New York City’s reputation as one of Earth’s most expensive—and daunting—real estate markets is well-earned, thank you very much: $1.8 million studio apartments? Check. Full-cash offers everywhere you look? Check. Freakishly competitive open houses? You bet. Welcome to the big time—with the prices and killer views to match. It’s little wonder that housing is top of mind for just about all of the nearly 8.4 million folks who call the Center of the Universe home.
Everyone, it seems, is angling to hit the NYC trifecta: a decent space in a good neighborhood at an affordable price. That’s why it’s so important to get a handle of what’s going to be the next big neighborhood, before it explodes in popularity and prices get out of reach.
To find out which neighborhoods in this bellwether, nationally scrutinized market are seeing the biggest price climbs—and the biggest falls—we teamed up with real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller, co-founder of Miller Samuel. He compared the median home sale prices in all of New York City’s neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs in 2017 and 2018. We included only the neighborhoods with at least 25 sales in both years.
What we found is a city going through churn, much of it due to the flurry of luxury development in some areas that traditionally have had older—and more affordable—homes. Prices go up, an area gets saturated, the luxury stock sells out, then prices go back down. Rinse and repeat. Meanwhile, the megadevelopment causes people to search out nearby areas that might be cheaper.
It’s the NYC circle of life, and it’s accelerating.
“Developers have left no stone unturned and developed wherever they could,” says Miller. “They went everywhere there was an opportunity. And that caused a lot of price fluctuations, especially in more modestly priced neighborhoods that saw a lot of new, high-end development introduced.”
But New York City hasn’t been immune to national trends. The overall market is slowing throughout all of its five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and “can’t-get-no-respect” Staten Island. The city has been particularly affected by the national tax changes that make it more expensive to own a home in pricier parts of the country, says Miller.
More fun still: This month, New York state’s new mansion tax went into effect, upping the amount of taxes on properties $2 million and up. Sales had been down earlier in the year, but the prospect of giving more to Uncle Sam resulted in a rush of higher-priced home sales. Going forward, the number of sales is expected to fall back down again. Phew … Dramamine, please.
High price tags are pushing many New Yorkers farther out into cheaper communities such as the Bronx, which doesn’t have the hipster cred or water views of Brooklyn. But dollars can stretch way further there.
“A large shift or decline [in a New York neighborhood] is generally not a reflection of weakness,” says Miller. “It’s more of a reflection of … now it’s back to business.”
So which neighborhoods are seeing the largest real estate price spikes? And which expensive communities are getting (a bit) more affordable?
Annual median price increase: 122.7% Median 2018 home price: $612,500
When folks think of the Bronx, the mix of grand Tudors, Georgian Revival estates, and midcentury modern homes and lovely winding streets in suburban Fieldston are rarely what come to mind. Homeowners in this privately owned enclave of tony Riverdale pay property taxes and fees to their property owners association, which maintains the streets and sewers and pays for its own security patrol.
Prices are surging because word has gotten out: Buyers are increasingly drawn to its seductive combo of urban and suburban living. The historically designated community is near top private schools, which include the Horace Mann School and Riverdale Country School. It’s also only steps away from the Hudson River and the 28-acre green oasis of Wave Hill Public Gardens in the northwest swath of the Bronx.
“In Fieldston, you are part of the city but you have the real suburban feeling,” says Chintan Trivedi, a licensed real estate broker with Re/Max In the City. “Here you’re getting a real home, a backyard and a private community.
“For a good house with a larger backyard, a complete renovation, and maybe a pool, you can expect to pay $1.5 million to $2.5 million,” he says. But there are six-bedroom homes listed in the $1 million range. Just tryto get that in Manhattan. (Spoiler: You can’t!)
Annual median price increase: 41.2% Median 2018 home price: $275,000
Just south of Fieldston are the middle-class communities of Kingsbridge and University Heights, where buyers can score deals for a fraction of the price. But the lack of homes for sale and little turnover are causing prices to heat up. And investors are buying up whatever lots and houses they can for new development or rehabbing.
“The Bronx is the new Queens in the sense that there’s been an expansion of demand moving out from Manhattan as consumers search for affordability,” says Miller.
The neighborhood’s become popular with 20- and 30-somethings looking for a reasonably priced community with an urban vibe. Hilly Kingsbridge is filled with century-old, single-family houses and midrise co-op and apartment buildings as well as plenty of shopping, parks, and public transit.
These buyers “are[part of] the new generation that’s learning that real estate should be part of their planning,” says Trivedi. “They want to feel like they’re in Manhattan—a place where they can still go right downstairs and get a smoothie.”
Annual median price increase: 38.7% Median 2018 home price: $1,535,000
Over the past couple of decades, lower Manhattan’s East Village has shed its image as a sketchy, open-air drug market to become a sought-after place known for lively bars, great restaurants, and a defiantly boho vibe—as well as a slew of new, high-priced developments, causing prices to jump. They’re going up everywhere you look.
Annual median price increase: 36.1% Median 2018 home price: $1,226,750
Like the East Village, Prospect Heights has been rapidly gentrifying. Professionals, families, and a few stray hipsters are drawn to its charming rows of stunningly restored early 19th-century, multistory brownstones on tree-lined streets. The neighborhood is near several main subway lines and in close proximity to the 526-acre Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It also borders Barclays Center, home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets (and soon the team’s new dynamic duo, superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving).
In recent years, Prospect Heights has become popular with folks priced out of neighboring Park Slope, a community long popular with upper-middle-class families. They gravitate to the brownstones as well as the new high-rises and the used bookstore, artisanal bakeries, and constant stream of new restaurants.
Not surprisingly, the Prospect Heights neighborhood has attracted a slew of developers putting up luxury condo and apartment buildings wherever they can. Those high-end housing developments are skewing the neighborhood’s median prices up to new heights.
This isn’t the kind of place where you’ll find buzzed-about restaurants—you’re more likely to stumble upon a dollar store than a bougie boutique. It’s a more down-to-earth community, populated by old-school Brooklynites, hipsters, as well as Pakistani, Orthodox and Hasidic Jew, Mexican, Chinese, and Latin American immigrant groups.
Annual median price increase: -40.7% Median 2018 home price: $915,500
Once grim downtown Brooklyn has been booming in recent years. It’s become home to a slew of glassy, luxury high-rises. So why are prices in such a vibrant area plummeting?
Well, now there’s a glut of new construction, giving buyers more negotiating power as buildings compete against one another to lure residents. Plus, builders are putting up towers with some smaller, less expensive units. But in NYC, less expensive is relative. Buyers might save themselves a couple hundred thousand on a million-plus-dollar condo.
But many of the condos here, some designed by famous architects, come with just about every amenity imaginable, including sun decks, hot tubs, dog runs, saltwater pools, and even music studios. This two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom abode in a 57-floor building is going for $2,040,000.
Some believe developers overshot their market.
“Developers there created a mountain of homogenous product,” says agent Blumstein with the Corcoran Group. Buildings in the area “were built on the thought that people are demanding amenities. But the old-school, prewar neighborhood vibe is what’s in.”
Annual median price increase: -39.3% Median 2018 home price: $3,200,000
Even many lifelong New Yorkers have never heard of the Civic Center neighborhood in lower Manhattan. The tiny community encompasses City Hall and courthouses as well as some high-rise co-op, condo, and apartment buildings. It’s just west of ultradesirable Tribeca, where prices are sky-high, and just below Chinatown, guaranteeing plenty of good Asian eats.
Prices are down because the wave of development has pretty much played itself out, says Miller. Many of the older brick and limestone, midrise office buildings had been gut-rehabbed and turned into pricey condos. That led to a spike in prices. Now that those units have been bought, the real estate for sale is a mix of lower- and higher-end properties.
It’s “run its course,” says Miller of the wave of development in Civic Center.
Annual median price increase: -30.2% Median 2018 home price: $450,000
Like Civic Center, Javits Center as a neighborhood isn’t very well-known—but that’s likely to change. Named for the sprawling convention center on the west side of Manhattan where the community is located, it’s wedged between trendy Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea and abuts Hudson Yards.
Even nonlocals have probably heard of Hudson Yards, Manhattan’s newest neighborhood, built on a formerly desolate stretch of disused train tracks. It’s a glam (and critics say overly generic) development of ultrahigh-priced condo and rental towers overlooking the Hudson River, complete with its own weird tourist attraction, the beehive-like Vessel. The Javits Center’s proximity to this buzzy development will likely have an impact on sales with prices shooting up.
But in the meantime, prices fell because there simply isn’t much of the first wave of luxury real estate left on the market. Now what’s selling is less expensive, older condos.
That’s likely to change as sales heat up in Hudson Yards.
“Sales [in Hudson Yards] will help to increase values in the surrounding area,” says New York real estate agent Matt Crouteau. The place “was designed so people don’t have to leave.” Ever.
Annual median price increase: -30% Median 2018 home price: $997,500
Just south of the Civic Center is the Financial District, home to Wall Street and the World Trade Center on the tip of Manhattan. Like all of the other neighborhoods on this list, FiDi (as it’s called) experienced a spike in development, then a market saturation.
“It’s not that prices are collapsing,” says Miller. “The early wave of high-end new development drove prices higher. … After that activity cooled, the prices for the neighborhood are less than what they were.”
But there are still plenty of new units to choose from, including this three-bedroom, four-bathroom condo going for $5,300,000. The unit features granite countertops, a waterfall island, high ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows. On the lower side of the spectrum, buyers can snag this studio with plenty of closet space for $480,000.
The neighborhood is home to a few cobblestone streets, giving it an old-world charm, as well as the South Street Seaport, a tourist fave.
Annual median price increase: -29.6% Median 2018 home price: $1,550,000
Thank the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway line for prices falling in the upper portion of the Upper East Side, from about 96th to 110th streets. Developers flooded the neighborhood putting up buildings near the new train extension, which opened in 2017 after being discussed, planned, and replanned for nearly a century. They believed—rightly so—that this least fashionable part of the Upper East Side would become far more desirable thanks to its close proximity to the new train line.
“That’s essentially East Harlem, which has benefited from a significant amount of new development,” says Miller. Now development is mostly over and there’s fewer sales.
“You’re not seeing the same amount of high-end [sales], because there’s not as much new housing being introduced,” he explains.
The Upper East Side/East Harlem now has a mix of sleek towers, brownstones, low-rise brick buildings and townhomes, and apartment and public housing developments. This new one-bedroom, one-bath condo clocking in at just 609 square feet, which is near the new subway line, is on the market for $786,161.
Sales of distressed homes usually come in several forms. First, there are short sales or pre-foreclosures, deals where an owner who can no longer afford the property tries to work out a purchase with a buyer, subject to the approval of the lender. If that doesn’t work, the lender may start foreclosure proceedings, and the home may be put up for sale at a public auction. If the highest bid at the auction is insufficient, the lender then gets title to the property and holds it as a bank-owned (or REO) property.
The purpose of a foreclosure auction is to get the highest possible price for the property, in order to mitigate the losses a lender suffers when a borrower defaults on a loan. If the sale amount covers the outstanding mortgage debt and various foreclosure costs, then any surplus goes to the borrower. Bidders, on the other hand, are looking for investment bargains, so many homes sold at foreclosure auctions ultimately sell at something of a discount compared to traditional properties.
Preparing for a Foreclosure Auction
Foreclosure auctions differ substantially from a typical residential sale. There are no terms to discuss, no haggling over paint or appliances. The property is sold as is, where it is, and with any existing faults and limitations. The property may be sold on an absolute basis (the highest bid wins, even if it’s for a tiny amount) or with a reserve or minimum bid (the property has to sell for at least a given price, otherwise the lender gets title).
The condition of the property may range from wonderful to awful, and it may or may not be occupied. Some properties are “zombie foreclosures,” a situation where the borrower has abandoned the property before the foreclosure has been completed. In all cases, bidders should review disclosures with care and seek as much information as possible about the property.
It’s important to visit the property before the auction, if you can, especially if you live locally. Does it seem occupied or not? How does the exterior condition appear? Be aware that trespassing and Peeping Tom rules may limit access unless you’re invited onto the property. Some bidders drive by the property just before the auction to ensure that its condition hasn’t changed since the disclosure papers were written. In some cases, you may be able to see a virtual tour or even attend an open house.
Lastly, real estate values are related to local economies. How much would a given property be worth if it was in pristine condition? What rental could you expect? Is there a lot of local sale and rental demand—or a little? Speak with local real estate brokers to better gauge the market.
Your Foreclosure Auction Questions, Answered
As with any real estate purchase, there are a variety of expenses associated with a foreclosure auction. Charges, fees and costs vary widely, so it’s important to understand these expenses before you bid. Here are some questions people often ask about financing and buying a foreclosure at auction:
Before the Auction
Since it’s the lenders that are selling houses, why don’t they just finance the foreclosure sale? That usually doesn’t happen. The division of the lending institution that sells foreclosure properties and the division that does real estate financing are two separate organizations.
Are foreclosures riskier than existing home purchases? It depends on which foreclosure and which existing home. All real estate investing—like all stock market investing—implies some level of risk. But there are some inherent risks involved in buying a foreclosure home—like the inability to do a thorough internal inspection. People who buy these properties hope that the risk will be offset by the kind of discount prices often available on these homes.
Will I have to register to bid? You bet. As with a rental car reservation, you’ll typically have to provide a credit card number and expect the auction company to take a given amount to hold. Why? They want the money in case someone bids and wins, but doesn’t close the deal. How much will be taken out? It depends, so ask the auction company for details.
Will I have to qualify? Yes. The auction company wants to be sure that you have the funds to close the transaction. Most foreclosure auctions are all-cash transactions. The term “all-cash” generally means the ability to put down a deposit immediately after a successful bid and close within a short timeframe.
Do I always need the full amount in cash to buy a foreclosure? This depends to a great degree on the laws in your state. Most foreclosure auctions require payment in cash (or a cashier’s check) within a relatively short time after the auction. Technically, it doesn’t matter if the funds come from you or a lender. What does matter is that successful bidders have the financial ability to close the deal on time and in full. Ask auctioneers about financing and pre-approval requirements.
What’s the best way to learn about auctions before actually buying? Register for auctions and attend the bidding. Learn the mechanics of the auctioning process in your community. Get to know local auctioneers, brokers, attorneys, repair specialists and appraisers who specialize in foreclosures.
During the Auction
Is it better to go to absolute auctions or sales that require minimum bids? People debate this question, but it’s largely a matter of personal preference. With an absolute auction, one bidder will win, while with a reserve sale, it’s possible that no bid will be sufficient. However, if you attend a reserve sale and the lender takes title, then speak with the lender after the auction about an REO purchase. The overwhelming majority of foreclosure sales are conducted using a reserve, since lenders are trying to capture at least a minimum amount of money to offset their losses.
Can I bid $1 more than the next bidder and win the property? Probably not. There are typically minimum bid increments in place.
If I win, do I get title then and there? Not usually. The seller—usually a lender—must approve the bid. Typically, they have 15 days to do so. Once an answer comes through, there’s an additional period required to arrange closing, which may take several weeks.
After the Auction
After closing, do I own the property? In some jurisdictions, there may be an equity of redemption right that allows the borrower who defaulted to regain title to their property under certain conditions. Speak with a local attorney for details before bidding.
Will there be any liens that will become my responsibility after the sale? Most liens are sublimated (or wiped out) by a foreclosure sale. But there are exceptions. Real estate tends to attract liens, so it makes sense to get title insurance for the property with the insurer you prefer.
How much should I set aside for repairs? Each property is unique, so repair requirements can vary widely. Estimating repairs can be difficult because if the property is occupied, the residents may not want visitors. If it’s unoccupied, the utilities may be turned off. The best approach is to get as much information as possible before in the auction. In some cases, you may be able to find utility records that can help you better understand property issues.
What if I have owners or squatters on the property? If the residents won’t move, you may need to contact an attorney who can obtain an eviction notice and arrange for a sheriff to clear the property.
For more details and specifics, you and your broker should contact the auctioneer. Happy bidding!
Source: Auction.com // November 15, 2018 – By Peter Miller