Real Estate Markets and Their Price Spreads


The price difference between various real estate markets is what many people try to profit from. I call this the spread. For example, Manhattan residential real estate prices are roughly $1000 a square foot. Downtown Jersey City and other equivalent outlying urban areas of Manhattan, such as Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope, might be $600 a square foot. That makes the spread between those markets about $400 ($1000 less $600) a square foot.

Bond traders or people that trade stocks look for or observe price spreads. Bond traders refer to the spread in basis point and in yield to maturity. So if a corporate bond yields 8% and an equivalent term US treasury bond yields 6%, then they would say that corporate bonds trade at a spread of 200 basis points or 2% (8% – 6%) to US treasuries.

In real estate people reach out to more far reaching real estate markets in the hope that those markets may mature or improve and that the price may rise closing the spread between that market and another.

Example: Brooklyn Heights versus Downtown Jersey City.

In Brooklyn Heights versus Downtown Jersey City, I observed there to be a significant price spread. The selling price per square foot for housing in some comparable neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights can be significantly higher than in Downtown Jersey City.

Recently I previewed several properties in Brooklyn Heights selling for about $750 a square. Since Downtown Jersey City is at about $550 per square foot, then this would imply a spread per square foot of $200 ($750 – $550) between Downtown Jersey City and Brooklyn Heights.

I am looking for those spreads to narrow. A lot of development is transpiring in Downtown Jersey City. This will probably keep prices down in the near term (next couple of years) as a lot of inventory comes on the market and requires market absorption. However beyond the next couple of years as Downtown Jersey City improves, I believe those spreads will narrow.

As larger developers further their projects and advertise their projects on an international level, more attention should be brought to bear on Downtown Jersey City. I speculate that Donald Trump has every intention of marketing his Trump Jersey City beyond the local markets. Plus let’s not forget about the new $130 million dollar international golf course over at Liberty State Park. This is all free advertising on the coat tails of these projects and I further speculate that these projects will bring international attention to Downtown Jersey City.

So expect to see some price spread movements between the above mentioned markets over the next ten years. Although there is no guarantee that the spreads will narrow, I speculate (based on the above circumstances) that the probabilities point to the spreads narrowing rather than widening.


I have twenty years experience in the financial services industry with specific experience in financial statement preparation, risk management, financial modeling of interest rate derivative products, and forecast modeling. My forecast modeling experience would relate to financial statement analysis and new product line optimization.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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