Brooklyn Real Estate Q + A with Noel Borbon

As a new mom, navigating life in the city with a 1-year-old, my family’s home is something that is on my mind all. the. time. I would be lying if I said I didn’t crave more space. From strollers, to car seats, to furniture, to toys, to bottles and all the other gear - the list goes on and on… it is incredible how much “stuff” you accumulate when you have a child. I think most parents can relate, right? We’re currently renting our 2-bedroom apartment and it works for our family now, but it is not our forever home. We love so many things about Brooklyn, especially the amazing community. So a couple of weeks ago, I met up for coffee with native Brooklynite and real estate agent Noel Borbon to learn more about the market in Brooklyn. I’m so excited to share what I learned with you!


What are your top 5 tips for someone looking to RENT in Brooklyn?

1. Know your Budget: Landlords seek renters who make 40x rent. That is your maximum rent unless one can show substantial assets in investment accounts/savings.

2. Consider the Neighborhood: What is important to you? Is community important? Do you like being near cafes/bars/restaurants? Read local blogs regarding different areas to get an insider’s point of view.

3. Talk to an Agent: Be up-front and honest regarding your search. When EXACTLY do you need to move? How is your credit? Do you have a pet? If so what is the breed/size? Don’t wait until you find the perfect place before letting the agent know your credit is terrible or that you have an 80lb dog. There are always solutions to these hurdles but it’ll save you a lot time if you’re up front about certain things.   

4. Have Paperwork Ready: Bank statements, recent paystubs, recent tax return and employment letter are all needed. Be prepared to pay for a fee for an application/credit check. Most landlords/owners will not take a print out of credit karma.

5. Don’t Hesitate! If you find something that has most of the things you want, take it! I call this the “80/20 rule.” If it has 8 out of the 10 things you like, take it! There is no such thing as the “perfect” apartment. You’ll have to compromise on something.

What are your top 5 tips for someone looking to BUY in Brooklyn?

1. Talk to a Mortgage Broker/Bank: 1st step! Why? You need to know how much you can afford before you start looking. Last thing you want is to look at homes in the $1.5mil range and find out your budget is less than $1million. Or, you think you can only afford a $500k coop/condo and turns out you can afford a $750k property. Big difference!

2. Be Clear about What You Want: What type of home do you want? A condo? Coop? Townhouse? What neighborhood do you want? Are kids a part of the picture? If so, have you decided on public school or private school? Do you need outdoor space? If so, a backyard or a roof deck?

3. Work with an Agent: Buying can be a stressful process. To make it less stressful you’ll need a good team. That team consists of: attorney, inspector, possibly a contractor, mortgage broker and an agent. A good agent should have a list of potential team members. You can ask for people they’ve worked with in the past or a list so you can still do your due diligence. Attorneys will be reading the contract and make sure you’re protected in case things that shaky. A good inspector is worth every penny! Buying a fixer upper? Looking to make some changes? A good contractor will give you a fair estimate and warn you about some choices you may want to make. This is really helpful in negotiations. A good mortgage broker will make sure your loan gets processed quickly as well as make sure you’re getting a good deal. An agent should not only be seen as someone who finds the property. Yes, some agents have connections where some of their friends/colleagues may know of an off-market property or “pocket listing.” An agent’s biggest contributions to the buying process are negotiating and expert knowledge. A good agent knows the market place, other agents, trends, developers/sellers, etc. An agent is there to hold your hand through the buying process.

4. Start looking! Most sales open houses are on Sundays so plan out your schedule to view them. Feel free to take pictures/videos of places (unless instructed not to.) You’ll be seeing a lot of properties, so videos and pictures help when it comes to remembering one you liked. All open houses have “set-up sheets” with descriptions/floor plans. Be mentally prepared to see some not so cool/nice places.  Plan for small breaks for coffee or a snack in between open houses. Don’t try to squeeze in too many open houses, since you’ll find yourself rushing through a home. If you walk into one you like, schedule with your agent to see it a second time. Try to do a private second showing so you can take your time and also not have the pressure of other buyers around. Have fun!

5. Don’t get Discouraged: There can be stressful aspects to the home buying process like not finding anything at first or like getting outbid, etc. Try not to get frustrated. It’s all part of the process. Your future home is out there waiting for you!

What is the difference between a condo and a townhouse?

Condos are generally smaller than townhouses. Owners own their private space but co-own common areas with other condo owners. Common charges are paid every month, which go towards hallway maintenance, super (if needed), gym maintenance (if present), elevator maintenance (if applicable), general upkeep of the building. This varies by condo building. Owners are also responsible for their property taxes. Condos are usually within a structure with other condo units present. There are “townhouse condos” which are condos in a single-family form but still pay common charges.

Townhouse” is the technical term for a “house.” There are both single-families and multi-family townhouses. A single-family townhouse is a house that has one kitchen and no division within the home. It means only one person/family occupies the house. A multi-family home is a house with multiple units (multiple kitchens). Most townhouses have either a backyard and/or roof space. Some also come with parking.


What are the Pros and Cons of a CONDO?

Pros: Amenities, price points (generally priced less than townhouses), maintenance of space and sense of community.

Cons: Lack of privacy, house rules/by laws to abide by, sensitivity to market shifts, generally smaller than townhouses and no rental income.

What are the Pros and Cons of a TOWNHOUSE?

Pros: Privacy, greater interior space compared to condos, outdoor space, increase of value, freedom to make changes, potential rental income and many more.

Cons: Responsible for ALL maintenance on property, priced higher compared to condos and landlord responsibilities (if applicable)

Before meeting with Noel, I thought I had a good idea of what to consider when it came to renting or buying a home in Brooklyn. But he shared so much new information that will be really helpful as we search for our future home. Noel is a full service agent, who represents sellers or landlords looking to rent out their rental units, as well as buyers and renters. With his knowledge and deep connections, Noel is able to satisfy his clients’ needs and make the process less complicated.

What I love about Noel is how passionate he is about his work. He brings a smile to every showing because he genuinely loves the job and enjoys helping people find what they're looking for. This passion came across in every response and answer he gave me. Having Noel break all of this down for me in a way that was so easy to understand made me feel a lot less intimidated about our eventual move. I’ll include his contact information at the bottom of this post and encourage all of my local readers to reach out to him for your real estate needs.


Noel Borbon | New Development Team Certified Negotiations Expert Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Compass: 136 N 10th Street, Brooklyn NY 11249 (M) 347.264.1515 ~

*Thanks to Noel Borbon for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.