Nobody denies that real estate took a heavy hit in Bayonne and the rest of the country over the last year and a half. But local real estate agents say Bayonne will come out of the downturn in pretty good shape, partly because it still has the small-town suburban feeling many people seek.
Edna Jablonski of Coldwell Banker says federal tax incentives and attractive interest rates make buying this year desirable, especially if people can close their deals in time to qualify.
Meanwhile, Diane Brennan of Weichert Realtors says Bayonne is seeing a resurgence in the rental market, partly caused by former homeowners who have suffered foreclosures, but also by a surge of young suburban-born professionals seeking to live closer to the job markets in New York City.
“It is a very active market for people looking to buy property.” – Edna Jablonski
“This is a kind of Mayberry, U.S.A.,” she said. “I’ve always thought of Bayonne as the suburbia of the Gold Coast. It has the qualities of a suburban town.”
Brennan agreed, saying the shrinking markets that have brought down appraised values on home sales have had an oddly positive effect.
“Instead of people selling their homes and looking for places out of the city to move to,” she said, “they are staying here and looking around at what they have, and many of them like what they see. People are starting to realize that they have a lot of services here that they would be looking for if they moved someplace else.”
God bless the light rail
Both real estate agents say the existence of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line and its expansion to Eighth Street this spring has a huge impact on making Bayonne attractive.
“Bayonne is really all one community,” Jablonski said. “With the light rail, the whole town is accessible.”
Brennan said for people who are used to walking, the light rail will be accessible to nearly every part of the city.
“Bayonne is only a few blocks wide,” Brennan said.
The new station will also make the historic Bergen Point section of the city more accessible and more appealing.
While Brennan said she has seen a surge in people seeking rental units, Jablonski said the early part of 2010 can offer significant financial benefits to both seller and buyer.
“Buyers are price conscious,” she said. “They are looking for good buys at palatable prices. With interest rates today at 4.75 percent and a $5,000 tax credit, this is a good time for the buyer, and it is a good time for sellers to show their homes.”
Closings are up
Despite the doom and gloom reports over the last year, things may indeed begin to turn around, Jablonski said.
In January, 2009, Hudson County had only 181 closings on sales. This last January, closings rose to 259.
“It is a very active market for people looking to buy property,” she said, noting that buyers who come under contract by April 30 and close before June 30, will also get an additional $8,000 federal tax credit.
Jablonski said she has had some clients looking at luxury housing again.
Brennan said many commuters are now putting down roots here because rental costs are much lower than in comparable parts of Jersey City and Hoboken, and yet with the light rail, people still have access to employment. More importantly, the new retail coming into Bayonne seems to be geared towards their needs.
“People can go out their door and get things they need or want without having to travel far,” she said.
This seems to fit in well with plans envisioned for the city to develop a niche markets for services and a transit village setting where people can live near service businesses such as restaurants, hair stylists, and other amenities.
“I believe before home prices peaked in 2005, they were very inflated,” Brennan said. “Assessments and home prices are much more realistic now.”
While Brennan said the real estate market still has problems, she believes there is a light at the end of the tunnel, especially for Bayonne.