In the Marketplace: Bucking the sluggish real estate market
Thursday, October 20, 2011
SPECIAL TO OPEN HOUSE
PHOTO COURTESY OF MIRON PROPERTIES
A Colonial in the Old Smith Village section of Tenafly is currently on the market with a listing price of $2,350,000. This historic area was named after the developer, K.B.C. Smith.
While it is common to hear the real estate market today described as sluggish, Wyckoff is one Bergen County community that is bucking that trend with exceptionally active open houses.
Come to an open house for a new listing in Wyckoff - a commuter's paradise also known for its school system - and you could be among 30 other potential homebuyers with the same interest.
"We had an open house for a new listing last weekend and 32 families came to that," said Darlene Bandazian, branch vice president for Coldwell Banker in Wyckoff.
"Like any town, if houses are priced right, they will sell," she said. In Wyckoff, any home under the $700,000 mark is likely to get extra attention from buyers, and more homes are available under the $600,000 mark than there were three to five years ago.
Often those scoping out real estate in Wyckoff are in search of that ever-popular center-hall colonial, said Bandazian. Yet there is hope for other home designs.
"More often than you think they wind up falling in love with something else," she noted.
Buyers looking in Wyckoff this fall season will find 93 single-family homes ranging in price from $289,000 to $1.7 million. Also on the market are 17 condos or townhouses for $440,000 to $1 million.
Over the past 12 months, 141 single-family homes have sold with prices from $235,000 to $2.3 million and 12 condos or townhouses from $325,000 to $925,000.
In 2008, Wyckoff saw the sale of 133 single-family homes for $270,000 to $2.25 million and 10 condos or townhouses from $525,000 to $1,029,000.
"You can see with condos and townhouses in Wyckoff, we don't have an enormous amount but we are still selling the same number," she said. However, there's been a slight drop in the sale of single-family homes since 2008.
With the "best of what suburbia has to offer," just 15 minutes from Manhattan, Tenafly is another Bergen County town that shines even in today's market, according to Ruth Miron-Schleider, broker/owner of Miron Properties in Tenafly.
The Blue Ribbon school system is a "big draw," as are Tenafly's parks, nature preserves and gardens, not to mention its recreation center and community/sporting events all within five square miles. Cosmopolitan cuisine - from Greek to Israeli - rounds out what's available in Tenafly, also known for its historic sections like Atwood's Highwood Park District with its landmark railroad station.
With the 120 single-family homes for sale running from less than $300,000 to $4 million, Schleider said, "There are a great variety of housing options for every lifestyle and budget."
As evidence of the strength of the market in Tenafly, sellers are getting 90 percent of their asking price, which was on average $1,090,000 from October 2010 to October 2011, said Schleider.
Another sign of strength comes in the 103-day average stay on the market for residential properties over the past year, when 30 single-family homes sold for up to $500,000, 83 at $500,000 and $1 million, and 46 at $1 million and above.
In comparison, she said, 112 single-family properties sold in Tenafly from October 2007 to October 2008 for an average $948,781 - just under the average listing of $1,050,871.
One of the biggest changes in recent years, according to Schleider, is the development of new condo communities, including luxury living at The Crossings, or The Heights at Tenafly. Currently, Tenafly has 16 units on the market from $168,000 for a two-bedroom condo to $1,125,000 for a three-bedroom townhome, she said. Within the last 12 months, 54 units sold, drawing 96 percent of their asking price.
The luxury townhomes are drawing those who like high-end living in Manhattan but don't want to pay Manhattan prices. Yet Tenafly also offers more affordable condos for more modest budgets as well.
Wayne Township in Passaic County similarly attracts a diverse group of people because of a Blue Ribbon school system,its central location to highways, and its own commuter lot, said Lindsey Kehr, sales representative with Weichert Realtors, Wayne.
A drop in prices over the last five years has opened up the door of opportunity for more buyers, who were left behind by the average price back then of $450,000 to $475,000. Today's average price of $375,000 is inviting more buyers into the marketplace, where there are 410 active listings for single-family homes, condos and townhomes at prices from $50,000 for a mobile home to $1.9 million for a lakefront colonial, Kehr said, also citing 46 homes under contract.
"It's still a buyer's market, but the inven-tory is moving quickly here in Wayne, which is good news," she said.
Buyers can get a center-hall colonial for $500,000 to $750,000, while in the above-$750,000 range, they are looking at a larger property with a full finished basement, possibly in a lake community like Packanack Lake.
Within this 22-square-mile community, buyers can find 10 months' worth of home inventory - under five months would indicate a seller's market, she said. What's more, buyers are paying on average 85 percent of a home's asking price.