NYC real estate: 3 neighborhoods to look at

- Looking for hidden gem real estate investments? StreetEasy has been, too.

The site singled out the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx where the median sales price is below the borough median, but is still increasing year over year.

First up: Sunset Park, Brooklyn, with its stunning views of Manhattan.

Lauren Riefflin, a spokesperson at StreetEasy, calls Sunset Park a hidden gem and a triple threat because of its green space, proximity to the job centers in Manhattan, and its great housing stock. Most homeowners here break even on their investments in less than three years.

The median sales price is $487,500, which is a big discount compared to a typical Brooklyn brownstone. Riefflin says that brownstones cost anywhere from just under to just over $1 million in neighboring Park Slope or Carroll Gardens.

Rego Park is StreetEasy's pick in Queens.

Consider it Forest Hills' less expensive neighbor. Riefflin says the median sales price in Rego Park is $282,000. 

The neighborhood has a diverse mix of housing stock from quintessential Tudors, to two-family, multi-family, attached, detached, and A-frame homes, plus high rises and a whole lot of retail.

Rego Park has a huge shopping center with national chains like Costco and Bed Bath & Beyond. There's also a main commercial drag with restaurants, and smaller, locally owned stores. The typical subway ride to midtown Manhattan is 35 to 45 minutes.

Riverdale is a perennial favorite in the Bronx.

It's great for commuters looking to get into Manhattan or out of New York thanks to Metro North, or those in need of some peace and quiet.

Riefflin says Riverdale has retained a small town vibe that's hard to find in New York City. The median sales price here is just $250,000. And the housing stock is diverse, from high rises to homes and even mansions. Riefflin says the mansions are a part of Riverdale's history and its cultural fabric. 

It retains an upscale atmosphere, but over the years has developed into a much more vibrant and diverse community for people of all income ranges.

So where do you begin? Figure out your financial reality and work out your budget. Talk to a real estate agent or a mortgage lender, and really get a sense of what you can afford to buy. Then start checking out neighborhoods that interest you.

And remember, it's wise to invest in a neighborhood that's more affordable, but where prices are still going up. It's not only a sign that people want to live in that neighborhood, but also that you'll see a return on your investment.

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