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Queens Chronicle

Home sales in Queens nearly doubled in spring

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Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:00 am

The number of homes sold in Queens jumped 86.6 percent in the second quarter of this year, compared to the same time period last year, according to the latest report issued by the Prudential Douglas Elliman real estate firm.

Fewer homes were on the market, average prices slipped a little in most categories and it took people less time to sell than it did a year ago during the months of April, May and June, according to the report.

The average price of a home in the borough dipped 3.6 percent, from $396,756 to $391,444; while the median sales price fell 7.5 percent, from $362,000 to $345,000.

But the biggest change came in the number of sales, which jumped from 2,129 in the second quarter of 2009 to 3,972. That also marked an increase of 27.6 percent compared to the 3,113 sold in the first quarter of this year, but year-to-year comparisons are seen as the most important because of seasonal factors.

The jump did not, however, surprise Prudential Douglas Elliman and its partner in preparing the quarterly reports — known as the industry standard — the Miller Samuel real estate appraisal firm.

“The surge in activity was expected as consumers took advantage of the federal tax credit for first-time buyers and existing homeowners, as well as improved affordability from lower prices and record-low mortgage rates,” said the report, which was issued last Thursday. “As a result of the decline in listing inventory and the increase in the number of sales, the monthly absorption rate — the number of months to sell existing listing inventory at the current pace of sales — fell by nearly half to 10 months, from 19.6 months in the second quarter of 2009. This is consistent with the 10.2 month average of the past five years.”

The analysis said that an increase in condominium sales as a percentage of all sales drove the decline in prices. Condo sales were about 23.2 percent of all sales in the borough, compared to an average of 12.7 percent over the last three years.

“The lower price levels and larger market share of the condo market skewed the overall price indicators downward,” the report determined.

While price declines can only please buyers, not sellers, a reduction in the time it takes to close was good news for both parties.

The average time a home was on the market was 97 days in the second quarter of this year, down from 107 days a year ago, but little changed from the 100 days it took in the first quarter of 2010.

Geographically speaking, the largest increase in the number of sales occurred in central Queens, defined in the report as ranging from Bellerose in the east to Rego Park in the west, and including Floral Park, Forest Hills, Queens Village and Jamaica Estates, among other communities. Those areas also saw the sharpest collective decline in median sales price, however.

Sales in the central region more than doubled, from 402 in the second quarter of 2009 to 920 in those same three months this year. But the median price of $283,210 was 14.2 percent lower than the $329,950 reported a year ago.

Prices rose only in the northwestern part of the borough, defined in the report as Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside and Sunnyside, but only when measured as the average and not the median. The average price went up 4.5 percent year-to-year, from $479,541 to $501,234, but the median dipped 5.3 percent, from $481,325 last year to $455,692 this year.

Northeastern Queens was the only area where average prices increased, but only 0.7 percent, from $424,658 to $451,321. And that region, ranging from Douglaston to Whitestone, saw the second highest percentage increase in sales, 93.3 percent, after the central part of the borough, where they shot up 129 percent.

The full report, including analyses of sales by type of home, is available at prudentialelliman.com.

— Peter C. Mastrosimone

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