living there. ”

Rents in New York have fallen almost everywhere since the start of the pandemic, but northwest Queens has been hit hard, in part due to lower travel, said Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel.

“It’s a subway station in Midtown, and suddenly during this Covid era, it becomes a lot less important just because of remote working,” Miller said. “And yet, this is all an extension of Manhattan. ”

According to Elliman’s latest hire report, which Miller put together.


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