Come fall, there's renewed energy and increased activity in selling houses
SPECIAL TO OPEN HOUSE
By DONNA ROLANDO
"The fall market is always good. Usually after Labor Day you see an increase (in activity)," said Michael Machinski, sales associate for Weichert Realtors in Ridgewood.
What this means for potential homebuyers in the Ridgewood area is a flurry of open houses, he said.
"You're going to see a huge increase in open houses compared to what there were just a month ago with people taking their last licks at summer vacation," he said.
He makes his point by citing 41 open houses recently in a community of roughly 25,000 residents.
Home buyers will find 142 single-family homes on the market right now, including Ridgewood's ever popular colonial, he said.
Although colonials are a perennial hit, Machinski said that Ridgewood has a variety of home styles available at all price ranges.
And despite the sluggish economy, Ridgewood is seeing a healthy measure of sales activity and has been over the past year, said Machinski.
"Ridgewood is moving. Properties are coming on the market. If they're priced right, they are selling quickly," he said.
Coupled with realistic pricing, sellers are making a real effort to have their homes look their best.
"A lot more are using home stagers to get them a greater return," said Machinski.
With this strategy in place, he sees Ridgewood as "bucking the trend" with an active real estate market. Over the last 12 months, 268 single-family homes sold at various price ranges - from the $275,000 fix-me-upper to an elite $4,110,000.
In addition, he finds that the "absorption rate" - how long it will take a sell a home - is "excellent" at about five months.
With its diverse price ranges, he considers Ridge-wood a great town to move up in, and often he finds buyers are upsizing but not leaving the community.
Also in Bergen County, Teaneck is another town where sales activity is far from sluggish, said Ruth Miron-Schleider, broker-owner of Miron Properties in Tenafly. This is a trend she expects to continue as Teaneck offers a variety of price ranges and home styles, including ranches, contemporary, Capes, colonials, and even waterfront - on the Hackensack River.
Without a doubt, single-family homes with Tudor architecture are some of the oldest and most "incredible" in the community, she said, but this is one of many options.
"Teaneck is considered so attractive to so many people for so many reasons, it continues to hold its value," she said.
Spanning 6 miles from the Hackensack to the Hudson rivers, Teaneck is a "unique blend of cultures, languages and ethnicity," in its neighborhoods and businesses, and it is this blend that attracts a good number of buyers as well, she said. It is a selling point for people of different ethnicities to be in a community with similar neighbors and even to enjoy the wide range of cuisines that Teaneck is known for.
The community of about 40,000 residents and 20-plus parks and playgrounds is also a magnet for those who work in Manhattan as it offers easy access to public transportation, she said. Many times both the husband and wife works in New York City, which makes access even more of a priority.
Today's buyer will find 254 single-family homes available ranging from $130,000 to $1,675,000, she said.
Over the last 12 months, Teaneck saw the sale of 216 properties at prices climbing from $125,000 to $1,395,000. Most of these homes (184) were in the $125,000 to $500,000 cost level, compared to 31 properties in the $500,000 to $1 million range, and only three properties at $1 million and over.
"If you consider the current inventory is 254 and the inventory sold is 216, it's a good ratio," she said.
"It's very encouraging. There's still quite a bit of activity," said Miron-Schleider. "People come, they look, they put contracts in."
In addition, she takes note that homes are selling at 89.87 percent of their listing price again showing a healthy market.
Today's buyer will also find 30 condos, townhouses, and coops on the market for $149,000 to $519,000, while over the last 12 months, 17 homes sold in this category for $80,000 to $545,000.
In the Passaic and Morris counties, Ellen Weiner, sales associate with Weichert Realtors, Clifton, sees a trend toward realistic pricing.
"I feel most of the pricing is maybe $10,000 to $20,000 higher - and that is due to both buyers and sellers needing that feeling of negotiations," she said, whereas "in the past I have found that sellers always priced their houses high..."
Also impacting recent sales has been flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, but Weiner said even here realism is having an impact.
"Buyers are getting much more concerned with certain areas like Little Falls, Lincoln Park, to name just two, but also they too are getting realistic in knowing that at times, homes can get some water in their basements and should act accordingly when buying a home," she said, investing in measures like a sump pump.
She added that interest rates are not expected to rise in the near future, which makes it a buyer's market.