Coronavirus can’t cool Jersey’s hot real estate market

Welcome to the Jersey real estate market of the moment — short supply, high demand, prices going up daily on homes all across the state.

“I’ve never seen every house that I’ve actually had interest in be overwhelmingly just packed with appointments and offers. I mean every single house, which is insane,” said North Bergen resident Adelson Salsido.

Leilani Chin sells real estate in Jersey City, one of the hottest markets in New Jersey. She says location, location, location — the traditional mantra of the market — has given way to amenities, amenities, amenities.

“The biggest key right now is that buyers all want outdoor space because of what’s going on right now,” Chin, a realtor at Sawyer Smith Residential Realty, said. “A lot of people are looking for properties that have an additional bedroom where they could use it as a home office because a lot of people are not going back to the office through the end of the year, and even some of of next year. They already know that.”

That’s what turns a modest one-family from a $160,000 fixer upper less than a year ago in what realtors like to call an emerging market, into a renovated gem that’s just gone to contract for $600,000.

“If you put it in the context of New York City, where everybody’s coming from, it’s still a good deal. You have a backyard, you have parking, and you have amazing high ceilings and features of this house. So for $600 it’s still a good deal,” said realtor Tamayo Oppenheimer.

The leisurely weekend open house? Forget about it. A recent Cliffside Park Open House drew a crowd that wrapped around the block, says Oppenheimer.

“I listed it probably at five in the morning, ‘just so you know open house today.’ A couple hours later we had over 100 people,” Oppenheimer said.

Chineider Ferreira is just about to close on her new home in Lyndhurst. She’s been in the market on and off for the past three years, frustrated by the short shelf life of good deals and buyers coming in with all cash purchases.

“I found a house, and before I could even see it, it sold either sight unseen, like a virtual tour, or it went highest and best after one day. One day of showings and then highest and best, and we never even got to see it,” Ferreira said.

And the hot market is expanding. New Yorkers may find a Jersey City row house roomier than cramped NYC digs, but realtors say the migration of people from Hudson and Bergen Counties to rural locations like Morris County, as much as 50 miles from Manhattan, is also on the rise.

“One of my clients mentioned that he used to jog down by the Liberty State Park, and when all the gyms closed all of a sudden everyone’s outside jogging,” said Meg Sullivan, a realtor at Caldwell Banker Realty. “Whereas out here, you have a yard, front and back door, porch, deck, so a lot more space to move around if you’re stuck at home.”

That is, if you’re lucky enough to be in the real estate market. Try getting a mortgage if you’ve been laid off for five months.

Like everything else in this COVID-19 era, the wealth disparities have been exposed. Realtor Mary Jane Codey says the market in Monmouth County is also super heated, but she warns that the desire for private home compounds could be helping to keep us further apart from one another.

“It’s a really mixed bag of a lot of things occurring at the same time. I don’t think any of us know what the after effects will be,” Codey said. “I think there’s going to be a bigger divide as well between the haves and the have nots.”

No surprise there in all aspects of life. It leaves one to wonder how it’s all going to shake out post COVID-19, if such a time will ever exist, and where will anyone on the wrong side of the pandemic be able to afford to live.