The Real Deal New York

Boroughs move into the new year at differing paces

November 16, 2007
By Tom Acitelli

The outer boroughs ended 2005 with the same housing price rankings that began the year: Brooklyn was the most expensive and Staten Island the least, with the Bronx and Queens falling somewhere in the middle. Unsurprisingly, all four boroughs were cheaper than Manhattan.

Brooklyn
Some of the sharpest price increases in Brooklyn have happened, not coincidentally, in the neighborhoods closest to Manhattan.

Condo prices in Brooklyn Heights, bordering the East River, saw a 32 percent median price jump from the fourth quarter 2004 to the fourth quarter 2005, from $425,000 to $560,000, according to a year-end report from the Corcoran Group.

For townhouses, the price increases were steeper than any other category of housing; the average cost of a two- to four-family townhouse in the neighborhood increased 67 percent during 2005, reaching an average of more than $3.7 million.

“I can tell you, quite honestly, if you’re thinking of purchasing a townhouse in Brooklyn Heights, you’re talking about starting at $3.5 million,” says Frank Percesepe, head of Corcoran’s Brooklyn operations. “The more unusual ones are even more expensive – ones that might have an unobstructed view of the harbor, wider ones. When you get to 25-footers, you hit $4 million.”

In Park Slope, the median sales price of a one-family townhouse increased a whopping 103 percent, to more than $2.9 million from fourth quarter 2004 to fourth quarter 2005. While the figures may have been skewed upward by a few large sales, the price jumps were due mostly to demand from families that would have headed to the suburbs years ago but are now brownstone buyers, brokers said. The average sales price for Park Slope’s condos increased 5 percent to $626,000, according to Corcoran.

Overall, the Brooklyn market saw pricing leaps over the 12 months ending Dec. 31. For co-ops and condos, combined, the average sales price was $559,000, Corcoran reported, an 18 percent increase over fourth quarter 2004.

The Bronx
The South Bronx – or, if you prefer, SoBro – commanded more attention for its housing than any other region of the borough (and maybe the city) as 2005 ended and 2006 began. The South Bronx, many in media and in real estate say, is prime for major market-rate development and buying because of its location and its low prices.

Twenty-eight two- and three-bedroom units in seven newly constructed, adjoining four-story townhouses went on sale in December seven blocks north of Yankee Stadium. Six were in contract by early January, the New York Times reported, each with an asking price of $235,000. At least one buyer is from Manhattan, the Times reported, and another from Queens, perhaps presaging the buyer influx headed for the South Bronx.

This demand could lead to rising sales prices.

In the South Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven, prices for row houses have doubled in the past two years, the Daily News reported in December, and now routinely command at least $400,000.

Overall, Bronx housing prices remained in line with those of Brooklyn and Queens as 2005 ended. The borough, after all, includes not just the South Bronx, but traditionally expensive neighborhoods like Riverdale. The sales prices for single-family homes in the Bronx by January ranged from $285,000 to $585,000, according to the Multiple Listing Service of the Bronx-Manhattan North Association of Realtors.

Queens
Demetrius Partridge, who has sold real estate in western Queens for decades, points to a recent markdown in price as an example of that borough’s housing market.

A 2,160-square-foot, two-family house on Doctors’ Row on 36th Street between 30th and 31st avenues was going for $1.2 million. In December, however, the seller brought the price down to one more in line with other homes along that stretch of Astoria, Partridge says.

“The prices kind of froze and may have gone a little south,” says Partridge.

The median price of a Queens home declined slightly from October through November, to just above $450,000. But that was still well above prices from November 2004, when it stood at $380,000, according to the latest data from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.

The median sales price for Long Island City, which is experiencing some of the briskest residential development in Queens, was $403,300 by January, according to the Long Island Board of Realtors.

Forest Hills and Bayside, which borders Nassau County, had some of the highest median prices as the year started – $571,000 and $577,200, respectively.

Staten Island
In Staten Island, sales prices crept upward toward the end of 2005, but the average number of days a property remained on the market remained steady despite the increases.

The median sales price for all types of the borough’s housing for the 11 months ending Nov. 30 was $399,000, up 14 percent from $350,000 during the same period in 2004, according to data from the Staten Island Board of Realtors.

For a single-family attached house in Staten Island, the median price by December was $340,000, up from $305,000 at the same time in 2004, according to the board of Realtors. Condos went from $250,000 to $280,000 – steals by Manhattan standards, say, but reflective of a steady rise in prices even in New York’s most remote borough.

But the numbers for houses under contract in September through November may paint a starker picture of the Staten Island market ahead, says Sandy Krueger, president of the board of Realtors.

The number of houses under contract from September through November 2005 was 1,105, down 5 percent from 1,164 under contract at the same time in 2004. That means, Krueger says, Staten Island could undergo a drop-off in sales for the first quarter of this year.

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