Realtor Allison Ziefert Discusses How The Environment Is Shaping Real Estate

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From The Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group:

I was speaking with a colleague who is a real estate agent in the Berkshires recently.  She noted something that really struck me: that many people buying in her area are fleeing environmental changes in states like California and Texas. Unfortunately, I think the changing environment will continue to have an impact on real estate– some of the most expensive real estate in the country in fact. We saw this most recently in Florida with the catastrophic devastation caused by Hurricane Ida. Home values will be impacted as people flock to areas that are less prone to the impacts of climate change. 

In the Lake Tahoe region of northern California the fire risk is too great, so insurance companies cease serving specific communities. New taxes are being passed to further fund local defensible space programs, and trees can’t come down fast enough. Often, as this New York Times opinion piece sadly recounts, the air quality on the west coast is so poor from wildfires that summer days are often spent indoors.

Rising sea levels and increasingly strong hurricanes threaten coastal areas on both coasts. Homes will be lost to the sea due to beach erosion or  require relocation to safer ground. Expensive coastal protection project costs may have to be borne by homeowners as this recent article about Nantucket described. Insurance costs are skyrocketing in flood and hurricane prone areas.

Even the seemingly ever-sprawling one-time relocation haven of Phoenix, AZ is finally having to face its growth issues as prolonged heat waves, often averaging over 105º for weeks, are draining the Colorado River of its life-giving contents. Water use restrictions are now common and lengthy. Officials are racing to figure out how to manage what’s left in sun-beaten Lake Mead, the southwest’s largest reservoir, a red-rock encased water tank planned without ever considering the impact of evaporation. 

Heat waves and unexpected freezing temperatures are too much for the electric grid in Texas causing brownouts or loss of power, sometimes for days.

Northern New Jersey, and our markets of Maplewood, South Orange, West Orange and Short Hills, specifically, offer respite from the risk of wildfire, highway buckling heat and the most intense hurricanes.

Yes, we get some snow, some cold and maybe the sun doesn’t shine as often as it does in Los Angeles, but our homes don’t need to meet increased fire safety standards and hurricane season typically materializes as a few days of heavy rain. Our homes won’t fall into the ocean and we don’t have extreme temperatures wreaking havoc on our everyday lives. This may be a source of increased interest in our marketplace in the future.

Beyond the low-risk of natural disaster, New Jersey has a reputation for having a consistently highly ranked public school system, most notably landing at #1 on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of states for Pre-K to grade 12. New Jersey is also one of the country’s most diverse, with only 67 percent of the population identifying as white/caucasian. This is a quality that a lot of our buyers say they are specifically seeking.

Wondering about what’s happening in the changing real estate market? Despite the gloom and doom about the housing market that you may hear in the media our reports (see below) will reflect the continued strength of the market in our communities. Yes, there have been about 30% fewer transactions in 2022 than last year. Yet, in both towns the average price of a home has climbed to around $880,000- up from 2021 by 15% in Maplewood and 6.4% in S. Orange. Homes are selling for an average of around 12% over list price with fewer days on market than last year. Most homes are selling faster than they did in 2021 (in about 20 days).

Here is our latest market report for Maplewood:

Here is our latest market report for South Orange:

For these reasons, among others, our office continues to get calls from folks seeking homes from out of state. If you have questions about the changing market or anything real estate related, please give us a call, or email Allison at to set up a time to chat.

The Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group is a top producing real estate team based at Compass in Short Hills, NJ. We are local market experts, specializing in real estate and homes in Maplewood, South Orange, Millburn/Short Hills, Montclair, West Orange, NJ and the surrounding towns. We are driven by earning great testimonials and referral business from happy clients. You can read our testimonials here.

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