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Some Real Estate Agents Report Surge Of New Yorkers Moving From Manhattan To The Bronx

bronx 1

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some real estate agents say they’re seeing a shift in recent months with New Yorkers moving from Manhattan to the Bronx.

The O’Shaughnessy family is still getting settled in their new Bronx home.

READ MORE: New Jersey Nurse Dies From Injuries Suffered After Being Knocked To Ground By Alleged Mugger In Times Square

“I like the basement because we can stomp in it and play in it,” James O’Shaughnessy said.

They lived in Manhattan for ten years, but when COVID kept them inside, their two-bedroom apartment began feeling smaller than ever.

“We needed more space. We were both working at home. The kids were doing school at home,” Daniel O’Shaughnessy told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.

“Mentally, we were, like, out of apartment living,” Sophia O’Shaughnessy said.

They had heard COVID made New York City a buyer’s market, but found the so-called “pandemic deals” in Manhattan were short-lived.

“For a three-bedroom apartment, which we sort of desperately needed, I mean, it was $800,000, $900,000, a million and just out of reach,” Daniel O’Shaughnessy said.

“What hasn’t caught up and what a lot of folks don’t realize is the Bronx hasn’t quite got there yet, so there’s still tremendous value in the Bronx,” said real estate broker Matthew Bizzarro, CEO of the Bizzarro Agency.

READ MORE: 18-Year-Old Charged With Fatally Shooting Mother At Staten Island Home

As of July, the median home sale price in Manhattan was $1.2 million compared to $386,000 in the Bronx.

There are no hard numbers on how many people, but Bizzarro says he is seeing a Bronx shift.

“Right now, we’re getting tons of clients coming to us directly saying, ‘Hey, I love this area. I wanna move to the Bronx,’” he said. “That’s one of the largest trends we started seeing in 2021 like we’ve never seen before.”

More than 90% of Bronx residents are minority residents, a higher share than any other borough. Changes in the real estate market bring concerns of gentrification.

“As people of a higher income move into a community, you have housing developments that go up and the working class can’t afford it,” Bronx native Emerita Torres said.

Torres is vice president of policy at the Community Service Society of New York.

“We need universal tenant protections. For example, good cause eviction protection,” she said. “We need to protect those who aren’t protected under rent stabilization laws.”

MORE NEWS: NYPD: 14-Year-Old Shot In The Back Inside Rosedale, Queens Home

Torres says families who are moving in can be good neighbors by advocating for those who already live there.

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COVID effect: Jersey Shore winter rentals a hot commodity in 2021

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attachment RS34005 GettyImages 495419538 scr

Grabbing an ideal temporary place to live in the offseason is a harder task than usual along the Jersey Shore this year, according to real estate professionals in the area.

There is greater demand for winter rentals up and down the coast for a number of reasons, they say — most are directly connected to the coronavirus pandemic.

And many of the newcomers to the winter rental market appear to be less interested in a specific town or city — they just want something comfortable for a few a months, anywhere along the shore.

“They’re looking from the Toms River area all the way up to Belmar, Long Branch,” said George Coffenberg, broker/owner of Preferred Properties Real Estate.

The new clientele aren’t just folks who want to enjoy a shoreline view while being able to work remotely. Many are in the middle of a strategic process that includes cashing in on the hot housing market and eventually moving into another home.

“People have sold their homes and need short-term rentals to kind of get settled and figure out where they’re going to buy,” Coffenberg said.

Since bidding wars on available listings are still occurring, Coffenberg said, recent sellers are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for things to calm down before buying again.

Unlike summer renters, folks who rent in the winter typically have to prove a solid financial history before a deal is made, as the leases are generally handled on a monthly basis.

“Typically, you’re going to pay monthly what it would be for a week in the summer,” said Mike Loundy, broker of SeasideRealtyNJ.com.

Loundy noted there’s a yearly crowd interested in winter rentals along the shore — some folks need to find a place to stay due to local work projects, for example.

“There’s beautiful accommodations available now that did not exist in the past, so we’re seeing it draw in people that we would not normally have seen,” Loundy said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

7 reasons why you need to kill the spotted lanternflies infesting NJ

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A new ‘frontier’ drives development of town that led N.J. in building permits issued last year

It didn’t matter that it was raining in Stafford Township. There were houses to build.

Despite the alternating drizzle and downpour on a recent Friday morning, workers used earth movers to spread gravel on sandy soil, stood on ladders nailing plywood panels onto 2-by-4 frames, and wrapped the freshly built walls with green plastic waterproofing sheets.

Whole blocks of houses at a time are being constructed in the township’s Manahawkin section, just off Exit 63 of the Garden State Parkway. They’re going up in a community known as Stafford Park under a multi-phase redevelopment plan adopted in 2006 for 345 single family houses, plus 310 apartments, on a 350-acre area site surrounding the capped Stafford Township Landfill.

Stafford Park’s designated developer is the Walters Group of Barnegat, though the single-family portion of the site is marketed as Stafford Park by D.R. Horton, after the Arlington, Texas-based construction giant that is building the houses.

Stafford, a southern Ocean County township with 46 square miles of land, is experiencing what is just its latest in a series of growth spurts over the past half-century, when the population grew from roughly 3,700 in 1970 to an estimated 28,000 or so in 2019.

The first two residential phases of Stafford Park include 224 single-family homes, most of which have been completed, while another 121 houses are planned under a third phase approved last month by the Stafford Township Planning Board.

Stafford issued more building permits for 1- or 2-family houses than any other municipality in New Jersey in 2020, with a total of 356, according to New Jersey Department of Community Affairs data. And township officials say Stafford Park was by far the biggest single contributor to that total. Stafford was representative of Ocean County, which led all New Jersey counties in 1- or 2-family home permits in 2020, with 1,886, more than twice as many as its nearest rival, Monmouth County.

(The DCA does not provide data for single-family home permits only, and instead groups permits for 1- and 2-family homes into a shared category. There is a separate category for multi-family units. Stafford did not issue any in 2020.)

Lakewood Township, in northern Ocean County, awarded the second highest number of permits for 1- or 2-family homes in the state last year, with 300, according to the DCA.

But while a sustained building boom in Lakewood has been attributed to its growing Orthodox Jewish population, Stafford officials and the township’s principal developer say Stafford’s new arrivals have been a diverse group of no particular religious, ethnic or other trait, except possibly the desire to live in a newly-built home right off the Garden State Parkway and just across Barnegat Bay from Long Beach Island.

Stafford Township issued the most building permits in NJ for single or two-family houses in 2020

New construction is underway in Stafford Park, NJ, where the most building permits for single and two-family houses were issued in NJ in 2020. Here, Stafford Mayor Greg Myhre is pictured by a new development. Photo was taken on Friday, August 20, 2021.Russ DeSantis | NJ Advance Media

“There’s a lot of people coming in, actually, from other parts of Ocean County,” Mayor Greg Myhre told NJ Advance Media during a visit to Stafford Park that Friday morning. “You get a lot of people from Toms River that want to move down here. Other parts of the state as well. Also from New York.”

Stafford and the rest of Ocean County notwithstanding, the number of building permits for 1- or 2- family homes issued statewide fell a modest 3.1% in 2020, to 8,673 from 8,954 in 2019, according to DCA data.

The lagging supply of houses for sale in New Jersey has contributed to a rapid rise in home prices in the Garden Statea. The spike has been attributed to increased demand for single family homes driven at least in part by buyers fleeing densely populated areas for more space amid the coronavirus pandemic. And in a kind of catch 22 at the intersection of the housing market and the pandemic, that shortfall of new homes has been blamed on a scarcity of lumber and other building materials caused by supply chain disruptions also linked to the deadly virus.

But industry professionals cautioned against making too direct a connection between the pandemic and either last year’s dip in statewide building permits or Stafford’s state-leading number, noting that permits come at the tail end of development processes that can take years, long predating the March 2020 COVID-19 outbreak in New Jersey.

“It takes an extremely long time to get through the regulatory environment and development approval process in our state, so permits issued in 2020 were likely the result of projects years in the making,” Grant Lucking, chief operating officer at the New Jersey Builders Association, said in an email.

“Unfortunately, NJ’s structural impediments to housing production are not likely to be addressed in the near term and the shortage and increased costs of materials and labor are only making it more difficult to increase the supply of affordable units.”

In addition, the dip in statewide permits as well as the relative strength of housing construction in Stafford and Ocean County as a whole are both representative of long-term trends in home construction that date back as far as the data’s been tracked.

For example, the state’s 2020 total of 1- or 2-family home permits was about a third of the 2004 total of 27,103, according to the DCA. And while Ocean County’s 1- or 2-family-home permit total has likewise declined over the same period — from 4,371 in 2004 — Ocean has led the state’s 21 counties every one of those years.

A spokesperson for D.R. Horton, the nation’s largest home builder by volume, declined to comment.

Walters Group founder Ed Walters said home construction in Stafford Park was unlikely to have been slowed by the pandemic because of Horton’s size and nationwide scope, which gives it extraordinary access to labor, lumber and other supplies that smaller, regional builders may not have.

And while the increased cost of materials even for a high-volume buyer like Horton has doubtless driven up the cost of houses, Walters said demand is so strong that sales do not seem to have slowed as a result.

Stafford Township issued the most building permits in NJ for single or two-family houses in 2020

New construction is underway in Stafford Park, NJ, where the most building permits for single and two-family houses were issued in NJ in 2020. Photo was taken on Friday, August 20, 2021.Russ DeSantis | NJ Advance Media

Walters said Horton purchases individual lots from his company, then builds houses and sells them as demand dictates. He said Horton had purchased 228 lots as of Friday dating back to 2018, and had completed or begun construction on all but a dozen of them.

Township Administrator Matthew von der Hayden said 165 certificates of occupancy had been issued for single family homes in Stafford Park as of last week. And, von der Hayden said in a text, “This number increases each week.”

Neither Myhre nor Walters knew the number of people living in Stafford Park. But if the area is consistent with the township’s 2015-2019 average of 2.51 occupants per household, then the total of 165 occupied single-family homes and the 310 apartments could put the new neighborhood’s population at 1,200 or more, depending on the size of the families moving in.

Walters, who is 59 and grew up in Surf City, said it felt “pretty awesome” to think that he had presided over the creation of a community basically from scratch, on an empty expanse surrounding the same 55-acre landfill where he used to dump construction debris from the back of his pickup as a young contractor in the early 1980′s. The landfill was closed in 1983, and capped by Walters under the Stafford Park redevelopment plan.

“We started the process in 2003,” he said of the plan. Remembering his early days, added, “I would drive over to the Stafford landfill and empty my trucks out. And back in 1983, never did I think I would be the guy capping the landfill.”

Not everyone is as pleased with the growth of Stafford Park or other parts of Ocean County.

In addition to lying within the environmentally sensitive 1 million-acre Pinelands National Reserve, Stafford and other parts of the county abut Barnegat Bay, which environmentalists say has been polluted by the increasing amount of storm water that runs off rooftops, driveways, roads and other impervious surfaces that have been covering over the region’s sandy soil.

“In a variety of ways, New Jersey gave up on trying to protect Barnegat Bay,” said Carlton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, a private watchdog group.

Walters and Myhre said it was possible that at least some of the demand for houses in Stafford Park was driven by families’ COVID-related desire for single-family homes with yards separating them from their neighbors.

And that demand had fueled a rapid rise in home prices locally, approaching levels traditionally associated with areas farther north. A newhomesource.com listing for Stafford Park homes, for example, priced models of 2,015 to 3,242 square feet at between $528,550 and $624,605.

But consistent with long-term DCA data underscoring Ocean’s relatively fast-paced growth, Myhre pointed to other, more timeless assets to explain the Stafford Park’s seemingly overnight growth.

“You have a lot of greenery, proximity to Long Beach Island,” he said. “And you’re still right off the Parkway.”

As Myhre stood in the rain near the base of a weather-beaten water tower that looms over Stafford Park, he called the area Stafford’s “frontier,” because it borders a broad swath of vacant land beyond it to the south of Route 72 and west of the Parkway. The water tower will be rehabilitated by the Walters Group, which will also create an adjacent park with a play ground, playing fields, and basketball and pickle ball courts, von der Hayden said.

Stafford Township issued the most building permits in NJ for single or two-family houses in 2020

New construction is underway in Stafford Park, NJ, where the most building permits for single and two-family houses were issued in NJ in 2020. Photo was taken on Friday, August 20, 2021.Russ DeSantis | NJ Advance Media

Apart from the redevelopment plan, long before houses began sprouting like mushrooms in the rain, Walters developed the 400,000-square-foot Stafford Park Shopping Center, a collection of box stores that includes a Costco, Target, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods built a decade ago.

Joseph Lowry, a vice president at Levin Management Corporation, which manages the center, said in a statement that the new homes were, “a natural, built-in traffic driver.”

In addition to the single family homes at Stafford Park, the community also includes a 210-unit market rate apartment complex known as Stafford Preserve now fully occupied, plus a senior residence where all 100 apartments are affordable units completed last year and also completely rented out, Walters said.

Houses in the Stafford Park redevelopment area began going up following approval of the first phase of the plan in 2017, calling for 74 single-family units. The ones being built in the rain that Friday were part of a second residential phase approved the following year that includes an additional 155 SFUs.

And last month, the Township Planning Board finalized its approval of a third residential phase of the project, with 121 houses on a 37-acre tract.

While Stafford Park awaits its own playground and ballfields, Myhre said residents use other township facilities, send their children to Stafford Township Public Schools, and otherwise engage with the broader community, in the Manahawkin section and beyond. A “Stafford Park (Manahawkin, NJ)” private Facebook group with 226 members created in 2019 was evidence that a spirit of community had taken root in the new neighborhood.

If not for the white ventilation pipes that sprout a few feet above its surface, the capped landfill might look to the untrained eye like a grassy hill. It’s partially surrounded by leafy trees and other natural-looking growth, plus a row of young pines planted at regular intervals between the landfill and the streets of Stafford Park, including the end of one cul-de-sac that comes within a hundred yards or so of the former dump’s perimeter.

Four decades after its closing, there was no detectable odor from the landfill on the mild, rainy morning NJ Advance Media met with the mayor. Myhre, 46, a Republican who was elected in 2018 as the head of a Republican Township Committee slate and is up for re-election in November, said he hasn’t received any complaints of odors.

And certainly the SUVs and basketball hoops in the driveways of Stafford Park’s spanking new homes — not to mention the houses under construction nearby — were a strong indication that the landfill had not discouraged growth of the new neighborhood.

“It’s been closed for coming up on 40 years,” said Myhre, who lives in the township’s heavily developed Ocean Acres section, north of Stafford Park. “I’m up here over in the shopping area several times a week, and I’ve never smelled anything.”

Stafford Township issued the most building permits in NJ for single or two-family houses in 2020

New construction is underway in Stafford Park, NJ, where the most building permits for single and two-family houses were issued in NJ in 2020. Here, a worker uses heavy equipment to move materials around the site. Photo was taken on Friday, August 20, 2021.Russ DeSantis | NJ Advance Media

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New Jersey’s Next Hot Housing Markets

glassboro

Rowan Boulevard in Glassboro, where new development has revitalized the once frayed borough, better connecting it to the Rowan University campus. Courtesy of Nexus Properties

New Jersey’s real estate market has been frenetic for more than a year, driven by the search for more space during the pandemic. Bidding wars are the norm, home prices have spiked upward and inventory is slim. Remote work has pumped up sales in so-called Zoom towns—distant suburban and exurban areas and most of the Jersey Shore. Closer to the metro areas, perennially hot towns have become superheated.

But what are the next hot markets? We set out to identify towns to watch. We looked for communities where home prices and sales volume are accelerating even faster than the vigorous statewide pace, according to data from trade association New Jersey Realtors. In our admittedly unscientific process, we also homed in on areas where builders are betting on redevelopment, or where we detected surging interest from buyers who have been priced out of top-tier towns.

We were especially interested in what millennials want, since they make up the largest share—37 percent—of the national home-buying market. Therefore, we gave extra weight to towns where prices aren’t necessarily out of reach for a generation carrying heavy student-loan debt. But our quest also took us to a town booming with over-55 development. 

Predictions are always tricky, and one giant unknown looms: Will people who have worked at home during the pandemic return to the office?

“If people can stay home or commute to work only one or two times a week, or a month, that will lead to continued growth in suburban areas, small towns and rural areas,” says Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights for the National Association of Realtors.

With the exception of the Shore, where the market is heating up in part because of second-home buying, Otteau expects demand to return to pre-pandemic trends. That means more activity in inner suburbs with the easiest commutes, relatively affordable asking prices and walkable downtowns. 

“Millennials will want to be in the suburbs—maybe they’re having children, or thinking of children, and want more space—but they need to be within striking distance of getting to the city,” he says.

What follows is a closer look at 12 housing markets to watch in the Garden State (arranged alphabetically).

***

Barnegat Township

OCEAN COUNTY

Barnegat has become the locus for new construction in the 55-plus market near the Shore. The two largest builders in the United States—Lennar and D.R. Horton—are putting up nearly 600 luxury homes combined in active-adult communities, adding to the township’s existing inventory of more than 3,000 age-restricted homes.

The new builds feature upscale amenities and prices starting in the mid-$400,000s. Recently, more than 200 new age-restricted luxury apartments leased quickly, and construction will start soon on a 144-unit condominium project for seniors off Exit 67 on the Garden State Parkway, says Martin Lisella, township administrator. The parkway bisects the 40-square-mile township, which stretches from the Pine Barrens to Barnegat Bay, opposite Long Beach Island.

The new developments join five established adult communities. Residents of those communities now make up about one-third of the municipality’s population, which has grown nearly five-fold—to more than 25,000—since 2000, Lisella says.

Outside the adult communities, the median sales price of homes rose 23 percent to $360,000 in the 12 months ending in April. The housing mix ranges from modest Capes to $800,000 waterfront homes on the lagoons carved out of the bayshore. D.R. Horton is also working on the next phase of its sprawling Ocean Acres development, which straddles Barnegat and Stafford Township; 317 more homes are planned.

***bayonne

Bayonne’s redevelopment includes 430 acres at the old Military Ocean Terminal. Courtesy of the City of Bayonne

Bayonne

HUDSON COUNTY

This city of 65,000 is drawing home buyers thanks to “the best price point in Hudson County,” says Achim Borkeloh, broker/manager of Weichert Realtors in Bayonne. Older, single-family houses line side streets on this 6-square-mile peninsula. It’s possible to find a starter home under $300,000, but this year’s average single-family sale price has been in the mid-$400,000s, Borkeloh says. Bayonne draws many buyers from Brooklyn and other New York boroughs, and appeals to buyers and renters priced out of Jersey City, he adds. 

The town is also buzzing with redevelopment, including shopping centers along Route 440 and residential rental construction on its east side. The biggest redevelopment project involves 430 acres at the old Military Ocean Terminal, which will be the site of residential, warehouse and mixed-use buildings. About 2,200 housing units have been approved, and another 850 are pending. Over the next 25 years, another 4,500 units are planned, says Joe Ryan, a city spokesman.

Bayonne has four stops on NJ Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, which connect it to the PATH line in Jersey City, making for a quick commute to New York City. It’s also easily reached from the New Jersey Turnpike. A ferry to Manhattan, scheduled to open this fall, is expected to make Bayonne even more attractive to commuters, Borkeloh says.  

***Bloomfield

Luis Maldonado and Dina Mansour were attracted by Bloomfield’s schools and “suburban vibe.” Photo by Joe Polillio

Bloomfield

ESSEX COUNTY

Prices are up an estimated 25 percent over 2020 as young buyers look to Bloomfield (population 47,000), with its easy commuter access (both by NJ Transit train and the Garden State Parkway), quiet residential streets and walkable shopping districts.

“To us, Bloomfield has a suburban vibe, but is still urban enough in its diversity,” says Dina Mansour, a law student and union political organizer who, with her husband, Luis Maldonado, recently paid $385,000 for a 1934 house in the township. The couple, who are expecting their first child, were drawn by the reputation of Bloomfield’s elementary schools. They also needed a manageable commute to her job in Newark and his as a Verizon analyst in Basking Ridge.

Bloomfield is one of the places experiencing “spillover from the brand-name towns”—in this case, neighboring Montclair and Glen Ridge —according to Alison Bernstein, founder and president of Suburban Jungle, a company and technology platform that helps city dwellers move to suburban towns. 

Bloomfield has also seen significant mixed-use redevelopment, especially in the town center. The township is home to Bloomfield College, established in 1868, and a large section of Brookdale Park, a sprawling county park notable for its rose garden. And don’t forget Holsten’s, for lovers of ice cream and The Sopranos.

***

Greater Glassboro

GLOUCESTER COUNTY

Rowan University’s efforts to revitalize its frayed host city appear to be paying off with private residential development near downtown. Meanwhile, newer subdivisions carved out of farmland in adjacent suburbs—including Williamstown, Washington Township and Sicklerville—are steady draws for home buyers from Philadelphia and neighboring Camden County.

In Glassboro, the Rowan Boulevard project was implemented over the past decade through public-private partnerships that generated more than $350 million in mixed-use development, including a Marriott hotel. The 26 acres are meant to serve as a bridge between the campus and the borough, which has a population of 20,000 and has struggled since its 19th-century heyday as a glass-manufacturing center.

Now, private developers have built apartments and townhomes on Poplar Street; more are planned on South Delsea Drive and East High Street, says borough administrator Ed Malandro, a former councilman. “I have developers right now looking to build high-end townhomes, which I never thought I’d see in Glassboro,” says Malandro.

The resale market is strong, too; the median sale price for single-family homes was up 29 percent to $240,000, and condos and townhomes increased 27 percent to $222,000, during the year ending in April.

Glassboro is a hub for this growing region in South Jersey; planners predict that jobs and population will increase about 30 percent in Gloucester County by 2045. A $350 million hospital complex—Inspira at Mullica Hill—recently opened just outside of town, and an 18-mile Camden-Glassboro light rail is planned.

***

Hackensack

BERGEN COUNTY

A downtown revitalization in recent years has spawned a construction boom in this county seat. Luxury rental buildings with desirable amenities—including Manhattan views—are replacing underused or vacant commercial properties. With help from the new construction, the median sale price of a single-family home in the city rose 27 percent from 2017 to 2020.

***

Jefferson Township

MORRIS COUNTY

This sprawling, 42-square-mile township (population 21,000) has two large, developed sections: the Lake Hopatcong neighborhood to the west and Oak Ridge/Milton to the east, off Route 23. Each section has its own elementary schools. In the middle are the high school, middle school, library, township hall and the preserved wilderness of the 3,494-acre Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, Morris County’s largest park.

Jefferson is roughly 50 miles from midtown Manhattan, and it’s not on a train line, so the commute to New York is a challenge. That has been less of an obstacle since the pandemic sent many workers home. Whether that will change after the pandemic remains to be seen. Mayor Eric Wilsusen, whose family has lived on Jefferson’s Lake Shawnee since the 1940s, predicts the township’s low crime rates and the appeal of living near lakes and forests will continue to draw home buyers. Most of Jefferson is in the Highlands Region, where new development is limited by state law. “We can’t grow any more,” says Wilsusen.

Sales were up 43 percent this year over last.  Homes range from small cottages for around $200,000 to large, updated, lakefront houses in the neighborhood of $1 million. 

***oakland

Good schools and ample parks motivated Stephanie and Adam Starr to buy in Oakland. Photo by Joe Polillio

Oakland

BERGEN COUNTY

This leafy borough of 13,000 people on the Bergen/Passaic border lacks a commuter train, but its location on Route 208 and Interstate 287 makes it accessible from New York City, which is 30 miles away, as well as the neighboring counties. It also offers opportunities for hiking and other recreation in large state and county parks nearby. 

“It’s close enough to New York to commute, but we’re surrounded by the Ramapo Mountains,” says Mayor Linda Schwager.

Starter homes, such as ranches and Cape Cods, can be found for under $400,000, making the borough an affordable alternative to its pricey northern-Bergen County neighbors. That helped fuel a big jump in sales volume, up 40 percent this year over 2020.

Stephanie and Adam Starr, both 29, paid $450,000 for a three-bedroom ranch in October 2020, drawn by the parks, Crystal Lake Beach Club and the reputation of Oakland’s schools. The borough is part of the Ramapo-Indian Hills school district, sharing two high schools with the affluent neighboring towns of Wyckoff and Franklin Lakes. Oakland also offers a manageable commute to Parsippany, where Stephanie works in corporate human resources and Adam is a teacher.

***

Robbinsville

MERCER COUNTY

New development is underway on land adjacent to the 140-acre, mixed-use Washington Town Center, a downtown carved out of farmland in this Trenton suburb (population 14,500) over the past two decades.

Designed along the lines of New Urbanism—a planning approach that promotes walkable neighborhoods and diverse housing—the new development features parks, shopping and restaurants in strolling distance of about 1,000 detached homes and townhouses on smaller lots, as well as condominiums and apartments above retail spaces.

Town Center north of Route 33 is built out. South of the highway, an area about one-third of the size is now poised for growth, says Paul Renaud, Robbinsville’s community-development director. Three apartment buildings have recently gone up—they are leasing quickly—and the township is seeking proposals for 17 acres it owns there. 

Robbinsville also offers highly rated schools and easy access to the New Jersey Turnpike, Route 1 and the neighboring Hamilton Transit Station. More traditional suburban developments wrap around Town Center. The median listing this summer for townhouses and condos in Robbinsville was $300,000; for single-family homes, the median was $620,000.

Giant retailers—including Amazon—have built large distribution centers within the township near the New Jersey Turnpike, but locals fret that taxes are still high. It is hoped that commercial tenancy will pick up post-pandemic in Town Center, which is already home to local favorites like DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies, a Trenton institution that moved there in 2012.

***

Sayreville/South Amboy

MIDDLESEX COUNTY

After years of planning and toxic-waste cleanups, these gritty, formerly industrial towns on the banks of the Raritan Bay and Raritan River are poised for transformation. Nearly $3 billion in mixed-use development is proposed, including 4,000 housing units and direct ferry service to Manhattan.

The municipalities sit at the foot of the Driscoll Bridge, which carries the Garden State Parkway across the bay. More than $30 million in state and federal funding is earmarked for the ferry terminal and parking in South Amboy (population 9,200). Nearby, developers have plans for as many as 1,750 luxury apartments on 55 acres. The first 250 apartments are expected to be available in October, says South Amboy business administrator Glenn Skarzynski. Other residential proposals are pending for the city’s waterfront, which is also near NJ Transit’s South Amboy station. 

In Sayreville (population 44,000), a long-delayed, mixed-use redevelopment of the former National Lead site is expected to get underway soon, with the first building—a Bass Pro Shops location—scheduled to open in 2023. The redevelopment, first proposed in 1999, is called Riverton and is envisioned as a 400-acre, $2.5 billion, mixed-use project with hotels, offices, 2,000 housing units, and a Main Street-style shopping district on the Raritan River. “It will open this riverfront section to the public for the first time in a century,” says Kevin Polston, project executive for the developer, North American Properties.

*** somerville

Greek restaurant Kyma is one of the many eateries that have made downtown Somerville a dining destination. Photo by Joe Polillio

Somerville

SOMERSET COUNTY

The 1988 opening of Bridgewater Commons Mall threatened the viability of the Raritan Valley’s downtowns. But Somerville (population 12,000) wasn’t having it. A special improvement district was formed in the county seat to retain merchants and attract new businesses. And downtown was rezoned to allow residential development.

“The town decided to fight to preserve something special,” says Mike Kerwin, a former mayor. 

Today, downtown Somerville is a hopping regional destination for foodies who can choose among diverse cuisines. Solid housing stock, transit accessibility and a central location near New Jersey’s pharma corridor round out the picture for this suburb with a small-town feel.

Several mixed-use developments near the train station were recently completed or are underway, as are luxury townhouses on the east end. Young professionals and empty nesters are lured downtown by the Edge at Main, a concierge apartment building with an upscale Wolfgang’s Steakhouse on the ground floor, says Natalie Pineiro, executive director of the Downtown Somerville Alliance.

The Somerset County courthouse anchors the east end of Main Street, along with the Somerset Hotel, circa 1748. The housing mix includes 1920s bungalows, 1960s split levels, and a section of stately Victorian homes. The median price of 31 homes listed on Realtor.com this summer was about $390,000, with newly built $500,000-plus townhomes pushing up the averages.

***

Union Township

UNION COUNTY

Major redevelopment plans, including hundreds of apartments in the downtown shopping district and near Kean University, are underway in this township of 58,300. Prewar colonials and postwar Cape Cods and split-levels are available on small lots, with prices generally starting in the $350,000s, making the township more affordable than some of its neighbors, according to David Weisbrod of White Realty in the township. Buyers also like the access to the Garden State Parkway, Routes 22 and 78, and the NJ Transit train, with its 35-minute rail commute into New York City.

Many buyers are drawn to the township’s diversity; according to the U.S. Census, Union is 37 percent non-Hispanic white, 32 percent Black, 10 percent Asian and 18 percent Hispanic. 

The traditional shopping district along Stuyvesant Avenue lost some luster in the face of competition from malls and Internet shopping. But the downtown has been spruced up with trees, benches and streetlights and has the potential to appeal to younger households who crave being able to walk to favorite stores and restaurants. 

“It’s definitely on a huge upswing,” says Joe Leo, who grew up in Union and has owned a downtown bookstore, Here’s the Story, since 1995.

***

Ventnor City

ATLANTIC COUNTY

Contractors are all over this 3.5-square-mile seaside town (population 10,000) just south of Atlantic City. “They’re rehabbing everywhere,” says Peter Romano, who purchased his three-bedroom ranch last year for under $350,000. He calls Ventnor “a great beach town, a hidden gem.”

The city has a non-commercial beachfront boardwalk that connects with Atlantic City, as well as good restaurants and three new liquor licenses. The landmark Art Deco Ventnor Square Theater was restored and reopened as a quad-screen for the summer.

Properties are still affordable and diverse, some dating to the turn of the last century. In June, the median price of 190 Ventnor listings on Realtor.com was $423,000, with 29 properties listed for less than $200,000—unheard-of at much of the Shore.

But renovations and new construction are driving prices up. A trio of five-bedroom, five-bath, single-family homes under construction on the beach block of South Oxford Street were each recently listed above $2 million. A 15th floor, 1,100-square-foot condo in Regency Tower on the boardwalk that sold for $202,450 in 2017 went for $405,000 in January 2021 after a complete renovation.

The town still offers a quiet respite from its glitzy neighbor to the north. Real estate broker Angela Desch says more new residents are living here full-time, making for a livelier vibe off-season. “It’s busier, and more young couples are coming in,” she says. 

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ERA Real Estate Examines Broker Response To Shifts In Homeownership Tenure

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Increasing length of time in home impacts inventory, prompting adaptation

The “Homeownership Tenure and the Impact on the Real Estate Industry” report draws on observations and insights from ERA affiliated brokers across the country about how increasing homeownership tenure has impacted their business in the past, how they have responded and their views on what may follow in 2021 and beyond.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, until 2019, homeowners were staying in their homes an average of eight years, up considerably from 2000 when the average tenure was four years. But given the market conditions of the past few years, homeownership tenure could possibly extend to 15 years or more.

The report investigates how the buying frenzy of 2020 may have impacted tenure rates. Last year, NAR indicated that 5.64 million people moved, a nearly six percent increase YOY. Many of those people may have moved outside of traditional life changes such as marriage, the birth of a child, divorce or retirement, bucking tenure trends. Understanding how this will play out in years to come will be critical in future bottom-line success for brokers.

Key takeaways based on the experiences of the ERA affiliated brokers featured in the report:

  • Generating supply through innovative seller-focused marketing is key to capturing more market share.
  • Creating connections with feeder markets has kept business in-house.
  • Tapping into increased demand for multigenerational living has helped to capture a bigger piece of the pie.
  • Cultivating renters through property management has created a solid pipeline for the future.
  • Supporting agents with tailored marketing resources and CRM support has given them the competitive advantage of extra time to support existing clients and farm for future ones.

Quotes:
“Homeownership tenure is not a statistic that is typically tracked when evaluating market conditions, making this a unique industry report. In looking at homeownership tenure trends, it is clear that shifts in how long people stay in their homes impact inventory levels. Despite extreme ebbs and flows in market dynamics, successful companies are the ones that are able to balance short-term activity with long-term positioning. As we see from these ERA affiliated brokers referenced in the report, they have made strategic changes to their business in response to these shifts, knowing when and how to adapt continues to be a competitive advantage.”

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August 2021 Housing Market Trends Report

  • The national inventory of active listings declined by 25.8% over last year, while the total inventory of unsold homes, including pending listings, declined by 13.8%. The inventory of active listings is still down 52.8% compared to 2019.
  • Newly listed homes on the market are up 4.3% nationally compared to a year ago, and 5.1% higher for large metros over the past year. Sellers are still listing at rates 8.6% lower than typical 2017 to 2019 levels. 
  • The August national median listing price for active listings was $380,000, up 8.6% compared to last year and up 19.6% compared to 2019. Large metros saw an average price gain of 3.5% compared to last year.
  • Nationally, the typical home spent 39 days on the market in August, much less than the 56 days during the same month in 2020 and 63 days which was typical in the 2017 to 2019 period.

Realtor.com®’s August housing data release reveals that the housing market is continuing to normalize as newly listed homes skew smaller and more affordable and sellers are beginning to price more competitively through an increased share in price reductions. However, homes are still selling more than two weeks faster than last year.

Newly Listed Inventory Improves as More Small Homes Are Listed than Last Year

Nationally, the inventory of homes actively for sale in August decreased by 25.8% over the past year, a lower rate of decline compared to the 33.5% drop in July. A deceleration in the decline of inventory means the market is heading in an encouraging direction, but active inventory still remains historically low. This decline amounted to 223,000 fewer homes actively for sale on a typical day in August compared to the previous year. The total number of unsold homes nationwide–a metric that includes active listings and listings in various stages of the selling process that are not yet sold– is down 13.8% percent from August 2020. 

Active Home Listing Inventory

In August, newly listed homes grew by 4.3% on a year-over-year basis but declined by 2.8% compared to July, following typical seasonal patterns. Newly listed homes are still down 8.6% from the typical rate of newly listed homes in 2017 to 2019.

Newly Listed Homes

As we mentioned last month, these newly listed homes tend to be smaller in size than last year, shifting the mix of inventory toward smaller homes compared to last year. Looking at the single family home category alone, the share of homes having between 750 and 1,750 square feet increased from 30.6% in August 2020 to 37.0% in August 2021, while the inventory of homes having between 3,000 and 6,000 square feet decreased from 23.9% to 19.3%.

Inventory of Smaller Homes

This increase in the share of smaller homes for sale is present in most large metros across the country but is most pronounced in the Midwest.

Inventory of Small Homes by Metro

The inventory of homes actively for sale in the 50 largest U.S. metros overall decreased by 20.7% over last year in August, a large slowdown in the rate of decline compared to last month’s 28.1% decrease. Regionally, the inventory of homes in southern metros is still showing the largest year-over-year decline (-30.2%), but on average, southern metros have the second largest growth rate in newly listed homes (+6.1% year-over-year) after the Midwest. 

Markets which are seeing the largest year-over-year growth in newly listed homes include Columbus (+25.6%), Louisville (+22.8%), and Cleveland (+21.6%). Markets which are still seeing a decline in newly listed homes compared to last year include Raleigh (-18.8%), Nashville (-18.5%), and Hartford (-12.3%).

Homes Continue to Sell 17 Days Faster Than Last Year

The typical home spent 39 days on the market this August, 17 days less than last year. Homes are still being quickly snapped up as demand remains elevated, but the time a typical listing spends on the market is beginning to conform to seasonal norms. While last year the time on market continued to decline until October, this year, time on market in August increased over July, following a more typical seasonal trend.  

In the 50 largest U.S. metros, the typical home spent 33 days on the market, and homes spent 12 days less on the market, on average, compared to last August. Among these 50 largest metros, the time a typical property spends on the market has decreased most in large metros in the South (-17 days), followed by the Midwest (-11 days), West (-8 days), and Northeast (-7 days). 

Among larger metropolitan areas, homes saw the greatest yearly decline in time spent on market in Miami (-34 days), Jacksonville (-26 days) and Raleigh (-24 days). New York (+5 days), San Diego (+4 days) and Washington, DC (+3 days) were the only metros to see time on market increase but this is a signal that for some metros the fall housing market will be cooler than the peak of activity seen last year.  

Home Inventory Days on Market

Price Reductions Increasing but Approaching Normal Levels

The median national home price for active listings declined slightly from $385,000 in July to $380,000 in August. The median listing price grew by 8.6% over last year, lower than last month’s growth rate of 10.3%. This marks the fourth month in a row when the annual growth rate has decreased and the first month since July 2020 when the annual growth rate dipped below double-digits. As we noted previously, while median listing price growth is slowing down, this trend reflects a change in the mix of inventory available for sale this past month compared to last year, with more small homes available for sale this year. 

Median Home Listing Price

However, the share of homes which have had their prices reduced in August has surpassed last year’s share and is beginning to approach 2016 to 2019 levels. In August, 17.3% of active home listings had their price reduced, up 0.7% from the previous year. While still within normal ranges, this could indicate that some sellers are adjusting prices to compete more than they have over the past year and a half.

Share of Home Price Reductions

Active listing prices in the nation’s largest metros grew by an average of 3.5% compared to last year, lower than last month’s rate of 3.9%. Price growth in the nation’s largest metros is cooling slightly faster than other areas across the country, but the primary reason why can again be attributed to new inventory bringing relatively smaller homes to the market.  

Austin (+36.0%), Las Vegas (+22.9%), and Tampa (+20.0%), posted the highest year-over-year median list price growth in August, while Hartford (+5.7%), Virginia Beach (+5.0%) and Washington, DC (+4.9%) saw the greatest increase in their share of price reductions compared to last year.

August 2021 Regional Statistics (50 Largest Metro Combined Average)

RegionActive Listing Count YoYActive Listing Count vs 2019New Listing Count YoYNew Listing Count vs 2019Median Listing Price YoYMedian Listing Price vs 2019Median Days on Market Y-YMedian Days on Market vs 2019Price Reduced Share Y-YPrice Reduced Share vs 2019
Midwest-8.0%-48.1%12.5%-8.0%-5.9%4.3%-11 days-14 days+1.0%-5.9%
Northeast-16.2%-46.9%-1.2%-7.9%-1.4%10.5%-7 days-19 days+0.8%-6.7%
South-30.2%-57.6%6.1%-9.5%7.4%14.3%-17 days-24 days-0.1%-7.5%
West-19.2%-48.0%0.6%-2.4%9.3%18.7%-8 days-14 days-1.1%-10.7%

August 2021 Housing Overview by Top 50 Largest Metros 

MetroMedian Listing PriceMedian Listing Price YoYActive Listing Count YoYNew Listing Count YoYMedian Days on MarketMedian Days on Market Y-YPrice Reduced SharePrice Reduced Share Y-Y
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.$398,00012.2%-32.4%2.4%34-1316.3%-1.8%
Austin-Round Rock, Texas$544,00036.0%-28.1%19.8%23-2023.8%4.1%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.$335,000-4.3%-5.3%20.2%34-822.2%4.9%
Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.$273,0000.1%-25.7%9.3%38-1414.8%-1.7%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.$659,000-2.9%-21.2%-9.0%31-713.7%-2.2%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.$229,0001.8%-5.1%0.3%33-1115.2%-1.1%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.$385,0004.1%-29.2%6.0%28-1519.0%1.0%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.$341,000-2.3%-16.8%-4.9%36-720.9%0.6%
Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.$320,000-2.3%-3.2%13.9%31-1320.2%-0.7%
Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio$200,000-14.0%0.3%21.6%39-1123.1%0.1%
Columbus, Ohio$300,000-5.2%2.0%25.6%21-1522.2%-0.1%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas$396,00010.1%-37.3%-0.7%31-1521.8%-3.6%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.$600,00011.2%-34.0%-5.9%22-1420.9%-3.0%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.$268,000-4.1%-15.5%7.4%24-1319.9%0.3%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.$330,00010.4%-55.6%-12.3%32-1217.2%5.7%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas$364,00010.5%-25.2%4.4%37-1422.6%0.9%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.$279,000-6.7%-23.0%14.5%35-1222.4%-2.9%
Jacksonville, Fla.$360,00012.3%-43.2%2.8%37-2620.6%0.2%
Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.$322,000-6.5%-7.0%15.7%39-1321.2%3.0%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.$422,00022.9%-34.6%1.9%27-1517.1%-1.4%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif.$975,000-2.5%-17.6%-3.4%43-811.6%-1.7%
Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.$265,000-7.0%-6.0%22.8%27-1222.9%3.0%
Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.$250,000-5.8%-17.7%19.5%37-1116.2%-1.9%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.$456,00012.5%-46.6%-10.2%59-3411.7%-1.6%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis.$290,000-16.2%4.6%17.9%35-924.2%4.9%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis.$355,000-1.4%-15.3%-1.7%29-717.9%3.7%
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tenn.$440,00011.1%-51.3%-18.5%18-1416.7%-0.7%
New Orleans-Metairie, La.$339,0004.8%-6.4%19.9%46-2122.5%1.5%
New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa.$603,000-2.7%-12.9%-9.7%58510.3%-2.5%
Oklahoma City, Okla.$280,0003.6%-28.2%12.4%37-1320.0%-1.9%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.$375,00015.4%-47.7%-2.3%37-2119.3%-2.7%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md.$321,000-6.4%0.9%13.3%43-320.5%2.1%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.$475,00014.5%-16.7%6.3%30-1021.4%2.3%
Pittsburgh, Pa.$233,000-7.0%-14.7%4.6%42-1224.0%1.7%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.$558,00011.6%-23.8%-3.1%34-928.6%-3.5%
Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass.$429,0000.1%-14.5%8.1%31-1513.3%2.0%
Raleigh, N.C.$425,00010.0%-61.7%-18.8%19-2411.6%-5.1%
Richmond, Va.$350,000-2.2%-19.7%12.1%38-1416.6%1.1%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.$540,00017.6%-7.6%8.4%33-1314.6%3.4%
Rochester, N.Y.$228,000-7.1%-22.7%-1.0%19-1011.9%-2.3%
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif.$589,00011.6%-1.0%7.2%29-919.1%2.5%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas$350,00011.4%-31.2%9.2%34-1722.5%0.8%
San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.$830,0006.5%4.5%-6.1%39413.2%-1.1%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.$993,000-3.2%-22.4%-3.4%30-611.1%-3.9%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.$1,250,0004.2%-20.3%1.6%30-311.8%-6.2%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.$675,0008.0%-37.2%2.7%29-514.3%0.1%
St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.$250,0000.0%-15.2%14.1%42-1718.4%-0.2%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.$360,00020.0%-40.7%8.6%34-1820.7%-2.6%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C.$310,000-7.5%-21.3%3.7%26-1515.1%5.0%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Va.-Md.-W. Va.$503,000-4.2%17.1%9.7%33320.0%4.9%

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What to expect in the 2022 housing market

For any homebuyer, novice or weathered, the 2021 housing market has been harrowing to navigate.

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Rosy 609-915-9665

By some experts’ definitions, “this year, [the housing market] decidedly shot way ahead of the economy, to the point where we saw this incredibly overheated market characterized by massive multiple offers, contingency waivers, price escalation clauses, and, in fact, record prices,” George Ratiu, senior economist at realtor.com, tells Fortune.

Indeed, prices in 2021 have been skyrocketing, competition has been hotter than ever, and the low supply of homes ensured that many homebuyers were (and still are) paying top dollar, all while mortgage rates sat near rock bottom. While the housing market is still hot, there are signs that it’s beginning to cool off, with housing inventory (the number of homes on the market) starting to “meaningfully recover,” per an Aug. 23 monthly report from Zillow.

Translation: More homes on the market means more options for buyers and, likely, less competition per home.


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Everything you need to know about upstate New York’s booming housing market

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This article is reprinted by permission from The Escape Home, a newsletter for second homeowners and those who want to be. Subscribe here. © 2021. All rights reserved. 

Living outside of major U.S. cities has become expensive but potentially lucrative for buyers and sellers. One of the hottest real estate markets in the United States right now is upstate New York, which is vaguely defined as towns and suburbs north of the New York metropolitan area. Low mortgage rates and people wanting to escape large cities for quieter, less-crowded towns and neighborhoods have contributed to the boom.

The entire country has had a real estate resurgence, with 94% of metro areas seeing double-digit growth in the second quarter of 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The median sales price of existing single-family homes across the U.S. rose 22.9% to $357,900, an increase of $66,800 from one year ago.

New York City has long had some of the highest property prices. While the city has been recovering from the pandemic, many people are looking to escape to more rural areas of the state. Here’s what you could end up paying for some of upstate New York’s most popular towns:

From the second quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of this year, Kingston had a 22.5% increase in median price of existing single-family homes to $338,300, the NAR reported. Glens Falls had an 18.2% jump in median price to $232,900. Elmira had a 10.4% increase to $141,800.

The Escape Home spoke with realtors in upstate New York to find out what it’s been like to buy and sell property during all this craziness. Here’s what they had to say:

Mary Lou Pinckney, director of corporate relocation for Select Sotheby’s International Realty

Q: What is life like for a realtor in upstate New York right now versus before the pandemic?

A: Life as a realtor in upstate N.Y. is very lucrative and challenging at the same time. Pre-pandemic we had a substantial amount of inventory and it was priced well. Since the pandemic, people from the Tri-State area — New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey — have been flooding to the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes, wanting space, property, as well as square feet. They were and continue to be working remotely and quite simply are loving it.

Our markets — Saratoga Springs, Hudson, Adirondacks, Finger Lakes — have boomed so much because they’ve been discovered. People fleeing the city came north and found a terrific quality of life with small, vibrant cities with a lot to offer in the way of restaurants and the arts.

Q: What are the most active markets now and what types of homes are people looking for?

A: The hottest towns are Hudson, Saratoga Springs, Bolton Landing, Lake Placid and the Finger Lakes in central New York. People are looking for homes that are open, have separate, quiet space for home offices, space for home gyms, Pelotons etc., swimming pools, outdoor patios and three to four season porches. Many are looking for waterfront or bike-able, walkable to town kind of properties.

Q: Are you seeing more bidding wars? 

A: There are definitely bidding wars. Homes stay on the market anywhere from 24 hours to a week. I’ve seen prices escalate to over $100,000 the asking price.

I’ve missed out on at least four offers because the sellers accepted higher prices or better terms or both. For instance, [buyers] waive inspections or pay cash to escape a bank appraisal.

Q: What’s the most expensive property that you’ve sold recently?

A: The most expensive house I just closed on was $3 million. We had many parties interested, but the couple that purchased it moved quickly, as to not get into a competitive bidding situation and they put a very large down payment with the contract.

Q: Are you seeing more foreign buyers?

A: We have had foreign buyers. However, they were coming up from New York City and Connecticut.

Q: Are you still holding open houses?

A: Open houses are non-existent. I believe you will see less and less of them. People are still afraid to be in spaces that they’re not sure are “safe.” We are not out of this pandemic yet, in my opinion.

Q:  Do you think sellers were pricing homes too high and that buyers were willing to overpay?

A: Yes, sellers were pricing homes too high and if the location was right, people were overpaying for sure. I had a listing that went to multiple offers and sold well over asking because the location was terrific but the house needed a great deal of work. Location is a driving factor and if the square footage is there, buyers are willing to spend more in purchase price and more to update the homes.

Q: What’s your best advice to people trying to buy into this market? 

A: Best advice is to engage a professional broker/agent that earnestly listens to your needs and your price point, who will be willing to go the extra mile and network and be proactive to find you that special home.

Timothy Sweeney, president of Hudson Valley Catskill Region Multiple Listing Service and owner of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Nutshell Realty

Q: What does the upstate New York real estate market look like now compared to pre-pandemic levels?

A: The market we’re experiencing right now is similar to what happened after [the] 9/11 terrorist attacks. When 9/11 occurred in 2001, a surge of New York metro region buyers flocked to the mid-Hudson Valley. At that time the average sale price in Ulster County was $218,000. Six years later, due primarily to the migration of New York metro buyers, the average sale price topped out at $303,000. The mortgage crisis of 2008 caused home depreciation of about 25%. When Covid-19 hit, the market had fully recovered to the $300,000 plus average sale price. The big difference between the 9/11 driven market and the post Covid-19 market is that the 9/11 buyer was generally buying a second or weekend home. A large portion of post Covid-19 buyers have purchased a full-time residence. The ability to work remotely has been a game changer for real estate in the upstate market.

Q: Do you see a continuation of low supply of homes and continued price appreciation?

A: Significant development in the majority of communities in our region is not looked upon positively. When coupled with the difficulty and cost of navigating planning board approvals, we will most likely see a continuation of low existing home inventory. As long as that continues, home prices will experience some level of appreciation.

Q: Are you seeing multiple offers at your properties? 

A: We are seeing many many multiple offer situations. In fact, multiple offers are more the norm right now. There is also a tremendous amount of cash buyers in the marketplace.

Q: Is there still a need for open houses?

A: Open houses in our market are very rare due to the rural nature of our area. Also, with such a hot market open houses aren’t really necessary. New listings, if priced correctly, sell within days.

Joan Roberts, associate real estate broker at Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties who focuses on the Catskills Mountains, Ulster County and other areas in New York  

Q: How has the Catskills market changed since the pandemic started?

A: [It is always] busy in our area of the Catskills, but the pandemic brought two to three times the business. Most from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island and Northern New Jersey. But Brooklyn is definitely the winner.  It hasn’t really eased up yet and now we’re prepping for another wave.

Q: What has caused this real estate boom?

A: Fear of being amongst too much population plus understanding that they can have a delightful escape from the city life within two to three hours. Many of our residents work from home and many areas of the Catskills now have all of the necessary amenities: Internet, WiFi, cell service. Plus we offer so many recreational activities: Skiing. [There are] five major ski slopes in this area alone. Swimming, golf, hiking, boating, kayaking.

Q: What are the hottest towns/markets within upstate New York now?

A: Most of Ulster County has been a hot area — even pre-pandemic. Cities like Woodstock, New York, and Kingston have seen tremendous growth. But the middle/western Catskills have become very popular as well. The Margaretville/Roxbury areas have grown and become very much a tourist mecca. House sales have led this trend and townhouse sales find equal popularity. There are fabulous gourmet restaurants in the Catskills, plus delightful organic, vegan and trendy spots.

Q: What are the most popular types of properties? 

A: All types of homes from cottages to log cabins. Most want at least an acre or 10.  And then there are those who prefer a townhouse community where there are excellent amenities and full maintenance.  These have all been selling very quickly. In Roxbury Run Village—a townhouse community in Roxbury, NY, — there are 120 units and generally 10% have been for sale at any one time.  We went through the available inventory during the pandemic and now there was perhaps one on the market. And they sell very fast, for cash and involving bidding wars and escalation clauses.

Q: Are properties getting multiple bids?

A: There are most definitely bidding wars happening, with many exceeding current property values.

Q: What’s your best advice to homebuyers? 

A: Best advice is to do your homework, so you know what you want.  Then be pre-approved by a lending institution or your personal investments.  People are looking for fast closings.  The best deals are the cash deals — no mortgage, no inspection, no appraisals. Clean and quick.

This article is reprinted by permission from The Escape Home, a newsletter for second homeowners and those who want to be. Subscribe here. © 2021. All rights reserved.

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What’s in store for the post-pandemic real estate market?

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COVID-19 was devastating for many businesses. Restaurants, health clubs, movie theaters and other enterprises suffered substantial losses due to pandemic shutdowns. However, one industry thrived during the worst of COVID-19: real estate. 

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Crossings at Raritan Station is an apartment complex with mass appeal for those with hybrid work schedules due to its proximity to NJ Transit. Photo courtesy of The Marketing Directors

Fueled by an out-migration from urban areas and supported by record-low interest rates, the suburban New Jersey real estate market remained blazing hot through the dead of winter and well into the summer. Brokers reported unprecedented traffic and bidding wars once open house presentations resumed, and neighborhoods that were previously out of commuting range for buyers working from New York City became destination communities for employees who now worked remotely. 

According to Robert Norman, president at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, New York City Metropolitan Area, the strong market transitioned almost seamlessly from the shutdown to the reopening of the economy. 

“The market started to get back to normal by late spring-early summer,” Norman said. “While inventories remained low, buyers began to feel more comfortable visiting homes for sale, and sellers were more willing to allow people to tour their homes. The low inventories created a seller’s market. Our research showed that early in 2021, one in five people wanted to sell their homes. Unfortunately, many did not list their homes because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to find a home to buy.” 

Norman noted that Coldwell Banker agents adapted quickly to the COVID restrictions. He believes that their more effective use of video, social media and teleconferencing platforms are a few of the positive byproducts of the shutdown that are here to stay. 

Robert White, president-elect of New Jersey Realtors®, also cited low inventories and a desire to flee urban environments as driving forces in the marketplace. In June, there was a 1.9-month supply of single-family homes in New Jersey. The normal supply is about four months. 

“Small communities are thriving,” White said. “New Jersey Realtors are working with people from some of the Garden State’s urban areas as well as buyers from New York and Pennsylvania. Families like the feel of small communities with walkable downtowns and transportation hubs. While many buyers have moved farther from the cities because they can work remotely, they still appreciate the convenience of commuter rail and bus service.” 

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Jersey Shore towns, like Avalon, have been an especially popular destination for buyers coming into the state, and experts expect that to continue in 2022. Photo courtesy of NJ Advance Media

White noted that the Jersey Shore has been an especially popular destination for buyers coming into the state. Communities from the Highlands to Cape May are much in demand. Shore communities tend to be more intimate, and they offer the outdoor space that former city dwellers crave. In addition to downtown shopping and dining districts, many coastal communities are characterized by strollable beaches and colorful boardwalks. 

“Another factor driving the strong real estate market is a surge of younger people who are choosing to buy rather than rent,” White added. “Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages have been hovering around 3% in recent years. Smart young buyers are choosing to lock in these low rates while they can.” 

White expects that the market will stay strong well into 2022. He believes markets will begin to normalize and absorb pent-up demand once building material prices stabilize and new-home builders contribute more housing units to the inventory. 

The Kinkade Model

Toll Brothers’ Kinkade Model is a carriage-style townhouse that features an open floor plan suited to the needs of remote work. Photo courtesy of Toll Brothers

One homebuilder that is bullish on New Jersey real estate is Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers. 

We continue to operate at a very high level with strong demand across the Garden State,” said Craig Cherry, Toll Brothers division president for New Jersey. “We are encouraged by the strength of the housing market, and the limited resale supply continues to drive buyers to our new construction communities.” 

Much like homebuyers around the state, visitors to Toll Brothers are choosing where they want to live and not where their job previously required them to live. Toll Brothers has a variety of options, including single-family homes, active adult communities and carriage-style townhome enclaves. 

“We’re finding our homebuyers are looking for more square footage, personalization options and more open space within their neighborhoods,” he added. “Since many people are working remotely, home offices and niches for work or school are popular features in most of our floorplans. Our build-to-order business model is also well-suited for this trend.”   

99 Hudson

Real estate experts have noticed an uptick in rental and sales activity in urban areas, like at 99 Hudson in Jersey City. Photo courtesy of The Marketing Directors

Although many people have left cities, like Manhattan, for suburban locations, Jacqueline Urgo, president of The Marketing Directors, sees former city dwellers returning to urban markets. The Marketing Directors is a development advisory and master property marketing and sales force that works exclusively on behalf of property owners and new-home builders. 

“We actually started to see a positive shift in the market as early as January with an uptick in rental and sales activity in urban areas, like Jersey City, Hoboken and Harrison,” Urgo said. “These historically popular urban locations were significantly impacted by the shutdown, with widespread closures of restaurants, retail and nightlife, and residents that no longer needed to be near mass transit to get to work in New York City. But with more and more people getting vaccinated and restrictions being lifted, coupled with companies having sent out notices of return to in-person work schedules, we’ve seen a huge influx of residents coming back to these neighborhoods.” 

Urgo believes we are likely to see some hybrid version of remote working and a return to the office as the year progresses.  

“Quite honestly, I think a lot of workers are just tired of Zoom calls and juggling kids and pets and other interruptions while trying to get their work done,” she said. “People also miss the interaction you get from really being face to face as opposed to being just faces on a screen.” 

As the entire country readjusts from unprecedented disruptions in everyday life, it is clear that people are reconsidering where and how they live. No one yet knows which changes brought about by the pandemic will endure and which will fall by the wayside. However, one thing is sure. Our perception of the road ahead has been forever altered by the COVID-19 experience. 

Stan Lemond is an award-winning marketing consultant and writer who has more than 40 years of experience. His work has appeared in The Star-Ledger, Staten Island Advance, Trenton Times and South Jersey Times as well as Jersey’s Best.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Jersey’s Best. Subscribe here for in-depth access to everything that makes the Garden State great.

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08/26/2021 | A Week In Business – August 27, 2021

Real Estate Market Update

BERLIN — The real estate market continues to trend upwards, with rising home prices and a lack of inventory dominating discussions. No doubt if you have tried to buy a

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A snapshot of July real estate activity is pictured courtesy of the Coastal Association of Realtors.

home in the last few months you have found it challenging to say the least. There is hope on the horizon though, as there is a trend of more homes coming on the market.

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In July the median price was $286,000, which is up 12.9% from July of 2020. There are currently only 545 active listings in the lower three counties, compared to 895 in July of 2020, and 1391, which is the five-year average.

Overall, in the three counties, new settlements during July were down 24.3% compared to the same time last year. Individually, new settlements throughout July were up by 1.4% in Wicomico and 30% in Somerset, and down 36.5% in Worcester.

New listings in June were down 13.1% compared to the same time last year in all three counties. Individually, new listings were up by 6.3% in Wicomico, and 8.6% in Somerset, and down 23.5% in Worcester from July of 2020.

Active listings in all three counties were down by 13.1%. Individually, there were 303 active listings in Worcester, 179 in Wicomico and 63 in Somerset. There were 895 active listings at this time last year.

The Median Cumulative Days on Market (CDOM) for July was eight, or 81% less than the same time last year.

“Inventory is still at historic lows and home prices are continuing to rise, but we have seen a glimmer of hope over the last few months, with more new listings being added to the market than new settlements,” said Coastal Association of Realtors President Joni Martin Williamson. “If we are going to get back to a more balanced market, then we are going to need to see more listings added to the market each month beyond what is being purchased. We need to get our inventory up to sustainable levels. We would like to see 8-12 months of inventory available for homebuyers. For the last few months new listings have been greater than settlements and that is a good thing. If we can encourage new listings and new construction, we can make sure the market stays healthy and vibrant.”

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Bank Announces Addition

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Dawn Wagner

SALISBURY – The Bank of Delmarva President/CEO John W. Breda recently announced Dawn Wagner has joined the bank as a Vice President – Business Development Officer/Relationship Manager.

Wagner has 24 years of banking experience, including 15 years in commercial lending. She has served as a board member for the YMCA, the American Breast Cancer Foundation and Carson Scholars Fund. She and her husband Steve have resided in Maryland for over 50 years, where they raised their six children.

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Specialists Joins AGH

BERLIN – Endocrinology specialist Patricia Morales, a certified registered nurse practitioner, has joined Atlantic General Health System (AGHS) from Nanticoke Physician

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Patricia Morales

Network’s Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, where she cared for patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, thyroid conditions, polycystic ovary syndrome and other endocrine conditions. In her new role with AGHS, she will focus on diabetic care and thyroid conditions.

Morales has been a member of Delmarva’s medical community for more than nine years, with a background in diabetes and endocrinology as well as urgent care and family medicine. She received her Bachelor of Science in nursing at Salisbury University School of Nursing in 2006, subsequently working as an ER nurse at Peninsula Regional Medical Center while earning her Master of Science in nursing at Salisbury University and her nurse practitioner certificate.

Morales also holds a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Universidad de Santiago de Chile. She is board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and is certified as a medical interpreter for Spanish speaking patients.

Morales is currently accepting new patients at the Atlantic General Diabetes and Endocrinology Center.

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Bank Branch Manager Named

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Kimberly Duvall

OCEAN CITY – Bank of Ocean City President/CEO Reid Tingle, along with the Board of Directors, recently welcomed Kimberly Duvall as branch manager of the Berlin office as the newest addition to the staff.

Duvall joins Bank of Ocean City with over 13 years of banking management experience. She brings with her a vast array of knowledge in banking and leadership. She is committed to providing an outstanding customer experience. Duvall has relocated from New Jersey, were she worked for PNC and Unity Bank. She is looking forward to becoming active within her new local community, as she previously served Habitat for Humanity and the Rotary Club, in several volunteer rolls, while residing in New Jersey.

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Town Manager Appointed

SNOW HILL — The Snow Hill Mayor and Town Council have announced the hiring of their next town manager, Rick Pollitt, Jr. of Allen.

Pollitt brings to the position decades of experience as a municipal manager, long-term professional connections to business leaders and local, state, regional and federal officials, and a reputation of integrity. Pollitt served as a city manager for over two decades between the cities of Fruitland and Crisfield as well as was elected and served two, four-year, terms as the first county executive in Wicomico County. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Washington College, and has served on numerous boards and commissions, one of them being past president of the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO). Pollitt also has an extensive track record in supporting initiatives of diversification and environmental protection.

Pollitt was selected through a highly competitive national search. Mayor Jennifer Jewell has been performing town manager and mayoral duties concurrently since taking office in June. A Town Manager Search Committee was formed by the mayor, consisting of five residents representing varying interests, including a business owner, town employee, and Councilwoman Melisa Weidner. The Search Committee worked independently of the mayor to narrow down the pool of over 27 candidates.

The final candidates were invited to spend a day in the Town of Snow Hill, visiting businesses and touring the town, as well as meeting with town staff, interviewing with both the search committee and the mayor, and finally making a public presentation in which all attendees were invited to ask questions of the candidate. Input was gathered from the public, staff and search committee, and presented to Jewell, who then reviewed the candidates with the council. After discussing all gathered input and qualifications, the council then voted unanimously to offer the position to Pollitt.

The town believes the hiring of Pollitt signifies a stable and catalytic foundation for building upon the current momentum that is propelling the town forward.

“Mr. Pollitt has deep roots and connections on the Lower Eastern Shore and his commitment to strengthen communities, high level of integrity and professionalism make him a strong fit for Snow Hill,” said Jewell.

Pollitt will begin his new role as town manager on Sept. 8.

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