Sari Botton’s New York Real Estate Karma

In 2007, Sari Botton told a story in the Village Voice about housing karma. She filled in some details for me. The story goes like this.

In the early nineties, and maybe before, painter Joe Coleman lived in an LES railroad apartment. He paid $234.

In 1993, his landlord raised the rent and priced him out.

Botton moved in. She paid $722.

In 2003, she met her husband.

In 2004, she moved into his rent-controlled loft on Avenue B. Together, they paid $1,350.

The landlord started charging them cash on top of rent. Total, they paid $2,100.

A year later, the landlord raised the rent to $3,600. They tried to fight it. They lost. 

After they moved out of the loft, Michel Gondry moved in. (He moved out when he bought a brownstone in Brooklyn for “a little over a billion bucks“)

The last Botton heard, the railroad that once rented for $234 was going for $2,100.

The last ad she saw for the loft put rent at $6,000.  “Rumor has it,” she writes, “that Matt Dillon used to live there.”

Botton and her husband moved upstate. They now have 1700-square-foot house, a quarter acre of land, and many old t-shirts. Their monthly payment—including mortgage, interest, taxes, and insurance—is $1,600. It’s theirs.

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7 Comments / Post A Comment

I… don’t understand. Landlords raise rent, sometimes illegally (“cash on top of rent” WTF??), and people, sometimes famous ones, move in and out of apartments? Am I missing something?

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@cuminafterall I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be getting out of this either. Accept defeat and move to upstate New York?

You are missing the point that rent rose $1,866 in 20 years. Rent rose, what is that, almost 800%?!? And you don’t think that’s remarkable?

iffie (#1,911)

@Jake Reinhardt Hey! Not all of us can do math. Makes “getting” a blog post really hard!

@Jake Reinhardt More remarkable: the rent on the loft on 8th + B went up by $2250 for us in just two years. Then it went up another $3000 the year after that. My old place on 13th street went up from $722 to $2150 in one year. And I read online that the apartment across the hall is now going for $2750. So, in the space of 8 years, the going rate went up by more than triple what I paid.

@Jake Reinhardt Another way of looking at it is that it’s an increase of a little over 11% per year for 20 years. With inflation, it’s more like a 7% per year real increase.

The real problem is that the salaries of working-class people who might once have easily afforded a $234/mo apartment have not budged in 20 years.

Megano! (#124)

I am soooooo glad all of this is illegal in Ontario!

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