Boro home sales drop 39% in fourth quarter last year

Balloons decorate Arverne by the Sea’s sales center in Far Rockaway, which, like other areas in Queens, has seen a drop in real estate sales prices.
By Ivan Pereira

The nation’s recession and weak credit market took a toll on real estate in Queens, where home sales plummeted by 39 percent in the fourth quarter last year from the same period in 2007, Prudential Douglas Elliman reported last week.

The quarterly survey by the Manhattan−based real estate company found that the average sales price of a home in Queens dropped 10.2 percent from $466,626 in the October−December period in 2007 to $419,153 in the closing quarter last year. Over the same span the median sales price fell 11.4 percent in the borough from $430,000 to $400,001 in the last quarter of 2008.

The study, which focused on fourth−quarter sales, said the declines provided “tangible evidence that the credit crunch has impacted demand for property.”

The number of properties up for sale in Queens remained relatively steady, however, showing only a minor 2.5 percent drop to 9,822 at the end of 2008.

The number of days that properties remained on the market rose somewhat and the number of sales that reflected a discount from the listing price nearly doubled to 8.7 percent from 4.8 percent in the prior year, Douglas Elliman said.

Southeast Queens was the section of the borough with the greatest drop in sales prices, according to the report. The average sales price declined 15.8 percent from $470,033 in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 395,903 in the same period in 2008. The area has the highest number of foreclosures in the state, according to Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adoja Gzifa.

“Obviously this is all a reflection of the economy and the subprime mess that’s affected the area over the last couple of years,” she said. “It’s going to be a while to see a turnaround in southeast Queens or anywhere.”

In northeast Queens, the 2008 fourth−quarter average home sales price was $460,209, which marked a 6 percent decline from $485,745 in the same period in 2007, the report said.

New developments in northwest Queens caused average sales per square foot prices to increase last year, according to the study, but overall sales in the area also registered a decline. Average sales prices dropped 15 percent from $546,042 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2007 to $463,993 during the same period last year, according to the report.

In the Rockaways, the average sales price declined 6.6 percent from $439,217 in the fourth quarter of 2007 to $410,394 in the fourth quarter of 2008, the report stated.

The decline in median home prices in the borough was part of a national trend in American real estate, according to a separate report issued by the National Association of Realtors Monday. The agency said national median sales declined 9.3 percent from $219,000 in 2007 to $198,600 last year.

The report also indicated, however, that U.S. home sales jumped from 4.45 million units in November to 4.74 million units in December, but that was a 3.5 percent decrease from the 4.91 million units sold in December 2007.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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