BY MICHAEL STAHL
Upon the completion of the real estate market’s first quarter this past March, the Queens Tribune published an analysis of Douglas Elliman’s corresponding borough report and noted that the Northeastern region of Queens, which includes the neighborhoods Bayside, Whitestone, Douglaston and Flushing, was the only area that saw a significant sales price drop off from 2014. Inventory was low across the borough and the Elliman report observed sales volume decreases in almost every portion of Queens. However, the Northeastern section held a dubious honor as the only area enduring a streak of four consecutive quarters with overall sales figure slippage.
A more recent Queens Tribune exclusive report from StreetEasy.com concurs with some of the initial Elliman findings. Though the StreetEasty.com figures were strictly limited to the neighborhood of Whitestone, the median recorded sale price of all homes there was 25 percent lower in this year’s first quarter—coming in at $363,335—when compared to that of 2014. A bright spot of the StreetEasy.com report shows that the fourth quarter of 2014 was possibly better for Whitestone than what Elliman hinted at. The median recorded sale price of all homes stood at $548,000, which was much more favorable than last year’s quarter one mark of $486,000. But those numbers also point to an even more significant fall between the fourth quarter of 2014 and first quarter of 2015 than the -25 percent year-over-year figure strictly for quarter one. Perhaps it was the weather because, actually, Whitestone real estate had a banner year in 2014.
The median recorded sale price of all Whitestone homes last year was $580,000, according to the StreetEasy.com report, the highest it has ever been, rising 30 percent above the final 2013 numbers. The Whitestone market is saturated with single- and two-family houses and townhouses, which sold for an average $835,000 last year, but the co-op market saw sales prices equal to those prior to the most recent recession as well.
“The Whitestone real estate market is hot,” said Nelly Andrushenko, a broker and owner of Power Realty located at 148-29 Cross Island Parkway in Whitestone, in a phone interview last week. “If a home is priced at market value I can sell it now in a week, sometimes even within 24 hours.” Andrushenko, who has 25 years of experience in the business, and has owned Power Realty for 13 years, said that she recently put a Whitestone Woods home into contract after it was on the market for just a single day. She showed it to three prospective buyers, and even fielded additional bids over the phone from people who had only viewed the property online. “Whitestone is becoming more and more desirable of an area,” Andrushenko, who works in the luxury market, added. “Now people are coming from all over Queens to live here.”
Anthony Carollo of Carollo Real Estate on 154 St. in Whitestone feels that the neighborhood is slowly becoming a very desirable destination for another new crop of buyers. “People are coming from Manhattan to Whitestone to raise their families,” Carollo, who opened his own agency in 2002 after retiring from the NYPD, said recently. “There are private beaches, charming and spacious homes with backyards, and great shopping options close by. There are plenty of things to do for both young and old people.” Two of the top-performing school districts in the city serve the area, and there are express busses that usher residents to the No. 7 train and Long Island Railroad, getting commuters into the city in about an hour. There aren’t any high rises going up on the Whitestone tree-lined streets these days due to strict zoning laws, but perhaps the biggest advantage to living there can be found in one’s bank account. “I always say it’s Long Island living without the taxes,” Carollo emphasized. Though Alan Lightfeldt of StreetEasy.com points out that Whitestone is one of the more expensive markets in Queens, with the median sale price of homes reaching 52 percent higher than the borough’s overall average mark last year, both Carollo and Andrushenko are quick to note the property taxes in the area are relatively cheap when compared to those in nearby Nassau County.
One problem buyers from abroad may have though is simple opportunity. According to Carollo and Andrushenko, Whitestone homeowners are, generally, not very eager to sell. The two brokers indicated that low inventory is problematic to the growth of the market, and the StreetEasy.com report presents a 16 percent inventory decline in neighborhood availabilities during this year’s first quarter when compared to those of 2014. “Nobody is looking to leave,” Carollo said of Whitestone residents, whom he claims are constantly reinvesting in their own properties and helping their children purchase homes in the amenity-rich, tax-friendly region. “Why would you sell even if you’re getting a good price?”
Andrushenko said that 85 percent of her business comes via repeat clients, a telling sign that Whitestoners are the stationary type. “Many of the people who are selling want to change homes, but stay in the neighborhood, and either upgrade to a larger house or downsize,” she said.
Add everything up and it’s challenging to deduce why Whitestone and the outlying area has seen, at least, inconsistent results in sales the past year and a half. Carollo wondered aloud if the luxury market was suffering because he was only noticing a growth in prices out of his office, but Andrushenko stated she alone made eight sales between January and February, which are historically uninviting months. “Most people didn’t want to leave their houses this past winter,” she said, “but I was out in the cold on many showings. It was better than most winters.” Andrushenko added that uneducated sellers who ask too much for their homes might have been the culprits for some downward sales trends of late. Still, the people of Whitestone probably don’t pay much attention to the market anyway, content to enjoy the beautiful landscape and suburban atmosphere around them. “If they can afford to live here, they’re going to do what they can to stay,” Carollo concluded.
ON THE MARKET
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