Chart rank: 104 (2015: 147)
Median home price: $437,500
Change since 2014: -0.5%
Average days on market: 81
High school rank, 2016: 5
Why It’s Hot: With a plethora of well-maintained historic homes and a bustling downtown that backs up to a train station where commuters can catch a 20-minute PATCO ride into Philadelphia, the eminently walkable Haddonfield stands out from much of the suburban sprawl that defines its section of South Jersey. The 2.87-square-mile town has numerous arts and recreational programs, but the primary draw is the excellent school system. “Buyers see it as a safe investment,” says Gary Vermaat, broker of record of Lenny, Vermaat & Leonard Realtors. “You might have to pay a little more to get into Haddonfield, but you will also get more when you go to sell.” That’s generally been the case, although in recent years home prices have dipped in some neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods and Neighbors: Modest ranch and split-level homes that once characterized the northeast and southwest parts of town are being replaced with larger colonials. If Haddonfield isn’t quite in your budget, neighboring Haddon Heights and Haddon Township offer many of the benefits of Haddonfield, including good schools, restaurants, and in Haddon, the chance to wet your whistle (Haddonfield and Haddon Heights are both dry towns).
Fun Fact: The cover portraits on two Bruce Springsteen albums—Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River—were shot in Haddonfield by local photographer Frank Stefano. —JPC
Chart rank: 46 (2015: 89)
Median home price: $376,000
Change since 2014: +4.7%
Average days on market: 59
High school rank, 2016: 47
Why It’s Hot: Hillsborough attracts buyers seeking bang for their buck. Residents are attracted to the 55-square-mile township’s highly ranked schools and affordable homes, many brand-new. “You can always get new construction in Hillsborough, which is kind of a rarity for the area,” says Berkshire Hathaway’s Joanne Strutzel. The long-anticipated Route 206 Bypass—scheduled for completion by 2020—is planned to transform a portion of what is now a busy highway into a pedestrian-friendly town center.
Parks & Recreation: Hillsborough has a wealth of preserved acreage—one-third of the town land is protected from development—including Duke Farms and Sourland Mountains Preserve, which it shares with Montgomery Township. Duke Farms has a bikeshare program that allows you to rent bicycles to explore the nearly 1,000-acre property.
Fun Fact: The only governor in New Jersey history from Somerset County, Peter Dumont Vroom, was born in Hillsborough in 1791. —SV
Chart rank: 33 (2015: 118)
Median home price: $510,000
Change since 2014: +10.7%
Average days on market: 58
High school rank, 2016: 75
Why It’s Hot: The heart of Hillsdale’s small downtown is its 1870s train station, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The town’s quiet side streets are lined with postwar homes, including ranches and split-levels. Renovated homes priced under $550,000 sell quickly to buyers interested in good schools and a train commute of 60 to 70 minutes to Penn Station. “Buyers are coming from Brooklyn, Jersey City and Hoboken,” says real estate agent Susan Laskin of Coldwell Banker. “This is where they want to plant their roots now that they’re beginning to have families.”
Neighborhoods: A small area west of the Garden State Parkway has the town’s priciest properties, including colonials selling for $700,000 to $1 million.
Fun Fact: Demarest Farm, which dates to the late 1800s, is a popular place for picking apples and pumpkins in the fall.—KL
Chart rank: 59 (2015: 141)
Median home price: $590,000
Change since 2014: 0%
Average days on market: 79
High school rank, 2016: 7
Why It’s Hot: Inland from the more densely populated towns along the Raritan Bay, Holmdel rolls for 18 square miles across a green and hilly swath of Monmouth County, bisected by the Garden State Parkway. The sprawling Bell Laboratories complex shaped the town for half a century before it was shuttered more than a decade ago. The property continues to be redeveloped for multiple uses.
The Homes: The hills are sprinkled with older houses from the pre-Bell agricultural era—including the farmhouse off Telegraph Hill Road that Bruce Springsteen rented for a few years in the late 1970s. Much of the boom-years housing stock is of the three-car-garage variety. “Holmdel was always built as a very exclusive community, so you don’t have a lot of homes that need to be knocked down, but some need tender loving care or updating,” says Perry Beneduce of Diane Turton, Realtors.
Fun Fact: Bell Labs scientists earned two Nobel Prizes for work done here. —KCClick here to leave a comment