There are two ways to get an apartment in Red Hook.
If you live there, you ask around. “Everyone knows what everyone’s paying and who owns what and who’s moving, so it’s mostly done really casually,” says Bevin Strand. Another resident’s account is typical: “A guy we knew from the bar who used to play with Smokey knew we were looking, and put us in touch with his friend who was moving out.”
Otherwise, you talk to Rachel Shapiro.
There are other brokers in Red Hook, of course—Elliman, Corcoran and a number of other big players based in Manhattan manage sales in the area, and a number of nearby independents, particularly in Carroll Gardens, work with landlords. But, as Ms. Shapiro puts it, “I’m the only one who’s lived here. … You don’t understand the community until you’ve lived here. And,” she adds, “I’m young. I’m the demographic.”
At 25, Ms. Shapiro already has the air of a hardened broker—perhaps the result of growing up around the business. Her mother was a real estate agent, and the petite brunette, with her direct blue eyes, probably came by her no-nonsense confidence honestly. Ms. Shapiro’s career arose organically from her love of the insular community, where she moved after graduating from Barnard. “I was always raving about Red Hook to my mother, and finally she said, ‘You’ve convinced me, why not try selling to someone else?’ So I got my license and started the business.”
She has since become an oft-quoted expert on all things Red Hook real estate. Living there, she says, gives her a unique angle. “You know everything that’s going on. … It’s such a small community, you have to be in that loop.”
Especially because this is not the land of residential property moguls. There is no equivalent to the commercial real estate eminence grise that is controversial Red Hook developer Greg O’Connell; the majority of residential landlords have one or two buildings, and most of them live in the neighborhood. As such, Shapiro has to deal as easily with aging longshoremen as with the young families who bought up the million-dollar buildings during the neighborhood’s boom.
That boom may be over, but the market is apparently stabilizing. “It took property owners a little while to adjust to the new market,” Ms. Shapiro says carefully, “but now that they have”—read: lowered their rents—“things are good. Let’s put it this way: I got three calls just this morning.”