The Market

It just got easier to buy a Brooklyn brownstone

By Virginia K. Smith | September 24, 2015 - 11:59AM 

The high prices on Brooklyn brownstones can be blamed in part on their inherent desirability, but also on a basic issue of supply and demand: There just aren't that many of them on the market at any given time, creating stiff competition, and inevitably, higher prices. But lately, the scale looks to have tipped a little in buyers' favor: There's a surprising surplus of brownstones on the market right now, the Observer reported this week

There are currently around 70 Brooklyn brownstones listed on StreetEasy, as opposed to the dozen or so that tend to be on the market at any given time, which means sellers now have tougher competition. “People have seen prices go up and they’re cashing out—when they see their neighbor sold their place for X, they wonder why they can’t get the same,” as one Town Residential broker told the Observer

Brand new townhouses like this $4.99 million option in Boerum Hill are starting to hit the market, creating stiffer competition among sellers. (Via Corcoran)

Other factors at play here: More sales and interest in neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, South Slope, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens, as well as new construction townhouses (like the one pictured above), adding new options to appeal to higher-end buyers. As the Observer points out, "it's certainly not an ideal time for sellers with run-of-the-mill townhouses," and the new wealth of options may mean bidding wars stay confined to the truly stellar homes on the market.

To see where this trend goes, appraiser and real estate data guru Jonathan Miller says it's important to keep an eye on the volume of actual sales, not just houses that are listed by starry-eyed homeowners testing the waters for how much they can get. "[Increased competition] may enhance the number of sales if enough irrational sellers setting wildly high asking prices become more realistic when an offer comes in," he says. "I'm not so sure they will because they aren't really 'in' the market."

However, Miller notes that this tends to be a more common problem at the higher end of the market. Meaning, then, that your dream Brooklyn townhouse still isn't going to come cheap, but if you've been looking around among the fixer-uppers, now might be a prime time to haggle.


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