Queens, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/04/2012 -- A recent report from the Council for Community and Economic Research has listed Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens as three of the most expensive places to live in the United States.
The 2012 report lists Manhattan with a cost of living index of 233.5, Brooklyn at 183.4 and Queens at 151.4. The index takes prices from six categories: groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous, which includes clothing and entertainment. All are weighted toward figuring the total index number.
“It's not very surprising when you consider these are the three of the nation's most affluent communities and it's New York. The Big Apple is the center of the western world and prices here are just going to reflect that,” said John Hilaire of the real estate company www.HouseForSaleInQueensNY.com . “It's New York and these are the three most popular places to live here.”
The survey is aimed at professional managerial households, said Council project manager Dean Frutiger. These are people with good disposable incomes and very good jobs. They like to live in places where the amenities the Council examines are readily available.
“It's part convenience and part quality of life,” Mr. Hilaire said. “Being able to see a Broadway show, shopping in some of the most exclusive shops around and having access to every kind of cuisine the world can offer. That's what New York means. That's what people want and they are willing to pay for it.”
At that, the city and New York state policies which provide zoning for affordable and public housing as well as rent stabilized apartments do a lot to hold down some housing costs. However, Queens in particular is seeing a spurt of new housing starts which is pushing up the Council's index.
“It's a complicated balancing act. On one side there's a very real need for affording housing. On the other is the need for property developers and owners to make money,” Mr. Hilaire said. “In Queens, we have an increasing number of immigrants. Immigrant does not mean poor, though. Some of them have money to invest in the finest houses around.
The Queens Ledger weekly newspaper recently reported existing home sales in the borough have improved in 2012. This is in contrast to many areas of the nation where housing prices continue to fall.
“Interest rates below four percent have had a major effect on the market. Plus, the housing market crash that caused home prices to collapse saw a lot of very valuable property be put on the market at low prices,” he said. “If you can afford the payments, a 5 year mortgage at 2.9 percent is almost not paying interest at all. Even people who can't make the five-year note payments are finding very attractive rates for 15 and 30 year mortgages.”
The increase in home sales varies by the kind of home. Condos were up eight percent over the year and co-op homes were up 13 percent. Residential single family homes did drop a bit.
“This is a clear case of the market moving. People have expressed an interest in a specific kind of home and that's being reflected in sales,” Mr. Hilaire said. “More and more young people are moving into the Queens area and they are just not as interested in a single family home as their parents were. They saw the housing market collapse and they are just a bit worried about it.”
Mr. Hilaire said as they young people get older and have children, they may turn toward the residential homes.
Regardless of the hows and the whys of the market, he said now is a great time to invest in real estate in Queens. Prices are good and interest rates are still low but have inched up recently.
“There are some definite bargains out there, if you know where to look,” he said. “But they won't last long. More and more people are beginning to put faith back into real estate and the market is again heating up.”
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