Who’s Hot & Who’s Not

What towns rose in the ranks in our Top Towns list?

It happens every other year: New Jersey Monthly uses its proprietary methodology to rank New Jersey’s top towns. In compiling our chart, we look at the factors a home buyer would consider: home prices, real estate taxes, school results, crime rates, and access to essentials and amenities such as hospitals, theaters and restaurants. Leflein Associates, a research firm in Ringwood, calculates the ratings using the freshest data available. In this issue, we publish the top 100 of the 513 ranked towns.

To this year’s chart, we added two new factors: the average days a home for sale stayed on the market in 2016, and the municipality’s ranking on our Top Public High Schools chart, published in September 2016. (The high school ranking replaces the HSPA test, which is no longer given.)

This year’s number 1 town, Ho-Ho-Kus, jumped to the top spot from number 42 on the 2015 chart, thanks largely to a 22.1 percent increase in median home sale price from 2014 to 2016. Access to top schools and a low crime rate contribute to the town’s standing.

Northern New Jersey towns dominate the chart, a reflection of the strong demand for homes in that part of the state. Ho-Ho-Kus is one of six Bergen County communities in the chart’s top 20. Morris County also has six entries in the top 20, including number 2 Chatham Township.

The affluent Monmouth County borough of Rumson is highest ranked in Central Jersey at number 4, followed at number 5 by Bernards Township in Somerset County.

Moorestown, in Burlington County, was a South Jersey leader at number 47 on the 2015 chart. This year, it sank to 133 as the average residential tax bill soared 12.3 percent and homes lingered on the market, according to real estate data. That’s indicative of the generally weak overall performance of South Jersey towns.

Lavallette, in Ocean County, is the top town in South Jersey at number 74; it was number 3 on the 2015 chart. Several other Shore towns that did extremely well on the 2015 chart declined this year as home prices leveled off after enjoying an upward bump in 2015 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Florham Park, number 1 on the 2015 chart, slipped to number 58 this year as the average residential tax bill rose 5.5 percent and home prices dipped slightly.

This year’s chart also displays each town’s average municipal debt per capita for the three years from 2014-2016. However, this data was not used in calculating the rankings.

The complete list of 510 towns is available here. For our detailed methodology, click here.

Click here to leave a comment

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.