PERSPECTIVES: New Jersey’s High-End Housing Market Proves Resilient

Buildings in Trenton, New Jersey under the light of a setting sun.
New Jersey continues to draw buyers from New York and other parts of the country thanks to its large-lot estates and resilient high-end market. (Shutterstock, Mihai Andritoiu)

This report is part of PERSPECTIVES, a comprehensive look into the world of prime residential real estate. Access the full report here to discover the latest trends and dynamics shaping the market.

High-end home buyers in north central New Jersey are reawakening to the charms of life outside the metropolitan New York region.

“There’s a renewed appreciation for the area,” says John Turpin, president of family-owned Turpin Realtors, which services dozens of towns spread over five counties.

By appreciation, he means city dwellers’ newfound interest in towns known for their beautiful landscapes and protected green spaces, quality schools and sophisticated dining and retail scenes. “We’ve got New York bedroom communities to the east, bucolic farmland to the west and suburbia in between,” Turpin says.

Overall home sales in the five counties dipped 21% last year from 2022, according to a 4th Quarter Market Report by Turpin Realtors.

The luxury market, however, proved to be more resilient. In December 2023, sales of homes in the $2-million-plus range increased 46.6% when compared to the same period the previous year. Homes in the $3-million-plus range increased 71.4% during the same timeframe.

A big stone house with pillars in its unique older design.

450 Claremont Road, Bernardsville. Presented by Turpin Realtors

Taking the longer view, the number of luxury sales in the region has doubled since 2019, in part due to a buying spree fueled by the Covid pandemic. Also, the median home price in the region increased 8.7% year-over-year and remains 31% higher than in 2019.

The move to the suburbs reverses the trend that took place in the mid-2000s. At that time, everyone from Millennials to Baby Boomers wanted to buy in urban centers like Brooklyn, New York, Hoboken and Jersey City (sometimes referred to as New York City’s sixth borough).

Then Covid hit, and the exodus from the cities began. “The pandemic caused people to reexamine their lives a little bit,” Turpin says.

The flood of buyers slowed in 2023 to a more normal level, but interest remained high. “You can be in the city in an hour, and Newark Airport in 45 minutes,” Turpin says. “And you can live out here on 5 or 10 acres in a beautiful house that you bought for $2 million or $3 million.”

Buyers in our area often follow a predictable east-to-west pattern: First, they move from the city to a bedroom community like Chatham, and perhaps a few years later they move to a suburb with more space like Bernardsville, or even a rural area like Tewksbury. “It’s not uncommon to see people move two or three times in the region over the course of a few decades as their needs change,” he says.

During the pandemic, Turpin says buyers also came from less likely places like California and Colorado, sometimes driven by concerns about flooding or fires, or to be near family on the East Coast.

Pendry Natirar in New Jersey’s Somerset County. Presented by Turpin Realtors

The luxury market in north central New Jersey is generally a resale market, with new builds replacing teardowns of older homes. One exception to this rule is Pendry Residences Natirar, the luxury resort-residential development by Montage Hotels and Resorts, which sets upscale homes and custom amenities atop a 500-acre park that includes a historic estate and working farm in Somerset County.

“This is a great example of innovation,” Turpin says. “It’s a phenomenal flag in the ground for our area.”

Bernardsville, one of the wealthiest towns in north-central New Jersey, features large older estates in picturesque settings. Last year, a seven-bedroom Tuscan-style villa listed and sold by Turpin was the most expensive sale in the area.

Like other areas of the country, inventory remained tight in 2023. Turpin believes that with declining interest rates and inflation, sellers on the sidelines may jump into the market this year.

What else might 2024 hold?

“I’m optimistic,” Turpin says of the luxury market. “I am hopeful that pent-up inventory will come to market, meeting strong buyer demand not only in the luxury segment but across all markets.”


Properties You Might Also Like