1st Home? What’s the process?

2017-03-06_14-03-17The economy is improving, interest rates are low and many consumers now find themselves in a great position financially to become a first-time homeowner. But the booming real estate market is resulting in rising home prices and increased competition for the most desirable properties.

The S& P/Case-Shiller national home-price index recently estimated that 2016 prices are within four percent of the peak in 2006. In some areas, low inventories around the country are making the situation even more challenging.

“Don’t get discouraged,” says Travis Peace, executive director of mortgage at USAA Bank. “Buying a home requires some fortitude.” Peace says it’s easy to concentrate too much on home buying “can’ts” rather than “can-dos,” and he offers this advice on how to overcome some common barriers.

“I Can’t” No. 1: I can’t figure out the home-buying process.

Peace notes that it’s essential to do research and to be equipped with basic information, but also be willing to ask for help when needed. For example, An experienced real estate agent can keep a buyer apprised of everything from area sales trends to the latest changes in state and federal laws that could impact a mortgage application.

“This is where experienced, licensed professionals can help,” Peace says. “Real estate agents can be an advocate for the buyer throughout the entire process.”

Free tools like USAA’s Real Estate Rewards Network can assist, as well. Continue reading

The Oakman to Open in Jersey City

A rendering of The Oakman, new upscale condos at 160 First Street slated to open in the summer of 2016.

A rendering of The Oakman, new upscale condos at 160 First Street slated to open in the summer of 2016.

New condominiums will soon join Jersey City’s Powerhouse Arts District.

The Oakman, located at 160 First Street, is slated to open in the summer of 2016, George Cahn, a spokesman for the developer, The Shuster Group, told NJ Advance Media. The seven-story building will feature 159 units, starting at $700,000. Local brokerage JCity Realty began sales this week.

The building is being billed as one of the first condo offering in Jersey City in several years, the majority of new construction projects being rentals. Both Jersey City and Hoboken have seen for-sale inventory drop as new rental properties continue to emerge, leading to more competitive bidding for high-demand properties.

“The time is right to introduce a new luxury condominium offering that will help answer the pent-up demand for upscale, for-sale residences while also fitting in with the character and identity of the neighborhood,” Eyal Shuster, owner of The Shuster Group, said in a statement.


New roof deck at The Beacon in Jersey City offers views of Manhattan and the Hudson River

via NJ.COM/The Jersey Journal

NEW ROOF DECK at the Beacon parking garage offers a nice view of Jersey City, the Hudson River and Manhattan. (COURTESY OF THE BEACON)

NEW ROOF DECK at the Beacon parking garage offers a nice view of Jersey City, the Hudson River and Manhattan. (COURTESY OF THE BEACON)

A new six-level parking garage offering 510 parking spaces and a 45,000 square-foot landscaped roof deck has opened at The Beacon in Jersey City.

The new roof deck becomes the centerpiece of the private pocket parks and open green space within the gated community. This deck features a distinctive entrance courtyard, seating, lighting, walking paths, flower beds, lawns and an overlook terrace offering views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline.

“The completion of this parking garage and roof deck brings us closer to our goal of making The Beacon one of the greenest urban residential communities in the region,” said Beth Polychrones, general manager at The Beacon. “Our residents already enjoy substantial green space that includes a two-acre pocket park, a dog run, organic community gardens and a children’s playground.”

The Beacon also features 50,000 square feet of indoor amenities, including a pool, Grotto lounge with hot tubs, his/her saunas and steam, social sauna and treatment rooms; a yoga studio, 24/7 state-of-the-art fitness center, lounge screening room, children’s playroom, restored Art Deco theater/event space, poker room and a billiards hall as well as valet parking and courtesy shuttle service to the Grove Street and Exchange Place PATH/Ferry Stations.

Leasing activity reportedly has been brisk at The Beacon this summer. The Beacon’s newest offering, the 158-unit Orpheum, is more than 75 percent leased.

Net-effective monthly rents in the 22-story Orpheum building currently start at $1,670 for studio, one- and two-bedroom residences ranging from 592 to 1,310 square feet of living space.

For information on The Beacon, call (877) 640-4945, or visit www.thebeaconjc.com. The Leasing Center is located at 20 Beacon Way, Jersey City.

Latest Reports Show Encouraging Signs For National Housing Market

There’s encouraging news out today regarding the rebound of the nation’s housing market.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, US house prices jumped 1.8 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, fueled by record-low mortgage rates and tight inventory, reports Bloomberg News.

The Saffron, a condominium building by Fields Development Group on Newark Ave., has been a popular choice for Jersey City homebuyers.

Bloomberg News also reports on the sales of new US homes which increased more than projected in July to match a two-year high, a sign the industry that helped trigger the recession is recovering.  Sales climbed 3.6 percent to a 372,000 annual pace, following a 359,000 rate in June that was higher than previously estimated, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington.  Full Story from Bloomberg News.

Jersey City’s Crystal Point Sells Out

By Kelly Stratton, Contributing Writer



NEW JERSEY—Sales for residences at Crystal Point, a 42-story condominium complex in Jersey City, have been completed. The Fisher Development Associates’ property includes 269 units.

Crystal Point hit the market for sales in 2009. The Marketing Directors Inc., a Manhattan-based real estate sales and marketing firm, was brought on board from the onset to direct the sales and marketing program.

New York City-based architect Gruzen Samton LLP was charged with designing a building that would be a distinguishing landmark in Jersey City’s skyline from the outside and would include modern and open living spaces.

Homes in the building include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, ranging from 800 to 1,817 sq. ft. Kitchens include wood and glass cabinetry, quartzite counters, under-cabinet lighting, full height pantries, islands with breakfast bars and a Jenn-Air appliance suite.

Other amenities include a thermal bath, sauna, steam and treatment rooms. In addition, a yoga/aerobics room and fitness center are available, as is a billiard room and children’s playroom. Free, on-site valet parking is available to residents.

An outdoor deck includes a pool, hot tub, private cabanas and two BBQs.

Home prices at Crystal point start in the $500,000s.


JERSEY CITY, N.J. — A family-owned and operated company since its origin, Fisher Development Associates is a diversified real estate development and management company that today possesses the same values, commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction that dates back to its beginnings more than three decades ago.

Crystal Point, the 269 Home Condominium Building By Fisher Development Associates on Jersey City’s Waterfront.


With a building philosophy rooted in the integration of the finest materials, world-class design, quality construction and a meticulous attention to detail, Fisher Development Associates is one of the most respected developers in the Northeast; its numerous success stories dotting the landscape in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut with signature residential, commercial and hotel properties.

A staple in the national development scene as a partner in the construction, management and ownership of residential buildings and millions of square feet of office space, Fisher Development Associates’ extensive cross-disciplinary resources and long-standing relationships with prominent lending institutions spurred considerable growth and allowed it to remain on solid financial footing during up and down markets.

Thanks to a personal approach to development, obligation to uphold its family reputation, ability to work hand-in-hand with municipalities for responsible development and commitment to the communities it serves, Fisher Development Associates has become a pioneering developer in several of the fast growing urban destination in the northeast.

This is certainly the case in Jersey City, N.J. where the developer’s dramatic offerings in the downtown waterfront district’s residential marketplace have contributed to a development and economic boom that hoisted Jersey City to national prominence.  Fisher Development completed Liberty Towers — two high-rise rental buildings featuring 648 luxury apartments and 24,000 square feet of retail space — in 2003, and Liberty Terrace, a 119-unit luxury condominium building, in 2006.

Today, Fisher Development has completed the remarkable sell-out of Crystal Point, an iconic residential building rising 42 stories in downtown Jersey City directly facing Manhattan, in record time.  The building’s 269 upscale condominium homes have been sold just three years after its debut to the public in 2009.

The impressive success story written at Crystal Point vividly illustrates Fisher Development Associates ability to identify positive projects that generate capital, fill pent up demand for a specific type of housing and provide the necessary resources to create urban residential buildings that are welcomed by the community from conceptualization to completion.

The old adage “location, location, location” certainly played a role in Fisher Development’s initial interest in Crystal Point.  The building would lie on the last piece of developable land on Jersey City’s Hudson River waterfront, a significant advantage with views stretching from downtown Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge that would never be obstructed.

“It’s no secret New York City views have always played a role in the rise of downtown Jersey City as a residential destination,” says Brian Fisher, principal of the firm that bears his name,  “and this building offered some of the most amazing views not only in Jersey City, but along the entire New Jersey ‘Gold Coast.’  It was a no brainer in terms of location.”

The next step was to assemble an experienced team with a strong knowledge of the area’s real estate market, current housing conditions and the desires of prospective homebuyers to create a residential address that would flourish despite the challenging economic times.

“We had a vision for Crystal Point,” says Mr. Fisher.  “The primary goal was to create a building that would meet the City’s guidelines for the continued redevelopment of its downtown urban waterfront and kept the needs of the community-at-large in mind.

“From a consumer standpoint, we understood the state of the real estate market in 2009.   To conform to market needs, we wanted to introduce a world-class high-rise that provided the same level of luxury and exclusivity sophisticated homebuyers were accustom to at the height of the real estate boom, but at competitive prices that would offer clear value.”

The Marketing Directors, Inc., a Manhattan-based real estate sales and marketing firm with a long list of successfully selling new construction projects in New York and New Jersey, was brought on board from the onset to direct the sales and marketing program.

“We knew we had several important factors on our side, none more important than a developer with a sterling reputation, personal approach to customer satisfaction and long history of responsible development,” says Adrienne Albert, CEO of The Marketing Directors, Inc.

“Add in Crystal Point’s outstanding waterfront location and Jersey City’s traditional draw for homebuyers looking to escape high Manhattan home prices, and we had the foundation to realize Fisher Development’s view of Crystal Point as a crown jewel in the marketplace.  All we needed was a comprehensive program that would separate Crystal Point from the competition in terms of home layouts, pricing and in-building amenities and maximize its location and views.”

Prominent New York City-based architectural firm Gruzen Samton, LLP was charged with designing a building that would be a distinguishing landmark in Jersey City’s skyline from the outside and would redefine luxury and grandeur from the inside with modern, open and furnishable living areas.

“Unlike many high-rise developments which often seem cavernous with long hallways, we split the Crystal Point plan in half with elevators positioned in the middle of the residential floors to create short corridors and provide a very intimate feel,” says Jordan Gruzen (FAIA) of Gruzen Samton.  “We utilized multiple façade planes to break up the building‘s mass and ensure that every home had magnificent views.  Each condominium residence was designed so from the moment the front door is opened, one is aware of the views and the light emanating from the water.

“The layouts of the homes themselves provide large rooms and sprawling living spaces that are open, airy and extremely functional.”

Crystal Point would boast a crystalline-style glass exterior that maximized the building’s waterfront setting and views of the ever changing Manhattan skyline.   Inside, one-, two-and three bedroom homes range from 800 to 1,817 square-feet and offer an array of premium finishes.  Interior features include kitchens with Italian Pedini wood and glass cabinetry, sparkling quartzite counters, under-cabinet task lighting, full height pantries, islands with breakfast bars and a full Jenn-Air appliance suite. Residents also benefit from free on-site valet parking.

The final piece of the puzzle would be a superb amenity package that rivaled those found in New York City’s most recognizable hi-rise buildings.  Fisher Development Associates would add the Crystal Spa with a thermal bath, sauna, steam and treatment rooms.  Residents would also enjoy a yoga/aerobics room, state-of-the-art fitness center, lounge with flat screen televisions, game room with billiard and poker tables, children’s play room and a screening room within the Crystal Club.

There would also be an outdoor deck overlooking the Hudson River features a sparkling pool, giant hot tub, private cabanas and lounge chair seating, as well as two BBQs and dining area, fire pits and a children’s play area, a professional concierge, valet parking and soon a lobby level restaurant.

“Possibly the most important factor in Crystal Point’s success in this market was the ability to offer all this at price within the budget of the conscience homebuyer,” Mr. Fisher points out.  “With home prices starting in the $500,000’s, historically low interest rates and 30-year tax abatement granted to the building, purchasers could receive the complete package at month mortgage payments not much higher than they would be paying in rent.”

Crystal Point’s reputation for quality and Fisher Development’s dedication to responsible building practices would extend far beyond the buying public and receive important recognitions from its real estate peers.  The building garnered several prestigious industry awards in 2010, including being named “Project of the Year” by The New Jersey District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI-NNJ) and was crowned with the Gold Award for “Community of the Year” by the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB).



Glory Days Ahead

 By Michael Ratliff, Associate Editor/Multi-Housing News



The lobby at 225 Grand

With rents in Manhattan expected to increase 7 percent in 2012, it is no surprise that many apartment seekers are looking to the outer boroughs and New Jersey as a refuge. Queens, Brooklyn and Hoboken are well-known hot spots for young professionals looking for a better bang for their buck when it comes down to both space and amenities. Get ready to add Jersey City to that list.

The state’s second largest city sits just over the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan. It has been quickly overcoming its stigma of urban decline thanks to the availability of underdeveloped waterfront land. The industrial businesses that vacated from the 1950s through 1970s left behind a plethora of vacant rail yards and factories, space that allowed for a full-on urban renaissance that began in the 1980s and is still moving at full steam today. This is perhaps most visible in the success of the Exchange Place financial district, colloquially called “Wall Street West,” which experienced a rapid construction of high-rise office buildings—assets that are now occupied by the likes of Goldman Sachs, UBS and Merrill Lynch. Add in a light rail system that debuted in 2000 and now offers seamless access to Manhattan-bound PATH trains and you have an area primed for extremely successful transit-oriented development.


A quintessential example of the materialized Liberty Harbor redevelopment plan is HLW’s 225 Grand. It is currently the largest single residential property in the new neighborhood. The 348-unit community consists of a 15-story concrete tower with a glass and brick façade and a lower five-story wrap built from lightweight steel that includes a small retail portion and internalized parking. The luxury rental comes complete with a full host of amenities including a doorman, fitness center, billiards room, lounge, business center and a roof deck pool on top of the lower portion. Edward Shim, a senior designer at HLW who worked on 225 Grand from the start, says that a well thought-out amenity package is especially important in Jersey City.

“Unlike New York, where all of the amenities are available down the block, Jersey City currently lacks that support,” Shim says. “As a result, the developers are trying everything they can to provide those amenities with the asset.”

The fully leased property has eliminated concessions and enjoys rents that continue to grow, performance markers that demonstrate the overall strength of the market, says Joshua Wuestneck, senior vice president of development at Ironstate Development Co.

“We are extremely bullish on the rental housing market in Jersey City and in the shadow of Manhattan in general,” Wuestneck says.

The success at 225 Grand serves as a launching point for the partnership’s next two developments in Liberty Harbor, the first being 18 Park, a 422-unit building located two blocks to the south. Construction will commence in 2012, allowing for a slated occupancy by fall 2013. The property will include a custom-designed facility that will serve as the new home for the Boys and Girls Club that is currently located on the site of Ironstate and Kushner Real Estate Group’s third, and largest, project in Liberty Harbor.

“The whole plan kind of came together organically with the Boys and Girls Club, which needed an injection of capital into their organization,” says Wuestneck. “It also allows the club to remain in the same area, which was important for them. It has certainly been a win-win situation for everyone.”

The project, which for now is called Block 5, will entail a 45-story podium rental tower where the Boys and Girls Club (currently located in a repurposed coal bunker) now sits. The site, which will also house a 10-story rental structure, will total approximately 670 units when completed. The asset will also have the distinction of serving as a welcoming gateway for Liberty Harbor from the historical districts to the north thanks to some clever tweaks to the street grid. The plan calls for an extension of Grove Street, which terminates at the Boys and Girls Club, and the revitalization of an adjacent underutilized park.