New York City Market Reports

Ten Bronx co-ops under $160,000

Priced like it was 1990s Manhattan
By Constantine Valhouli  |  August 7, 2020 6:01 PM

5900 Arlington Ave. #2N via Compass

The Bronx has long been the Final Frontier (well, excluding Staten Island, but that's not likely to gentrify meaningfully during this real estate cycle our lifetimes) for New York City real estate.

But first, a quick primer on the areas that have significantly transformed in the past twenty years.

It was only in 1997-ish that Williamsburg was still considered "too far away" because (gasp) one had to cross a river and it was in a different borough. And yet, it was just two subway stops from downtown Manhattan's center of cultural gravity. This was a time when "bridge and tunnel" was still a commonly-used pejorative term for anyone who had to enter Manhattan using those modes of transit. Woe betide those who voluntarily left the island, except for the Hamptons. For years, development was centered on the northside, and it took perhaps a decade for South Williamsburg to lose its perceived stigma. Greenpoint – again, just ten short blocks away – was still under the radar, and few people were discussing Bushwick then.

About three years later, the Lower East Side began to be "discovered" by young professionals for its proximity and affordability. At the time, SoHo ended, quite firmly, at the Bowery. In the style of archaic maps, past the Bowery was the proverbial "here there be dragons" (although, given that nightlife drive the gentrification, it was more of "here there be drag queens"). Within a few years, this was the destination neighborhood for art galleries, experimental restaurants, and the entire early 2000s music scene. It was not uncommon to see various members of the Strokes strutting and/or stumbling among bars on Rivington at the time, adding both to the cachet and property values.

At this point, these neighborhoods have long since transitioned from under-the-radar and affordable into the simply unaffordable. For those that love New York and are looking for ways to remain in the city, the question is always where can I find that is affordable and has less than an hour commute. When these neighborhoods actually begin to have a destination nightlife again, then the cycle begins anew.

Of course, this was before the coronavirus put a bit of a crimp on the real estate cycle. Within weeks, subways went from being the pride of the nation to mobile petri dishes. Nightlife – unless of course, you happen to be friends with social media influencers and the like – is dead or illegal for the forseeable future.

Which brings us to the Bronx. On average, it is considerably less expensive than upper Manhattan, long seen as the most affordable part of the island. And the most affordable market-rate properties in upper Manhattan don't even come close to the low prices that can be found in the Bronx. Furthermore, when one compares prices and commute times, the 45 minute commute seems much better at, say $200/sq.ft. in the Bronx, compared to $600-900/sq.ft. for comparably-distant neighborhoods in upper Manhattan, or outer Brooklyn and Queens.

With this, we present the ten most affordable market-rate properties (excluding HFDC co-ops with income restrictions) for sale right now in the Bronx.