Limited inventory, higher prices fuel Roselle real estate

ROSELLE, NJ — Local real estate agents in Roselle say that housing sales are stronger than ever, attributable to the steady flight of New York City residents who are eager to live in the suburbs during this pandemic.

Darryl Barnes, a real estate agent with Keller Williams, said he has shown houses to a number of Brooklyn residents, who are looking for more living space and backyards after months of living in tight quarters.

“We are finding that Roselle is a refuge for many city dwellers who want to have some breathing room,” said Roselle Mayor Donald Shaw. “There is a lot we can offer. Our home prices are competitive, compared with some other towns in Union County. We also are close to all major transportation, have quality schools and tight-knit neighborhoods.”

Shaw noted that the borough is home to many New York City commuters, as train stations in Rahway and Linden can get residents into Manhattan in less than 45 minutes. There is also a popular bus line running along Saint Georges Avenue, a cost-effective way to travel to work.

The median price for a home in Roselle is now $304,212 — compared to $287,340 last February — and the inventory has been tighter than anyone can recall. There are only 17 properties on the market, with 16 other properties closing in the past month. All recently sold properties went for asking price or above.

In contrast, Barnes said, there were 173 homes on the market in Roselle at this time last year.

“I just had an open house on Dennis Street; 43 people showed up, and the house sold for $8,000 over asking,” said Barnes, a Roselle resident. “Another real estate agent had one on Floral Street that had 123 people show up. The house sold that day.”

He noted that investors are buying many of the properties to flip them. These old homes are being modernized and then sold at the top of the market. With historically low interest rates, these homes are quickly finding buyers from New York City and beyond.

Barnes is anticipating a further shake-up in Roselle’s housing market because of the pandemic. There are residents enrolled in mortgage forbearance programs. If there are unable to make back payments when the program expires, there could be many foreclosures and short sales in Roselle — bargains for those who can’t pay current home prices.

“I love Roselle; it is a very family-orientated community with schools in easy walking distance,” added William Bennin, a real estate agent for Gold Standard Realty. “There are a lot of buyers out there with a lot of money to purchase properties at top margins. That’s why properties are going too fast.”

Roselle Councilman John Fortuna said the borough has always been a welcoming community, and many residents choose to stay and retire. “Roselle has always had a hometown feeling,” he said. “There is a lot of pride here, and it is evident as we welcome our new neighbors. With the steady demand for our housing, based on our strategic location, we eagerly await the next chapter of our community, post-pandemic.”