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Realty report shows little good news

Though individual realtors will tell you business is picking up — and in certain market segments it is —the latest real estate analysis by the Prudential Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel firms says the first quarter of 2012 in Queens was no picnic for the industry.

According to the report, widely considered the industry standard in real estate market analysis, the number of sales declined by 16.2 percent in the first three months of the year compared to the same time period last year, with 2,176 deals closed compared to 2,598 in the first quarter of 2011.

Prices edged down 1.1 percent, with the average slipping from $387,725 last year to $383,596 so far this year. The report’s authors said that was largely due to “record low mortgage rates” which “more than doubled the market share of lower-priced co-ops, pulling the overall metric lower.”

The number of homes of all kinds that were available fell markedly, however, which is generally seen as a good indicator of improvement because they’re being purchased more quickly. Only 8,851 homes were on the active inventory list in the first quarter of the year, compared to 13,609 for the same time period in 2011, for a change of 35 percent.

The firms’ overall analysis sounded much like it has for the past couple of years, saying that the economy simply isn’t out of the woods yet.

“The modest decline in price indicators reflected the shift toward entry-level sales that are more responsive to mortgage rate declines,” the authors wrote. “Inventory levels continued to drop despite the sharp contraction in sales activity, as seller confidence remains muted.

“The housing market continued to post weak results in terms of price and sales trends, as the region grapples with a slowly improving economy and historically tight mortgage underwriting standards,” they said.

As always, the report analyzed the Queens market by region as well as housing type. Among the highlights were these:

• Condo sales dropped 64 percent year-to-year, but prices jumped nearly 62 percent.

• All home sales in northeastern Queens declined 17.1 percent, while the average price slipped 5.2 percent.

• In the northwestern region, the number of sales increased by one, from 193 to 194, while the average sales price declined 6.6 percent.

• Sales of co-ops jumped 121.6 percent, from 282 to 625, driven by the drop in mortgage rates, while the average price fell 7.2 percent, from $196,750 to $182,500.

The full report is available at elliman.com and millersamuel.com.

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