Looking Back at How Much Home You Could’ve Bought for $1M in NYC over the Past 14 Years

By PropertyClub Team
Feb 26th 2019
New York City has been long established as one of the most expensive cities across the globe, especially when it comes to home prices. Nowadays, everyone who is selling a piece of NYC real estate doesn’t think twice when putting an expensive price tag on it, knowing that people will without a doubt pay a hefty premium to live in the The Big Apple.

Even though buying a home in New York City was never really a cheap affair, home prices have truly gone through the roof in the city in recent years, and the square footage you could have bought 10-15 years ago with $1 million is nowhere near the space you'll get for $1 million now. With this in mind, we thought about taking a peek at NYC residential home prices and how they fluctuated starting from 2003 through the end of 2017—focusing on the financial crisis years, as well—to see how much space one could have bought for $1 million in the city. We looked at several specific home sales in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens to observe almost 15 years worth of home price changes.

How Much Space Could You Have Bought for $1M in TriBeCa in ‘03 vs. ‘17?

The neighborhood was among the most expensive ones in Manhattan even back in the day, but for approximately $1 million, you could’ve ended up with about 1,300 square feet of real estate in TriBeCa. Unit 5B at 53 N Moore St. traded for $1.05 million in 2003—the same year the entire building was remodeled. The 1,282 square-foot condo has two bedrooms and two baths, a spacious living room, and an open plan kitchen.

In 2017, however, you couldn’t buy anything in TriBeCa for $1 million anymore. There were several $1 million sales south of the neighborhood, in Battery Park City, but square footage wise it was nowhere near the space you could’ve gotten in 2003 in TriBeCa. Unit 17C at 377 Rector Palace in Battery Park City changed hands in ‘17 for $1.02 million, but the condo is only 766-square-foot—that’s almost half the space of the TriBeCa apartment mentioned above.

Home space goes pretty much the same in the Upper West Side, as well. For around $1 million, you could’ve bought a 1,209-square-foot condo in the neighborhood back in ‘03 close to Hell’s Kitchen, while in 2017, for the same price, you would’ve ended up with an 850-square-foot unit near Harlem. 161 W. 61 St, unit 26C, and 514 West 110th St., unit 5D, are the two examples.

At the height of the financial crisis, in Chelsea, you could have landed 800-900 square feet of home space, while during 2003 and 2004, one could have easily purchased a home around 1,400 square feet.

3,000 Sq-Ft vs. 900 Sq-Ft: 14 Years of Change in Brooklyn

Brooklyn’s gentrification started in the early 2000s, and home prices prove it. In 2003, for example, a 3,343-square-foot apartment at 121 Sterling Place in Park Slope traded for just over $1.1 million, while in 2017, in the same neighborhood for the same price, you could’ve only purchased about 900 square feet of space.

It’s no secret that home prices in the western neighborhoods of the borough surged in the past 14 years dramatically, with changes being felt more intensely throughout these Brooklyn areas than in Manhattan. DUMBO, Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill and Williamsburg all went to similar changes as Park Slope: gentrification led to home prices skyrocketing.

In Williamsburg, in 2017, for $1 million, you could have bought a 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo, while in 2003, for the same price you could have gifted yourself with penthouse—pretty extreme contrast.

During the downturn period, you could still buy a large chunk of home space in the borough for $1 million. In 2008, a 1,318-square-foot residence traded for that sum in Boerum Hill at 52 Dean Street, and a 1,536-square-foot home in Cobble Hill at 401 Hicks Street.

How Much did Prices Increase in Queens?

Brooklyn got a head start when it comes to gentrification; thus Queens’ 14 years of home price changes aren’t as dramatic as Brooklyn’s. However, a couple of neighborhoods such as Long Island City and Astoria did see massive price shifts.

In LIC, a 1,412-square-foot waterfront condo sold for $1 million at 5-03 50th Ave in 2007. Fast-forward to 2017, in the same neighborhood for the same price, a 965-square-foot condo traded at 50-09 2nd Street—almost a difference of 500 square feet.

Prices will undoubtedly continue to increase in Long Island City, especially now that Amazon set up shop in the waterfront neighborhood. Many areas in Queens, especially those close to LIC—will see an uptick in home prices.

Among those neighborhoods is Astoria, where in 2012 you could have bought a 1,268-square-foot, full-floor, two-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse at East River Tower. In 2017, though, you could have purchased only a 973-square-foot condo at 34-32 35th Street—unfortunately, not a penthouse.

Nonetheless, you can still buy a pretty large chunk of home space in some of Queens’ neighborhoods for $1 million nowadays, as well.


To compile this report, we took into account all residential NYC sales priced around $1 million and $1.15 million, including single-family homes, condos, and co-ops. For historical data, we used information from the NYC Department of Finance.