Currently underway on the Upper East Side is work on the Second Avenue subway, a nearly $4.5 billion project that will ease crowding on the Lexington Avenue line and improve connections to Midtown and Downtown. The digging is almost done and the first phase — more than two miles of new tunnels from 96th to 63rd streets — should be wrapped up in 2016, according to transit officials.
The numbers prove that the Upper East Side is a community that people want to move into. The median price for resales — condos and co-ops — is up, demand for new development units is strong, and inventory is tight, just like it is in the rest of the city.
With all that’s happening, it’s time to take a close look at the trends in the UES through the eyes of some local real estate brokers in the community. Here’s their take on the neighborhood:
What are the biggest challenges to selling property on the Upper East Side?
Because of so much construction, the area along where they are putting in the Second Avenue subway has been a little bit challenged. Savvy shoppers understand that once it is finally all cleared up and we get that desperately needed subway, those values are going to increase. We did a deal at Second Avenue and 69th Street and [the buyers] got a really nice deal. I explained to them this is a challenging spot because of what is going on. Not everybody can see past the mess, but when all is said and done, this is going to add value to your property because you practically have the subway right outside your door.
Who are the most active buyers?
In general terms, there are a lot of families that are expanding.
Which areas of the Upper East Side — Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, Yorkville, for example — are performing best? Which are the weakest?
Anywhere that you have pockets of new developments, it’s like bees opening up a hive. That’s where the people will go because it’s fresh new product. If anything is maybe moving any slower, it may be the Sutton Place area, just because it is a little bit removed and off the beaten path.
How is overall residential sales volume?
The volume has changed dramatically since a year ago and two years ago. The number of apartments available has dropped dramatically and there are so many buyers actively looking. There were something like 1,257 apartments available on the East Side in June, versus 1,344 in May and 1,780 in June 2012. You send your buyer some listings and if they wait a week, most of those listings have gone into contract.
What’s going on with sales and rental prices?
Buyers are so savvy and they know when an apartment is priced correctly. I’m seeing apartments going at asking or, if there are multiple bidders, over asking. A year or two ago, you could negotiate. It’s all a cycle, but those days are over and out for now.
Which price ranges and housing types are struggling?
One-bedroom apartments have slowed in the past month, particularly in co-ops that only permit 50 percent financing.
How long are properties staying on the market?
A few days or up to a few weeks if the property is priced correctly. If it’s not, the apartment lingers. Buyers still will not put in an offer on an overpriced property.
What are the most surprising new twists that you’re seeing in the market?
Besides lack of inventory, it has to be the willingness of buyers to look at new condominiums. But the prices of those apartments sometimes boggle the mind. I’m also seeing families who bought Downtown a few years ago coming back Uptown to be closer to some of the schools and activities for their children.