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Astoria euphoria

It used to be that Astoria, Queens, was an ethnic Greek enclave dominated by an older housing stock of prewar buildings and one- and two-family homes. But in the last few years, the neighborhood, which has been gentrifying over the last decade or so, has continued to see lots of new residential development, and with it, more young professionals looking for new construction housing at the right price.

This month, The Real Deal talked to residential brokers and market analysts about how real estate in Astoria is holding up.

What we found is that while sales volume is down compared to last year, it’s largely because there are far fewer condo projects on the market now. That, in turn, is a result of many of the planned condos turning rental when the market soured. But when new development projects do come on the market now, they tend to do far better than resales in the neighborhood.

Brokers said that nearly every inch of available land in Astoria has been developed for residential use. The problem for developers, they say, is that there isn’t that much land — at least in desirable locations near the subway — left to buy. Some sources that we talked to argued that the city needs to step in and rezone the area in order to deal with the issue because Astoria is losing buyers to rival neighborhoods.

“Long Island City has reaped the rewards of Astoria’s ancient zoning,” said Vickie Palmos, a salesperson at Astoria NY Condo.

On the flip side of the market, brokers say that rental demand is going strong — especially for new construction units.

As new buyers and renters flood into the neighborhood, the area is seeing an increase in the number of restaurants, bars and retail amenities. “Of course, it’s not the same change we see in Williamsburg or in the Meatpacking District, but this is not a [mostly new] residential neighborhood as those are,” one broker said.

For more on which price ranges are doing best and worst, what new residential projects are in the pipeline and how quickly apartments are selling, we turn to our panel of experts.

Jonathan Miller president/CEO, Miller Samuel Inc.

What’s going on with residential prices in Astoria today? The median sales price in the second quarter was $361,845 — up 13.4 percent from 2011, but 11.7 percent below 2010 and 26.6 percent below 2008.

Which price ranges and apartment types are performing best right now in Astoria? In terms of price, co-ops and condos are fairly close. The median sales price of a co-op was up 16.2 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, while condos were up 18.7 percent in same period. But one-to-three-family homes slipped 0.8 percent.

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