By Jeff Mays
HARLEM — The one-bedroom co-op is back in Harlem.
A soft market is leading buyers to look for one bedrooms, said Vie Wilson a senior vice president at Corcoran — a marked reversal from the height of the market, when two-bedroom units were all the rage in Harlem.
In 2010, 36 one-bedroom units were sold in the area spanning St. Nicholas Avenue to the Hudson River, from 116th to 155th streets, compared to 20 two bedrooms in that area.
That's in contrast to the housing market's peak in 2007, when 75 two-bedroom units were sold compared to 40 one bedrooms, according to figures from the Douglas Elliman Report. Starting in 2008, one-bedroom apartments began outselling their two bedroom counterparts in the area.
The same trend is true in East Harlem. One-bedroom apartment sales outpaced two bedrooms by 157 to 153 in 2010, in the area from St. Nicholas Avenue to the Harlem River, from 96th Street to 155th street (excluding the corridor on East 110th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues). In the previous decade, sales of two bedrooms had always exceeded those of one bedrooms.
"The one bedroom buyer in Harlem wasn't really romanced. We weren't looking at one bedroom buyers because we could sell a two bedroom for twice the money," said Wilson. "The market is now open to smaller units."
Wilson said those numbers have led developers to try and push one-bedroom units like the 11,532-square-foot one-bedroom apartments now available at the 13-unit BLVD at 2196 Frederick Douglass Boulevard between West 118th and West 119th streets.
The condominium does not have a tax abatement, so the developer is enticing buyers with a free year of maintenance to those who sign a contract in April. The value of the incentive to buyers is between $7,600 to $17,000. The 13 units are priced from $295,000 to $395,000, said Wilson.
Wilson said the rise in popularity in one bedrooms is a sign of the uncertainty of the economy.
"The economy is still not doing well and people don't want to spend money or are very cautious with spending money," said Wilson. "I don't see the market coming down, but it's not going up."
That doesn't mean now is not a time to test the market. Much of the available remaining vacant land in Harlem has been snapped up by developers who are waiting to see how the market develops.
"The prices have come down in Harlem but its normal for new, emerging neighborhoods to get hit the hardest," said Wilson. "But as the market recovers prices like these are not the going to be seen again."