April 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Value of Our Homes Through the Lens of Jewish Unity

There is a palpable sense of community running through our streets these days. These feelings will only be made stronger next week when many here will join thousands of others as we march on our nation’s capital. This will be my third time attending a mass rally in Washington D.C. on behalf of Jewish unity and while I’m sure many other columns in this paper will delve into the raw emotions and importance of these rallies, as this is still very much a column on real estate, I have no better way to celebrate the monumental nature of this coming Tuesday than by going back in time and reflecting how much the market has changed from 1987 to 2002 and then finally to 2023.

Why would a conversation about real estate value go so far back in time? How could home prices from 36 years ago be relevant today? Well, even if much of the world chooses to ignore the history of how things began, we will not. In 1987, I was a mother with three young children living in a starter home in the West Englewood area of Teaneck. We were one of only a handful of families on the block that belonged to a synagogue and when the call came that our fellow Jews in Russia needed our help, the community rose to the task. It was December 6, 1987 and it was called Freedom Sunday. My husband reminded me that a Daf Yomi car was set aside on the Amtrak regional train that morning filled with families from Teaneck on their way down to Washington. We met people from all over America on that day and we were proud to tell them we were from Teaneck, New Jersey—where the average price of a home sold that month in December for $207,000. (You could faint thinking about that, why didnt I buy a whole block?)

Fast forwarding into modern history, by the year 2002 my husband and I had already become empty nesters! We had moved years earlier into the home that we still live in today. By this point our home and our synagogue had both been renovated and expanded, but sadly, our country was still in shock from the horrors of 9/11. When the call came this time, it was mid April and I remember hearing about it first from my kids in YU—already the next generation was learning what to do in times of need. As captured by Steve Twomey in the Washington Post, “the crowd voiced vigorous defenses of the country’s (Israel) right to strike back against Palestinian bomb attacks aimed at its civilians.”

When we bumped into most of Teaneck in Washington this time, it was hard not to see some of my customers appearing around each turn (it is very possible I made a connection between a buyer and seller that sunny spring day while standing in front of the U.S. Capitol). And so if anyone would have asked me what the price of a house was, I would have told them that “in the last 30 days from mid-March to mid-April of 2002 the average price of a home sold in Teaneck was $288,000, up around 40% from the last time I stood on this lawn.”

Who would have thought only a few weeks ago that we would be returning to this lawn. Again. This time we are coming from everywhere. The schools, the synagogues, neighbors and friends and long lost friends, who with the help of Whatsapp geo tagging, may actually have a chance of finding each other in what will hopefully be the largest crowd yet.

I don’t plan on talking about real estate while I’m in Washington this time. I am going so that I can be with my people. I need to comfort them and I need to be comforted by them. I will tell anyone who asks how proud I am of my grandsons in the army right now, and how my heart aches for the loss we have suffered. I hope I will see all of you there and you will share with me how you are feeling and how your perspective on life has changed. I know mine has.

Of course, if you need to know, in the last 30 days the average price of a home sold in Teaneck was $667,000 over a 220% increase since the last time we drove down I95 to tell Washington and the world that “Am Yisroel Chai!”


Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V&N Group LLC located at 1401 Palisade Avenue in Teaneck, New Jersey. Send your thoughts and comments to [email protected] or call 201 826 8809.

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