Reports of the resurrection of the Brooklyn housing market have been greatly exaggerated.
A new market report released on Thursday shows that sales activity in several neighborhoods has taken a step out of the grave, but not enough to call it a comeback.
“Sales activity is still weak, but it’s not where it was a few years ago [when it was really weak] — this is a ground-up improvement of the real-estate market,” said Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, which crunches the numbers every quarter. “The takeaway is that prices are moving sideways in the last three quarters — the market has been relatively flat since mid-2009.”
That explains why the report shows steep inclines in the average sale price of luxury housing and other homes in several Brooklyn neighborhoods. Miller said that if a few brownstones sell in Brooklyn Heights, for instance, the neighborhood’s numbers can skyrocket — but the whole of the market, for real-estate folks and first-time buyers, hasn’t changed for six months.
Here’s a rundown of the main findings:
• The price of the average one- to three-family household in so-called “Brownstone Brooklyn” — covering everywhere from Brooklyn Heights to Windsor Terrace — increased by more than 22 percent in the first quarter, from $1.15 million to $1.41 million.
That number is a steep rise from the final quarter of last year, but it only brings housing prices back to where they were after the third quarter of last year. That said, experts cautioned that the “revived” prices might simply be skewed by a small number of super-expensive apartments that have just come on the market.
“I’d call 2009 the year of the first-time buyer,” Miller said.
He called the new findings a side-step in the market, and sales in other types of units in the same geographic area reflect that notion — the total number of sales increased by less than one percent, from 454 to 458, and the average sale price hasn’t changed at all in the past six months.
• At first glance, Williamsburg and Greenpoint were the only neighborhoods to see a drop in the average sale price — meaning good things for buyers. Miller said that the drop is a result of cost cuts at the high end, thanks to all those luxury condos that aren’t selling well.
Normally, when prices slip, buyer activity improves. In the case of the Williamsburg and Greenpoint market right now — which is 84 percent luxury condos, Miller said — the overall price and sales haven’t changed.
• The best news for buyers lies (again) in Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant, where the average sale price dropped by about two percent and the average one- to three-family house goes for $352,500.