Susanna Hof and her husband Rob are owners and lead brokers of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty. Hof has deep roots in Forest Hills, where real estate has been part of her family for generations. She is actively involved in neighborhood organizations, working to improve and preserve those qualities that make Forest Hills a unique community within an urban metropolis. Hof recently spoke to Real Estate Editor Liam La Guerre about the residential market in Forest Hills.
La Guerre: Why should people move to Forest Hills?
Hof: People who know Forest Hills would agree that it’s very unique. It’s in New York City and it takes only 13 minutes to get to midtown Manhattan from Forest Hills, but it has the look of the suburbs.
La Guerre: What makes it appealing?
Hof: Here in Forest Hills, you honestly get more bang for your buck. It has a very lively atmosphere with many great restaurants and the West Side Tennis Club. How many places can you live this close to Manhattan and have a country club with a junior Olympic-sized pool? Throughout the whole community, there are little parks that are often filled with children playing. We also have Forest Park, where there is horseback riding, a golf course, playgrounds, and jogging paths and bike paths. It’s quite an astounding number of factors that people are looking for.
La Guerre: Has the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which recently started playing concerts again, added value to neighborhood?
Hof: I think the concerts have been working out really well. They are bringing people here so that they see the community, but it’s adding an element of hip to the area. If you add this hip element to it, mixed with good restaurants and fun places to go, it kind of becomes something for everybody.
La Guerre: What are the residential prices like compared to other areas in the city?
Hof: Here prices have risen significantly in the past three years. We found this year that houses selling under the $2 million point have multiple offers the first week.
La Guerre: In terms of Queens, the borough is selling at a slower pace than last year. From your experience has it been the same in Forest Hills?
Hof: No, definitely hotter. Things are selling very quickly. Over the $2 million point things are a little tougher, but under $2 million things are just flying off the shelves. It’s the price point that people can afford. What used to be a year ago $1.1 million is now definitely a strong $1.5 million. And what was $1.5 million is now $1.9 million, because of the increase over the year.
La Guerre: How diverse is the residential market in Forest Hills?
Hof: Forest Hills is a very diverse community. It was founded to be diverse, and in that sense there are all different size houses. There are smaller townhouses, there are medium-sized detached houses, and there are larger, more estate-like properties, and there are condos around the gardens in Forest Hills and newer ones being built in the neighborhood. There are also co-ops and rental buildings.
La Guerre: With the recent completion of luxury condo building The Aston, do you think developers are noticing Forest Hills?
Hof: I think they are looking at where we are — 13 minutes from Manhattan — [and] the cost of real estate in the city, so they are seeing this as very desirable living situation for people who are looking to go into the city but want to live outside the city.
La Guerre: How do you see Forest Hills transforming in the future?
Hof: Homes in Forest Hills Gardens have strict architectural standards. You can’t tear down those houses. People can’t come in and take down an old Tudor. It just can’t happen and it won’t happen. In terms of Queens Boulevard, there was a change in zoning upping the stories. And those older, lower story buildings will probably be taken down and things like The Aston will replace them. In terms of Austin Street, it would be nice if that could be upgraded. Hopefully with a new interest in this direction that would improve the area.