Brooklyn, Queens home sales grew as inventory plummeted last quarter

“These markets went into this crisis in fairly good shape,” says appraiser Jonathan Miller

In Brooklyn and Queens, the number of homes on the market have fallen (Credit: iStock)
In Brooklyn and Queens, the number of homes on the market have fallen (Credit: iStock)

Brooklyn and Queens logged a strong first quarter, but the writing is on the wall in terms of how the pandemic will affect sales in the boroughs.

Though deal activity and prices rose in both boroughs, listing inventory fell for the first time in years, according to Douglas Elliman’s first-quarter report.

The number of homes listed in Brooklyn fell 18 percent year-over-year, to 2,617 from 3,203 in 2019. Similarly, Queens saw listings plunge nearly 13.5 percent to 4,557 compared to 5,271 in the same period last year.

“That’s a result of the future uncertainty,” said Jonathan Miller, the appraiser who authored Elliman’s report. “There was awareness of the virus so I think there was a slowdown and concern about that.”

Over the last four years, Brooklyn has seen inventory jump an average of 7.3 percent during the first quarter of the year, typically known as the spring selling season. The last time homes for sale logged negative growth was in 2016, Miller said. In Queens, inventory growth over the past five years has been largely flat.

A similar drag on inventory also occurred in Manhattan. The borough’s first quarter of 2020 saw inventory fall 8.4 percent year-over-year to 6,113 homes.

Brokers — and their clients — have faced confusion over whether showing homes is considered “essential.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month said agents could not show homes, but last week the state clarified that some real estate services are essential, and home showings can resume virtually.

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Besides the low number of homes for sale, activity and pricing was trending up, following results from the final quarter of 2019.

Brooklyn saw its median sales price hit about $803,400, a 5 percent annual increase from $765,000 in the first quarter of 2019. The number of sales in the borough jumped to 2,525, a roughly 14 percent increase from 2,216 a year ago.

In Queens, the median sales price climbed 7.4 percent to $590,585 from $550,000. The number of sales rose to 3,035 from 2,907, a 4 percent increase.

New development sales activity also had a strong showing. In Brooklyn, new development sales jumped a hefty 144 percent year-over-year to 188 from 77. Queens new development sales doubled to 162 from the first quarter of 2019.

“These markets went into this crisis in fairly good shape,” said Miller, referring to the sales markets for the two boroughs. “Both quarters were shaping up to be improvements over what we’d seen in 2019… [But] the moment the virus became ubiquitous in everybody’s understanding the market became something else.”

Write to Erin Hudson at

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