16 Hot Towns

Looking to buy in a town that's still on the rise? Here are some of Jersey's most desirable markets.

New Providence
Union County
Chart rank: 8 (2015: 69)
Median home price: $586,250
Change since 2014: +6.6%
Average days on market: 44
High school rank, 2016: 13
Why It’s Hot: Commuters who land in this 3.65-square-mile borough enjoy two train stations and a growing downtown that adds to its appeal. Coldwell Banker’s Knauff, who has lived in town more than 20 years, says when she first arrived the downtown offered nothing but banks and nail salons. “Now we have a Starbucks, a Chipotle,” she says. “It’s becoming a place people want to be.”

Neighborhoods: New Providence shares the leafy and welcoming Murray Hill community, longtime home of Bell Labs (now part of Nokia), with neighboring Berkeley Heights. Other desirable neighborhoods include West Summit and Tall Oaks. Buyers are flocking to each to avoid the higher-prices for homes in nearby Summit and Chatham.

Fun Fact: Numerous branches of Salt Brook carve their way through the borough, join near the center of town and flow into the Passaic River. More than 9 percent of the acreage in New Providence is permanently protected, publicly owned parkland.—TLG

Oradell
Bergen County
Chart rank: 11 (2015: 165)
Median home price: $572,125
Change since 2014: +14.4%
Average days on market: 51
High school rank, 2016: 36
Why It’s Hot: A walkable downtown, leafy streets, and a single K-6 school add up to “that small-town feeling,” says Maria Rini, a Re/Max agent who lives and works in Oradell. Residents can see live theater at the Little Firehouse Theatre on Kinderkamack Road, home to the Bergen County Players. The middle school, high school and many sports programs are shared with River Edge. The train or bus commute takes 50–60 minutes to midtown Manhattan. The Atwood-Blauvelt Mansion, an 1897 shingle-style building, is the town’s best-known landmark. The mansion’s carriage house is home to the Hiram Blauvelt Museum, which features wildlife art.

Neighborhoods: If you can’t afford a renovated Victorian on Grove Street or the large colonials and ranches in the pricey Blauvelt section, try the more affordable Manor area at the southern end of town. Homes in the Latch String neighborhood—named for a long-gone restaurant—are priced in the middle and upper ranges.

Fun Fact: Famous former residents include astronaut Wally Schirra and former NFL head coach Bill Parcells. —KL

South Orange
Essex County
Chart rank: 97 (2015: 283)
Median home price: $611,000
Change since 2014: +14.3%
Average days on market: 41
High school rank, 2016: 64
Why It’s Hot: Diverse architecture, historic landmarks and more than 1,400 gaslight lanterns lend character to this 2.8-square-mile town, officially called the township of South Orange Village. The small but lively downtown has ample spots for a meal or a cup of coffee on the way to the commuter train. The 439-seat South Orange Performing Arts Center brings marquee-name entertainment into the village. “South Orange buyers are generally in their early 30s, and they move from Brooklyn, Jersey City and Hoboken,” says Jen Lieberman of Keller Williams Realty in Maplewood. “Buyers really want an easy walk to the train.” City-bound commuters on the outskirts of town can hop on a jitney to the South Orange or Mountain train stations.

Neighborhoods: South Orange Avenue splits the town in half. Each of the 10 neighborhoods has its own personality. The Newstead community backs up to the 2,110-acre South Mountain Reservation. Tuxedo Park is characterized by 1920s colonials. The Montrose Park section is on both the state and national registers of historic places.

Fun Fact: Seton Hall University, one of the oldest diocesan universities in the United States, sprawls across 58 acres on the southern end of town.—JK

Illustration by Greg Stevendson

 

Weehawken
Hudson County
Chart rank: 192 (2015: 352)
Median home price: $738,000
Change since 2014: +33.1%
Average days on market: 75
High school rank, 2016: 183
Why It’s Hot: Weehawken has a front-row seat to one of the world’s best views: the Manhattan skyline. The town has two levels: a tightly woven urban web of older houses and apartments atop the Palisades, and newer townhouses, condos and apartments directly on the Hudson River below. The Lincoln Tunnel’s entrance is in Weehawken; Manhattan commuters can choose a 13-minute bus trip, 10-minute NY Waterway ferry ride, or the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to the Hoboken PATH stop. “The number 1 thing that draws people in is the commute,” says agent Rain Rosenfeld of Coldwell Banker in Fort Lee.

Parks & Recreation: Weehawken has expanded parkland from 10 acres in 1990 to the current 50 acres, with sites that include a pier on the Hudson and a walkway around a reservoir.

Historic Fact: Alexander Hamilton was fatally wounded here in his infamous duel with Aaron Burr. A monument on the Palisades marks the spot high above the old duelling grounds.—KL

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