From the Record:
A growing number of houses and apartments sit empty in North Jersey, a result of the four-year-old housing bust.
From affluent to middle-class to poor neighborhoods, the percentage of vacant homes was higher in 2010 than in 2000, according an analysis of U.S. census data by The Record.
The vacant homes include a Saddle River Victorian that an investor hoped to flip; newly constructed Waldwick town homes, and boarded-up, bank-owned houses in Paterson. And then there are the rentals that, in more prosperous times, would have been filled with new college graduates starting their careers.
“We’re still suffering from the downturn in the housing market that started in 2007 and 2008,” said Dan McCue, an analyst with Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
According to the Census, 16,658 — or one in 21 — houses, condominiums and apartments in Bergen County sat vacant in 2010, compared with one in 38 in 2000. In Passaic County, 9,181 — or one in 19 — were vacant last year, up from one in 27 a decade ago. Nationally, about one in nine year-round homes were vacant.
Although lots of vacant properties are in Paterson and other poorer areas, it’s not hard to find them in more affluent areas as well.
The hardest-hit areas include Alpine, where the vacancy rate rose from 3 percent to 8.8 percent, and Allendale, where it increased from 1.5 percent to 6.4 percent. Prospect Park’s rate climbed from 3.5 percent to 6.9 percent. Edgewater’s rate remained among the highest in the region, at 10.3 percent — apparently reflecting a large number of newly constructed condos that remain unsold.
“It transcends cities,” said John Susani, a Coldwell Banker agent in Paterson. He recently sold an 11-year-old, five-bedroom, bank-owned Colonial perched on a hilltop in Wayne to an investor for $200,000. The house was stripped clean of its plumbing and kitchen cabinets and appliances before it was lost to foreclosure.
Poppe Contractors of Franklin Lakes, for example, put up six town houses in Waldwick starting a few years ago. Only two are sold. The rest are on the market for $469,000, down more than $100,000 from their original asking price. The town houses have hardwood floors, three bedrooms, and luxury touches such as granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. They’re in walking distance to stores and the commuter train.
“You would think they’d be flying off the market, but they’re not,” said Lisella.
As a result of the higher vacancy rates, North Jersey rents have barely risen recently, and are unlikely to climb by more than 2 percent this year, according to Michael Fasano, vice president at the Elmwood Park office of Marcus & Millichap, a large commercial real estate brokerage. That compares with annual rent hikes of as much as 5 percent when a more robust economy drove up demand for apartments in North Jersey.