When eight New York City mayoral candidates were recently asked to guess the average price of a house in Brooklyn, all but one failed – and most were hundreds of thousands of dollars off.

The New York Times posed the question: Do you know the median sales price for a home in Brooklyn? to Maya Wiley, Eric Adams, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Shaun Donovan, Ray McGuire, Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang.

Arguably most surprising was the answer from Former Housing Secretary under President Barack Obama Shaun Donovan, whose response was: “In Brooklyn, huh? I don’t for sure. I would guess it is around $100,000.”

Equally perplexing was the answer of former Citibank Executive and investment banker Ray McGuire, who said, “It’s got to be somewhere in the $80,000 to $90,000 range, if not higher.”

The last time average house prices in Brooklyn were around the $100,000 mark would have been the 1980s, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Nicole Gelinas told the New York Times.

“Buying salvaged houses in Bushwick when it was recovering from all of the fires of the 1970s — that was a unique period of time. You’re looking at 35 years or more since you could really buy anything below six figures, never mind seven figures,” she said.

She said the low estimates showed “a real sense of being out of touch with what’s going on in the city.”

Of all the candidates questioned, the only one with the correct answer — $900,000 — was Andrew Yang, who has been accused of being out of touch with the issues facing New York City.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer guessed $1 million and former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said $800,000 – both $100,000 off.

Garcia, along with Adams, Wiley, Donovan and Morales, is a Brooklyn resident.

Brooklyn Borough President Adams told the New York Times he believed the average cost for a Brooklyn house was about $550,000. And Morales, a nonprofit executive, said $500,000.

Hopefully not making future predictions, Wiley went sky high, and pinned the number at $1.8 million.

In a follow up email to the New York Times, Donovan said his $100,000 answer referred to the assessed value of homes in Brooklyn, adding “I really don’t think you can buy a house in Brooklyn today for that little.”

Jeremy Edwards, a spokesman for Donovan, told the publication Tuesday that Donovan “misinterpreted the question and made a mistake.”

Mr. McGuire also emailed the New York Times to say he “messed up when accounting for the cost of housing in Brooklyn.”

“I am human. But make no mistake, I care deeply about our city’s affordable housing crisis. I know what it’s like not being able to afford a home because it was my own experience,” he wrote.

:At the heart of my housing plan, which addresses the entire housing spectrum from homelessness to homeownership, are New Yorkers who want leadership that will bring creative, data-driven solutions to housing in New York City.”

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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  1. It does seem kind of a vague question. A house- does that mean a multi-unit building? Are condos counted in that?

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