The December 2017 Real Estate News Roundup

As December drew to a close, homeowners and would-be buyers across the country, and particularly in the Garden State, scramble to figure out how they’ll be impacted by tax reform. Meanwhile, existing home sales surged to their highest point in a decade. Fans of Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen have a chance to start the new year in his childhood home, as the Freehold duplex where he grew up is on the market.

Let’s take a look at some of the interesting real estate stories we read this month:

Retirees May Flee the Garden State Amid Tax Reform, Accountants Predict

New tax reform laws could spur New Jerseyans – retirees in particular – to sell their homes and move into rental spaces, according to several local accountants.

This follows a sweeping overhaul of the tax code currently being ironed out by House and Senate Republicans in the U.S. Congress which would cap the deduction for property taxes.

In One New Jersey Town, Pending Tax Changes Create Anxiety

There are few places in New Jersey where people are feeling any more anxious about the potential impact of the federal tax bill than in Livingston.

“No one gets creamed more than New Jersey from this tax bill,” Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, told The New York Times. He noted the state was particularly vulnerable because its homes are expensive, its property taxes are the highest in the nation, and it also has a high state income tax.

Existing Home Sales Bypass Decade High

Despite looming concerns about tax reform, existing home sales increased for the third straight month to their highest point in more than a decade, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors. Total existing home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 5.6% from last month to 5.81 million sales in November, up from an upwardly revised 5.5 million sales in October. This represents an increase of 3.8% from last year and their strongest pace since December 2006.

Gated Community Planned for Basking Ridge Has Residents Up in Arms

Basking Ridge residents are protesting the proposed redevelopment of the Millington Quarry site. This 180-acre site, operated for over a hundred years until it ceased all mining activities in 2010, is the largest undeveloped tract of land in Basking Ridge. The original plan, which many residents still support, was for a gated community with two-acre zoning that would hold about 40 “McMansion” style homes, large and typically mass-produced homes that indicate wealth but lack architectural integrity. A private lake would be accessible only to the residents of these homes. But the town, realizing the potential of the quarry site, decided that perhaps including other types of amenities for the entire public would provide a greater community benefit. In the coming weeks, several community meetings will take place—some with the Town Council and others with Community Investment Partners. There is no doubt that residents will continue attending meetings and be vocal critics of the developments.

Own a Piece of Homegrown Music History

Fans of “the Boss” can own a little piece of his childhood. Bruce Springsteen’s boyhood house at 39 1/2 Institute St. in Freehold went on the market for $269,900. In his autobiography, “Born to Run,” Springsteen wrote that he initially hated the cramped home where he lived on the left side of the duplex with his parents and sister from around the age of 5 until high school. Good thing he’s got that musical talent, because it sounds like he wouldn’t be too convincing as a Realtor.

The Most Outlandish House in N.J. Hits the Auction Block

Located at 5848 Route 9 in Bass River, a 10,000-square-foot main residence, a caretaker house with two apartments, a lighted tennis court, two private stocked ponds, a greenhouse and a 1 million-gallon pool as well as the three-story watchtower and footbridge went up for auction earlier this month. Known as “a wonderland of kitsch,” the 54-acre compound features a collection of sculptures and oddities, ranging from life-like elephants to a Roman solider to vintage World War II planes to various Buddha statues. These items weren’t included in previous sale price of $3.25 million. Bids started at $425,000.

Newest Phase of Newark’s Riverfront Park Is Open

Phase Three of Newark’s Riverfront Park is open. Earlier this month, Newark’s Mayor Ras J. Baraka officially opened the new four-acre section of the park, which includes walking paths, river overlooks, and flood resilience features. The $6 million initiative also features a Horizon Wellness Trail and a Fitness Zone. The addition also grows Riverfront Park to a total length of one mile, covering 20 acres of contiguous parkland, along the Passaic River.