Queens outlook not so sunny, report shows

By Candace Taylor | October 22, 2008 11:06PM

Home prices in Queens have tumbled more dramatically than those in other boroughs, according to a third-quarter market report released today by Prudential Douglas Elliman.

Median sale prices for all home types in Queens declined 11.4 percent to $400,000 from $451,250 in the third quarter of 2007, according to the report, which was prepared by real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Meanwhile, the average sale prices decreased 8.8 percent to $436,575 from $478,752 in the prior year quarter.

That’s a steeper drop than in Brooklyn, where the median sales price fell 5.6 percent year-over-year to $510,000, according to Elliman’s third-quarter Brooklyn report. And while Manhattan saw a median price decline of 11.3 percent from last quarter, it saw the median sales price increase 7.4 percent from the same period last year to $928,263, while the average sales price climbed 8.1 percent. Elliman does not release reports for the Bronx or Staten Island.

The number of sales in Queens also plummeted year-over-year to 3,240 from 4,998, a 35.2 percent change. That’s a more precipitous drop than in Manhattan, where sales fell 24.1 percent year-over-year, though Brooklyn saw a greater decrease at nearly 40 percent.

Queens market indicators were “more negative than the other boroughs,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel.

He attributed the steep slide in Queens prices to the large number of foreclosures in the borough. “I suspect it has to do with locational foreclosures,” he said.

According to PropertyShark, there were 665 foreclosures in Queens in the third quarter — an increase of 100 percent from the same period last year — compared to 174 in Staten Island, 165 in Brooklyn, 79 in the Bronx and 35 in Manhattan.  

Moreover, he said, the decrease has to do with the fact that one- to three-family homes, which are more vulnerable to sub-prime lending than other types of housing, represent 56.2 percent of homes in Queens.

Northwest Queens — an area that includes Long Island City and Astoria — provided one of the few brighter spots in the report.

The price per square foot in that area increased 16.5 percent to $461 from $395 in the prior-year quarter, and the price per square foot for new developments leaped 36.9 percent over third-quarter 2007 to $763. The median sales price for all units in Northwest Queens decreased 3.3 percent year-over-year to $625,195, but Miller attributed that to the fact that more of the units closing third quarter 2008 were relatively small. The size of a unit in the area was 905 square feet, down from 1,406 square feet in the same period last year.

“There was a sharp drop in the size of apartments sold,” he said. “That’s a function of what was offered.”

Sales volume in Northwest Queens fell 25 percent from third-quarter 2007 to 199, which Miller said represented “a slower pace of decline in activity” than in Queens as a whole.

Another sunny spot was in the Rockaways area, which saw its median sales price increase 0.8 percent to $465,132 compared to the same period last year, the data show.

Still, the slowing pace of sales in Queens means the future looks bleak for the borough, he said

Though Queens inventory in the third quarter grew only 1.1 percent form the prior year quarter to 11,255, he said that’s “a temporary blip.”

“If the pace of sales continues at this rate, we would expect inventory to continue to rise,” he said.

On Long Island, however, there are promising signs, according to a Long Island market report prepared by Miller Samuel for Elliman, also released today.

There was a 6 percent decline in the median sales price in Long Island to $415,000 from $442,380 in the prior year quarter, while the number of sales dropped 16.2 percent from the same period last year. But price declines and slowing sales volume are less drastic than in previous quarters, Miller said, suggesting that the worst may be over for Long Island’s housing market.

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