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Avoiding Capped Markets: How to Navigate NYC Real Estate

Written by Posted On Saturday, 05 August 2017 13:38

In the summer of 2016, NYC real estate prices reached an all-time high, with the average price of a home rising to $1.02 million. For years, housing costs had been on a meteoric ascent, creating real estate growth that was only rivaled by cities like London, Hong Kong, and Sydney. Most investors and buyers just assumed prices would keep increasing.

Then, in the 3rd quarter of 2016, apartment sales in the Big Apple declined 20%. By the end of the year, rent prices in NYC had declined by 9.1%. As 2017 arrived, people were talking about the start of a crash.

Needless to say, you should be paying attention if you’re looking at buying a home in NYC today. The housing landscape has changed, and you must be extra careful to not fall victim to a capped market. Here’s how you can make the right purchase:

New York neighborhoods are all different

Don’t forget: There are five boroughs and hundreds of neighborhoods in NYC. Altogether, there are nearly 3.5 million housing units in the city. If you really analyze the housing market here, you’ll see that it consists of many different sub-markets.

From the luxury apartments in Upper Manhattan to the single family dwellings in Flushing, Queens, you have a diversity of submarkets and an abundance of housing choices. And what’s going on with real estate in one area isn’t necessarily happening in another.

So, realize you have options. As you long as you’re flexible and do your research, you can find a house in a healthy real estate market—one where the value of your property won’t cap out.

Not all neighborhoods are capped

It’s certainly tempting to own an upscale condo in a desirable neighborhood, like Tribeca (which was one of NYC’s most expensive neighborhoods for real estate in 2016). But you have to consider whether such neighborhoods will see their growth stagnating in upcoming years.

For instance, in NYC, total sales of homes over $4 million declined 18% in 2016. This is due to the fact that not only are these high-end homes probably overpriced, there is also an excess supply of them.

This means purchasing an exclusive property in certain neighborhoods and developments may not be the best idea now. In fact, many experts think the real estate downturn in NYC is largely attributable to a cap on the luxury housing market. After all, non-luxury rent prices are still seeing solid increases across the city, especially in Queens and Brooklyn.

Based off these trends, it’s advisable to steer clear of neighborhoods and housing developments that are experiencing volatility in real estate prices. For too many years, real estate values in certain areas of the city have been rising at a suspiciously fast rate.

This growth is stagnating in many spots—but not everywhere. You just need to know where to look.

Go where stable growth is occurring or wait to buy low

In 2016, the Federal Reserve highlighted the housing situation in NYC in its Beige Book. According to comments in the Beige Book, “New York City's rental market has been mostly steady, except at the high end, where the inventory has risen and rents have drifted down.”

The NYC real estate is experiencing unprecedented growth in certain neighborhoods. There are neighborhoods and developments that are seeing more stable increases.

Specifically, up-and-coming neighborhoods like East Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood, as well the South Bronx, including Mott Haven and Grand Concourse. Housing values in such neighborhoods are steadily rising, but haven’t gotten out-of-hand. Unlike the capped markets (where sales prices have nearly reached their peak performance), they show no sign of slowing. And seeing as though they’ve seen over a 40% increase in just over a decade, they’re a smart investment (while they last).

Your second option is to take advantage of the opportunity that’s there in the declining luxury market. You could wait for luxury real estate values to reach a low point, which can be tough to read. Looking at historical data and constantly studying current supply and demand can help you get in at an opportune time.

Also, since there is excess supply in the luxury market, you can actually bargain your way down to lower prices. For instance, the upscale homes at 432 Park Avenue, which is the world’s tallest residential building, have been selling for 10% less than the listing price because buyers know the market has given them more bargaining power.

Avoiding capped markets and winning in the NYC real estate market

You can avoid the capped markets and get property in NYC at a price that will deliver return on your investment. If you do the proper research, stay patient, and remain flexible, you’ll be able to either capitalize off the downturn in the luxury market or get a home in a healthy market. Just remember: You have options—take advantage of them.

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Sarah Saltzberg

I am Bohemia Realty Group's Founder and Principal Broker. We’re one of New York City’s largest real estate firms, specializing in Uptown Manhattan.


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