1) Know the market dynamic
Brooklyn may hold 2.5 million people over 81 square miles, but it has little office space. In fact, there is less built office space in Brooklyn than vacant space today in all of Manhattan. The Brooklyn market for office, retail, warehouse and residential spaces is the tightest since 1945. Brooklyn’s creative, tech and food communities are expanding, bumping up against space limits. Now, add in the reverse Bridge & Tunnel tenants coming from “the City,” out of state and around the world. There are now fewer spaces available than tenants in the market, leading to a game of musical chairs—the motivated, the quick and the moneyed get the space.
2) What you see is what you get
Given the tight market, and the unwillingness and the financial inability of most landlords to significantly alter their spaces, tenants must adapt to the space available. There are few choices in any category, making it hard to ‘shop’. Tenants must fit the space on offer, not the other way around.
3) Prices in some cases are higher than Manhattan
With Downtown Manhattan’s good deals, the huge number of dead restaurant spaces, and over 40 million square feet of vacant offices on the small island, you can walk into nicely built space, but not here on the big island.
4) Deal with it
Many landlords are stiff-necked on price, given the huge number of calls they get. Everyday someone offers to buy their building—every parcel is in play. However, it is tougher to reach a consensus on value when the pendulum has swung so far in the ownership direction. Many Brooklyn owners are in residential too, which, unlike commercial, moves at lightning speed. So they are impatient with dithering tenants.
5) Get used to it
Most tenants go into the market alone, unaware of all of the above. They waste their time and others, experience shock and then fail to find space. As many Brooklyn tenants are in creative and service fields, with collegial values, great communication skills and fine manners they are stunned by the rude and rough real estate environment so very much at odds with the way they generally do business.
6) Tenants get bad advice
A majority of commercial brokers working Brooklyn don’t know what they are doing, yet tenants work with them, knowing even less.
My advice: Get educated, grow an extra layer of TK, ‘overpay’ and be like successful townhouse buyers today – just grab it if it can possibly work for you.