Is This the Destination for Affordable Real Estate?

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Houses on Marlborough Between Dorchester and Ditmas

Ditmas Park came up in the New York Times real estate section this week, in a piece about gentrification stretching further out into Brooklyn. Where Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens were once deemed out-of-the-way places for former Manhattanites to relocate to, now people who have been priced out of those Brooklyn neighborhoods are heading to places like Sunset Park, Crown Heights, Bushwick, and yes, here:

Ditmas Park’s increasing gentrification is helping attract and retain families who might previously have gone to the suburbs. “There’s more holding them here now,” said Jan Rosenberg, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years and is a founder of Brooklyn Hearth Realty. “It’s more of a neighborhood.”

The piece notes that young families who bought apartments in the area are growing into larger spaces, though perhaps not our $1 million wood-frame houses:

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Sometimes that might be a grand Victorian, but more often it’s a smaller home nearby in Kensington, a diverse neighborhood of Orthodox Jews and immigrants from Pakistan, the Darfur region of Sudan, and Poland, among many other places….

…The median real estate price there in 2012 was $260,630, versus $450,000 in Ditmas Park, according to Streeteasy.

Of course, there’s hardly a mention of the families, young and old, who have been living in these neighborhoods for decades, helping to make them the desirable real estate destinations they are today.

So, what do you think of it all? Is our neighborhood the alternative to the suburbs? Has it already been that, for many years? And can anyone afford to live here, or are the Ditmas Park gentrifiers gentrifying Kensington?

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Is our neighborhood the alternative to the suburbs? I think it can be, but it requires a bit of an open (and, dare I say, left-leaning) mind. In order to be willing to pay the premium over the suburbs you need to be able to appreciate and respect this area’s historical heritage, to accept the very high level of “diversity”, and to bear with a modicum of street crime. Some of the people who live in Westchester, LI, NJ and CT would feel at home here, but maybe not that many.

  2. I’m happy, I guess, that when I kick the bucket, my kids will get a heap of money for our house, but since I don’t plan on moving, there’s no benefit to property values rising (just higher taxes and annoying postcards from real estate agents who want to list the house I have no intention of selling). I’ve even gotten a hand-written note in my door from someone offering to buy my house — yuck! Having a Greenmarket and a CSA is a huge positive; it’s nice to have a few nice restaurants as well, but I’m not sure it’s worth the additional taxes I’m coughing up as my house is worth more each year.

  3. Ditmas Park is definitely not affordable anymore. Maybe 5-10 years ago, but it has changed very fast.

  4. HELEN – Good to know that you’re staying put. A shame that you had to leave that newspaper chain that has deteriorated since you left. I can’t believe anything wtritten in those papers anymore. Your accuate reporting is missed.

  5. Thanks for the kind words. I really miss covering this neighborhood, as well as East Flatbush and Canarsie, both of which were my beat for years. That said, I’m now editor at the Home Reporter and Spectator, which covers southwest Brooklyn, and I’m delighted to be working for energetic publishers who revitalized the two papers and respect accuracy. I’ve been there two years; look us up at homereporter.com and on facebook if you haven’t seen our coverage. There’s no coverage of this area…yet. But, we do cover some borough-wide issues

  6. The “premium” is to a decent extent offset by saving 10 to 15 thousand a year in property taxes. For those who prefer to live without a car, not paying for one if not two cars makes the city vs suburb financial calculation a lot more balanced.

  7. To be clear, the NYC suburbs aren’t affordable either. Metro North/LIRR costs a fortune and, as you note, property taxes are obscene and you do need a car there as well. You get more space and better schools, but you spend your whole life commuting assuming you work in Manhattan.

  8. Agreed. With recent MCI costs tacked on to our annual rent increase, my wife and I are looking to leave altogether. In the Lower Hudson Valley region, we can rent a 3 bedroom house and absorb the Metro North fees, with her commute being roughly the same.

    With that, who the hell needs to live here?

  9. My interest was piqued in the Hudson Valley after a road trip up there – but with taxes on even very modest houses topping $1000 a month there just didn’t seem to be much of a difference in monthly out of pocket expenses for one without children.

  10. Our neighborhood is still grossly undervalued. I cannot believe that Prospect Lefferts Gardens commands higher prices than Ditmas Park. Something is out of whack!

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