After hitting rock bottom in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the real estate market in Howard Beach has bounded back over the past five years.
Not only have home values rebounded to above their previous value, their growth has outpaced that of the rest of the borough on average, leading some realtors to speculate that they are as high as they can go.
The preference of the residents to settle in the community for decades at a time changes the dynamics of the area’s real estate. For one thing, it leads to an unusually high number of homeowners.
“Howard Beach is a unique community because of where it’s located. It’s like you get off of the main streets and you feel like you’re somewhere in Long Island,” said Jerry Fink, owner of Jerry Fink Real Estate Inc.
The small waterfront community is comprised of around 70 percent of homeowners, according to the Comptroller’s 2018 snapshot of Queens. Combine that fact with a population of under 100,000, and it creates a tight housing market, with a relatively low level of turnover.
According to StreetEasy, median real estate values have increased by just over 100 percent on average in Queens from 2010 to 2019. By this metric, Howard Beach might appear to lag behind. Values have only increased 18 percent in Howard Beach in this window. But since Sandy, they’ve skyrocketed, increasing 110 percent since from 2014 to August 2019.
In fact, Steven Pacchiano of Connexion I Real Estate believes that the Federal Emergency Management Agency response to Sandy has actually played a role in driving the prices even higher.
“You’ve got a house that got flooded, and some old lady owned it. She bought it in 1960 and it was all original. Well, her first floor got destroyed, but she got money from FEMA and she made it all brand new. So the house that was formerly 600,000 is now almost [$700,000],” said Pacchiano.
That being said, the area is not immune to citywide market changes. As shown by a StreetEasy report, sales prices dropped at rapid rates in some parts of the city and stalled in others over the past six months. Likewise StreetEasy data shows that the median prices of Howard Beach real estate also fell from $290,000 to $255,000 from August 2018 to 2019.
While Pacchiano said he doesn’t see any reduction in the growth of property values in the area, Fink said that for Howard Beach, property values are getting close to as high as they can go under the current market conditions. With a smaller population, when the price climbs above $500,000, there are fewer and fewer people able to qualify for that, he said.
“It’s reached the high again, so I think it’s naturally in the market when you reach your highs you start dipping off of those, and as long as people price their property at the right price at the market value, it does tend to sell,” Fink said.
Given these trends in the housing market, Fink advised that if anybody at the retirement point was thinking about selling their home, this would be the ideal time to make a move.
“Nobody can predict what’s going to happen six months from now, but that’s what the trend tends to be,” he said.