BY MICHAEL STAHL
With all the hooplah surrounding Long Island City, Astoria and other Western Queens enclaves, touting them as the city’s “next great neighborhoods to live in,” a surprising find by StreetEasy reveals that first-time home buyers in Queens might be better served if they head east.
After calculating the average age of a real estate market newbie—between 31 and 35 years old—along with their anticipated 2016 median income—nearly $67,000 per year—the site found that Forest Hills ranks as the third-most-favorable neighborhood for first-time buyers in New York City.
“First-time buyers are primarily searching for two things: value and space,” wrote Alan Lightfeldt, a StreetEasy data scientist, in an email to the Tribune. “Queens has plenty of both.”
The StreetEasy report points out that Forest Hills had the second-greatest inventory of two-bedroom units last year that were deemed “affordable to first-time buyers” with 169 homes. (They chose to limit the pool to two-bedroom units because “most first-time buyers search for starter homes.”) Other Queens neighborhoods with an abundance of such units were Jackson Heights with 88 and Rego Park with 69. Both areas ranked among the top six in that category across the entire city.
Lightfeldt added in his email: “We expect more young people and families to move to these areas, especially as parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan become increasingly unaffordable to new buyers.”
The site computed that a typical first-time home buyer in New York this year will have a budget of slightly more than $524,000. That figure was tallied based on consideration of their median income, a 40 percent cost-to-income ratio, a 3.9 percent interest rate on a typical 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the ability of the buyer to put down 10 percent of the price, and annual maintenance costs amounting to one percent of a home’s value.
According to the report, “there were 9,028 co-op units affordable to first-time buyers throughout New York City last year and only 1,549 affordable condos.” In total, Forest Hills had 553 such units. The site notes as well: “Including co-ops in your search expands your options by a factor of six.”
Riverdale in the Bronx topped the list with 1,087 affordable units for first-time buyers, while Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn ranked second with 702. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and Washington Heights in Manhattan slid onto the list behind Forest Hills.
“These neighborhoods follow the common logic of buying in New York City: Affordable inventory increases with the distance from Midtown Manhattan,” the report says. “To find the home that fits a lower budget, first-time buyers should open up their search to large neighborhoods with plenty of inventory.”
Read the rest of the report and use StreetEasy’s interactive map to find where else you can find affordable housing at streeteasy.com/blog/best-nyc-neighborhoods-first-time-home-buyers.