BY MICHAEL STAHL
In an exclusive study conducted for the Queens Tribune, StreetEasy.com determined the median price per square foot (PPSF) of real estate across 34 Queens neighborhoods. The site compiled and analyzed 2015 sales data from the New York City Department of Finance, looking only at sections that saw at least 10 closings last year.
As one might expect, Long Island City remained the borough’s most expensive neighborhood, and by a wide margin. Its $1,069 PPSF topped second-place Astoria’s figure by an astonishing $354 and was just $100 shy of what the borough’s five cheapest neighborhoods cost combined.
LIC’s PPSF actually exceeded what people paid last year in the posh Brooklyn enclave Park Slope ($1,033 PPSF) and was just $2 shy of the cost of real estate in Manhattan’s elite Upper East Side. “LIC has come a long way,” StreetEasy data scientist Alan Lightfeldt said in a recent interview. “To be on par with [those sections] speaks volumes about how much more attractive this neighborhood has become. It’s a fairly matured and developed real estate market.”
Lightfeldt added that the reasons behind LIC’s real estate cost explosion is “obviously its proximity to Manhattan,” as well as the fact that much of the property there is relatively new.
The median price per square foot throughout Queens reached $447 last year, with LIC, Astoria ($715), Ridgewood ($661), Whitestone ($526), Murray Hill ($499), Queensboro Hill ($486), Middle Village ($470) and Clearview ($453) representing the only neighborhoods that saw a median PPSF beyond the borough’s median mark.
Lightfeldt said that Astoria benefitted from its proximity to LIC and its easy access to mass transit. “When looking in Queens, buyers are first looking at Long Island City and Astoria,” he added. “If they can’t afford a section, they’ll take their search one or two neighborhoods over.”
Ridgewood is among the many Queens areas that, according to Lightfeldt, “has seen a recent transformation” and a surge of younger residents moving in. “Ten years ago it was kind of an unknown neighborhood to anyone who didn’t live in Queens,” Lightfeldt said, “but now it’s the new Bushwick of sorts.
We’re seeing a lot more retail opening up there, a lot more restaurants, and these are harbingers for further development.”
Though Whitestone has never been a hotspot for first-time buyers, and does not have abundant mass transit options, the neighborhood’s larger, detached homes and land plots helped put it among the borough’s priciest. “The product that is there is attractive,” Lightfeldt said of Whitestone, noting that the top of the list has a mix of “well-established, upper-middle-class neighborhoods” and emerging enclaves welcoming buyers who do not have backyards as high priorities. He also said that StreetEasy spotted a growth in demand for housing in all of the areas that ran past Queens’ overall median PPSF.
Each of the neighborhoods in the bottom five of StreetEasy’s list sit a considerable distance from Manhattan. In spite of the neighborhood’s waterfront properties and proximity to Rockaway Beach, Howard Beach’s $182 PPSF was Queens’ second-lowest figure. In separate analysis, StreetEasy saw that it only takes one year of residency in Howard Beach for the cost of renting to exceed the cost of buying there.
Lightfeldt said, “If you’re a person who wants to have the dream of home ownership realized, Howard Beach is one of the best places [in the city] to do it.”
Springfield Gardens ($100), North Corona ($196), Briarwood ($221) and South Jamaica ($235) comprised the rest of the bottom five, while other noteworthy neighborhoods on the list included Flushing ($440), Sunnyside ($435), Woodside ($425), Forest Hills ($410) and Bayside ($318).