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Blog :: 06-2011

Montclair NJ Market Update for May 2011

52 Dodd Street, Montclair

Seeing a lot of "For Sale" signs around town? Last month in Montclair there were 294 homes on the market as compared to 235 from May of 2010.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that 30 homes sold, the same number as last May.  It took on average 17 days longer to sell a home this May as days-on-market increased from 61 to 78.  Median sales price dropped about 2%  to $608,00o from $622,000 pointing to a market that has weakened since last May. 

52 Dodd Street, Montclair

Some Montclair homes, however, seem to have been unaffected.  265 Highland Avenue, a 4 bedroom 2.5 bath contemporary sold for $900,000 - $51,000 over the asking price of $849,00 and had an offer in the first week on the market.  More typical is the example of 52 Dodd Street which sold at 98% of its asking price of $529,000.

To Rent or To Buy...That is the Question.

Montclair rental - gone in 1 day

Real estate is always a "good news-bad news" business. The most obvious example of this is an overheated market: great news for home sellers, lousy news for home buyers.  An article I read recently in RISMedia,  an online trade publication, discusses another good news-bad news situation: the current rental market.

The article cited a study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, which concluded that the fledgling national economic recovery will actually hurt renters. More Americans are finding new jobs, but these jobs often pay less than their former ones, so they are choosing to rent a home instead of buying one.  In addition, the continuing foreclosure crisis means that many former homeowners can now only afford to rent. With no real increase in multifamily rental units planned by developers, rental units will almost certainly become scarcer and thus more expensive.

Montclair is already showing signs of upward pressure on the rental market - There are only 35 rental units at the moment listed on the MLS as compared to 230 that are currently for sale.  As a New Jersey Realtor, I have firsthand experience with this trend: I listed a 1 BR condo renting for $1850/month in a loft-type building in Glen Ridge, walking distance to the NYC train, on Saturday; by Monday, it was gone.

The good news in this scenario: a poor rental market often means it is a good time to buy a home. Mortgage rates are at their lowest in years, and home prices have dropped significantly from several years ago. Are you looking for more space for your growing family? Have you been considering buying a multifamily property as an investment? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, then take advantage of the good news (for buyers) and make your move before the tide turns again.

Airing My Clean Laundry

I'm feeling very retro these days. A couple of weeks ago my dryer quit after a long and useful life.  Engrossed in my washing, I hadn't noticed that the dryer was not keeping pace with the washer and so 4 loads later I found myself with 80 lbs of wet clothes. A quick run to Mr. Charlie's (aka American Royal Hardware on Park Street in Montclair) and I was back on track.

40 foot retractable clothesline:  $19.99 50-pack of wooden clothespins:$ 5.99 2 stainless steel screws:$.0.50

A basket full of dry, sweet-smelling clothes: Priceless

I find myself actually enjoying this activity which my mother did on a regular basis, every Tuesday, weather permitting.  Besides feeling nostalgic, I feel virtuous and thrifty for allowing the sun and wind to do for free for what I usually pay PSEG.  My 14 year-old son - not so much.  He's mortified that his friends might see his skivvies from Valley Road.

Two Parents, One Car: It Can Work in Suburbia

A few weeks ago I came across an interesting post on Baristanet. The author, Jessica Stolzberg, and her family (husband, son, daughter and dog) make do with only one car. This is a very unusual arrangement for a suburban family, and Stolzberg recognizes that it isn't always possible. Given the right circumstances, however, it's quite feasible.

First and foremost, one of the spouses should be able to commute via mass transit to work. If the family lives within walking distance of a bus stop or train station, that's a bonus, not to mention another advantage of living in a walkable suburb. The second requirement is flexibility on the weekend. Having kids in suburbia means driving from religious school to sports practice to birthday parties, so schedules need to be carefully coordinated. The third is the recognition that sometimes the best-laid plans fall apart, requiring backup. One-car families need to have friends or family they can lean on in a pinch, or at least the number of a local taxi service.

Families that get by with only one car can save thousands of dollars a year in insurance, gas and maintenance. They also significantly reduce their carbon footprint. Not a bad deal!