New Jersey – Growth or Stagnation?

More Hughes and Seneca today in the Ledger:

Jersey faces stagnation if it can’t handle growth

New Jersey, with 1,173 people per square mile, is the mostly densely populated state. Thus future population growth, without adequate infrastructure, portends increased crowding, costs and congestion. Or perhaps not.

There is a distinct possibility that population growth will not be of the magnitude forecast. In fact, there are signs that it won’t.

Annual population growth in the state recently has slowed significantly. In fact, it has fallen steadily year by year from 71,000 people in 2002 to 33,000 in 2005. Net immigration from abroad into New Jersey has been declining, while net migration from New Jersey to the rest of the country has been increasing. In 2002, nearly 24,000 more people moved out of the state to the rest of the country than moved into the state from the rest of the country.

By 2005, almost 57,000 more people left New Jersey for the rest of the country than moved here, more than double the out migration of three years earlier. If this trend continues, future population growth will be more on the scale of the 1970s, when the state grew by 194,000 people, and the 1980s, when the state’s population rose by 365,000.

This shifting demographic pattern is paralleled, and perhaps caused, by conditions in New Jersey’s economy, which is now beset by below-national growth rates, tepid gains in high-paying job sectors, the erosion of our core science and technology assets and the high costs of housing. So we may not have such a congested future after all.

Demographic and economic growth appears to be slowing in reaction to our reduced capacity to accommodate growth. In turn, this creates its own set of problems, such as diminished economic opportunity, stagnant markets and decreasing ability to afford New Jersey’s extraordinarily high costs of living.

Never before has New Jersey faced a period of such limited infrastructure capacity additions. It is now time for a sustained public policy discussion about the crucial issues of infrastructure needs, population growth and our economic future.

Caveat Emptor!

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68 Responses to New Jersey – Growth or Stagnation?

  1. gary says:

    When a POS house is listed at 600K with $9400 in property taxes, it doesn’t surprise me. That’s approximately $3800 a month in mortgage/taxes/ins. with all other expenses yet to be tallied. It’s all out of control.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve read several articles that people are migrating away from NJ and NY and moving to states like Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas.

    Here are some reasons why:

    Take a good look — look at the number of rooms (living room + game room + den + study + entry foyer), look at the square footage, look at the photos of the excellent build quality inside and out, look at the 3 car garages, and look at the price.

    Homes like this are ALL OVER the place in Houston, and are within a 45 minute commmute into the city.

    On a culdesac, top-rated schools, reasonable commute, Sub-Zero fridge, Viking range, etc, etc.

    The junk Toll Brothers tries to sell as “luxury homes” isn’t even close.

    Hope this sheds some perspective on the insanity we’re seeing in the NJ real estate market.

    The American Dream is alive and well in other parts of the country.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Seems to be cliff notes for the real estate exam. Now this is hilarious – look at the very last definition

  4. Mr. Snitch says:

    Regarding the departure demographic – any figures on the relative wealth of those departing? In other words, are the ‘most mobile’ the wealthiest, as some attest? Or is it a decidedly mixed bag?

    If it’s a mixed bag, we’re going to bear a shared additional burden in this deeply politically corrupt state. If it’s not, and it is the wealthiest leaving, we are in for a rude shock.

    I’m guessing the latter, but I’m just guessing until that bill comes due.

  5. Metroplexual says:

    I took a trip to Dallas, TX back in November to see what was affordable housing down there. Most people could afford something decent and with a little extra like $300K you could buy a palace that would shame the Troll Bros. POS. It is amazing what you can buy in the nonbubble areas.

  6. Metroplexual says:

    mr. snitch,

    I looked for the data online. I remember an article that came out a couple of weeks ago that just said where they are going but i don’t remember if incomes were looked at. I am attempting to get the data myself but it cost $200.

    I might get gubment courtesy or not.

  7. grim says:

    The full text of the Fed Survey is available over at the Federal Reserve website (

    Take a look, browse through it. Even if you don’t feel like trying to decipher the econo-jargon, the graphs to an excellent job of depicting the changes.


  8. grim says:

    POS is short for: piece of sh*t

  9. Metroplexual says:


    I started a blog that is going to be a place that newbies can go for definitions of terms relating to bubble blogs. It is called Bubble Blog Acronyms and Definitions would you mind linking to it. I think it would also be a good forum for the subtleties of the terms. It will have links to the other blogs and attributions.

  10. Anonymous says:

    With regard to relative cost of RE in Texas …. what about location location location? Who the hell wants to live in Texas????

  11. Anonymous says:

    “With regard to relative cost of RE in Texas …. what about location location location? Who the hell wants to live in Texas????”

    Sounds like you’ve never been there — yes, it’s rough living in a house overlooking a golf course, where there’s no snow in winter, good schools, friendly neighbors, and you’re not buried by the mortgage.

    But who can resist the lovely smell of garbage rotting in Hoboken, as your terrace overlooks a dirty gas station. To die for! What a location!

  12. Anonymous says:

    RE Texas living…my Mother and Step Father live in Arlington…my thoughts: hot as hell!!!, strip malls everywhere, windy always, everyone’s a Republican, did I say hot as hell in the summer, every neighborhood looks exactly the same, country has either really neat ranches or shacks that look like third world tin huts, lastly, hot as hell!!!

  13. Richard says:

    i think it’s amazing how much houses cost in NJ, and that’s not just the NYC suburb communities. go out to places like Randolph and townhouses cost $500k+. if i was younger and not established at my employer i would be outta here quicker than wiley coyote. why would any young person without hard ties to the area stay around here? you must be on drugs!

  14. grim says:

    Was talking with a good friend of mine that’s an ex-jerseyite turned texan. Moved to San Antonio a few months back. His descriptions didn’t sound like any of those.

    Heck, I’ll admit I’ve perused the San Antonio listings on Hard to argue with a cost of living that cheap. The NAHB released the newest set of Unaffordability data today. San Antonio ranks the 75th most affordable place to live.

    Take a guess where the 10th (or 5th if you are look at large metro area) most unaffordable place to live is?

    You guessed it.. Northern New Jersey.


  15. Metroplexual says:


    I can get the migration data for free! When I do grim, i’ll see if it is small enough for sharing. If not I can make some pretty maps from database queries.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I (and my wife) would probably have to take close to a 50% job cut if we moved. The possible exception is if we moved to California, but housing prices there are even higher. So we can grin and bear it for a while more.

    Incidentally, I hate to say this, but the current market definitely seems hotter than last Oct-Dec. Houses that were on the market since then are going and multiple offers on properties do take place. Overpriced houses do still sit mostly. On the other hand, there are still morons will overpay. E.g. a house that been on the market for 4 months in Sep-Dec for 636K, was relisted and got an offer. The house was in a nice location, but needed a fair amount of work. if the buyer had any idea that it had been on the market this long, he or she would have driven a stronger bargain.

  17. Those texas houses were insane. They would easily be 3 times the price up here.

    how are propery taxes down there?

    There must be NO jobs in that area.

  18. Metroplexual says:

    njresident286 said…

    Those texas houses were insane. They would easily be 3 times the price up here.

    how are propery taxes down there? There must be NO jobs in that area.

    There are jobs. Houston and Dallas both have fortune 500 companies. The problem with Dallas is other than JC Penney it is mostly home builders. With the downturn in the bubble you will see its economy implode.

    As far as taxes go I seem to recall the RE ad saying like 3000/yr on like $250k house. But I am not sure. Try googling it.

    It depends on what you do.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Another REALTOR MYTH!

    Population Exiting NJ
    Incomes Stagnant
    Property taxes Soaring
    Health insurance Soaring


  20. Anonymous says:

    Warm weather
    Cheap homes

    Heaven compared to NJ.

    Mostly about Texas being Right!

    Oh yea, that guy stopping information is one of those non-republicans.

  21. Grim:

    I am getting the feeling that NNJ RE is becoming a little “Jeckyll and Hyde”. I posted this thought elsewhere.

    The market is bifurcated between the “have’s” and the “have not’s”.

    A lot of people have been squeezed out of the market, but there is a large plurality that had a good 2005, and are looking to spend in 2006.

    There are more people that are in trouble and are shell shocked. However, the ultimate effect is that great places that are priced correctly will generate a lot of interest.

    You can actually see the chilling effect on speculation and increased lending standards in two ways:
    (1) crap is sitting – at almost any price, except when clearly discounted
    (2) bidding wars happen, but are few and far between – when they do happen, it is probably “well funded person” versus “well funded person”, without dumba$$ with monopoly money polluting the auction.

    I have to wait for more data and analysis to really support this observation. However, I believe there is a good chance that this theory is valid [as of 2/23/06]. Subject to change at any time.


  22. Anonymous says:

    Another Realtor Myth BITES THE DUST!
    weakest in a decade, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

    Many families were struggling in the aftermath of the 2001 recession and the bursting of the stock market bubble in 2000, the Fed’s latest “Survey of Consumer Finances” showed. The comprehensive look at household balance sheets comes every three years.

    Average family incomes, after adjusting for inflation, fell to $70,700 in 2004, a drop of 2.3 percent when compared with 2001. That was the weakest showing since a decline of 11.3 percent from 1989 to 1992, a period that also covered a recession.

    The average incomes had soared by 17.3 percent in the 1998-2001 period and 12.3 percent from 1995 to 1998 as the country enjoyed the longest economic expansion in history.

    The median family income, the point where half the families made more and half made less, rose a tiny 1.6 percent to $43,200 in 2004 compared with 2001.

    Things are not good.

  23. Also, another important insight about the homebuilders (USA not necessarily local to NJ).

    The have huge backlogs for 2006, but it does not necessarily mean that 2007 is shaping up to be strong.

    One savvy analyst asked Bob Toll today about the dearth of new current orders. Toll kind of brushed off the question. The gist, yes you have 12 months of backlog, but if demand does not pick up during 2006, what will 2007’s backlog look like?

    The homebuilders can probably post strong 2006 numbers on momentum alone with existing backlogged orders.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Your probably right about the dumb money Meaning NO money down fools are gone, but the well funded will get shell shocked soon when evidence of price deflation hits very soon.
    yes it is a society of have’s and have nots, but haves have real cash assets in the bank or have home equity, not a big mtg a car payment or HELOC supporting a lifestyle. You would tink about 60% are in deep crapper similar to the credit card junkies whereby about 60% pay minimum or very little each month and 40% pay it off every month.
    so this 40% is not the real problem it is the ones that want but dont have 2 nickels to scratch together pushing this reent insanity.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Whatis POS? can someone explain please

  26. Anonymous says:

    Piece of SH!T.

    This describes just about everything under asking$600k these bubble days.

  27. Anonymous says:

    The Texas homes posted earlier, are in Sugar Land Texas, which is a finalist city (out of 1,300 US cities ranked) as one of “The Best Places to Live”

    As for someone who asked about taxes, they would be about $8-10K on those 4,200 SQ/FT mega houses, but note there’s no state income tax in Texas.

    Not bad at all.

    You could cash out a $600K POS up here, buy a mega-house down there, have no mortgage, and a low cost of living. (Note: I just picked those two houses above in a few seconds, I didn’t even hunt for the ‘good stuff.’)

    There are many jobs in Houston — the downtown area has financial services organizations such as JP Morgan, etc, and it probably wouldn’t be that difficult change career tracks and get into one of the energy-related companies, and there are certainly a lot of those.

    North Carolina has an area called “Research Triangle Park” near Raleigh, which is also interesting. Lots of Northern companies are moving down there to save costs, lots of workers are doing the same, and enjoying a better quality of life in the process.

    As for pay scales, how much money would you have to earn if you had zero, or little mortgage? But jobs pay about 80% (or more) of what you can earn in NY City.

  28. Anonymous says:

    “The average incomes had soared by 17.3 percent in the 1998-2001 period and 12.3 percent from 1995 to 1998 as the country enjoyed the longest economic expansion in history.”

    I’d take that income statistic with a grain of salt, as that income boost was fueled by another bubble: the dotcom bubble.

  29. “On the other hand, there are still morons will overpay. E.g. a house that been on the market for 4 months in Sep-Dec for 636K, was relisted and got an offer. The house was in a nice location, but needed a fair amount of work. if the buyer had any idea that it had been on the market this long, he or she would have driven a stronger bargain.”

    What was the offer?

  30. Anonymous says:

    Jobs in the financial sector in most of the US (except Boston and SF to some extent, but those are expensive cities as well) pay well below those in NYC. We’re talking 50% off at least. In addition, there are some extremely well paid jobs that just don’t exist elsewhere.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know exactly what the offer was, but I was told it was over 630. Given that the house needed 50K of work (this was in far Morris County), that was a very high price.

  32. grim says:

    The real question is.. How much young smart talent leaves this state every single day due to affordability and how that is going to impact this state.


  33. NJ Sucks says:

    I myself I am planning to stay another 2-3 years in NJ(US probably) !!unless!! the housing prices of “starter” homes drop bellow the 300k barrier.
    I work in NYC and the only reason I am still here is that I have close family here.

    My “backup” plan:

    I also finished building a house in Europe(Athens-Greece) in addition to my summer house in the islands. Three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms 1,500 square feet, 0 mortgage and 300Euro property taxes per year. Average temperature is 65 year around and you have 8 months of sunshine.

    Who can beat that?

  34. Metroplexual says:

    NJ Sucks

    sign me up.

  35. Looking says:

    I’ve got most of you beat. I’m in a one bedroom in the city with twins on the way. Imagine, I’ll be living like my great grandmother and grandfather who came over on a boat!
    But, for now I’m opposite the trend, paying down any debt heavily, saving, saving, saving, investing for my ‘unborn’, money in stocks and NO mortgage or ball and chain of these taxes.
    Just will wait to see where we go from here and jump in as others are jumping ship.

  36. UNtil recently I have never though of leaving NJ before. But if prices do not come down, I will defiantly have a decision to make.

    I am young, 24, and smart (2 engineering degree’s and a good job now) but myself and my fiance and still priced out of just about anything that we want.

    we’ll see hwo this all plays out.

    I need a 3-4 bedroom house with 2-3 baths in the New-Prov / Berkley Heights area to drop to below 500k in order for me to defiantly stay.

    If that does not happen, I may be out of here.

  37. Richard says:

    you can’t get into anything decent in new providence for less than low $600’s. berkeley heights probably less but what you get for $500k is a crap box.

  38. Anonymous says:

    “berkeley heights probably less but what you get for $500k is a crap box.”

    What are the ‘nice’ towns to look at in NJ that have a good commute, and good schools, putting price aside?

    I’m fairly new to the state, so there must be more than just these towns below:

    * Millburn
    * Summit
    * Chatham
    * Montclair

    What else is out there? Are there more ‘nice’ towns farther north, with a commute under an hour?

    Princeton has some nice properties, on good size lots, for what a POS costs up here ($600K), but the commute into NYC would be close to 2 hours each way.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Hanover Township, East Hanover and Florham Park are all nice towns with good schools. I’m not so sure about Florham Park but I do know that taxes in Hanover (which is actually Whippany and Cedar Knolls) and East Hanover, if you purchase one of the older houses, have very reasonable taxes. Lots of the houses have quite a bit of land too. Taking public transportation into the city will be an hour to an hour and a half, depending on if you take the bus or train. However, lots of people who commute drive to Jersey City, park and take the PATH in.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the info on other towns.

    Some interesting things in East Hanover, but I must point out this $650K POS:

    LOL, these people are crazy.

  41. The signature town of Bergen County is Ridgewood. There is also Wyckoff, Franklin Lakes and Upper Saddle River. The train in NJ is SLOW-SLOW-SLOW though. If the commute is critical, check out the towns on the Pascack Valley line.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I’m the one who posted the info suggesting Hanover… that link you posted about the $650K POS left me speechless. What the..??? I’ve seen lots of horrific houses listed for outrageous prices but that one by far takes the cake. Sickening.

    You should also check out Montville. Fairfield and West Caldwell are also nice, but taxes are high since it’s Essex. Morris County is (ever so slightly) more reasonable, tax-wise.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Thanks ChicagoFinance, this one in Ridgewood is a real charmer:

    I love older architecture, they just don’t make homes like they used to.

  44. grim says:

    What an awful home for 650k, just who do they think will fall for that one? It better be on 10 acres of subdividable land for that much.


  45. Anonymous says:

    Can someone please follow this house in East Hanover… I’d love to see the final selling price. It must be a typo. Nobody is that much of a sucker.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Anon 11:29
    Some towns along the Pascack Valley line are nice and they do have 1 or 2 express trains. Best towns w/ best schools are River Edge/Oradell (#38), Hillsdale (#23), Park Ridge (#68), Montvale (#31) (NOT Westwood or Emerson or Washington Twp).
    Ridgewood (#17) does have a big selection of homes under $650 that are decent. The taxes are on the high side but the town is full of great family programs, parks, etc.
    Mountain Lakes (#8) in Morris County is absolutely beautiful, my friends swear they make it into the city in 1 hour.
    Note that #’s refer to September 2004 rankings of NJ’s top 75 high schools.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Anon 2:02, and others, thanks for all the excellent info!

    Shouldn’t there be a book out there called “Best Places to Live in NJ”??

  48. Anonymous says:

    Couldn’t help myself… called the realtor. All I said was “I’m inquiring about a house you have listed on in E.H” Right away she said “it’s listed at $649 because of the property size”. She said the address was 150 River Road. I tried to do a property search but there is no 150 River Road when looking at propertysharrk or the Monmouth tax website…. The listing states the size is 114 x 405

  49. grim says:

    If you have the list or a link to the list, I’d like to post it up under the tools section on the main page. A few folks have asked for that.


  50. Anonymous says:

    Anon 2:31, LOL, that’s excellent.

    The address of that $650K POS is:

    451 River Rd, 07936,+07936&ll=40.830502,-74.339075&spn=0.01721,0.073214

    And here’s the listing again:

  51. Anonymous says:

    The Zillow “zestimate” is $477,260

    “26% of homes in the 07936 ZIP code have a value lower than this home.”

  52. grim says:

    Tax records have the property size coming in at

    96 X 392

    Purchased in ’02 for $267,500

  53. Anonymous says:

    Zillow also confirms the bubble has burst, too bad they don’t have the stats since Aug 2005 and only “past year” as it would probably make a nice plunging graph:

    Historical Value Trends

    Past: 30 days
    This home: -2%
    07936: -1.3%
    East Hanover: -1.3%
    Morris: -0.7%

    NJ: 0.1%
    US: 0.6%

    Past: 1 year
    This home: 23%
    07936: 5.0%
    East Hanover: 5.0%
    Morris: 11.0%
    NJ: 14.0%
    US: 21.0%

    Past: 5 years
    This home: 79%
    07936: 71.0%
    East Hanover: 71.0%
    Morris: 72.0%
    NJ: 95.0%
    US: 90.0%

    Past: 10 years
    This home: 153%
    07936: 126.0%
    East Hanover: 126.0%
    Morris: 132.0%
    NJ: 131.0%
    US: 104.0%

  54. Anonymous says:

    So they think they can get a 143% increase in 4 years?

    Bad Asian accent on the phone, no wonder I didn’t understand the address

    Grim, I guess you are looking for the list of high schools? I’m trying to find it

  55. Anonymous says:

    You can buy the report for $10.95 here

  56. Anonymous says:

    Detailed NJ public school information can be viewed here for free:

    This is an EXCELLENT resource, save the link!

  57. Anonymous says:

    Here’s another from our friends at the Morris County Library


  58. Anonymous says:

    Do NOT miss this deal @ just over $1 Million:

    The value will only go up!

  59. Anonymous says:

    I left Northern NJ about 5 years ago and relocated to the Lehigh Valley in PA. There are many New Jerseyeans who are doing the same thing. The Lehigh Valley is straight out route 78 about an hour from Newark. Many commute from here to points in NJ and NYC. Here’s an example of what New Jerseyeans are buying in the Lehigh Valley. These prices are nearly double from where they were when I first moved here, but are still well below NJ. If wouldn’t be so bad buying a POS house if it was priced like a POS. The problem with NJ is that you’re expected to pay a mansion like price for a POS and then turn around and contend with insane auto insurance and real estate taxes. I got to the point where I could no longer do that.

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