Lisa Chow is the economics reporter at WNYC. She tries to explore in her stories surprising aspects of New York’s many economies—in plain view or hidden, in neighborhoods or sectors.
Prices of homes sold in Queens and Brooklyn in the fourth quarter rose five and six percent, respectively, from the same period in 2009, according to a New York City appraisal firm.
In Queens, a typical home sold for $369,000 in the fourth quarter, up from $350,000 the same period a year ago, according to the firm Miller Samuel.
In Brooklyn, the median sales price rose from $447,000 to $475,000. Prices rose, in part, because the mix of properties selling in New York City has shifted, and higher-priced, larger properties are back into the mix, said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel.
"A year ago, I described 2009 as the year of the first-time buyer, which was the anomaly," he said. "In 2010, we made that transition to a more normal mix of activity."
A federal $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers and $6,500 tax credit for repeat home buyers expired last April.
While prices rose last quarter, the number of sales dropped in both boroughs -- down about 40 percent in Queens and 30 percent in Brooklyn -- from the same period in 2009. That drop can also be attributed to the expiration of the federal housing tax credit, which Miller said simply "moved the chairs around the room."
"Essentially, what Brooklyn and Queens saw was sales activity artificially stimulated by the tax credit, which was what it was supposed to do, to the point where people moved their purchase decision in front of that expiration date," he said. And so after April, Miller said the number of sales dropped off.
In Queens, the segment of the housing market that saw the biggest price jump was new condos, where median prices rose by 20 percent last quarter from the same period a year ago to $540,000. On the flip side, prices for coops fell by five percent to $190,000.
In Brooklyn, the luxury market outpaced the rest of the housing market. The median sales price in that segment rose 37 percent last quarter to $1.3 million, whereas it fell one percent among 1- to 3-bedroom homes to $520,000. The luxury market is defined as the upper 10 percent of all condos, coops and 1- to 3-bedroom homes in price.