A top priority for buyers was affordability — at least relative to Manhattan’s stubbornly high prices. Contract signings for the bottom fifth of listings in Brooklyn, where the median price was $253,000, doubled in August, to 134 deals from 67 in the same period last year, the biggest jump of any price tier.
But demand was stronger or held steady across all price points, suggesting there were other factors driving sales. The top fifth of the Brooklyn market, with a median price of $1.6 million, had 147 signings, virtually unchanged from the same period a year ago. And the surge in sales was not only in affluent areas, like Downtown Brooklyn, but also in more affordable neighborhoods including Bay Ridge and Flatbush.
At least some of the sales are attributable to pent-up demand, after the coronavirus essentially banned in-person apartment showings from mid-March through late June. But the disproportionate rebound in Brooklyn and, to a lesser extent, Queens, suggests that buyers are also adjusting priorities.
“Anything with outdoor space is flying, and renovated townhouses that are priced well are going into bidding wars,” Melissa Leifer, an agent with Keller Williams NYC, said about the recovering Brooklyn market. About half of her buyers already live in the borough, while the other half are leaving homes in Manhattan, often with complaints of high maintenance costs, smaller apartments and a lack of green space.
Still, a rebound is in its early days, after months of damage wrought by the virus. From January to the end of August, there were 3,467 contracts signed in Brooklyn, down from 4,813 in the same period last year, a roughly 30 percent drop.