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Residential sales rose in Bklyn, fell in Queens

Sales activity in the Brooklyn residential market managed to post modest gains in the final quarter of last year, while the Queens market didn’t fare nearly as well, according to a report released Thursday. Prices in both boroughs slipped during the quarter.

There were 1,558 sales in Brooklyn during the fourth quarter of last year, up 6.1% from the same period in 2010, according to a report by Prudential Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel Inc. Sales in Queens lurched in the opposite direction, dropping 19.3% to 2,003 sales in the quarter.

“Queens tends to be an outlier in New York real estate,” said Michael Guerra, executive vice president and director of sales for Brooklyn at Prudential Douglas Elliman, pointing out that the borough outperformed others during the recession. “Brooklyn, a bedroom community for people who work in Manhattan, behaves in concert with Manhattan,” he said.

Meanwhile, a surge in the number of sales of co-ops, which are cheaper than condominiums, caused prices in both boroughs to dip during the quarter. In Brooklyn, the median sales price slipped 4.3% to $454,000 in the quarter from the same period 2010. Median sales price fell 7% to $343,000 in Queens. Mr. Guerra noted that there are still places in the far reaches of Brooklyn, such as Canarsie and Brighton Beach, where a co-op can be snapped up for under $100,000.

“The lower priced segment of the market immediately responds to mortgage rate changes,” said Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel, noting that in the fall of 2011 interest rates reached all-time historic lows and pushed people who were on the fence about buying to act.

Other factors that contribute to the difference in results in Brooklyn and Queens are the housing stock. In Queens, almost 59% of sales are of single- to three-family houses, whereas in Brooklyn, houses represent roughly 47% of sales. There is also is higher concentration of condo and new developments in Brooklyn, similar to Manhattan, according to Mr. Miller.

In an important development in one of Brooklyn’s hottest neighborhoods, sales of units in new developments in Williamsburg in the fourth quarter actually exceeded pre-crash levels of 2008 as a percentage of total deals. Last year, new development sales jumped to 19.8% of all sales in what Prudential Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel defines as northwest Brooklyn, compared to 14.6% in 2010. In 2008, when the firms first started tracking market share in the region, new developments represented 16.5% of all sales.

While the final quarter of the year tends to be the slowest in general due to the seasons, Mr. Guerra notes that the results reveal that buyers are “still a little nervous and anxious” about the overall economy and problems in Europe.

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