Like in any real estate cycle, Williamsburg’s market is about to dip, bringing property values down. That means that right now, until the L train repairs are nearing their end, apartments won’t necessarily buy out at the highest rate tenants would otherwise receive during a strong market. There are a lot of valid reasons why tenants in rent-controlled apartments might look to move. For example, they might be a family outgrowing their apartment, or maybe they’re beginning to find their apartment’s stairs a challenge. In situations like these, of course it would make sense to accept a buyout. However, if a tenant is looking to move due to the shutdown alone, it may be worth holding on a little longer.
Unlike renters in market-rate apartments, those rent-stabilized apartment renters are in the unique position of rent-controlled apartment tenant’s rights, which include indefinite lease renewals and succession rights. For renters in market-rate units, bailing on a neighborhood if it means an easier commute is a logical solution, especially if you can get a comparable apartment in an equally great neighborhood with better transportation. For renters in rent-stabilized apartments though, buying out now means surrendering their rights while the market is down, which yields a lower buyout price.
For these reasons, the best time for tenants in rent-stabilized apartments to accept buyouts from their landlords is actually when the L train is close to reopening and prices are back at pre-shutdown levels. Instead of skipping town, I’d encourage tenants in rent-stabilized apartments in Williamsburg not to panic, and to accept a buyout when the time is right for them.
It’s important to remember that the shutdown, like the state of the real estate market in general, is temporary. To tenants in rent-stabilized apartments, I would say yes, a longer commute for 15 months will be tough. But it will pass, and ultimately the rewards outweigh the negatives.