Politicians out of touch with their constituencies — it’s a recurring theme. While seeking re-election in 1992, President George H.W. Bush expressed incredulity at a common supermarket scanner. Fifteen years later, while campaigning for president in Alabama, Rudolph Giuliani drastically underestimated the cost of a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.
Earlier this month, it happened again when several New York City mayoral candidates responded to a question posed by The New York Times editorial board: Do you know the median sales price for a home in Brooklyn?
Many were way off the mark.
Shaun Donovan, housing secretary under President Barack Obama and housing commissioner under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, guessed $100,000. Ray McGuire, a former Citigroup executive and an investment banker, put it at $80,000 to $100,000.
These answers would have been closer to reality back when Mr. Bush was still serving as vice president under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. In fact, the median Brooklyn sale price was already triple those estimates in 2003, or about $300,000. Since then it has tripled again to $900,000, even after a post-recession dip between 2009 and 2012. (Among the candidates who answered the Times’s question, only Andrew Yang guessed correctly. Kathryn Garcia, a former sanitation commissioner, came close at $800,000, as did Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, who guessed $1 million.)
To those who have followed our coverage of New York’s housing market, or to anyone who has hunted for a home in the city in the past decade or two, our apologies — the steep climb of Brooklyn home prices is not news. But for the candidates or others that may need a cheat sheet, this week’s chart shows 18 years of first-quarter median sale prices in the borough, with data provided by Miller Samuel, the appraisal company.