The rise of the Brooklyn real estate brand, in charts

Internet search trends illustrate the wide-ranging interest in the borough
By Ariel Stulberg and Will Parker | May 02, 2016 07:00AM

Is Brooklyn still the new Manhattan, or is that just Manhattan now?

New Yorkers endlessly debate the relative merits of our two most famous boroughs, and no amount of data can ever settle which is “better.” But there’s no denying that Brooklyn’s place in the city’s – and the world’s – imagination has grown mightily in recent decades.

That growth is, of course, embodied in the value of its real estate. Everyone’s heard about the borough’s rising prices, but there’s a metric that shows Brooklyn real estate’s rise even more directly: interest, embodied in the web search trends measured by Google.

The Real Deal dug into the search giant’s data portal to try to quantify Brooklyn’s rise.

Google’s “Trends” service measures the relative frequency of searches for particular keywords and topics over time, with results presented as monthly index values. The interface allows users to isolate specific term meanings – Brooklyn the borough as opposed to “Brooklyn” the recently-released film – and to collect certain types of search under a single rubric, such as the “real estate” category,” which combines queries such “Brooklyn apartments,” “Brooklyn” units for rent, etc.

Brooklyn vs. Manhattan

As the above chart shows, among New Yorkers, the number of real estate-related searches for Brooklyn has gradually pulled away from those for Manhattan ever since about 2005-2007, when the two terms were searched at roughly equal frequencies. (The periodic dips in the trend lines illustrates the seasonality of real estate searches.)

The same trend is evident in a basic, non-categorized query that compares searches for “Brooklyn apartments” to those for “Manhattan apartments,” as below.

Brooklyn apartments vs. Manhattan apartments

Meanwhile, New Yorkers’ now prolonged interest in Brooklyn real estate options is rubbing off on international searchers, too. In France, for example, searches for Brooklyn have gained considerably on Manhattan over the last decade and are now nearly as common. Similar trends can be seen in both Canada and the United Kingdom, and most other large countries TRD sampled. In a few countries, like Brazil and Poland, Manhattan real estate searches are still clearly dominant.

The neighborhood of Williamsburg is perhaps most emblematic of the borough’s overall rise, matching the level of interest in more historically desirable residential destinations in Brooklyn, like Park Slope, in recent years.

“Billyburg” — which became a hotspot for higher-income residents beginning in the late 90s, and where development jumped following a 2005 waterfront rezoning — is now falling behind in searches relative to well-known Manhattan neighborhoods, as well as growing hoods in Brooklyn. Indeed, the relative decline in interest in Williamsburg seems to coincide with the diminution t of the pool of people who can afford to live there. Per-foot home prices in the neighborhood per foot shot up up 269 percent between 2004 and 2014, according to PropertyShark. Now, searches for Williamsburg property are falling more closely in line with searches for (gasp) Midtown Manhattan.

Williamsburg vs. Park Slope

So where are the 2016 avatars of mid-aughts, Williamsburg-curious apartment seekers searching now? Bushwick, for one.

The fall in Williamsburg’s search popularity coincides with a rise in interest more recently gentrifying neighborhoods such as Bushwick, which now nearly matches its Manhattan-priced neighbor in frequency of real estate-related queries.

Williamsburg vs. Bushwick