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A Just-Okay Rental That Sparked a Bidding War

Apartment 2 at 11 South Elliott Place inspired a bidding war. Photo: Jason Abrishami

The apartment needed work. The paint was flaking. The appliances were old. A ceiling needed patching. And the bathrooms were “ancient,” joked Jerry Minsky, the broker who posted the listing Sunday and is still reeling from what happened next, as a torrent of New Yorkers hit up his inbox, jammed his phone line, and forced his employee to run the door of their open house as if it were a nightclub. Four days later, the team is still getting inquiries from prospective tenants who have been bidding and outbidding each other — though at this point, no one has a chance. A lucky renter has been plucked from the horde to pay $1,700 more than the last tenant and $1,150 more than the original listing price of $2,750. “I just can’t believe this apartment went for $3,900,” says Minsky. “It’s 825 square feet. It looks like an apartment from the early ’90s. It’s bizarre.”

The one-bedroom has original details including fireplaces, moldings, and hardwood floors. Photo: Jason Abrishami

Though in some ways, it makes perfect sense. The floor-through one-bedroom occupies the second floor of an old brownstone just six doors south of Fort Greene Park on one of the most enviable tree-lined streets in all of Brooklyn: South Elliott Place. Unlike most of the units in new high-rises a few blocks west, this apartment wasn’t dreamed up on CAD and staged on Instagram. There are mantels and moldings and fireplaces; raked hardwood floors and chandelier fixtures; high ceilings and three windows in the front that, if you crane your neck sideways, look over the park. The renters who started emailing Minsky for showings craved character. “It’s hard to get these types of spaces now,” Minsky says, and scarcity drives prices.

The apartment is one of three units in the building, and the owner lives downstairs. Photo: Jason Abrishami

The listing went live on Sunday morning. Minsky’s colleague Jason Abrishami was sure to post photos that showed the unit’s best features without exaggerating size or luxury. But still, the emails came too quickly for them to respond. Then “my phone exploded,” Minsky says. “Even the young ones are calling me, even though they don’t like to call.” He set an open house for 48 hours after the listing went live, but still got 18 completed applications, sight unseen, some over asking. Then, on the night of the open house, a line of about 30 people built up outside the door as groups of three to five were asked to look quickly to relieve the others. Upstairs, they’d ask him about bidding. Minsky says he didn’t set prices — instead, he said, he would encourage them to bid “aggressively” and demur from setting a number by suggesting that their competitors were probably standing in the room with them. “I love to be dramatic,” he says.

Minsky wasn’t thrilled to have to spend a week of work on a $2,750 rental. “It was a pain in the ass,” he says, especially given his legal obligation to continue showing the property until there was a signed contract. “I think I need a drink, and I don’t drink.”

A Just-Okay Rental That Sparked a Bidding War