April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I read the article a few weeks ago by Meir Brodsky titled “Teaneck is Full” (June 1, 2023) along with the many letter responses (“More Than Just Teaneck Is Full: We Must Work Together to Find a Solution,” June 15, 2023). It is nice to read about what we think we see and feel, but what we need are some facts to think about this “issue” rationally. Here they are.

Thirty years ago, in 1993, according to U.S. census data, the overall population of Teaneck was 38,093. In 2023, the population is 38,662. Looks kind of like a wash to me. Even as our borders have expanded into neighboring areas and more mini-communities sprang up. So what is really going on?

We are fortunate to live in an area of the country that has the best medical care in the country. (I did see the statistics, but that is a different conversation.) People are living longer, working longer and with a good quality of life. We are not as “ancient” as some previous generations and running to Florida or Israel the moment we turn 60. The Baby Boomers and Generation X were “going to live forever” and are really trying to. We are keeping our homes and as a result, as I’m sure realtors in the area will tell you, a large number of homes in Teaneck have one or two people living in them. That’s it. We all love our community, our friends and our homes and have no reason to go anywhere, especially because of the great health care.

I’m not looking behind anyone’s closed doors, but in many cases in the last 20-30 years, loving parents have helped finance their adult children’s house dreams with much love and without letting on, it kind of drained much of their savings, so they also can’t move.

The last time I checked we are not living in a socialistic society so no one is going to oust a single person or a couple from a large house to give it to a young family. Some homes have disappeared as owners bought adjoining lots and made one large home, but that is a super minority.

As a full time realtor in Manhattan only, I will tell you the same thing is going on in Teaneck as is going on there. When mortgage interest rates were low, many people refinanced their homes and people (including myself) who have a 2.6%-3.5% fixed rate mortgage are not going anywhere so fast. As we all know, adults under 45 have never seen interest rates above 4.9% in their adult lifetimes. The current rates (I check them daily for a 30-year fixed rate), from 6.375% to over 7% are scary and shocking to these young adults. They also don’t want to hear about the 13%, 15% and 18% rates that were common in the 1980s. They see it as irrelevant to them, as they care about now and their housing needs now. Realistically though, for most of my 30-year career, rates have hovered around 7%. Not shocking but these young adults have to get used to it.

Historically, psychologically, home buyers are the first to get “comfortable” with new and higher rates before owners do, although it takes about a year. I have found this year, home buyers are finally comfortable enough to get serious and start moving forward. Albeit, they can’t. Sellers take longer to get comfortable with forfeiting their super low mortgage rates or have no mortgage at all. Because of all I stated above, unless there is a major life change (retirement, new baby, illness, personal financial crisis, etc.) homeowners are not going anywhere. In addition, there is a propensity by some in town to overprice homes — “let’s see how much we can get” or “we have to keep the values up in Teaneck” — and those houses sit on the market and in a fast market, raise prices. Another reason sellers dig in their heels for a much higher price is homeowners who paid $65,000 for their home over 35 years ago don’t want to negotiate even slightly. No one has reminded them they will get hit with HUGE capital gains taxes for a much higher price. There is an old Wall Street saying which pertains here: “Bulls get rich, Bears get rich and Pigs get slaughtered. ‘Nuff said. Thus, the housing stalemate.

Teaneck is one of the nicer Orthodox communities that has grown in the last 30 years because of the large number of affordable apartments. Many other communities don’t have apartments as “starter homes.” We are very fortunate.

So what has to happen to unblock this stalemate of housing for the next generation? First, the homeowners who have a “five-seven year plan” to move to another state, or closer to children etc., have to have a life event that will get them to move. The homeowners have to be comfortable moving and not being overly ambitious for that little extra amount in price. You should talk to a mortgage professional, but we see rates stabilizing, not down to the 3% level, but to a more palatable level. Everyone has to get comfortable.

We are blessed with a wonderful community and there are others around, but nature in the housing market has to take its course. Patience.

Debra Hoffman
Licensed associate real estate broker
Brown Harris Stevens Residential, LLC
and proud Teaneck homeowner

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