“People are looking for that bubble”: Brick Underground’s Teri Rogers on a residential market under lockdown

Publisher of consumer-focused resi site talks virtual co-op interviews & New Yorkers’ biggest pain points during pandemic

When you think of a New York City co-op board interview, your mind likely conjures up a well-heeled couple in their Sunday best, extremely anxious as they trot up to the boardroom to face a jury of their executioners. It is the city’s most grueling audition.

But a pandemic-era interview has a very different vibe, according to Brick Underground’s Teri Rogers, who described a recent video audition her Upper West Side co-op board conducted with a prospective buyer.

“We could see her apartment,” Rogers recalled. “We saw how she lived. Saw that she had a surfboard propped up in the corner, that matched with her letter. I think we got such an enormous level of comfort seeing who she was in her real life, rather than if she had come to us all dressed up and nervous. I think that should be something that should be here to stay.”

Rogers is the founder and CEO of the popular consumer-focused New York City real estate website. In a conversation with her, The Real Deal‘s Hiten Samtani likened Brick Underground to an “Agony Aunt” for New York residential problems, and asked Rogers about some of the most pressing issues New Yorkers were concerned about during the pandemic.

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(Watch more of The REInterview, a series of in-depth conversations with real estate leaders and newsmakers hosted by Hiten Samtani, here.)

One of the biggest draws of living in New York – density – may now be a big deterrent, Samtani said, and Rogers noted that “most people who could afford to, and had a place where they could go, have left already.”

She said virtual closings had helped shepherd through transactions that were in process before the pandemic hit, but that sales activity had mostly come to a standstill. Those with money were now most interested in the cocoons that penthouses and brownstones can provide, she said.

Rogers said that some of the amenities rental landlords had bet big on, such as giant fitness centers and social spaces, would hold less cachet now, with renters more interested in features such as en-suite laundry. And in the short-term, landlords should expect a significant degree of pain.

“The value proposition of renting here,” she said, “is not going to work for the next year.”

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