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Buyers Turn to Queens as Brooklyn Prices Reach All-Time High

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It feels like every day brings a new record for Brooklyn—most expensive listing ever, most expensive townhouse sold—so it shouldn't be all that surprising that Brooklyn has reached another milestone: highest median sales prices on record. Being that data whiz Jonathan Miller has been crunching the numbers for Douglas Elliman since the early days of 2003, it should suffice to say that Q1 has not only been Brooklyn's most expensive on record, but likely its most expensive ever. The borough's median sales price in Q1 reached $610,894, a massive 17.5-percent increase year over year. Rounding up pretty dramatically only to prove a point, that means median sales prices almost rose a whole quarter.

Despite the stellar quarter, one subset of Brooklyn sales did not reach new heights. While Brooklyn condos and single-family homes shattered old highs, the Brooklyn co-op just, well, didn't. The co-op's median sales price decreased nearly nine percent year over year to come in at $310,000. Amongst the three types of housing, co-ops also saw the largest discounts upon re-listing, with another stab on the market bringing asks down by over five percent. It wouldn't be prudent to say that anyone looking for a deal in the ever-escalating landscape of Brooklyn might want to check out a co-op, but being prudent is overrated.

Brooklyn's most expensive quarter on record—it's still the only borough to exceed pre-Lehman median sales prices—seems to have been largely influenced by its increased luxury inventory. Although there are no 432 Park Avenue's rising in Brooklyn, residences in the luxury sector (or top 10-percent of all sales) are flying off the market. Luxury listings in Brooklyn are spending a whole 53 days less on the market than in Q1 2014. According to Corcoran (PDF!), apartments priced over $2 million spent just 45 days on the market, which is less than all other kinds of residences. The steady upward march of Manhattan asks continues to put pressure on Brooklyn, allowing it to bear the overflow burden for Manhattan. To say the market in the borough is competitive is like saying the White House is white—it's undisputed, at least largely.

Because of Brooklyn's never-ending stream of telling real estate records, Queens sales continue to heat up (PDF!). Although Queens isn't breaking its own pre-Lehman records again just yet, median housing prices in the northwest area of the borough—Elliman's data encompasses Astoria, Long Island City, and Sunnyside—are still on the rise. This is largely due to Brooklyn's successes; as prices in Brooklyn rise, more and more people are looking to Queens. One of the most interesting places where that's reflected is in the dramatic increase in sales of single-family homes, which rose a whopping 11.4-percent from this time last year. Queens isn't a destination, at least yet, so sales in the borough still largely reflect the buys of dejected would-be Brooklyn homeowners, which may account for the large uptick in sales of single-family homes.

Like in Brooklyn, sales in Queens are also getting more competitive. All in all, residences lingered on the market a full 2.5 weeks less in Q1 than before. This could be because less inventory is on the market: there were nearly 1,000 fewer apartments up for grabs than in Q1 2014. Despite the low inventory, sales in the borough fell because, in short, people are picky about their homes and not all that into settling for things they don't especially want if they're dishing out. Median sales prices in the borough rose slightly over 20 percent from Q1 last year to $446,434. It doesn't appear that Queens sales prices are on a terrifying ascent; Miller notes that prices in the borough are still unstable and prone to flailing.

So what's the takeaway with all of this? Brooklyn sales prices continue their steady upward march as luxury apartments proliferate throughout the borough. People who can't afford to buy in Brooklyn are bouncing north to Queens, and have recently discovered that the borough's waterfront neighborhoods offer more than glassy new apartment buildings, as evidenced by the uptick in sales of single-family homes. Prices in Queens are up, but they're nowhere near Brooklyn's.
· Market Reports [Elliman]
· Brooklyn Sales Report [Elliman]
· Queens Sales Report [Elliman]
· Q1 Sales Report, Brooklyn [Corcoran]
· Market Report archives [Curbed]