Neighbourhood Look: The Best Areas to Buy in New York

Posted in Where to Live
best areas to buy in New York

According to data released by US real estate investment firm CBRE last April, New York City — to no one’s surprise — remains one of the 10 priciest markets for residential property worldwide.

Undoubtedly, there are an array of challenges (e.g. complicated state and federal tax rules, over-leveraging) affiliated with the ‘City that Never Sleeps’ but the good news is that the median sales price has grown steadily over the past decade. (For context: last November, the average New York home sold for US$670,000, 50 percent more than what buyers would have been willing to part with just 9 years ago.)

So yes, if you’re thinking of buying a new pied-à-terre sometime in 2020, chances are you’ll still be doing so in a seller’s market. That said, assuming the current climate doesn’t have you spooked, we’ve put together a quick primer featuring five of the best areas to buy in New York, with an eye toward neighbourhoods which balance capital gain potential with a solid quality-of-life.

Lower Manhattan

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: 25 Park Row)

If cost is no object then a reliable medium-term profit is all but assured when looking in the Financial District — since 2019, the median sale price has risen 70 percent to total about US$1.4 million. As you’d expect, Manhattan’s nerve centre is also a hot bed for new luxury residences. The iconic offices at One Wall Street are nearing the end of a blockbuster transformation which will see them turned into 566 condominiums, whereas architect David Adjaye’s imposing William Street high-rise is expected to make its highly anticipated launch later this summer. Rejuvenation appears to be a consistent trend throughout the area: at 25 Park Row, formerly the site of J&R Music, 110 palatial apartments that offer sweeping views of City Hall Park are also nearing completion.

Long Island City

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: G&M Realty)

Located along the western extremity of Queens, Long Island City isn’t coveted with the same breathlessness as most major Brooklyn and Manhattan-centred neighbourhoods. However, local residents have long favoured the former industrial area because of its relative remoteness from the commotion of Midtown. Investors are also closely monitoring growth potential: since 2010, median house prices have climbed 53 percent; and the area is poised to receive the lion’s share of fresh New York developments this year. A pair of residential towers at 22-44 Jackson Avenue are the main attraction. Built (somewhat controversially) atop the foundation of the 5Pointz mural space, this complex will introduce over 1,000 new condominiums into the neighbourhood. Good proximity to over-ground rail networks is likely to drive up the development’s desirability once it opens later this year.

East Harlem

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: Bjarke Ingels Group)

Investors who are up for a little risk and long-term growth potential would do well to direct their attention towards Harlem. Rezoning efforts in 2017 have put a number of projects in forward (albeit slow-trundling) motion: with ‘6’ train and ‘Q’ metro lines predicted to extend into the neighbourhood over the next decade. Three more stations are also planned by 2029. On 146 East 126th Street, Bjarke Ingels’s 11-storey residential project — colloquially dubbed ‘The Smile’ — is a portent of things to come: a cheerful, futuristic exterior that channels the whimsical, adult-playground energy of its interior spaces.

Bedford-Stuyvesant

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: 1134 Fulton)

If the Brooklyn brownstone is the structural archetype which most tickles your fancy, then Bed-Stuy will necessarily be where your research begins. As the result of a 2012 rezoning, residential developments here tend to conform to historic urban planning norms — a pleasant peculiarity in a city obsessed with ever-glitzier reinventions. Most developments comprise less than a dozen apartments, and it’s a rare thing to see any freestanding build in the neighbourhood that’s taller than 10 storeys. In 2019, the median asking price clocked in at US$1.2 million, and while that’s not the kind of dramatic gain you’d see if you’d invested in, say, Red Hook 10 years back, it’s indicative of more sustainable and accessible growth. Plus: a place where you and your loved ones might actually enjoy living.

Downtown Brooklyn

best areas to buy in New York
(Image source: Brooklyn Point NYC)

Brooklyn’s vertical cityscape has changed immensely over the past half-decade. At various times, all of the city’s big development cartels have battled to build ‘Brooklyn’s tallest condo’, with the current titleholder being Extell’s Brooklyn Point: a 483-condo skyscraper located at 138 Willoughby Street. The project is endemic of the critical mass that the neighbourhood is reaching, in terms of gentrification. With Brooklyn Point comes a procession of similarly timed openings, including new department stores, food halls and the city’s latest Alamo Drafthouse (a chain of boutique cinemas originally from Texas). Rising rentals brought on by the influx of these yuppie-friendly businesses are guaranteed to enrage ‘real’ New Yorkers, but assuming you’re an itinerant landlord, the news remains, for the time being, good.

Randy Lai