Report: Brownstone bust is upon us

Nerves about our collapsing national economy have finally sent jitters through Brooklyn’s real-estate market, with the number of property sales down more than 24 percent over the last three months — and the prices on those apartments and homes that did sell down almost four percent, a new report revealed this week.

The report did offer some good news: sales in Williamsburg and Greenpoint continue to be strong, with the average cost per square foot rocketing 10 percent over the past three months — and 19 percent over the last 12 months.

The median sale price also soared to $641,497 — a 6.9-percent increase since last year.

The North Brooklyn market expanded because of closings on condos — which comprised 83.2 percent of all sales in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, according to Jonathan Miller, president of the real-estate consulting firm Miller Samuel.

“It’s not that prices are rising in that market, it’s that new development has been absorbed and people have bought in,” said Miller, who compiled the study. “It doesn’t mean that the typical apartment rose 6.9 percent because the median rose. There was more influence by new development.”

New development is rarer in the tony blocks of Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Clinton Hill, and Prospect Heights, where the number of sales plummeted 39.9 percent from July to September, compared to the same three-month period last year.

But brokers in the Brownstone belt say their tree-lined blocks will only grow more desirable if the economy continues its downturn.

“There is a phenomena that I’ve always seen when you have a crises: the blood goes to the heart,” said Hal Lehrman, principal broker at Brooklyn Properties. “The centers of the more-expensive neighborhoods hold their values much better [than other neighborhoods]. You might see things contract towards the prime neighborhoods.”

Ken Freeman, a senior director at the Massey Knakal real-estate giant agreed that neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope only become more popular in a recession.

“In tough times, there is a flight to quality — and the brownstone market is what we define as quality,” Freeman said. “There might be a short-time hit, but that hit will probably be less severe and shorter than it would be elsewhere in Brooklyn.”

Naturally, Freeman and Lehr–man’s counterparts in Greenpoint and Williamsburg — where a penthouse apartment at the Edge [far left] sold for a record $5.145 million earlier this month — think that the market looks brighter in North Brooklyn than it does in neighborhoods with histories of high property values.

“The forecast for Williamsburg and Greenpoint is better than the rest of the borough,” said broker Herbert Kliegerman, though he quickly added that there are storm clouds on the horizon all over the borough.

“I’ve had to lower prices on my exclusive listings,” he said.

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