The Market

Two candidates for mayor wildly underestimate NYC prices. Twitter erupts

By Jennifer White Karp | May 12, 2021 - 9:30AM 

Two Democratic candidates for mayor, Shaun Donovan and Ray McGuire, took a lot of heat on social media yesterday for seeming to not know how expensive it is to buy in Brooklyn.

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How well do the candidates running to snag the Democratic nomination in the mayor’s race know New York City real estate? A “pop quiz” revealed a couple don’t have a good sense of how incredibly expensive it is to buy here—prompting Twitter users to ridicule their obliviousness.

Shaun Donovan, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Raymond McGuire, an investment banker and former executive at Citigroup, were way off when they estimated Brooklyn’s current median sales price at "around $100,000" during meetings with The New York Times editorial board. Eight Democratic candidates vying to be mayor were asked about a broad array of pressing topics during an interview that included a quick real estate test seemingly designed to see how familiar they were with prices and rents in the city.

As part of Donovan's endorsement interview, editorial board member Mara Gay asked, “What is the median sales price for a home or apartment in Brooklyn?”

“In Brooklyn, huh? I don’t for sure. I would guess it is around $100,000," he replies. 

“It’s got to be somewhere in the $80,000 to $90,000 range, if not higher,” McGuire responds to the same question during his interview.

Readers of Brick Underground know the correct answer is much higher, in fact the median sales price for Brooklyn hit $900,000 in the first quarter. (Donovan later clarified that he was referring to “assessed value.”)

Two other candidates gave figures that were nearer to the mark, but still off by several hundred thousand dollars: Eric Adams says he believes Brooklyn's median sales price is "about $550,000"; Dianne Morales says  “half a million.” 

Nailing it was Andrew Yang ($900,000) and coming close were Scott Stringer (“a million"), Maya Wiley ($1.8 million), and Kathryn Garcia ($800,000), who the Times endorsed for mayor.

The eight candidates did far better in coming up with Manhattan’s median rent ($3,000)—most responses were close to the correct figure.

Still Twitter users were not impressed deriding McGuire and Donovan as “out of touch,”—and making pointed note of Donovan's high-level housing background, as well as McGuire's "financial acumen." 

One user marveled that they could not know what real estate costs, considering that most New Yorkers are obsessed with it.

Gay weighed in as well with the broader picture: A generation of New Yorkers can not afford to buy in their own neighborhoods, she says.

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