Realtors: Imagine A Montclair You Can Sell

Montclair councilor Cary Africk wants to know how we can sell Montclair better to potential buyers — what needs to be improved in order to get more people to move here. Here’s what he says…

I frequently have discussions with people about what brought them to Montclair. What were the attractions that made them buy here, rather than in other communities.

Montclair’s real estate market is being buffeted by economic forces that affect us all.

So I would like to ask REALTORS:

If you could close your eyes and imagine, how could Montclair be improved to make it even a more attractive location for people to move to, i.e. those New York and Brooklyn, and other people?

Please send me at least THREE suggestions, with as much detail as you wish.

I’ll keep it TOTALLY CONFIDENTIAL, but will summarize it in a post on Baristanet.

Here’s two, from a Realtor I was on the telephone with yesterday:

– Schools
– Taxes

Of course I now need an answer to “What is it about the schools?” With taxes, although people say “less,” my question is HOW MUCH LESS?

If a home had $21,000 in taxes, how much lesser would it have to be?

Thanks for your help, and YES:

I intend to do something about ANY issues that are brought, up, unless the answer is something like “better weather.”

Let’s not limit this to realtors — go ahead and tell Cary in comments what you think keeps buyers away and what could bring them out in droves. To echo Africk: What were the attractions that made you buy here, rather than in other communities. And would that be enough for you to buy again — today?

And if you think we need some $$$ to help get Montclair market ready, go ahead and try to win us some at Cheer For Your Town. Top prize for municipalities is $40,000; here are two examples of people who “cheered” for Montclair. Remember when we won money from Liberty Mutual last year? Their contest is back, too.

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  1. To make it better? Better schools and lower taxes? C’mon. Kids still do VERY well in our schools, let’s not act like this is…[TOWN NAME REMOVED BY profwilliams]. In a month, when the Montclair Times publishes the Colleges our students go to you will see what makes us great: DIVERSITY.

    Some kids will go to highly selective, elite private colleges, while others will “work.” This is because of our racial and economic diversity. Unlike other homogeneous communities (you know who you are), Montclair is not. Because of this, our scores are lower and for some- increasingly many- our schools don’t “stack up.”

    But student to student– ours do just fine.

    As for taxes, what are you willing to give up? Me? Not much, I consider my VERY HIGH TAXES on my Palatial Estate in the Borough of UPPER Montclair to be the price of entry.

    So if folks don’t want to live her, it will take time to “fix” the schools and taxes, so sorry Cary, this is a waste of time.

  2. I’m going to close my eyes and wish for three things that would make Montclair better……

    1. If the taps ran champagne instead of boring old water. FREE champagne!

    2. If the sidewalks were actually, as we were told they were back in the old country, PAVED WITH GOLD!!!

    3. If every irritating self-absorbed buffoon could climb onto a magic bus (we might need a fleet) and ride out of town into the sunset.

    These are just a few suggestions. I’m sure I can come up with additional ones, but it is too nice to stay indoors.

  3. Croi for President, that’s what I say. Wait a second, you weren’t born in these grand United States were you? Oh, don’t worry, we can forge something–even the long-form version birth certificate! But I do insist that if you wear a toupee (and I hope you don’t), that it originated in the US.

  4. But on a more serious note, I would suggest we privatize everything. And I mean everything. All the schools. Garbage collection. Snow removal. Police force. Fire department (it would be good for the environment b/c they would be more efficient and use less water when putting out fires). No government positions–the town should be run by a company, we need a good CEO here to set things straight.

  5. Our CEO just went off to China… Wait. That was our Mayor.

    And by the way, unlike some around town– I have ONE SQURE of my sidewalk that is not slate, as some think.

    IT. IS. GOLD.

    In fact, and I don’t tell this just anyone, I have ONE OTHER SQUARE that is made of Rhodium. Though, sadly, it was replaced by a piece of styrofoam.

    And looking around town- and checking the real estate taxes, it is clear: Montclair is paved with organic, heirloom tomatoes (purchased at the Farmer’s Market).

  6. Heirloom tomatoes are getting to be, well, so “yesterday.” The premium vendors are trying to charge are turning away buyers.

    Give me a REAL NJ tomato! Albino, or maybe with a touch of pink, a shelf life measured in months, and no taste to interfere with the “real” food, factory farmed beef!

  7. I’m not a realtor but,

    I would like a promise that property taxes would be capped and not rise for at least five years. Alternatively, new home buyers would be assured of no property tax increases for at least three years.

    I would also like to help the senior citizens of Montclair by capping the property taxes of anyone over age 70 who has lived in town for 35 years or more.

    I would like an elected Board of Education so there would be some community control over our tax levies.

    I would like Montclair to actively attempt to merge with adjoining communities to be more efficient in delivering services and gain some economies of scale.

  8. Boy Cary, you really know how to grandstand.

    Buyers aren’t shying away from Montclair! On the contrary, buyers continue to see Montclair as a great destination, despite the depressed market. We certainly don’t need the local government involved in anyway with the real estate market. Sheesh! You can barely handle your own affairs. How about this Cary: pass a budget, fight bike boy and knitting girl on their idiotic issues and get down to business!

    Sometimes i wonder about you Cary…

  9. Grand stand???

    Gee relaz, maybe I should sic the realtor who called me on YOU. Let him tell you about the number of over $1MM homes that aren’t moving, the reduced asking prices, days on market, etc., etc. Or maybe you should listen to the last Council meeting where a different Realtor came in and gave us his impression.

    If specific things about the schools are “turn offs” for potential buyers, I want to know about it. I’ve enough relationships with the BOE, Administration, teachers, and principals that I think I can provide help.

    It’s not called grand standing. Its called “doing my job.”

    And, I can both do the “town business” and do this at the same time.

    Cary Africk
    2nd Ward Councilor

  10. We already know what the problem is: the high school, as is, is not salable, and we cannot afford a new one. So let’s do the next best thing: hide the school with a movie-set facade.

    On the new facade we’ll paint preppy-looking, clean-cut kids walking in front of a gleaming, state of the art building, with classes no bigger than 18 students and teachers wearing Manolo Blahniks and Hugo Boss suits, suggesting high salaries.

    I hereby grant the town permission to use this idea for the rock-bottom consulting fee of $10,000.

    Another problem solved!

  11. Are there students who actually fail to move to the next level or graduate? Or are all the teachers afraid of ruffling the parents feathers nowadays?

  12. I’ve been told many times that there are no stupid questions. Wrong!
    This is one, and its sad that it comes from a councilor.
    It’s hard to believe anyone would ask that question. Mind boggling!
    Taxes, TAxes, Taxes! How low should they be?!? Lower, then lower, then even lower!!!

    Try lowering taxes. Just do that! It’s a monumental job. Just do that! How could you even be so obtuse as to ask that question! LOWER THE TAXES!

    Why aren’t houses selling? Taxes Taxes Taxes. A house for $600,000 may have taxes of $24,000 per year. That is $2,000 per month just to pull in your driveway! Put down 20% ($120,000) and the monthly PITI is $4,676.74. Thats $56,120.93 per year just to live there. Plan on making 3 times that to get the mortgage.

    Every $100 a month in taxes takes away $20,000 in buying power at todays rates! If those $24,000 a year were $20,000 That would be an extra $64,000 in buying power!

    Get serious, and stop asking silly questions. We are digging a hole that our children will not be able to dig out of.

    Raising taxes means killing real estate.

  13. Easier commuting to the system. THe bus is a joke. And, parking at the train stations is basically impossible unless you survive the 5-6 year wait list. Of everyone I know, this is THE number one thing they hate about Montclair.

  14. I concur! I actually think it would help if the council members not only lowered our taxes but gave us a little extra money to pull into our driveway each day!

  15. You are the king of grandstanding Cary. Just calling it like it is.

    Forget this stunt and concentrate on your real job: get a budget passed.

  16. Rerranging Deck Chairs.

    70% of our new debt is being “purchased” in the form of treasury bills by the Federal Reserve. The world has decided we’re no longer a good risk. We’re printing money and writing ourselves IOU’s. Get ready for collapse.

    We will be laughing (and crying) in a few years because in the midst of this madness, people were worrying about “moving” million-dollar homes on the real state market.

  17. Thanks to all who have privately written me. I appreciate your thoughtful answers.

    Cary Africk
    2nd Ward Councilor

  18. MTC needs to go after the equestrian crowd and give everyone under 10 a pony. There can be no better town without more ponies. (and I’m not talking about the mini beer bottles though obviously more beer tends to improve most towns)

  19. “Thanks to all who have privately written me. I appreciate your thoughtful answers.”

    TO ALL OTHERS: I do not appreciate your lame ideas and answers posted on an anonymous website.

  20. Cary, does this mean you won’t recommend paying me the ten grand? I was hoping to use it as a down payment on a new BMW convertible.

  21. No, I still believe in you Walleroo! Especially because I’m going to need all the support I can get when I vote “no” on the upcoming budget, which will be the controversy this week.

    And, prof, I really did get some lengthy letters. Many describing pretty unfortunate situations.

  22. Cary, Let me guess, the unfortunate situations were people who are waking up to the hangover that their houses are worth hundreds of thousands less than they thought? All of the money spent on elaborate renovations has been vaporized? Potential buyers take a much more jaundiced view of some of our more progressive initiatives when their impact on the real estate market becomes evident? Living in a socialist utopia has real and hideous financial consequences?

    I had another question. Given that we aren’t talking about meaningfully adding to the overall number of households in town, isn’t this exercise somewhat cynical? I mean, it doesn’t seem like the aggrieved would-be sellers are looking to stay in town. They’re just trying to put some lipstick on this pig to sucker someone else into bailing them out of their mistake. “You’re going to love this town! We’ve got everything! Here are the keys, I’m out of here!”

    As someone that has lived here for quite a while, and who doesn’t harbor any unrealistic real estate fantasies, I would say that it is absolutely critical to get the budget issues resolved. All potential buyers need to do is look at the history of tax increases and overlay housing price trends versus competing communities, and we lose. Buyers are much more educated now, and our issues are out in the open.

  23. QUICKEST FIX: An EXPRESS TRAIN from Bay St., or wherever makes the most sense, that would cut the commute in half would IMMEDIATELY & SIGNIFICANTLY increase our property values. You can take that to the bank. We have the proximity to the city and we’re squandering it.

  24. LOL Peeps, you all made me laugh out loud today! Tud, Cro, Prof, bebop, and of course, ‘Roo!

    (ps. ‘Roo, actually you’d have been better off taking that $10K and making an advance payment on your property tax forecast for next year.)

    My wish list, besides the obvious taxes.

    (1) wave a magic wand and make the garbage strewn around the high school disappear as soon as it leaves scofflaw hands.

    (2) A fleet of those leaf-vacuum trucks, so I can stop having to stuff 25+ paper bags every autumn.

    (3) a soundproof, plexiglass tube surrounding the entire length of the Montclair train tracks, so that they can go ahead and honk to their hearts’ content and not disturb anyone ever again. And we of course would get our million dollars back and put it in the rainy day fund.

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