The Other New Jersey

From the Press of Atlantic City:

Still dropping: Home prices struggle to recover from recession

Robert Szostak is worried about how cheaply he must price his four-bedroom home in Middle Township before it sells.

A few prospective buyers toured the home — with its big yard and year-round sunroom nestled in Pine Forest Court — during its six months on the market, but there were no offers.

The asking price was cut by $30,000 to $289,900, and the 60-year-old Cape May Court House resident may reduce it more as he looks to retire and move out of state.

“I don’t think I’ll sell this unless I put it down to $225,000. … People can’t afford anything,” he said.

What’s happening with Szostak’s home is an example of home-price trends in South Jersey, particularly in year-round areas not greatly influenced by vacation homes.

An analysis of state data by The Press of Atlantic City shows nearly half of the municipalities in the region saw home sale prices drop in 2014 from the year before.

And in five years, only about a dozen towns with significant sales volumes in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and southern Ocean counties saw a rise in average home sale prices, according to the analysis of New Jersey Division of Taxation data.

These factors are playing out as Szostak tries to sell his home in Middle Township, where the average sale price rose 2 percent in the past year but is still 21 percent lower than in 2009 — a difference of nearly $76,000.

“Middle-class homes are gone. Anything that’s about $200,000 to $300,000, nobody wants anymore,” Szostak said. “It seems to be they want anything under $200,000 or the half-a-million dollar properties.”

In Atlantic City and elsewhere in the county, the weight of steep property-tax increases, foreclosures and job losses tied to casino closings last year are weighing on prices, said Charlie Miltenberger, owner of Jersey Atlantic Realty in Atlantic City.

Short sales — which sell for less than the property’s mortgage — further dampen the market, he said.

“There was a lot of short-sale activity from 2008 onward, but it snowballed after the taxes went up in Atlantic City and the casino layoffs,” Miltenberger said. “They have to become very realistic, and they have to go by comparable sales, which reflect a depressed marketplace. … There are investors and home buyers out there, but they’re looking for bargains and realistically priced properties. It seems anything under $150,000 is moving. Once you increase the price, it slows down.”

The average price in Atlantic City dropped 12 percent last year from 2013; in Egg Harbor City, it fell 25 percent in a year, state figures show.

This entry was posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Recovery, South Jersey Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to The Other New Jersey

  1. Mike says:

    Good Morning New Jersey

  2. Mike says:

    Good Morning

  3. grim says:

    Random Sunday comment, came across this article about Google’s new HQ on Marketwatch:

    With all the renderings of Googletopia, there is not a single picture of a person working. They went out of their way to show a yoga class or something, but not a single person actually doing something productive?

  4. grim says:

    From the Star Ledger:

    Do not pass go, Atlantic City: New Monopoly version poised to snub A.C.

    In 1973, when the Atlantic City Commissioner of Public Works considered renaming Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues to reflect that they were in fact continuations of more prominent streets, the outraged president of Parker Brothers attacked, saying the move could “shake the foundations of American tradition, and in particular a tradition that has … brought fame and fortune to your fair city.”

    Oh, how times have changed. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the storied board game, current owner Hasbro will be launching a new version of Monopoly this fall that will rename all the original properties for 20 American cities, with the cities determined by an online poll. Voting closes March 4, and as of now, Atlantic City is ranked 49th out of 60.

    Kick Atlantic City while it’s down, America.

  5. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Exactly!!! Talk about hypocrites. This is why extreme right wingers are full of crap. They are okay with taking everything away from others, but not for themselves. They are obsessed with cutting things for others, but not for themselves. Cut welfare for the poor, but lobby for some billion dollar tax cut for the wealthy and corporations. Hypocrites!!

    Put it this way. If we eliminated govt as we know it, who would suffer? Won’t be the middle class workers. It will be the poor and wealthy who would suffer with a smaller govt. The middle class would get a huge boost with not having to support the upper and lower class with their hardwork and taxes.

    Ben says:
    February 28, 2015 at 5:32 pm
    Well, Mack had a heart attack in January. Here’s a shocker. He doesn’t have health insurance and can’t pay the mounting stack of bills for his treatment and on going recovery. According toTalking Points Memo, Mack’s wife fell ill last year and she is also uninsured.

    All that means is that he’s going to get it for free.

  6. Fast Eddie says:

    A fluffy piece from the today’s Bergen Record. Once again, the weather is the culprit for low inventory (cough). There’s no mention of unqualified, underwater house dwellers or crushing property taxes or salaries at the same level now as in the late 90s. Remember the conversations about car insurance prices in NJ? Ancient history? I digress.

    And when a qualified seller can list now but wants to wait until the “weather” gets better, you know they’re financial m0rons, oblivious of an opportunity. When it’s brutally cold and miserable, that’s a perfect time to take advantage of the meek offerings. Again, if I need to explain, you’re too stup1d to understand.

    Anyway, read this light and airy article. It reads like an explanation to 5th graders regarding the high level dynamics of the RE industry. Then again, most 5th graders are savvy enough to see through the bullsh1t:

  7. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Lib, I know you are passionate about the pension issue. I was just thinking about this after reading some articles about the pension issue. You seem to think that pensions in general are too rewarding based on what people contribute. So explain this.

    First, how come the police pension in nj is solvent? They get better pensions than other govt employees, yet their pension is solvent?

    Second, how could ny state’s pension be solvent for teachers and govt employees? I thought pensions can’t work?

    Third, how come the municipal’s pensions are fine, yet the state’s pension is in turmoil? How can this be?

    Fourth, if nj’s pension for teachers and govt employees is unsustainable based on how much workers put in and how much they get out, how in the hell did it function for 20 years with the govt raiding the fund as opposed to funding it? Explain that one. That’s 20 years of no payments. Almost a quarter century. Yet, the fund is still able to currently pay out? Nothing is wrong with the pension formula except for the contribution of the state. If the state had been contributing like they are obligated by law, we would not be discussing issues with the pension right now. No denying that. With the states contributions, this fund would prob be over 100% funded based on how well the stock market has done in the past 20 years.

    There is nothing at the moment that can convince me otherwise to state that the pension issue is an attack and robbery of workers. Plain and simple.

  8. yome says:

    The online charity care policy at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, for example, now states that “applicants who refuse to purchase federally-mandated health insurance when they are eligible to do so will not be awarded charitable care.”

    The same rule disqualifies aid to those who refuse to apply for expanded Medicaid, which New Hampshire lawmakers voted to extend, beginning Aug. 15.

    Ben says:
    All that means is that he’s going to get it for free.

  9. grim says:

    I just buy a stolen identity online whenever I need medical treatment. Significantly more cost effective and I get full-access to top quality care.

  10. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Lib, evidence of what you spoke about the other day. Govt spending has nothing to do with the workers and everything to do with big private business using the govt as their atm and then directing the blame at regular govt employees. Disgusting.

    “State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s lawsuit says Aetna Inc. and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Connecticut paid and helped conceal bonus commissions to Aon involving insurance for such customers as the city of Hartford, Manchester, Bloomfield, and Yale University. Bristol, Groton, and Wilton were also cited.

    Only Aon and its affiliate were defendants in the states’ lawsuits, which were dropped under the agreement.

    At a press conference Friday, Blumenthal denounced “a pervasive hidden practice of kickbacks in return for steering business to those insurance companies that pay to play.” The scheme, he said, cost customers millions of dollars “plus compromised services.”

    The customers directly affected are businesses, municipalities and other institutions that routinely use brokers such as Aon to purchase insurance. As a result, employees of those customers and taxpayers paid more than they should have, Blumenthal said.”

  11. NJT says:


    I just walk into a hospital emergency room and say ‘No habla Ingles’. Big mustache helps (and chicks dig it).

  12. NJT says:

    Saves time and money.

  13. The Great Pumpkin says:

    This comment brings to light how messed up lobbying is. Why in the world would a govt be ALLOWED to give TAX BREAKS (aka giveaways) to some businesses and not others? This practice drives away business. How the hell can you compete with the connected big business getting tax breaks? Not only are they huge, but now they have a leg up in the competition game due to tax breaks that are only given to certain businesses. When the hell was the last time a small business was given a tax break? This system has been hijacked by a ruling class of ceo’s who do nothing but lower their own taxes and ship jobs(aka tax dollars) to places like China. These two activities are what have destroyed the middle class along with American society. Damn crooks.

    “Wasting money on fake corporate giveaways (to the right people) that actually drive new business AWAY from NJ…who wants to compete with businesses that are here tax FREE?”

  14. The Great Pumpkin says:

    Yup, screw the young worker. Put it on their backs and let them absorb all the blows. Damn lazy workers!!! Stick it to them!!!

    “Just saying freeze the pension and switch to a 401 K ignores a huge issue.

    If you are more than 10 years in no way could you ever retire. Your pension would be 1000 dollars a month 20 years from now so it would be like 300 dollars today. You will never get a chance to build up your 401 k fast enough. If you are working 15 years, in 15 years your 401 k will be nothing. A 401 K has to be started in your 20’s if it is to be enough for retirement. ask any expert in the field. New workers would be ok older ones ok but middle of the your career workers would be devastated by this.”

  15. The Great Pumpkin says:


    “”It’s time to move on” That’s a bit easier said then done. Christie’s cynical ploy in 2011 was really the opening salvo in his bid to destroy the pension fund and force it into some privatized 401k style gamble for pensioner. Now that he has successfully weakened the pension fund through mismanagement, abuse and under funding its right where he wants it to be. He can now argues it must be frozen, privatized and to show that he’s not kidding this time, he’ll put it in the the NJ Constitution. If he’s able to do this he will be ordained a high priest of Republican politics by using the the holy sacrament of privatization to cleanse us of one of the worst sins of the social contract : retirement security. He will have achieved on the state level what President Bush was unable to do in his campaign to privatize social security. He’ll be able to kick off his official presidential bid promising donors that his real agenda will include taking it national.”

  16. The Great Pumpkin says:


    “I did not see a single reference to increasing the competition for the plan administrators, Aetna and Blue Cross. That is the first thing employers do to reduce healthcare costs. They can’t be serious and yet left that out.”

  17. The Great Pumpkin says:

    I know the source is highly biased, but the numbers say this is a good thing. How come our state took the completely different route and our #s suck? Same time period, two different strategies, two different outcomes. Why not give it a try, it’s working for them?


    So simple

    To pay for it all, Dayton pushed a sharp increase on taxes for the top 2 percent—one of the largest hikes in state history. Republicans went berserk, warning that businesses would flee the state and take jobs with them.

    Minnesota added 172,000 jobs during Dayton’s first four years in office. Its 3.6 percent unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country.
    The disaster Dayton’s GOP rivals predicted never happened. Two years after the tax hike, Minnesota’s economy is booming. The state added 172,000 jobs during Dayton’s first four years in office. Its 3.6 percent unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country (Wisconsin’s is 5.2 percent), and the Twin Cities have the lowest unemployment rate of any major metropolitan area. Under Dayton, Minnesota has consistently been in the top tier of states for GDP growth. Median incomes are $8,000 higher than the national average. In 2014, Minnesota led the nation in economic confidence, according to Gallup.”

  18. grim says:

    privatized 401k style gamble for pensioner

    Is this any different from the publicly run gaming establishment known as a pension? Seems to me they are equally a gamble. If it was my money, I’m going to control what table it gets played on, and if the dealer is any elected politician or their appointed lackey, I’ll go elsewhere.

    But hey, I’m the bad guy.

    I don’t quite understand why anyone thinks that pensions should be excluded from the same market risks that other investments, like equities or bonds have. Oh, is it because the tax payer is expected to provide the backstop? Not sure how we became insurers. If all stocks and bonds went to zero tomorrow, pensioners would still expect to collect.

  19. grim says:

    Little Pumpkin – For a week straight you went on about how an economic system predicated on growth is a problem…

    But you think that pensions are a great idea.

    Think about that for a while, let me know when you figure out why those two concepts are mutually incompatible.

  20. Liquor Luge says:

    Pensioners better learn to love Friskies.

  21. Comrade Nom Deplume, stuck in Boston says:

    My traffic app shows me that major roads all over NJ suck. Footrest, anon and Rory Martin, have a couple of scotches for that drive home. The rest of you, b careful out there.

  22. grim says:

    Since he can’t, I will.

    Let’s say Joe Copper retires today, at 55 with, 30 years or service. He leaves, at 55, with a $75,000 pension and health care package.

    He’ll realistically live to 80, that’s 25 years of collecting pension and healthcare benefits.

    $75,000 * 25 = $1,875,000 will be paid out.

    Ok, so let’s assume this occurs in an environment of flat economic growth, low rates, low equity returns.

    To support this pension benefit, Joe Copper would have had to contribute $6,250 to his pension and benefits program. That’s every single month, not every year. I’m pretty sure Joe Copper isn’t contributing $3,125 out of each payroll check twice a month.

    Ok you say, what about realistic growth rate of investment? 5%? Doesn’t really make a dent, we’re still talking about a $3000 pension/healthcare contribution every month. Still unrealistic.

    This is where the Bernie Madoff pension geniuses come along and say, no problem, we’ll just average 15% a year, consistently, every year. No problem, and now Joe Copper only needs to contribute 10% of his payroll (if he even does that).

    I’d love to hear what folks are contributing on a monthly basis to their pensions, pretty sure it’s nowhere near $3000 a pay period.

  23. Libturd at home says:

    Oh Great Blumpkin, what far left wing writer was your source? It appears to me that whomever you got your facts from are playing around with semantics. Please cite your source if you dare. I bet you don’t have the cajones. My source is

    Each of the state’s five open pension accounts is funded well below 80 percent, which Aubry said is a threshold that has come to mean “adequate.” The state’s total underfunded liability was $47.2 billion as of July 1, 2012, according to an annual report on the state’s pension fund.

    The state’s Public Employees Retirement System account was at 49.1 percent funding as of July 1, 2012; teachers, 59.3 percent; police and firefighters, 51.5 percent; state police, 71.2 percent; judiciary, 46 percent.

  24. Ottoman says:

    The problem with privatization is that it opens the pensions up to unbridled theft through rarely scrutinized and too boring to care about management and investment fees, not that the investment risks themselves are greater–although the mix of funds that pensioners are able to buy into would also be controlled by private companies and the guidance of third party stewards to negotiate said fees and investment offerings (as well as to threaten to take the money elsewhere) would be negligible.

    Of course, it’s been proven over and over again that 99 times out of 100, buying into an index fund will net you more profit than any fee paid to a professional money manager.

    Pumpkin is correct that the play is to vilify the pension system as a government failure so that it must be saved by our corporate gods, thereby quickening the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the ruling class.

    “I don’t quite understand why anyone thinks that pensions should be excluded from the same market risks that other investments, like equities or bonds have. Oh, is it because the tax payer is expected to provide the backstop? Not sure how we became insurers. If all stocks and bonds went to zero tomorrow, pensioners would still expect to collect.”

  25. Ottoman says:

    “My source is”

    Politifact’s own pants have been found burning on many occasions. just because the word “fact” appears in its name doesn’t make it trustworthy. Like the “news” in Fox News.

  26. Ragnar says:

    Speaking of pensions, the future for long run investment returns are unusually low across bond and stock markets. Which means most calculations of pension funding adequacy are overoptimistic. Your 401k return expectations also.

  27. Liquor Luge says:

    My hope for retirement is that my wife and I can catch on with an especially vicious and well-organized pack of marauders with whom we can roam the country, sleeping in the open.

  28. Liquor Luge says:

    At that point, anyone who can reach my house through the thicket of claymores and other anti-personnel booby traps is welcome to it.

  29. Richard Wagner says:

    Pump (17) – As of February, New Jersey is in debt to the tune of $152 billion dollars. How can taxation possibly overcome such an impossible hurdle?

  30. Libturd at home says:

    The pensions are solvent? Ok. So I guess the state need not contribute anymore. As for politifact being wrong. I’m sure they were burned once or twice. But they are one of the few non-partisan sources of information left. Sorry it’s not far left enough for you Otto. Because as we all know, the Washington Post and NY Times are always correct and should be trusted 100% of the time.

  31. Libturd at home says:

    New Jersey is in debt to the tune of $152 billion dollars. Oh, you decided to include the healthcare for life for worker and spouse obligations. That seems fair and necessary.

  32. Libturd at home says:

    The TPAF contribution rate increased to 6.5% of base salary effective with the first payroll to be paid on or after October 1, 2011. Subsequent increases will then be phased in over 7 years (each July 1st) to bring the total pension contribution rate to 7.5% of base salary as of July 1, 2018.

    The State Treasurer has the right under the current law to make temporary reductions in rate—authorized in statute and based on the existence of surplus pension assets in the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund; however, statute also requires the return to the normal rate when such surplus pension assets no longer exist.

    The Treasurer of the State of New Jersey had previously reduced the member contribution rate to 4.5% of base salary, from January 1, 1998 through the end of 2001. On January 1, 2002, TPAF members were subject to a further temporary discounted contribution rate of 3%, through December 31, 2003. {Employers should have actually deducted at the reduced rate of 4.5% through 2001 and 3% through 2003—Base salary multiplied by 4.50% (.045) for calendar years 2000 and 2001; for 2002-2003, base salary multiplied by 3.00% (.030)} .

    Effective January 1, 2004, the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund member contribution rate returned to the 5 percent normal contribution rate. Employers began to deduct the 5% contribution amount on the first payday on or after the January 1, 2004 effective date of this change*, until the effective date of Chapter 92, P.L. 2007 and Chapter 103, P.L. 2007, when the rate was increased (or will increase) to 5.5 percent — see timetable.

  33. Libturd at home says:

    Come on Grim,

    Joe Copper paid in at least $112,500 over his 30 years. That is, if Joe contributed 5% of his income at an average salary of $75,000 per year.

    Joe must have been a math teacher. How else can compounding turn $112,500 into nearly 2 million? Oh that’s right. The state didn’t make their 400% or so match.

  34. Ben says:

    Regardless of what happens, the public workers have been forced to contribute and participate. Forcing a teacher making $40k a year to put in a few thousand for pension and a few thousand for healthcare. In the end, how much is really left over to put in an IRA or some other vehicle. They need to let teachers opt out of the pension. Until the state gives them that option, they have every right to bitch and moan. I’m sure the gym teacher who’s 30 years in has no issues but the 30 year old who’s still paying off his student loans is screwed. You can’t expect to improve the teachers that we are bringing in by making it so crappy salary wise.

  35. Libturd at home says:

    Ben. I’m with you about the salary. Teachers should definitely be paid fairly and competitively to a comparable position in the private sector. Perhaps even more. But these benefits are truly outrageous and not at a fixed cost either, like salaries. I am not upset with teachers. I support my kids public school teachers and would bend over backwards for them. But the greatest help I always offer teachers is warning them to save what they can since their pensions will not be paid in full. It’s simply not possible. And yes, I’d be so pissed about the state of NJ if I was in the Union that I would organize a strike that would last a whole year. But even the union knows the pensions can’t be paid. Now it’s a fight to hold on to whatever they can get.

    If I were a teacher, I would demand whatever I contributed returned and be transferred to a self managed 401K. But even this can’t happen as the current teachers need to contribute to pay the currently retired.

  36. Ben says:

    Many of us want it. Tubby refuses to allow any sort of opt out option of the union or pensions. He did nothing to take on the union. If he wanted to take on the union, he should have given teachers a way to opt out of the pension system and opt out of paying union dues entirely. They’ve done it in other states. He hasn’t even entertained the idea.

  37. grim says:

    How can you opt out of a ponzi scheme without it collapsing? The only way Joe Copper can retire is to have 10 employees contributing towards it. When those 10 guys retire, they’ll need 100 guys to fund them. See? No problem.

    I wasn’t kidding when I said just turn it over to the PBGC and let them run it as if it was in receivership. It would be better managed than NJ ever could. NJ politicians shouldn’t be permitted to touch money without adult supervision.

  38. Ben says:

    It’s been collapsing in slow motion for 10 straight years. Opting out is the only thing that makes sense for anyone not about to retire. The flipside is, how long can you actually keep a ponzi scheme going? Not long at all.

  39. Liquor Luge says:

    Anyone wanna share a trash can fire with me?

  40. Ragnar says:

    Ben, good point. Being trapped in a union sucks, I’ve been there. Another example of CC being all talk, with minimal action.

  41. Essex says:

    I think the scariest thing about continuing to ‘invest’ in NJ is how completely disfunctional the place really is. Crumbling roads, over-taxed populace, dubious job opportunities. All can be yours today! If you buy now.

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