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Sellers in Brooklyn and Queens continue to benefit from rising prices and low inventory as the sales market shows steady improvement. In both boroughs, sales were up and the median sales price reached record or near record levels in the first quarter of 2021. In Riverdale, the number of sales rose year over year for the first time in four quarters.
In many ways, the outer boroughs are mirroring what's happening in the national and suburban markets with low listings, heavy sales volume, and rising prices. However, the first quarter saw new sellers getting into the market in Brooklyn and Queens, causing the number of listings to rise.
The first few months and the last few months of the year are usually the slowest in any sales market but Brooklyn just had the highest number of first quarter sales in 14 years with 2,822 sales, according to the latest Elliman Report. For months, Brooklyn has shown huge resiliency but even so, relative to the last 14 years, this is an "unusually high volume" of sales, says Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel and author of the report.
In the first quarter, the median sales price in Brooklyn was $900,000, a 2.9 percent increase over the previous quarter and a 12 percent increase year over year.
For months, listings in Brooklyn have struggled to keep up with demand but for the first time in six quarters, listing inventory trended higher year over year. It's a sign sellers are feeling more confident about the market.
Miller says the impact of the Covid-19 vaccine can't be ignored when it comes to buyer's confidence and he believes the success of the vaccine distribution will end up correlating with stronger sales. "It’s been a long grind but the market has been consistently improving since the summer," he says.
The pattern is similar in Queens. “Price trend indicators and sales continued to post large year-over-year gains,” Miller says. The median sales price rose year over year to reach $660,000—its second-highest level on record. The number of sales also increased year over year for the first time in four quarters and listing inventory expanded year over year for the third straight quarter.
In Riverdale, the number of sales rose year over year for the first time in four quarters to 113 and the median sales price rose annually for the third time in four quarters to $326,000. Listing inventory expanded annually for the third straight quarter, but at a declining rate.
Other market reports
Prices for both apartments and townhouses in Brooklyn in the first quarter were higher than a year ago, according to the Brown Harris Stevens market report. Apartment sales continued to surge with the number of closings up 20 percent from a year ago.
According to SERHANT's first quarter reports, the median sales price for new development in Brooklyn increased even though discounts in Brooklyn were not as steep as those in Manhattan. Garrett Derderian, the firm's director of market intelligence, says, "The average discount was just 4.3 percent, considerably less than the 11.6 percent rate for new developments in Manhattan."
The strength of Brooklyn’s first quarter, coming just one year since New York’s stay-at-home order began, is "truly remarkable," according to Corcoran's market report for the borough. The report found apartments spent a little over three months on the market, only slightly less time than a year ago.
The report also finds the top end of the market has rebounded the fastest—no other quarter on record had more sales over $1 million.
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