So the question is basically whether Queens will see the type of property appreciation that we experienced in northern Brooklyn these past few years. I have one simple answer to this question: No.
Now there are reasons why I think the answer could be yes (will save that for part II). But to me, there is perhaps one singularly important difference between Brooklyn and Queens, which is access to subways. Anyone who has spent a few minutes staring at the MTA subway map can see the difference. Below I have tried to quantify the difference using data I pulled from StreetEasy.com, which has a useful Proximity to Subway search filter.
Basically I wanted to compare all of StreetEasy’s active listings in Brooklyn and Queens with easy access to a subway line. Despite Queens being slightly smaller than Brooklyn in population and housing units, there is a more than slight difference in listings close to the subway. Among Multifamily listings, 56% of Brooklyn listings were close to the subway, versus 23% of Queens listings. The difference is most extreme for Houses, and relatively narrow for Co-ops which is kind of interesting. There is also a major difference in the number of listings for Brooklyn versus Queens, which would seem to imply that StreetEasy captures listings from Brooklyn better than it does from Queens. That would be something interesting to investigate, some other day. But that idiosyncrasy would not seem to change the outcome to today’s question.
The bottom line is that New Yorkers, both homeowners and renters, value a shorter, easier commute. The major difference in access to subways gives Brooklyn the inherent edge.
Table 1. Proximity to subways of 0.3 miles or less