According to a report put out last week my Massey Knakal Realty Services, investor sales in Queens in the first half of 2013 jumped significantly over the first half of 2012. The number of sales in the borough increased 21 percent over the first half of the previous year and the total dollars in sales — $530 million — was up two percent. That is in contrast to the city as a whole where sales dropped by 5 percent in the first half of this year and the dollar volume was down by 6.6 percent compared to the first half of 2012. The overall drop in sales was expected due to a surge in sales in late 2012 caused by the increase in capital gains tax. All of this makes the sharp rise in sales in Queens particularly notable.
Yesterday the New York Times Magazine ran a story online examining the impact and the future of rent regulation in the city. In it, Adam Davidson argues that the mix of rich and aspiring in Manhattan — broke writers and wealthy publishers, young artists and wealthy collectors, etc. is part of what makes New York City great, relevant and an economic power. Rent regulation, be it rent control, rent stabilization, subsidized or public housing all make it possible for the less well off to live here. But, as he and many others have pointed out, these regulations have an unintended consequence. He writes, “There are, effectively, two rental markets in Manhattan. Roughly half the apartments are under rent regulation, public housing or some other government program. That leaves everyone else to compete for the half with rents determined by the market. [Christopher Mayer, a housing economist at Columbia Business School] points out that most housing programs tie government support to an apartment unit, not a person. “That is completely nuts.”’ Under this system, people wind up sitting on housing for decades. Whether they need it or not, they will never leave their fantastically cheap apartments. That, of course, stiffles supply which drives up the cost of market rate apartments for everyone else. As he points out, this kind of housing is waning. Older housing is phasing out of many of these programs, funding for new housing is facing the axe in congress and 231,000 units have been deregulated in the last 30 years. Tiny gestures like the offer of 75 affordable units (out of 1,000) at the proposed 5 Pointz development hardly keep pace with demand. Davidson speculates that those priced out of Manhattan will just move to the outer boroughs. That has already been happening for some time resulting in the development rush we’ve seen in many parts of the borough and price tags headed the direction of the $3 million townhouse in Long Island City. Is that trend only likely to accelerate? Has rent regulation worked for Queens? And how would a less regulated city housing market change the borough?
A Long Island City townhouse priced at $3.25 million has received several offers over $3 million possibly making it a record for the area. According to the broker, some offers were under $3 million and some over including some that were all cash and others not contingent on financing. The 21 foot-wide brick townhouse at 531 51st Avenue is set up as a four bedroom owners duplex with a finished basement playroom that includes its own entrance. It also has a 1,000 square foot two bedroom, two bathroom top floor rental with a roof deck that could be combined into the main house. Prices have been rising dramatically in parts of the borough according to the Wall Street Journal which first reported the offers on the home today. According to a report by the Real Estate Board of New York, sales prices of one to three family homes were up nine percent in the second quarter this year compared to last year. The median sales price borough-wide for these homes was $475,000. Prices in Astoria were up 27 percent in that period. However, prices in areas hit most severely by Hurricane Sandy including the Rockaways and Howard Beach were down by as much 30 percent.
When Sally Jones, a Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn home renovation blogger who writes Renov8or, started looking to upgrade from a one-bedroom (pictured above) to a two-bedroom apartment, she quickly realized that the neighborhood, and even the borough she had long called home, was no longer in her price range. Here’s her tale of finding her new home.
You know the neighborhood in Brooklyn that everyone loves right now — the one near Prime Meat and Buttermilk Channel and Black Gold and Trader Joe’s and Fairway? The one with all those brownstones with front gardens and bathtub madonnas? Yeah, Carroll Gardens. That one. I’m moving out of that neighborhood and I’m heading for Queens.
It’s not that I don’t love Carroll Gardens anymore. It’s not the much-discussed-among-the-natives “French” taking over the hood thanks to the immersion schools (though my friends with kids tell me that’s a real game-changer). It’s not even the much-maligned “hipsters” moving in. I welcomed the great restaurants and food shops and vinyl record stores, hey, even the hipsters. Live and let live.
It’s not any of that. To paraphrase a failed candidate for governor: The rents are just too damned high!
And as rents climb, purchase prices follow. A good thing for me The Seller. For me The Buyer, not so much. (more…)
PropertyShark compiled some numbers for us to create a market snapshot of Astoria, looking at residential sales trends in the neighborhood since 2005. Above, you can see the median price for all residential sales hovers around $400,000, despite the boom in 2007 and the expected drop in early 2009. Despite a steady number of sales last year, prices fluctuated from just under $400,000 to just over $500,000. After the jump, check out graphs for the condo and co-op sales trends, as well as the single- and two-family sales trends. Condo and co-op prices also saw huge drops in early 2009. Prices, however, are on the rise this year with a median sales price of $325,000 in the first quarter of 2013. Prices of single- and two-family homes are more stable, mostly in the $600,000 to $700,000 range. The most expensive residential sales in the neighborhood, according to PropertyShark, are 31-30 38 Street for $1,650,000 (purchased in 2006), 30-53 35th Street for $1,350,000 (in 2008), and 25-34 31st Street for $1,300,000 (this April). Currently, you can get an apartment in Astoria for as cheap as $99,000 and a home as expensive as $2,175,990. (more…)
For nearly fifty years, the Bank of Manhattan tower facing the new Queens Plaza and the elevated train tangle was the undisputed king of all Queens buildings. The 15-story building, finished in 1927, looks like something The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark himself might have designed. That year, American architecture was shedding Beaux Arts and adopting the more streamlined motifs of the Machine Age. (more…)
MoMA PS1 was allocated $3,000,000 from the city budget to purchase a nearby apartment building at 22-25 Jackson Avenue to house new galleries, LICpost reported. The museum is still deciding whether to move its offices from its main building to the new one. The Chocolate Factory Theater also received $1,700,000 to expand at 5-49 49th Avenue. The Noguchi Museum received $600,000 to buy a new generator to replace one damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Long Island City’s SculptureCenter received $300,000 and Queens Public Library received $600,000.
The soaring real estate market in Brooklyn and Manhattan has moved into Queens, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal and a Douglas Elliman market report released Thursday. The lowest inventory in eight years led to a 10.6 percent increase in the average Queens residential sales price during the second quarter as buyers sought a cheaper alternative to Manhattan and Brooklyn, said the report.
The borough’s average sales price was $441,417, up from $399,154 in the prior year. Inventory plunged 28.9 percent to $6,225 during the quarter, and brokers cited the lack of selection and increased demand as drivers behind the price increase. ”We don’t have employment numbers that are robust enough to create enough churn. If you’re not getting the promotion, you’re not selling your place and you’re not moving,” said Michael Guerra, managing director of Douglas Elliman. As a result, fewer new listings were coming to market.
Demand has also been heightened because of low mortgage rates, which encourage more buyers to seek cheap financing. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was below 4 percent in the most of the second quarter, according to Freddie Mac. Higher rents can also encourage people to enter the sales market, but Guerra said that low availabilities meant many buyers were unable to find a suitable apartment. New York City’s overall average rent, excluding Staten Island, surpassed $3,000 per month last quarter. The median price for Queens one-bedrooms was $1,470, according to the Daily News, and Long Island City’s one-bedrooms were $2,500, as the neighborhood benefitted from its proximity to midtown Manhattan.
Long Island City’s new condo towers have also created new for-sale inventory that’s cheaper than Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, which has spurred buyers who had never previously considered Queens to look in the area. ”It’s clear that the population is increasing. There’s also development pressures in Astoria,” said Guerra, but he added that Long Island City still lacked retail and service options like dry cleaners. After a lift in Manhattan, prices are now rising throughout the New York City region, including in Queens, according to the Journal. “There are tons of buyers coming over from Brooklyn,” the Journal quoted one broker as saying.
Going forward, one of the best indicators of an increase in listing inventory would be improved local job growth, which could spur more people to sell their homes, said Guerra.
The Business Improvement District (BID) in Jamaica is in the midst of a major marketing campaign aimed at raising the profile of the neighborhood in the minds of shoppers and business owners. As part of a campaign with the tagline “Hip Meets Historic meets Downtown,” the BID (whose website is at jamaicacenter.org) is touting Downtown Jamaica’s demographics (86,000 pedestrians, 260,000 visitors, 158,000 workers), its connectivity (20 minutes to Manhattan, 8 minutes to JFK) and its real estate development pipeline (a 368-block rezoning to pave the way for more than 5,000 new units of housing and more than 1,000 new hotel rooms). The BID has also started a window redesign program to help local merchants–check out one of the before-and-after shots on the jump. And if you are really interested, you can check out the BID’s annual report here. (more…)
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has endorsed the controversial plan to build a new mall at Willets Point, according to a recommendation obtained by local group Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Marshall’s office cited the project’s $3 billion private investment by the Related Companies and Sterling Equities, which would create 12,000 construction jobs and $310 million in tax revenue, as benefits. The recommendation called for funding to prioritize and expedite the Van Wyck Expressway ramps that are crucial for transit access to the project, but didn’t name a specific source of finding. It also called for the development to fulfill environmental LEED standards, hire minority, women and local contractors and be subject to government oversight.
In May, Community Board 7 voted in favor of the project, 22 to 18. Community Board 3 disapproved the project by a vote of 31 to 1. Opponents have protested that the project’s affordable housing component will be delayed until Phase 2, and the developers have the option of not building the housing if the city fails to build traffic ramps. The Department of City Planning will hold a public hearing on Willets Point on Wednesday, July 10. It will vote on the project later this year, and if approved, the proposal will go to a decisive vote by the City Council.