In Brooklyn and Queens, home sales prices tick up as volume drops

By Amy Tennery | January 19, 2011 09:46PM

After an erratic several months in Brooklyn and Queens, due largely to pent up demand and the first-time homebuyer tax credit, the residential market in the two boroughs may be stabilizing, according to a Prudential Douglas Elliman report covering both boroughs released today.

The median residential sales prices climbed in the fourth quarter compared to the same three months in 2009, while the number of sales dropped in both boroughs.

In Brooklyn, the figure rose 6.2 percent to $475,000, while sales dropped 29.9 percent to 1,468 from 2,093. In Queens, meanwhile, the price increased 5.4 percent to $369,000, as home sales plummeted 41.7 percent. Last quarter saw 2,483 sales in Queens, compared to 4,260 during fourth-quarter 2009.

Michael Guerra, director of sales for Elliman’s Brooklyn division, noted that after fourth-quarter 2009’s tremendous sales boom, a drop-off in sales was expected.

Brooklyn “had the biggest fourth quarter as measured by volume a year ago since we started measuring it,” 20 years ago, Guerra said. “What we’re seeing now is a return to more normal levels [of activity].”

The report, compiled by the Miller Samuel appraisal firm, also attributed the year-over-year drop to a fall-off in sales activity following the first-time homebuyer tax credit, which many experts say had a greater effect on outer-borough residential markets than it did on Manhattan.

Northern Brooklyn, which includes Williamsburg and Greenpoint, seemed to defy the borough’s overall momentum, with the median sales price declining 5 percent year-over-year to $610,475, while the number of sales increased 21.1 percent during the same time period to 155 units.

Brownstone Brooklyn, which the Elliman report defines as townhouse-heavy regions of Northwest Brooklyn, showed a similar pattern, with the median price down 7.4 percent to $995,000 and the number of sales up 30.6 percent to 81 units.

East Brooklyn, which includes Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and East New York, the hardest-hit region of the borough, saw both its median sales price and number of sales drop year-over-year, according to the report. The median sales price declined 8.2 percent to $349,000, while the number of sales declined 45.5 percent to 649 units.

Guerra pointed out that East Brooklyn’s high level of foreclosure activity throughout the recession likely influenced its lack of positive momentum in fourth-quarter 2010.

“The neighborhoods that are struggling the most are the neighborhoods that had the most foreclosure activity,” Guerra said. “That drags price; that drags interest; that just drags the whole market.”

In Queens, however, the lack of sales activity was hardly localized to specific neighborhoods — every market covered in Elliman’s report on the borough showed a reduction in the number of sales of 30 percent or higher. Rockaway and West Queens saw the steepest year-over-year drop-off in sales, with declines of 69.2 percent and 45.1 percent, respectively.