Although it has been largely reported that the residential sales market saw its worst year in more than a decade in 2019, that was not the case for my team or most of the agents I work with at Bohemia Realty Group. Our sales — and rentals, for that matter — were at all-time highs.
While activity dropped dramatically in the luxury sector, those of us specializing in affordable to mid-level co-op and condominium units experienced record sales. Prospects encompassed first-time buyers, recent retirees, empty nesters, pied-á-terre owners and foreign buyers.
In addition to pricing and low interest rates, a major factor in the boosted sales activity was the location of most of our listings, which are in the few remaining emerging markets in Manhattan. Our sales and rentals are concentrated in some Upper Manhattan submarkets, including Hudson Heights, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights and Inwood. Upper Manhattan narrows at the tip and is at a higher elevation than the rest of the borough. The height of the area also supports more light and air, as well as views. Most of the housing stock is is prewar, and these older apartments tend to be spacious.
Starting in the mid-2000s, young people mostly priced out of Brooklyn started to relocate to the Heights. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical added even more cache. Upper Manhattan neighborhoods became Meccas for actors and artists looking for generous space at affordable prices. Hip restaurants and nightlife inevitably follow. Sales and rental activity was also buoyed by accessible transportation, including proximity to the 1 and A subway lines, one of the city’s busiest bus depots and the Henry Hudson Parkway.
More often than not, emerging neighborhoods’ advantages also become a disadvantage when sales prices and rent rates skyrocket. Yet this has not happened in the neighborhoods of the Heights thanks to an abundance of housing stock, including rent-regulated residences. All of this ensures these areas will continue to offer economic and cultural diversity for years to come.
This past year, my partner Raymond Werdane and I marketed The Ammann, a newly built condominium in Hudson Heights. Typical of new development in the area, it is a boutique project with 24 one-bedroom, two-bedroom and penthouse residences with private balconies or, in the case of the penthouses, terraces.
Not a luxury product price-wise, it still features amenities that feel posh, including a roof deck with gorgeous views of the river and George Washington Bridge; high-end kitchens; in-unit washer/dryers; oversized, triple-pane windows with glass curtain wall systems and individually- monitored air and heating systems. Buyers were also attracted to the fully equipped fitness room, lobby-level serenity garden, bicycle room, package room and virtual doorman with smart-phone access.
I moved to New York straight out of grad school in 2013 to pursue an acting career. My first stop was Park Slope with friends. But I was quickly priced out. I headed to Washington Heights and immediately fell in love with Upper Manhattan. Between acting gigs, I started working part-time at Bohemia Realty Group and discovered how great it was to help find people homes in neighborhoods I championed. I also realized that I was more nester than vagabond and committed to becoming a full-time agent.
It has been an amazing road from growing up in Nebraska to grad school in Florida to my own co-op in New York City, which I purchased last year in — where else — Inwood! I closed on my apartment around the same time my business partner closed on his — exactly across the hall! Neither of us knew it at the time, but the building was great, location unparalleled and the price right.
These are experiences that in our field resonate with buyers and build business. We walk the walk — and we are continuing to work with some of the folks who first looked at The Ammann and want to stay in beautiful Upper Manhattan.
Erin Jean Whitney
Bohemia Realty Group
New York, NY 10032