High prices, limited inventory dominate spring real estate market

Janessa Kram, son Kai and dogs Lola, left, and Lex right in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 6, 2015. Neighborhood Feature on Clinton HIll.
Janessa Kram, son Kai and dogs Lola, left, and Lex right in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 6, 2015. Neighborhood Feature on Clinton HIll. Photo Credit: YouTube/ amNewYork

Get ready for some déjà vu.

The housing market this spring and summer will be similar to that of 2014, real estate experts said — meaning high prices and limited inventory.

That’s especially the case in Manhattan, analysts said.

“Heading into this spring, we’re seeing already record-high prices, at least in Manhattan,” said Alan Lightfeldt, a data scientist at the listings website StreetEasy. “Similar to last spring, prices are continuing to rise.”

Much of the new construction in Manhattan has been tailored to the luxury market — spindly new high-rises along 57th Street, for example, earned the area the nickname, “Billionaire’s Row.”

Residents seeking more affordable options will likely have to turn to the outer boroughs. Neighborhoods such as Sunnyside in western Queens and Flatbush in central Brooklyn haven’t blown up yet and are still affordable to most buyers, Lightfeldt said.

“Our advice to buyers who may not be able to buy a $5 million penthouse suite on 57th Street would be to … go east, go south,” he added.

Another tip for buyers looking to save in the outer boroughs: Foreclosed homes in St. Albans in eastern Queens and Canarsie in southeastern Brooklyn are coming back on the market. They fall into the resale market, which includes homes that have had previous owners and might need a little work, according to Gary Malin, president of real estate group Citi Habitats.

The volatile spring and summer market is nothing new to New York City, Malin said, though prices fluctuate at different rates throughout the five boroughs.

Manhattan apartment sales increased 25% between winter and spring, but prices fell 4%, according to data from the listings site CityRealty. A Citi Habitats analysis estimated the average price of a Manhattan one-bedroom to have risen 2%, to $1.7 million, since last year.

In Brooklyn, meanwhile, median sales prices jumped 17.5%, to nearly $611,000, according to Douglas Elliman’s first quarter report. Inventory also grew 5.8% over that span.

Experts estimate that the majority of NYC sales come in the co-op market, where buyers have to impress a board to get their feet in the door. The condo market sidesteps this process, but it is also the primary battlefield for bidding wars, Malin said. That means sellers have to know the value of their property and price it accordingly.

“When people overprice their units, those apartments sit a little bit longer until somebody wakes up and makes the necessary price adjustments,” Malin said.

For potential buyers, on the other hand, the best thing to do is keep saving, Douglas Elliman CEO Steven James said.

“There are a lot of buyers out there that are not qualified to purchase and not qualified to beat someone out ,” James said. “In any other part of the country they would be really, really fabulous buyers — and wealthy. Not in New York City.”

Along with padding your bank account, make sure your credit report and personal finances are in the best possible shape, James added.

It may be a seller’s market, but if you hold out your search a bit longer, summer can be a good time to house-hunt, as many New Yorkers are out of the city on vacation — and not house-hunting.

“Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, that’s a very good time [to look] because a lot of people are away,” James said.



Here are the best nabes to look to buy in this spring, according to market experts:

Brooklyn: Coney Island, Flatbush, Crown Heights, Ditmas Park, Clinton Hill
Queens: Sunnyside, Astoria
Manhattan: Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Lower East Side, Financial District

Here’s a look back at the Manhattan spring sales market in 2014, according to data from the listings site CityRealty:

-The volume of apartment sales increased 25% between winter and spring.
-The average price of apartments was 4% lower in the spring than the winter.
-Hamilton Heights saw the biggest increase in apartment sales with a 178% hike, from nine sales in the winter to 25 in the spring.
-The average price of a home in Hamilton Heights was $412,000 in the winter and $523,000 in the spring.

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