With economies around the world foundering, the Queens housing market appears to be floating just fine.
According to data from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), Queens had the most home sales of any borough in the first quarter of this year with 2,919 – representing a 13 percent increase from last year. The average sales price of a home in Queens also declined by two percent to $391,000.
The neighborhoods with the most home sales in the borough were Flushing, with 301, Rego Park, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, which had 265 sales, and Springfield Gardens and Jamaica which experienced 237 sales.
The housing boom in Queens is part of positive results citywide, as average home sales prices and sales volume remained steady across the five boroughs in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time last year, while the number of total sales increased by 16 percent from last quarter.
Competitive prices and low mortgage rates attracted buyers and stimulated the growth, according to REBNY, the city’s leading real estate trade association.
“The trend has been somewhat upward, meaning even in the fourth quarter we didn’t see a dip when compared to the first quarter of last year,” said Mike Slattery, the senior vice president of REBNY. “The fact that it has been a steady rise and not a seasonal adjustment is noteworthy. Queens has been a strong, solid upper middle class borough for a very long time, and the broad based strength of its neighborhoods continues to make it an appealing location for home buyers.”
Slattery expects the housing market to continue to grow and said a survey of brokers conducted by REBNY shows “continued uptick in contracts signed.”
John O’Kane, manager of O’Kane Realty, located at 72-01 Grand Avenue in Maspeth, believes a variety of factors have made buying a house in Queens attractive.
“Interest rates are historically low, so anyone who can afford to buy is buying,” said O’Kane. “You get a lot of New York flavor in Queens also. It’s the melting pot of the world.”
The condo market particularly buoyed sales in Queens, as the borough experienced a 36 percent increase in transactions – led by Long Island City, which saw a 53 percent increase from the previous quarter.
Eric Benaim, CEO of Modern Spaces, which handles sales for a number of high-profile condo buildings in L.I.C., says inventory is getting low while demand is growing.
Modern Spaces represents The View, which is 85 percent full and demanding $950 to $1,000 per square foot, and The Industry, which has sold roughly 51 percent of its spaces and costs as high as $850 per square foot. The Vista and the Bindery are new high rises that will likely introduce 250 to 300 condos into the market between 2012 and 2013, according to Benaim.
“Everyone loves L.I.C. when they come here,” Benaim said. “We are getting a lot of ‘Manhattanites’ because of overpricing in Manhattan. The market in L.I.C. is extremely busy.
I haven’t seen it this busy since 2006 or 2007. Years ago we had to pitch L.I.C. as an up and coming neighborhood. But it is not up and coming anymore, it is here.”