Manifest Destiny in the Outer Boroughs

ELIZABETH STRIBLING HASN'T OPENED one of her namesake offices in the outer boroughs yet, although in about a year she’ll move into a 5,600-square-foot One Brooklyn penthouse. “I’ve got my decorator flying over from Paris,” she said. “We’re going to buy some swell antiques.”

More than Parisian decorators, according to Ms. Stribling, the revolutionary change in Brooklyn real estate has been the acceptance of co-brokering.

“That’s the elephant in the room,” she said. She was referring to local agencies that traditionally haven’t (and sometimes still don’t) share their listings with other brokerages, but instead try to reach buyers directly.

So when big-firm Manhattan agents list properties in the outer boroughs, they’re instantly casting a wider net. “I think the larger projects are better represented by firms that have a presence in Manhattan,” Mr. Rutter said, “because it’s important to bring these Manhattan customers and these Manhattan brokers out to these projects.”

The president of independent Park Slope agency Warren Lewis, Marc Garstein, might even agree. “I really think the big impact is they are exposing people to Brooklyn who were otherwise not inclined to look. Are they good or bad? It’s taste and opinion.”

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce doesn’t have statistics on the number of Manhattan agents spreading to Brooklyn, although its communications vice president, Leticia Theodore-Greene, had this personal opinion: “I remember when I was looking to buy in Brooklyn, I had to go to a broker’s Manhattan office, which pissed me off.”

A Manhattan-based broker like Stefan Hiller wouldn’t apologize. He works out of Prudential Douglas Elliman’s West 17th Street office, yet he just became an on-site agent at the luxury Powerhouse condo in Long Island City. “Why shouldn’t I go?” he said about his treks out of Manhattan. After all, it’s a quicker train ride than his trip to the Upper East Side.

But will it matter to Long Island City if its $1 billion Silvercup Studios project, or its 74-acre Queens West development, is marketed by out-of-towners? Will the neighborhood be soiled if Manhattan brokers bring in golf simulators and a Starbucks and head-shot billboards? “Everybody promotes themselves,” said the independent DUMBO developer David Walentas. “It’s America.”