The Market

A real estate junkie comes clean: Introducing CompsQueen

By A. Ready  | September 13, 2010 - 6:16AM

Three years ago, I met StreetEasy.

A tumultuous, consuming relationship ensued, in which I spent ever-increasing hours engaged in my new obsessive-compulsive hobby of pouring over new real estate listings, stale listings, recorded sales, rentals, floor plans, and discussing the New York City real estate market on StreetEasy with other real estate junkies.

My (screen)name is aboutready, and I am a real estate addict.

(“aboutready,” in case you are wondering, stands for aboutready to buy, or in the alternative, aboutready to give up and leave New York City, neither of which has happened since I chose my StreetEasy handle.)

Here are some of the many things I have concluded and/or observed during my StreetEasy journeys:

  1. Junior-4 apartments are the red-headed step-children of NYC real estate. They are often priced the same as one-bedrooms that, unlike the junior-4, lack the option of creating a second bedroom.  

  2. I will never move to the East Village, due to the lack of inventory and thus overpricing. 

  3. Smaller units have been surprisingly resistant to downward price pressure, and only recently began to catch up (or rather, adjust downward) to the rest of the market.  Small unit buoyancy is surprising not only because market corrections typically start at the bottom and work their way up, but because the recent price declines occurred despite massive assistance from the recent tax credits and the rise in the conforming loan limits.  People have been paying quite a lot for not very much.

  4. I have been amazed at the sales prices commanded for units that seem utterly devoid of transportation options.  Properties in far west Chelsea, Hell's-Kitchen-on-the-Hudson, and Riverside Boulevard have sold at high prices despite lacking retail, services, and easy access to a subway.  And the wind!  The walk in the winter must be brutal.

  5. Despite a rapidly improving food and retail scene, and a number of public and private schools that have become highly sought after, the Upper East Side remains the place to look for less expensive options.  Particularly Yorkville, where the limited transportation options seem to matter more than in other areas of the city.  It will be interesting to see if this area can overcome its reputation, which is the opposite of hot.

  6. Reselling an apartment in a new development, particularly where brand new units are still available, is not for the faint hearted.  Many buildings have far more units listed than have sold in the past six months. Yet I have been surprised by the number of resales at or near what the buyer initially paid for the unit.    Figuring in transaction costs, this still represents a loss for most sellers, but it’s clear that this market did not tank as many (including myself) predicted. One explanation is that those seeking newer condos are attracted to buildings that have proven successful and are mostly sold out, which provide greater security.

  7. Parts of Brooklyn are astonishing in the stickiness of their prices.  Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Park Slope all seem determined to maintain the enormous price appreciation of the past decade.  Some people say that the areas are long on charm and feel more "neighborhoody" with fewer tall buildings, but I have yet to come up with an explanation that satisfies me.  Any ideas?

As BrickUnderground’s new CompsQueen columnist--as well as forum co-moderator, and real estate addict who each and every week views hundreds of sales and rental listings, both active and recorded--these are the kinds of trends I will attempt to identify and explore…both to satisfy my own curiosity/obsession and help others make the most of all that data out there.

If you have a question for CompsQueen--or if perhaps you disagree with any of the observations above--send me an e-mail, or post on BrickUnderground's forum.


CompsQueen is a weekly column that aims to demystify the vast amount of sales and rental information available to modern observers of the New York City real estate market.  Writer-editor A. Ready is a former database designer and complex litigation manager who has been obsessed with NYC real estate for more than two decades.

See all CompsQueen.

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