The evidence here is annecdotal, but it's starting to get a lot slimmer pickings in Brooklyn right now. Previously, listings were plentiful in the pleasant and affordable neighborhoods of Kensington, Ditmas Park, Midwood, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge. Apartments ranged from the extremely affordable $900 to approximately $1150 for a spacious one-bedroom. Then, two things happened during the summer:
First: buildings rented up like wildfire! Several buildings in the Ditmas Park area had multiple listings through the summer (we're talking 15 or more listings at any one time), but they all rented within two weeks at the end of August. Agents are waiting for the next listings in these buildings like fledgling birds awaiting their mother's return to the nest.
Second: Prices went up. I work with a lot of people who, realizing that they were priced out of Park Slope/Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights, have settled on Ditmas Park as a viable alternative. Unfortunately, 1-bedroom apartments have risen in price. Apartments closest to Cortelyou Road and Stratford Road (where Vox Pop and the majority of hot shops and restaurants are located) are renting for $1150-$1350 now. Over towards Ocean Ave, studios and small 1 BRs are renting for $1100 minimum, with larger, spacious 1 BRs starting at $1200 and going up.
People who contact me looking for new apartments have been pretty disappointed, and I don't blame them. Most people have a primary concern of being too far from Manhattan. Even though the Q train is amazingly fast, even from Ave J, it's a long way to go in the eye of someone who's perhaps moving in from out of town, or possibly a recent college grad who basked in the glory of the Village, but can't find affordable housing there outside the dorms and other student housing. I suggest other nice apartments to them such as Sunset Park or Bay Ridge, but quite frankly there's not much left there either. Bay Ridge has really gotten pricey, particularly in the choicest areas near Shore Road. There are great apartments available on the east side of Fourth Ave, but people have proven strangely resistant to that side. It honestly boggles my mind, considering how much closer to the subway these apartments are. If interested, check out the link: http://www.citi-habitats.com/viewlisting.php?adID=651097.
Sunset Park is another area that people seem ready to shun without even peeking. While it's true that Fourth and Fifth Avenues are bustling and seem busy, the side streets sport shaded brownstones interspersed with small and medium-sized apartment buildings. I was surprised and impressed to find a Starbucks in the 50s on Fifth Avenue, with more undoubtedly along the way. Sources tell me that the Chinese food there is just as good as what you find in Chinatown, and the Indian food is yummy too! 36th Street is an express stop for N and D trains, so you won't have far to walk. This neighborhood is one that I have definitely not explored enough yet, but I encourage all the bargain hunters who don't want to be "too far away" from Manhattan to make a bee line over and check it out!