2nd Ave Q-Train Extension Affecting UES Real Estate
Since January of 2016, approximately one year before the grand opening of the 2nd Avenue extension of the Q Train in New York City's borough of Manhattan, I’ve noticed articles discussing the new subway line, with some even predicting its effect on the Upper East Side real estate market.
In the interim between the Q train's hype and launch, I've been slammed with questions from buyers and sellers seeking clarity on how the UES real estate market is handling the recent 2nd Avenue extension of the Q subway.
Of course, now that the subway is actually opened and operating, all the predictions are worthless and the reality will set in, right?
The Short Answer is that it’s going to affect the real estate market and I’ll have a much more solid answer in 3-5 months, that is, because the new subway stations along 2nd Avenue at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets have only just opened about a month ago.
The Long Answer, and more detailed one, is that deals take 3-5 months, or more, before information related to sales become publicly available for analysis.
For example, a contract signed today will take 2-3 months to close, plus another 1-3 months for the City Register (ACRIS) to file the transaction in public records. This means that the sales data we see today is a reflection of data from 3-5+ months ago.
And since the subway just opened, it's fair to say that a more definitive answer is another 2-4 months away to determine how high real estate prices will rise, presumably due to the opening of the Q Train, which may impact Yorkville just as much as the Upper East Side as a whole, if not more.
As a real estate professional in New York City, it's my job to educate buyers and sellers, and my goal is to help them and you to understand how to bridge the gap between what’s happening today and what happened 3-5+ months ago.
I do this by comparing a number of metrics, such as the number of days a property sits on the market, how many sales are pending, and the ratio of Supply-to-Pending.*
Days On Market
Apartments in the UES typically sit on the market slightly longer than Manhattan - about ten days longer to be exact - whereas apartments in Yorkville sell about a week faster than the rest of Manhattan and more than two weeks faster than the rest of the Upper East Side. And as you can see in the chart, all three segments here follow the cycles of New York City real estate, with one noticeable difference: the Days on Market for the UES and Yorkville are in decline from last year.
As with the Days on Market, the Pending Sales follow the same cycles of the New York City real estate market, except here, the spikes in the number of pending sales are far greater when you look at Manhattan as a whole; whereas, the line graph representing pending sales for the Upper East Side and Yorkville are fairly level throughout the last decade, with both now on a on a decline in the last month and year. This means that, at this time, there is a simultaneous increase in Days on Market with a slight decline in Pending Sales, which makes sense, because we are in a shifting market. Conflicting data may be why more buyers and sellers are wondering if this neighborhood will have a different trend in the months to come.
Volatility Index (Supply-to-Pending Ratio)
Now, when it comes to the number of active-to-pending listings on the market, a slight gap is forming between the Upper East Side and Manhattan as a whole, indicating that the UES is actually more set for change than Manhattan, which is up 27% from the previous year-to-date (ytd) compared to 35% (ytd) for the UES, and 62% (ytd) for Yorkville. The rising volatility in the UES and Yorkville neighborhoods is something to watch as we move through the next 3-5 months.
In lieu of analyzing this data, I think it's important to look at one additional potential mitigating factor in all of this: first-time home buying millennials.
Did you know that we are expecting more first time home buyers in 2017 than ever before?
And of them, a majority will be from the millennials generation?
You know the millennials: the transparent internet-savvy types who can spot a scam a mile away and who will navigate the market with aplomb. They might just be informed enough to keep prices steady rather than getting swept away with the craze of a new addition to a mainstay neighborhood among youth, such as the Upper East Side.
What we do know at this time is that we're not seeing anything too much out of the ordinary for the Upper East Side, and that might make sense, because millennials are technically not buying in large cities; however, I strongly urge you to keep your eye on the market and check back in 3-5 months, especially because, as I see it, the subway is bound to have some effect, and the more time I spend in the Upper East Side neighborhood working real estate deals, the more first time home buyers I meet who are, in fact, millennials, and I'm helping them make the transition from renter to buyer. I'm just reporting what I see.
The bottom line is that if you are a millennial living on the Upper East Side, and you are thinking of buying, it's the perfect time to obtain a mortgage, before interest rates rise and before the subway actually does cause prices to rise. And I can almost guarantee you will pay less as an owner and more as a tenant.
Think about it: when you are a renter, you are literally paying your landlord’s mortgage and property taxes, and they are earning a profit, which quite simply means you’re overpaying.
To truly determine if it’s right for you, I always suggest that first time home buyers in New York City use the New York Times Rent vs. Buy Calculator. Just keep in mind that prices may rise due to the new subway, so don't take too much time.
If you have any real estate questions you need answered, please reach out to me.
Thanks to my continuing education with Keller Williams, and our partnership with amazing sites like UrbanDigs.com, you can trust that I'm always being guided by leaders in real estate data analysis, and that you'll have the power of the number one real estate agency in the world working for you.
*All charts comparisons provided by UrbanDigs.