Despite ongoing struggles across the NYC condominium and cooperative market as a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple factors depressing those markets even before the pandemic hit, Astoria continues to hold its own. According to Queens-based brokerage Modern Space’s 3rd Quarter Market Report, the number of units on the market in the iconic neighborhood is up 198% and the number of units in contract is up 86% since the 2nd quarter. Surprisingly, contract prices are down only 2% year over year from the 3rd quarter of 2019. When contrasted with the sharp decline in prices elsewhere in New York City - particularly in Manhattan - that’s pretty incredible.
What’s Driving the Market?
One of the factors driving markets in both directions at the moment is the migration of significant numbers of people in the homebuying public to areas where they see themselves living safely. Urban dwellers all over the country have sought to escape to less-dense suburban or exurban environments. In some cases, those with the means and ability to do so have relocated to their second homes in communities such as the Hamptons and the Berkshires - some just for the time being, some for good. Of course, not everyone has this ability. Neighborhoods and suburbs close-in to Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn have seen an increase in interest as well, and homes for sale have sold quickly above asking price, often with bidding wars erupting between prospective buyers. Former ‘white elephants’ - things like in-ground pools, for example - have suddenly become ‘must-have’ amenities for families seeking a home that feels more like a self-contained compound.’
Other factors that have made some units, neighborhoods, and zip codes more desirable include outdoor space, ample parking, and layouts that lend themselves to in-home work and exercise. Intelligent design that includes personal services such as laundry in individual units is highly desirable as well, limiting the contact residents have with neighbors in enclosed common areas - both now, and in the event of another public health crisis.
The Ely & Astoria
What makes Astoria different from other neighborhoods in New York? Why is it more sought-after in light of the COVID pandemic? The simple answer is that the neighborhood offers a middle ground for buyers who still want an urban lifestyle and proximity to Manhattan, but in a less densely developed and populated environment that’s closer than Long Island or Westchester.
“We have always viewed Astoria as underrated,” says Gregory Kyroglou, an agent with Modern Spaces, a brokerage firm located in Long Island City. “Centrally located just minutes from Midtown Manhattan, Astoria offers residents an established and desirable community feel, which we think will always hold and even increase its value in both good and bad times.”
Once the provenance of Greek immigrants and ‘died-in-the-wool’ New Yorkers, Astoria is fast becoming an option for many seeking a bit of the suburbs in the city. One example of the neighborhood’s evolution is the Ely. Located at 23-10 30th Avenue, the 14-unit condominium building houses one-bedroom apartments ranging in price from $576,00 to $744,000, and ranging in size from 529 to 609 square feet. All apartments include private balconies for every unit, European influenced design with wide plank flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows, remote control window screens, antimicrobial quartz countertops, and Bosch appliances, including in-unit washer and dryers. Building wide amenities include a rooftop deck and a full gym, both welcoming spaces when the pandemic recedes.
The building is conveniently located just four blocks from the waterfront, with easy access to community gems like the Socrates Sculpture Garden, Noguchi Museum and Rainey Park and is an easy walk to the 30th Ave subway station and the Astoria Ferry Terminal, providing easy access to Manhattan. And that’s to say nothing of the well-known Greek restaurant community for which the neighborhood is known.
The Ely offers amenities today’s buyers consider ‘must-haves’, such as private outdoor space and in-unit laundry facilities,” says Kyroglou, “and boast windows that offer an abundance of natural light on all sides of the building. In-unit washer/dryers have been a huge draw for owners given COVID-related health and safety concerns. There were more than 30 potential buyers waiting for a peek at the project back in September. Astoria’s real estate market is continuing to rise and The ELY is leading the way.”