A debate was sparked on TikTok after user Sarah (@sarahloukiernan) posted a video showing a real estate agent taking photos of the massive crowd visiting an apartment in New York.
“NY real estate agent takes selfie with applicants for apartment because he’s ‘never seen this many people for an open house in 17 years,’” Sarah writes in the text overlaying the video.
Sarah’s video currently has over 1.1 million views.
@sarahloukiernan the apartment market is insane in Brooklyn, maybe 50 people for 1 apartment #brooklyn #nyc #apartment #newyork #ny #SearchForWonderMom ♬ Elevator Music – Bohoman
The apartment is in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint district, an area that has an average rental price of over $3000 for a studio apartment. Rental prices in the area are skyrocketing, with average rents increasing by over 40% in the last year, according to M.N.S Real Estate NYC.
The building itself is the Astral Building. Numerous allegations have been made about the quality of the building and the super, 57-year-old Thomas Tamborski.
In 2021, Greenpointers reported that “law enforcement found three years’ of footage capturing [a tenant], as well as a previous tenant, showering, changing, and doing other personal activities” that could be attributed to Tamborski. He has pleaded not guilty to 36 counts of unlawful surveillance.
Sarah notes this in a follow-up video.
@sarahloukiernan #stitch with @sarahloukiernan truly can’t make this up #greenscreen #nyc #newyork #10MillionAdoptions #FindYourEdge #brooklyn #apartment ♬ Elevator Music – Bohoman
Many have claimed this is causing a “rental squeeze,” where rental prices are increasing due to higher demand and not enough empty apartments to fill the need.
However, there are several issues with this idea.
First, some of the price increases can be attributed to COVID deals expiring. As many left the city, some landlords temporarily decreased prices to entice people to stay in their apartments. On average, landlords did not lose money despite these deals, with a JPMorgan Chase report noting that “as revenues were declining, landlords cut expenses by an amount greater than their rental income declined, which resulted in overall higher cash balances.” In fact, “the median landlord ended 2020 with a modest decline of 3 percent in rental revenue compared to 2019.”
Despite continuing to earn substantial profits, landlords have now recognized the return of interest in New York and increased prices to benefit themselves.
Additionally, many of New York’s apartments are unoccupied or currently being used for other purposes. Nearly 5% of New York apartments are vacant as of 2021, which, while substantial, is lower than previous years. However, there are also now more Airbnb listings for New York than apartments available to rent, according to Curbed, which means less long-term housing is available to interested renters.
Returning to the TikTok, Sarah speculates in comments that the apartment was popular because it was both in a trendy area and “rent stabilized,” a term that applies to about 50% of New York apartments and means rent can only be increased by a certain percentage every year.
No matter the specifics, TikTokers had thoughts about the renters and this situation in general.
“This is…….very sad and infuriating,” wrote one user.
“The Midwest and other rural places needs to have more larger cities with more career opportunities,” added another. “NYC and CA shouldn’t be the biggest options.”
Many other commenters called the prospective renters “gentrifiers.”
Above all, TikTokers were shocked by the prospect of having to compete with so many other people simply to have a place to live.
As one user wrote, “i’m never moving out of my moms house… this is lowkey infuriating.”
We’ve reached out to Sarah via TikTok comment.
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