Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekly Real Estate Market Update: Week ended Jan 30, 2015

#Blizzardof2015 and #SuperBowl were probably to blame for the slower than usual week in Hoboken and Jersey City real estate.

In Hoboken, the top news in real estate was the listing of the extraordinary mansion at 925 Hudson St. Hoboken, priced at $4.6 million (click on the link for photos). At over 6500 square feet, the top reason the owners are moving out may not be a bigger space. So was education the reason for the move (the child goes to 3rd grade next year)?

If you have not checked out the free seminar discussing real estate in the top school districts, please do visit The event will be held on Feb 28, from 3-5 pm. Registration for the free tickets opens soon, and space will be limited.

In Jersey City, a new 2 bedroom unit has come to market at Trump West. Remember: Trump's views are at risk across the board, as 5 new skyscrapers have been approved to surround it from all sides. 2 bedrooms have been a tough sell, the two others have been on the market for 4+ months, but this new unit is priced considerably lower. Once pricing gets to be at par with non-view luxury units in Jersey City, this building could become really attractive for buyers looking for the amazing luxury amenities Trump has to offer.

In other news, Zephyr Lofts, a full service luxury building at the border of Hoboken/Jersey City, was FHA-approved today. With all its legal troubles behind it, monthly HOA fees on the decline for 3 years, and the Hoboken Rail Yards project expected to rejuvenate the area in the coming years, this building is one of the best bangs for the buck for buyers looking for an edgy, true loft space. And now, with the FHA approval, financing the purchases will be super easy. Note: The building is not directly handicapped accessible (unless you enter from the 700 Grove side). A 1000 sqft 2 bedroom one bath is on the market, and a 1 bed/1 bath hit the MLS today. Click on the link for more info and contact me to arrange a showing:

Hoboken weekly highlights:

Jersey City weekly highlights:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekly Hoboken and Jersey City Market Snapshot

It seems nothing can dwarf the news of 99 Hudson, Jersey City, the lot owned by Chinese developers. This site, directly across from 1 World Trade Center was scheduled to be a 60 story high-rise, but it is now approved to be 95 stories, the tallest building in all of New Jersey. Jersey City is home to seven of the ten tallest buildings in the state.

According to the renderings, 77 Hudson will now be sandwiched between this 760 unit ultra luxury residential building (950 feet tall vs. 1 WTC which is 1368 ft, not including the needle)) and the enormous office tower at 55 Hudson, which is expected to be about as tall at the first Goldman Sachs tower. The good news is that they will be keeping their easterly views of NYC, which has not been the case of many other buildings in downtown Jersey City.

In Hoboken, the sharpest drop in price ($425K) was that of 810 Park Ave, a 20 ft wide multifamily with approved plans to build the top floor. This property was on the auction block last year, and appears to have been cosmetically updated by the new owner. Property records seem to indicate the presence of an oil tank (this block had a contamination a decade or so back, but it was remediated). With the pricing now more in line with fair value, what a wonderful opportunity to customize your own home?

Large units with elevator and parking continue to be super hot. Around town, many boutique buildings are setting new highs in sale prices and units are getting into escrow in under two weeks.

Here are the rest of new properties, in pdf. Pop out to download.

Australian property fund is BULLISH on the Hoboken/JC single and multi family real estate market

Very few people know of one of the more enigmatic players in the the single family and multi family housing market in Hoboken and Jersey City: the Australian property trust fund US MASTERS. The company entered the local property market around 2012, scooping single family and multi family homes at the bottom of the real estate bust. They then rehabbed and rented them out, primarily through their agency, Dixon Leasing and their preferred broker. They now own about $500 million or around 500 properties in the NYC metro area, including Brooklyn, Queens, Union City, Jersey City and Hoboken.

While the primary strategy of the company has been rehabbing and renting, last summer, the fund put several unrenovated properties on the market, including 3 in one week in August. This led me to wonder: was a major institutional property buyer cashing out of our real estate market?

However, despite the hot market, only one was sold (another is pending). The rest were withdrawn, even 609 Willow, which had received multiple offers. The company's year end statement noted that only seven properties in their investment portfolio were sold in the NYC area, but they are reinvesting the proceeds back into our real estate market. In addition, they have raised $150 million to invest in additional units.

In short, one of the largest institutional buyers of single and multi family homes is still bullish about the real estate market. They are investing an additional $150 million into it. They want to buy/hold and rent out their portfolio. In fact, today, they listed two premier properties in Hoboken: 208 Hudson St, for $10,995 per month, and 520 Bloomfield St. listed at $11,995 per month. They are absolutely stunning. Do you think they will get asking rent? Want to see them? Let me know.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hoboken Jersey City Real Estate New MLS Listings Snapshot

This was an exciting week in Hoboken and Jersey City Real Estate. There were 57 new for sale MLS listings in Hoboken and Downtown Jersey City. Of these 9 units (condos and brownstones) are 3 bedrooms or more. This segment remains extremely competitive, especially if they come with parking. Most fairly priced 3+ bedroom units getting under contract in less than a week after multiple bids.

It was also a great week for larger units: there are 8 new units on the market over 1500 sqft.

Here are the snapshots, in pdf form. To view, either scroll down, or pop out and download.

If you are serious about buying, now is the time to get pre-approved. The Obama administration has just lowered FHA premiums, and mortgage rates have hit the lows they reached in 2013 (the 30 year rate is now 3.66%), making this an excellent time to buy your home.

Call me at (732-788-6560) or email me at if you want to see any unit.

Hoboken Market Snapshot 1/9-/16/15

Jersey City (Downtown, ex Newport) Market Snapshot 1/9-/16/15

Jersey City (Newport area) Market Snapshot 1/9-/16/15

Note: Data from HCMLS and RPR as of 1/16/15. Deemed accurate but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hoboken and Jersey City 4Q14 Real Estate Trends

Here are the updated 2014 Hoboken and Jersey City Real Estate Market Statistics, courtesy of Keller Williams City Life.

While the upward trend in home prices seem to have slowed and prices are indeed slightly lower quarter over quarter (this seasonality is expected, as historically the warmer months bring the highest prices), they are still up mid-to-high single digits year over year.

The real story continues to be inventory. In Hoboken especially, there is an unprecented shortage of homes for sale.

What can you do if you are a prospective buyer that gives you the edge to compete with other buyers in this market?

And if you are a prospective seller, should you hold out and be a landlord in case prices continue to increase?

Let's chat.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Will proposed PATH service cuts really hurt our real estate appeal?

Since published an article with the title “Hoboken officials: PATH service cuts could hurt realestate appeal, including NJ Transit's rail yards,” I have had more than one homeowner reach out to me to ask if I thought this would indeed happen.

Who am I? I first became a Hoboken PATH commuter in 1998 and became a Newport Jersey City PATH commuter in 2004. And I happen to be a real estate salesperson who still resides in town, and is a homeowner in both Hoboken and Jersey City.

So, should we be worried?

Well, first let's review what the proposed cuts are. The proposed cuts are to eliminate weekday and weekend night service from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. (that is 1 hour after midnight, for four hours). Is that really the end of the world? Back in the day, the PATH actually had a steep drop off in service between that time. They now run every 35 min or so (to put this in perspective, the 7 or F Train to Queens/Brooklyn run every 20 min during late weeknights) . Over the weekends, PATH trains run every 10 minutes between 1-5 a.m.

Yes, eliminating the service during these hours would cause a lot of problems for the 2000 or so weekday commuters who regularly have to work late and cannot afford to take taxis or Uber home everyday (10,600 “revelers” on average use the PATH daily on weekends between 1-5 a.m.). But not addressing the growing deficit of the PATH train system ($387 million deficit in 2014, expected to balloon to $500 million in 2018), would affect all those commuters and everyone else, as the PATH may raise the ticket prices again. The PATH system costs three times more to operate compared to MTA subway, and tickets recover only 40% of the cost to run the train system. Also, PATH ticket prices cost less than MTA, NJ Transit, LIRR or Metro North, with the deficit partly funded by Port Authority tolls collections. Alternatives to make PATH more profitable include proposals to raise either the sales tax rate from 7% to 7.32-7.43%, or our property tax rate by 1.56-2.09%. Now that would affect our property values.

Do I support cutbacks in PATH? Absolutely NOT. Does our area need more PATH train service? Absolutely! It is just a matter of where. We need more trains cars during peak hours, which cost significant less to operate than entire trains during off peak hours. For example, during peak hours, a 10-car train instead of 8 would significantly help now, and when the NJ Transit Railyard Redevelopment Plan (which will add 1.4 million square feet of office space) is completed and thousands more are using the PATH to get to Hoboken.  

In Jersey City, increased peak PATH service would mean less overcrowding in Newport and other areas. I struggled as a pregnant woman commuting via PATH from Newport, and I can imagine it becoming more overcrowded as almost 1200 additional residential units come on board. But the stations that perhaps needs the most attention are Grove Street and Exchange Place. With over 3 million square feet of office space coming on board (primarily from Harborside Plaza 4, 50 Hudson aka GS Tower, 55 Hudson, and Evertrust II (next to Trump), in addition to over 20,000 residential units (under construction, approved and proposed), Jersey City needs more PATH train service, period.

I commend our elected leaders in Hoboken and Jersey City fighting to push back cuts in the PATH service. However, curtailment to grave-yard shift PATH service, which even officials floating the plan call “last resort,” is far less significant than the need to increase service during peak hours for our towns to support our development. Ignoring our cities' growing needs for mass transit, primarily PATH, and then forcing a sales tax hike or property tax increase is what would truly impair our property values.

Dalia Tole
Keller Williams City Life

Friday, January 2, 2015

Home Improvement for Renters

Many years ago, my husband and I rented in Hoboken and Jersey City. And like many of you who are currently renting, we did not know or care much about home improvement. More often than not, I swept minor issues under the rug, since contacting the building’s superintendent would mean taking time off work, and $20-50 in tips. I was also nervous that once he was in the apartment, he would find me guilty of breaking something or causing damage, which would be deducted from my security deposit.

A decade later, with some DIY experience under my belt and over $200,000 in supervised renovations as a homeowner, a condo board member, and Realtor, I realize some easy and inexpensive repairs and improvements to my rented apartment would have vastly improved my quality of life as a renter without making a dent in either my wallet or my landlord’s. In retrospect, I would have either called my super, or even undertaken them myself.

Chipped plaster, old paint or wall imperfectionsApartments often come with flat white paint that gets dirty and stained easily, and most landlords balk at the thought of repainting every few years. Many buildings and landlords actually deduct from the security deposit for holes in walls left from hanging pictures, shelves or curtains. So all the art I had collected from traveling in India stayed in the packing box. I now know that imperfections can be fixed with a $5 tub of spackle (sold not only at Home Depot, but even Target or larger drugstores), some fine-grit sandpaper, primer and paint. Crayon works of art or ghee stains on the wall can be washed with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, or some toothpaste on a wet sponge. If that doesn’t work, I now know paint stores are able to match the color using a chip of paint from the wall, so there is no need to repaint the whole room.

Peeling, dirty caulkSeveral bathrooms in rental units are caulked with cheaper varieties of caulk that crack or get black mildew. As a result, it is common to see flaking, unsightly and fould smelling caulk in bathrooms. As a tenant, I cleaned and scrubbed with harsh chemicals, with limited success. As a homeowner, when caulk starts peeling and discoloring, I remove with my $10 caulk removal knife and put on a fresh line of mildew resistant, silicone caulk that costs $8-10 a tube, and leave it alone for a day or two to dry. It is less laborious and expensive that repeatedly attempts at cleaning.

Dirty CarpetA light color, like beige or off-white is often the standard color for carpet at rental apartments. Over normal use, even with vacuuming, carpet gets dirty. And then there is that spilled tea or wine. It is often difficult to get landlords to change carpeting, but many charge up to $150 to steam clean the carpet during move out. In restrospect, I would have spent $100 to steam clean or dry clean the carpet myself at least 3-4 months before I moved out, so I could enjoy the clean carpet and the landlord would also be happy. In fact, tenants can also rent a carpet cleaning machine from Home Depot ($25 a day), pay $10-15 for a cleaning solution, and do the cleaning themselves.

Dripping faucet or noisy toiletSince incessant dripping of a leaky faucet or randomly flushing toilets are a small nuisance, tenants often procrastinate to get them repaired. Since water is often included in rent, there is no financial motivation either. As a homeowner, I discovered that a leaky faucet could be fixed by $2-$3 of supplies and a wrench, and toilet flush issues can be troubleshooted easily at the home improvement store. The replacement parts themselves cost $8-25. Unless you are sure of what you are doing, it is best to call the landlord or super though, since a broken faucet could damage expensive cabinets or floors, which could take a toll on your security deposit.

Sticking closet doorsMy apartment had two problematic closet doors. One was too tight, either it would not close, or if I forced it, it would take two people to pull it open. Another was crooked and got stuck at the bottom, often scratching the floor. Years later, a handyman told me fixing problem doors was like filing nails—they could be sanded down. He used a special brown permanent marker to fix my floor’s scratches. A handyman typically charges $25-50 for this kind of work since it takes only take 30 minutes to repair. This was another item that would have been worth tipping the superintendent to fix.

First time buyer articles (please email for copies)
How Much Cash Reserve Should a Condo Association Have?
Financial Planning for the What Ifs in Home Ownership
Financial Planning as a First Time Home Buyer
Understanding the True Ownership Cost of a Condo