Why Not To Sell your Rent-Stabilized Williamsburg Apartment During the L Train Shutdown

Why Not To Sell your Rent-Stabilized Williamsburg Apartment During the L Train Shutdown

With the L train shutdown just around the corner, going into effect in April 2019, Williamsburg is starting to undergo some changes.  Rent prices dropped .6 percent compared to last year, businesses are planning to shift deliveries to overnight to avoid the rush, and, in perhaps one of the only positive outcomes to come from this, there will likely be increased foot traffic to ground floor retail on 14th street in Manhattan as consumers are forced to remain above ground while walking to other subway stations.

Since the shutdown was announced in 2017, residents have begun fleeing the neighborhood, opting not to renew leases, and choosing instead to move to other trendy but more convenient neighborhoods such as Bushwick, Crown Heights, or Bed Stuy. Without the L train, Williamsburg residents will be left without the easiest, most convenient form of transportation to and from Manhattan, which is a major concern, especially for those working in Manhattan.

Should I Consider a Lease Buyout During the L Train Shutdown?

While residents are fleeing in droves, tenants in rent-stabilized apartments should resist this trend and hold onto their apartment until after the L train reopens 15 months after it closes--in July 2020--if they’re able to hold out.

If you live in a market-rate apartment, there is little incentive to stay in Williamsburg during the shutdown, especially if you can get a comparable apartment in an equally “hip” or trendy neighborhood. If you’re in a market-rate apartment, your landlord might actually try to incentivize you to stay or may be willing to negotiate new lease terms just to keep you.

On the flip side, if you’re living in a rent-stabilized apartment and are weighing the pros and cons of leaving, allow me to add to your con list--your buyout rate goes down.

Cons of Accepting a Lease Buyout During L Train Shutdown

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.

How to Get to Manhattan During the L Train Shutdown

Other forms of transportation while you await the L train’s reopening include:

  • Taking the J/M/Z and then, if it’s a nice day, biking or walking across the Williamsburg Bridge or taking a ride-sharing service across
  • Taking the NYC ferry
  • Taking the G line into Queens, and then transferring to take the 7 into midtown (the G line is said to be doubling from four cars to eight.)

Alternatively, some companies have thought up other solutions for commuters, such as the aptly named The New L, a carpool subscription that will get you to work in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. There have even been talks of perhaps creating an air gondola, or a temporary pontoon bridge.

When You’re Ready for a Lease Buyout

When tenants of rent-controlled apartments do decide to buy out, Lease Buyout Advisors provides a team whose top priority is to make sure that tenants are receiving the maximum buyout possible, based on fair market value. Our team of real estate professionals are experts in tenant representation, using unique algorithms to determine a property’s market value and value to the landlord to help get tenants the buyout rate they deserves.

The real estate market is a wave with rising and receding property values. The state of a property in any given neighborhood can rise and fall depending on varying factors such as school districts, economic growth in the neighborhood, or in this case, transportation and convenience to Manhattan. During the shutdown, it’s worth it to hold onto your rent-stabilized apartment so you can get the largest buyout possible.

I constantly have people asking me when is the best time to move out of their rent-stabilized apartment, in light of the L train shutdown. What I say is that there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Weigh the pros and cons and make an educated decision that works for you. When you decide the time is right, we’re only a click or call away.

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