Montclair's housing market continues to pick up, fueled by growing interest from New York City buyers, according to local real estate agents.
"We saw a resurgence of Manhattan and Brooklyn buyers this past spring and that should continue in the fall though we likely worked through some of the pent-up demand among buyers awaiting the bottoming out of the market," said Richard Stanton, owner of
One trend that continues, he noted, is that buyers are willing to pay top dollar only for those homes that are move-in ready.
"In addition, the walk-to factor also remains a strong selling point and we are fortuante to have six main 'village' areas—Upper Montclair, Watchung, Walnut and Grove, downtown, Frog Hollow, and the South End," he added.
As of Aug. 31, there were 147 homes on the market in Montclair versus 243 at the same time last year, according to the Garden State Multiple Listing Service.
"We have to go back to February 2006 to see such a low number of houses for sale," Stanton said. "August sales activity was down just a bit from July but that was to be expected.
"There were still some eager buyers and on Aubrey Road went under contract its first week on the market," he said.
In total, 26 houses went under contract—and there were 57 closings—in August. The median sales price was $575,000. In August 2011, there were 39 closings with a median price of $690,000.
"Fall markets are hard to predict, but I will venture to say that it will be much improved over last year, while not as active as this past spring," Stanton said. "This is due to normal seasonal patterns and having already worked through some pent-up demand."
Roberta Baldwin, a partner at the New Keller Williams NJ Metro Group, agreed that the New York City-Brooklyn contingent is returning to Montclair.
"Over the last several years of their relative absence, many local sellers couldn't believe they were gone," she said. "'Where are the New York buyers?' was a question I heard often from disappointed homeowners who felt personally afronted by the disappearance of this important group.
"Were it not for the move-up Montclair buyers and relocations from other major U.S. cities and abroad, things would have been even worse," she said.
But Baldwin reported that she's sold several homes in 2012 to a re-invigorated New York City-Brooklyn contingent as well as to a Hoboken-Jersey City group who had to live through the huge dive in Hudson County fortunes before moving on to Essex County.
"Many from both sectors admit that they contemplated buying here years ago, but nested instead in apartments until their (now often multiple) offspring grew to school age," she said. "This fall and next year I believe a similar buyer energy will emanate from the five boroughs and from New Jersey's Gold Coast.
"So, yes, I have a positive feeling about what's to come for our local housing market," Baldwin said. "Now, mind you, New Jersey real estate as a whole is still digging out of the doldrums, so Montclair sellers must realize this NYC-Brooklyn buyer push alone isn't going to bring us back to the heady days before 2008.
"That will be a process through time that has to do as much with home condition and location, as well as general consumer confidence, Montclair's public school standing, municipal health, taxes, and other important factors that play into why people choose to live where they do," she concluded. "We do have a great NYC commute, which for many is paramount. That heaven for that."