North Jersey Condo Market Slowly Returning


BY JENNIFER V. HUGHES
SPECIAL TO THE RECORD

When they were looking for a condo, Todd and Josie Adelstein knew they wanted to be on North Jersey’s Gold Coast, and with dozens of apartments to choose from, they also knew they could get their “Goldilocks” apartment.

One unit had a breathtaking view, but in an older, less stylish building. Another had the bonus of a town house style with a separate garage, but it also had a long, steep walk to the bus stop — a deal-breaker for two people who worked in the city.

The Adelsteins found a home that was “just right” at The Peninsula, an Edgewater condo that was converted from rental property in 2007. The development has more than two dozen shops and eateries on the ground floor, and 200 units above.

“We really loved it,” Todd Adelstein said of their two-bedroom, two-bath unit with 1,267 square feet.

Adelstein did not want to disclose his purchase price, but two-bedrooms at the development run between $625,000 and $700,000 said Angela Ferrara, vice president of sales for the on-site sales and marketing company, The Marketing Directors.

At The Peninsula, about 70 percent of the units are sold and about 48 units are rented. About 12 are vacant, a number Ferrara said is not bad, considering that vacancies were double that not so long ago.

North Jersey Realtors say the condo market is trending much the same way as single-family homes – slowly making a comeback. The number of condo sales from 2009 to 2010 in Bergen and Passaic counties is up ever so slightly — about 1.2 percent, according to New Jersey Multiple Listing Services Inc. The median price for condos in Bergen County is up almost 2 percent to $318,000; single-family homes are up 1 percent to $440,000, according to MLS.

“I had five contracts in January, ranging from a two-bedroom in Journal Square in Jersey City for $325,000 to new construction in the Henley on Hudson [in Weehawken] for $830,000,” said Realtor Scott Selleck of Re/Max Villa Realtors. And as in the single-family market, lower-priced homes have been easier to sell.

“Properties under $600,000 are moving quicker than they used to, and those under 300 are moving even quicker than that,” he said. “People who decide to buy are moving very quickly.”

That held true for the Adelsteins; they bought their condo after looking for only about a month, and moved in last month.

If you’re looking for a condo in northern New Jersey, there are literally hundreds on the market to choose from in a mind-boggling variety of prices, sizes, styles and locations.

There are homes like apartment 7HJ in The Carlyle Towers in Cliffside Park on the market for $1.79 million with four bedrooms, three full baths and one half-bath spread out over 2,778 square feet. It also boasts a marble entranceway, maple and oak floors and sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can find a studio apartment in Passaic’s Carlton Towers for $79,000.

There are properties on North Jersey’s Gold Coast, like Port Imperial in West New York, where a two-bedroom, two-bath unit is on the market for $645,000. There are also units that are solidly suburban, like a Wayne condo at 1119 Brittany Drive with three bedrooms and two baths for $349,999.

There are apartments in Trump Plaza, Jersey City, the tallest residential tower in New Jersey, like the 42nd-floor home with two bedrooms, two baths and 1,182 square feet at $682,000.

There are also condos in low-rise buildings, like the town-home-style three-level apartments on St. Charles Avenue, on West Milford’s Greenwood Lake. A three-bedroom, three-bath, half-bath unit there is on the market for $335,000.

Realtor Mark DeLuca, who has offices in Teaneck and Hackensack, said some newer buildings try to lure buyers with lower maintenance fees — which cover common areas and services like trash pickup — by not factoring in long-term repair costs.

“They then have to increase the maintenance once the [condo] association takes over the running of the building,” he said.

Maintenance fees vary widely, depending on the size of the apartment and the building. At The Peninsula, a one-bedroom carries a maintenance fee of $427 a month while a three-bedroom is $879.
The median sales price for condos in the New York metropolitan area, including Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties, was down 9 percent from $283,400 in the fourth quarter of 2009 to $257,700 in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Around that median price, from $200,000 to $400,000, you can find 218 condos and town houses for sale in Passaic County, including these apartments:

* For $208,000, a one-bedroom, one-bath at the Renaissance Manor, a three-story complex in Clifton that was built in the 1980s.

* For $369,900, a two-bedroom, two full- bath and one half-bath in Paterson at the Silk City Lofts, a new construction project.

In that range in Bergen County, you can find more than 500 condos and town homes for sale, including these options:

* For $200,000, a two-bedroom, one-bath in Englewood in a renovated 1940s-era building.

* For $400,000, a one-bedroom, one-bath in Edgewater’s newly constructed City Place development.

Realtor Terri Golden, broker and salesperson at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Fort Lee, said condos are an interesting market because they draw people from all over the spectrum.

“You have empty-nesters downsizing and then you have young professionals just starting out,” she said.

In general, Golden said, condos are spending on average, about four months on the market before selling.

DeLuca, the Realtor, said he can see condo sales picking up even more, in part, because condo sales are also driven by investors. With condo prices down and mortgage rates low, condos are a good investment, he said.

“As the economy gains strength, the prices are invariably going to go up,” he said. “Anyone who is well-positioned with job stability and good credit, it’s a great time to buy.”

Read the full article from The Record online at NorthJersey.com.

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