On the House: Brooklyn home buyers, come on down

Brooklyn transplant Christopher Plant is high on Philadelphia, and the Mount Airy real estate agent spends considerable energy trying to persuade Brooklynites that this is the place they ought to be.

Hence, his BrooklyntoPhilly.com website, where he tempts former neighbors who haven't a prayer of affording a home there with views of what they could afford if they'd only move here.

Plant said that while he can afford a $350,000 stone single in Mount Airy, people in Brooklyn can't "even approach buying a three-bedroom house in a good neighborhood for under $800,000."

So far, 12 to 15 people - generally artists, writers and others who need to be in New York only occasionally - have either rented or bought here.

"Every third client is from Brooklyn," he said.

Not a tidal wave by any means. The movement is probably not statistically discernible, except perhaps at census time.

Nor does Plant, an agent with Elfant Wissahickon in Northwest Philadelphia, who moved from Brooklyn a decade ago, think this city is for all New Yorkers.

"If you are a lawyer working from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Manhattan every day, then moving here is not for you," said Plant, who with a business partner operated a nightclub in the Williamsburg section until the move to Philadelphia.

But one of his clients, an editor with McGraw Hill, bought a house in Philadelphia seven years ago for $350,000 and travels to Manhattan only when required for meetings.

"Ten people I know who live in Philly commute to New York two or three days a week. Most people can't afford the cost of living in Brooklyn."

He added that an assistant district attorney he knows just paid $942,000 for a tiny house in Park Slope. Even rents on the south side of a transitional section such as Williamsburg are $2,900 a month, Plant said.

If you think this is just a lot of real estate talk, meet Penn-educated clinical psychiatrist Geoffrey Neimark, who has just bought a house in University City with his wife, Kait Yulman. They have a 9-month-old son, Ezra.

Neimark, who grew up in Park Slope, has never met Plant, but he, too, acknowledged that he touts Philadelphia to his friends.

"The word is spreading, and it is only a matter of time. I live in a house now that I couldn't even begin to afford there, and I live in a city that has everything I had in Brooklyn."

Needless to say, however, "New Yorkers are a little headstrong about the city," Neimark said, "but the fact [is] that you can't touch a house in Brooklyn for less than $1 million."

Plant lived in Brooklyn for almost a decade and witnessed the borough's exponential growth: "Even if you left for just a week, things would be changed."

He grew up in Washington, but spent two years at Temple. His mother was a lobbyist in Harrisburg, so Plant knew Philadelphia and considered it a place to raise a family in a house he could afford.

He continued to do nightclub work after arriving, even as he became more involved in selling real estate.

"I can live my life on my own terms in Philadelphia," Plant said. "We own our own home, can afford to send our children to private school, and still have a life.

"I do believe Philadelphia represents the same opportunity for a vast number of Brooklynites," Plant said.He is trying to establish a portal "to allow people in Brooklyn to understand the value of Philadelphia real estate" and the urban lifestyle here.

"Friends of mine just spent $14,000 renovating a closet in Manhattan," he said. "You can spend that and get much more here."

 


Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472, aheavens@phillynews.com or @alheavens at Twitter.