Monday, October 10, 2011

Williamsburg sales heat up

Three years ago, Williamsburg real estate looked like a terrible bet. Saturated with amenity-laden new developments at the exact moment when the economy plunged, the neighborhood looked like a textbook case of oversupply. Except that it hasn’t turned out that way. Today, the Williamsburg market, though still evolving, is looking surprisingly stable. According to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, new condominiums accounted for 87.8 percent of transactions here in the second quarter of this year, their biggest market share in three years. Prices were up 6.2 percent from the same period in 2010. And the Corcoran Group’s second-quarter survey found average prices up for the neighborhood’s co-ops and multifamily townhouses as well.What’s changed? The emerging neighborhood has emerged. Older, better-paid New Yorkers—the 38-year-old Pitchfork writer turned ad-agency executive who married a banker, say—have supplanted the broke-new-graduate cohort. “As Manhattan gets more homogenized and mall-ified, Williamsburg is the antidote,” says developer Douglas C. Steiner (though, it must be said, the same labels are often slapped on the new Williamsburg). Some builders also took condos off the market entirely, turning the apartments into rentals. Price cuts helped, too, though it never became the fire sale a lot of Williamsburghers were hoping for. And with only a few new projects, like the just-opened 144 North 8th Street, joining the field, supply and demand look to be well balanced again. Here’s how four once-teetering developments are faring now.

The Edge
This waterfront development sold 100 of its 565 units from spring 2008 to fall 2008. Then Lehman Brothers toppled. In the two years after that, only about 50 sold, says developer Jeff Levine. “There was very little velocity,” he says. Since last year, however, there’s been one transaction after another here—252 apartments. Now, The Edge is 70 percent sold, and “on any given weekend, we have about 150 visitors in our salesroom,” he says.
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