Northern NJ home values hit
record-breaking heights

Wealthier counties are seeing many cash buyers, which is good news,
amid fears of an interest rate hike

Jun.June 01, 2015 07:00 AM
18 Frick Drive

18 Frick Drive

New Jersey’s residential luxury market, particularly in well-heeled Bergen, Hudson and Essex counties, is topping the charts when it comes to expensive real estate.

Realtors say a steady uptick in demand spurred by consumer confidence and low interest rates has contributed to some record-breaking sales along New Jersey’s Gold Coast and Northern New Jersey overall. And many high-end buyers are shelling out cash, according to brokers, which bodes well for the market even if interest rates rise. There is an overall sense that value has caught up with asking prices, contributing to a boost in sales.

“There’s a growing interest in properties from Jersey City to Edgewater [in Bergen County],” said Richard Steinberg, a top producing broker with Douglas Elliman who is currently acting as a consultant to sell the Garden State’s priciest residential property to date.

The massive stone mansion at 18 Frick Drive in Alpine — one of the most expensive zip codes in the country and home to buyers like singer Britney Spears and comedian Chris Rock — comes with a whopping $49 million price tag. The 30,000-square-foot, four-level home, built by developer Richard Kurtz on the former Frick estate, sits on six acres and boasts 12 bedrooms, four kitchens, a grand ballroom trimmed in 18-karat gold, a sports bar that overlooks an indoor basketball court and a 65-foot salt water swimming pool.

top-bergen-chartKurtz purchased the entire Bergen County estate in 2008 for $58 million and then subdivided it into several luxury properties, building the mansion on one parcel for his family. He opted later to sell it but not before opening its doors to host the engagement party of former Facebook president Sean Parker.

Prices have steadily increased in Bergen County in the past five years. From 2010 to 2012, nine homes sold for more than $5 million, with 11 surpassing that price in the past two years — six in 2013 and five in 2014, according to the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service. Currently there are 38 homes with asking prices greater than $5 million.

The most expensive recent sale in Bergen was a home at 153 Truman Drive in Cresskill, which sold for $6.5 million in October. Built to resemble a European castle of limestone and stucco, the six-bedroom, eight-bath home includes stone patios, a billiard room, a sun room and an inground pool.

“Buyers have the money and they are ready to purchase,” said Tracy Devine, a regional vice president at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, which serves New Jersey and Rockland County. “Instead of 10, I’ll now get 50 interested buyers in the first few days of a listing.”

And those buyers are plunking down unprecedented sums.

At $3.2 million, this three-bedroom condo at the W Hotel and Residences is Hoboken’s most expensive listing.

At $3.2 million, this three-bedroom condo at the W Hotel and Residences is Hoboken’s most expensive listing.

A Weehawken mansion, located on the site where Alexander Hamilton fought his infamous duel with Aaron Burr, sold in October for $6.2 million — a record for Hudson County.

The 7,200-square-foot house at 8 Hamilton Avenue, custom built to the specifications of the original owner in 1950, spans two plots of land and is perched at the end of the King’s Bluff cliff — allowing for an unobstructed panoramic view from the George Washington Bridge to the Verrazano-Narrows. It is by far the property’s greatest selling point.

“If you stand on the corner of 42nd Street and Times Square and look west, you can actually see in the distance the white house on the hill,” said Lisa Poggi, who arranged for the property’s sale, along with fellow broker Henry Song from Douglas Elliman’s Sroka Worldwide Group.

Hoboken has had four of the five priciest deals in Hudson County in the past six months.

There are currently 33 active properties with asking prices of $1 million or more in Hoboken, according to Poggi. “Buyers can get a larger space here than they can in Manhattan but for the same price point,” she added.

Poggi is currently showing Hoboken’s most expensive listing, Apartment 2502 at the W Hotel and Residences, a 225-room boutique lodging with 40 private residences that overlook the Hudson River. The three-bedroom condo, which includes all the hotel’s amenities, is on the market for $3.2 million.

Among the hottest properties in town are the Toll Brothers two new waterfront condo developments, dubbed Maxwell Place and the Hudson Tea.

top-hudson-essex-chartMaxwell Place, located on the former Maxwell House coffee plant site, is already two-thirds sold, with prices averaging about $1,000 per square foot, according to Henry Waller, a vice president at Toll Brothers. The Hudson Tea is in its last stages of development, he added, and those condos are expected to fetch just as much.

Waller said 10 percent of the units are constructed as three-bedrooms to cater to Hoboken’s maturing buyer. “Those twenty-somethings that moved to Hoboken in the ’90s for the nightlife now have families and need larger spaces,” he said.

Essex County is also attracting family-oriented buyers. Short Hills claims four of the five top selling homes, with prices ranging from $2.6 million to $3.5 million.

“Short Hills has a phenomenal school system and a 40-minute commute to Penn Station,” said Arlene Gonnella, a broker at Weichert Realtors.

Gonnella said the market is strong for houses around $2 million but signs of an even stronger market have already surfaced. Gonnella said she currently has a one-family home under contract at 27 Hillside Avenue for $4.5 million.

“We’re luring more buyers from New York City, Hoboken and Jersey City who are looking to buy up,” said Gonnella. “Relative to other areas, we’re still a bargain.”

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