Montclair Multifamily's

31 Replies

Hey all,

I've begun looking into multifamily properties in Montclair that I can househack. I've read quite a bit about how dangerous the southern area of Montclair is, specifically near Bloomfield Ave and Glenfield Park, by the Glen Ridge border, and that it should be avoided. Does anyone have first hand experience in this area? Is it really that bad? Is it tough getting tenants? What rents can you charge compared to nicer areas of Montclair? Figured I would ask around here before heading over there myself to get a first hand experience.


Thanks!

I too am interested in Montclair, I believe that area has a lot of potential and its not too far from a few transportation hubs. @Darren Sager is very familiar in this area and could be a big help in finding what you are looking for.

For what it's worth, I drove through the neighborhood and got stared down pretty hard by residents. I doubt a young male using common sense would really have any issues there, but I personally wouldn't feel comfortable living there just based on the looks I got. Then again, I was also cruising slowly down the street so I probably looked sketchy to them. In any event, go drive or walk the neighborhood and get a feel for yourself.

Also, Montclair is a very competitive market and you certainly aren't the first person to notice the lower prices in that area. IMHO, every single property you see on the MLS (or Zillow) in Montclair has already been analyzed and passed over by multiple investors like Darren Sager. Unless you're buying a complete rehab project, I'd bet that you'll be overpaying for someone else's flip, even in that neighborhood.

I actually had the exact same experience @Bill Schollmeyer did. I drove down Mission St and some other blocks to check out that particular area of Montclair. I figured how bad can it be. As I drove down the block I was grilled pretty hard by the group of people hanging out on the block. Not my cup of tea personally.  This area, on and around Mission St is so conveniently located to the train station and everything else Montclair has to offer but its just too "hood" for me.

Thank you @Michael D. , @Bill Schollmeyer , and @Dmitriy P. for your experiences/inputs! Very helpful and informative to get your guys perspective. I've read a few other forums/websites as well and it does appear to still be in pretty bad shape there, which is a shame considering the proximity to the train station and downtown area. I'll still be heading over there to take a look for myself this weekend, and I will try to let you guys know what my take on the area is as well.

Zach

Its unfortunate because there are actually quite a few homes for sale currently on Mission Street. Maybe it will take a few investors in a joint effort to buy them all up and clean that neighborhood up a bit.

Montclair is a great town (north of Bloomfield Ave).  I actually just moved from there this past July.  Both my wife and I really liked the town and all that it had to offer, but from an investment perspective it didn't make sense for us.  We made more than 15 offers on properties and were constantly outbid in multiple offer situations.  To a point where numbers did not make sense.  Taxes are extremely high and the market for small mutli's (2-4 units) is very crowded with "investors."  This results in people overpaying for properties and driving prices up to a point where cash-flow hardly exists, if at all.

I can only see the numbers working if you can get an off-market deal.

So it looks like Mission street might be on the upswing.  With all the new apartments in the area I'm wondering about that neighborhood.  Thoughts?  I'm in GR and know the area pretty well.  

Zach, I live in Verona, the next town over. I looked at a couple of places in that exact area, one the realtor was afraid to even be there, when i went it it needed a ton of work and all the copper and equipment was ripped out of the house. the other one had mostly section 8 tenants. there are good and bad areas of Montclair but over all, if you you find the right spot i believe you will do well there. I check every once in a while but do not actively check there, wouldn't mind owning an apartment building in the right area.

While I wouldn't be jumping up and down to live on mission/new street - it's certainly not 'dangerous'. Crime is low in Montclair. Those blocks are just low income and in rough shape. In terms of investing, my concern would be finding renters at a higher price point and resale value - because tenants/buyers see the rundown property across the street or hear about south of bloomfield's bad rep. But the truth is, anything south of upper montclair used to be less desirable - and now that line has extended to Bloomfield Ave and even further south of Bloomfield Ave on specific blocks. I'm really optimistic about Montclair, I think all the 'rougher' neighborhoods are going to be the I-wish-I-had-bought-back-then properties of the future (barring a cataclysmic event). 3 train stations, multiple bus stops and tons of restaurants and parks, historical homes, culture, and good schools - what's not to like? Montclair is the most popular place to rent in north jersey after Jersey City/Hoboken among young professionals, students and young families, I would argue. 

Hi Christie.  What's your take with all the new apartment buildings being built?  What affect do you think they might have on the rent pricing for the older multifamily homes? 

I agree with Christie.  I own a multifamily unit north of Bloomfield Ave. but did consider property in the southern part of Montclair as well.  While there is a definite difference in pricing and demographics, Montclair is safe in general.  It will take a while for the area near Glenfield Park to increase in value but that really is the last remaining place in Montclair to get a "bargain" barring the purchase of a major rehab (which is what I bought, and there were still 16 other offers).  The walkability, great schools, proximity to transportation into NY, and access to amenities all make Montclair a great place to live.  

Hi @Tim Pagano -- depending on how many new buildings go up - I think it'll be a rising tide lifts all ships scenario, driving up rents all around.  

I think a lot of Montclair's multi-family rental prices are seriously undervalued. Probably because the house itself is in bad shape and it sits just north of Bloomfield Avenue (which used to be a less desirable area, and still is on some blocks).

Currently, Montclair's brand new apartments may be able to get higher rent than old multis. But they don't come with a private backyard, a driveway, a basement, etc. I also think that there are a lot of tenants who seek out Montclair homes specifically for their history and character. Of course, renters will look at the new buildings vs. old multis and think - but I want a new kitchen and bath? So to stay competitive - I think updates will be necessary (thereby driving up rents all around). 

I know here in Hoboken, the brownstones and the smaller buildings with only 1 or 2 units are often preferred and more expensive, versus the brand new buildings with 20 units, an elevator and a gym. (Those new buildings with all the amenities also come with big HOAs btw.) In Hoboken, we fetch just as high, if not higher rent for units in a small/old buildings (with updates inside) - because you're paying for privacy. 

In Montclair, the new apartment buildings may win over some renters - but there will always be tenants coming into town who are hunting for charm.

Hey everyone, I was raised in Montclair so I know the area very well. I have watched the transition of the town over the last 20+ years and I must agree with a lot of what @Christie Duffy   said, Montclair is a great town and the prices are going to continue to go up. The southern part of the town, specifically Mission St, New St, Maple, etc are the low-income areas of town but based on what I have seen happen across the town I imagine that is going to change. 

Someone brought up the apartment building across the street from Mission St. That is huge and I imagine it will be the beginning of the shift. Depending on what you are buying the property for I imagine its Mission St could still be a good investment. The area looks sketchy but largely the dogs have no bite. Montclair is very safe. For that reason, I don't see any reason you wouldn't be able to rent it out profitably until the area completely shifts at which time you will make money hand over fist. 

Originally posted by @Zach Peart :

I'll still be heading over there to take a look for myself this weekend, and I will try to let you guys know what my take on the area is as well.

What was the end of the story?  I'm very curious.  Thanks.

@Simcha Davidman I actually decided to rent in the area first before making any decisions, so currently living in a unit off South Fullerton Ave. I'm still very interested in pulling the trigger on a property in the area once the opportunity arises and I'm in the position to do so.

@Patrick Liska @Christie Duffy @Stacey Tiamfook @Henry Johnson  

I appreciate all your input and perspectives, thanks for the responses. I'm currently renting in the area to get a better feel and am always checking listings and comparable's - I'm going to want to jump in once my lease is up and I'm more prepared. I really do think the apartment building across the street could be a catalyst to start increasing prices 

Zach,

I can understand wanting to buy in a place that you think MAY appreciate in value, and i hope it does if you do decide to buy there, that would be an added bonus. but the number one thing is to make sure that the property will cash flow for you in the mean time, never buy in hopes that an area will Appreciate in value. It may appreciate because areas around it are and i wish you luck, just remember to run your numbers.

@Debbo Wie Verona is mostly Apartment buildings or SFH, there are some 2 family homes but not many. There is not much for sale here in the way of multi family, unless you want to go door to door asking if they want to sell. There are also a lot of new apartment buildings being built right now. Verona is a very close knit town, generations live in the town and stay here, i am one of them.

I looked at some of these comments and had to laugh. There is a only one section of Montclair that could be considered questionable. The boarders are Bloomfield Ave between Elm and Maple and over to Elmeood Ave to Elm. Then there is Willowdale to Woodland, and I think the other street in Monroe over to Maple. Then there is Lexington ave, where I was caught up in a drug raid several years ago while knocking on doors. I know this area very well as I have knocked on all the doors out there, and continue to do so. Yes, there have been murders there, and the gangs are still there, but all in all the people who live there are very decent. In short, I don't fear my life when I walk along those streets. 

I also know someone who owns the brick multi and a couple of other houses on New streeet. Just keep in mind that the streets I mentioned are only only in a small section of the South side. The South side gets a bad reputation based on these streets, but there is another part of the south side that people tend to forget. That is the area near Nishuane Park. If you want to house hack, or look for a somewhat good investment, then that is the area I would recommend. There you have a lot of two family homes that are in a decent residential area and close to one of the schools, which is next to the park. As far as the one little section, i.e. New St., Mission, etc..... If you want to be a slum lord, then start there. 

However, I will also say that I did see that some investors are starting to rehab on Mission street and Miller street. That is a positive sign. I also will say that the person I know who does invest in that area was looking to get out and didn't have any real issues with collecting the rent. They have owned there for many years and are were looking to cash out. 

So, in a nutshell, the South side isn't really that bad as long as you know how to invest and put good tenants into the properties. The caveat is the taxes. That is the problem with investing in NJ, the taxes. Will the properties appreciate in that area? I wouldn't speculate. Why not go to the town meetings to see what they have on the agenda for the development of the downtown area. I can also tell you that there are investment properties that i have seen for sale near the downtown area and the prices are really untouchable for real investors. Also, there is a lot of competition out there. I tried to pick up a 3 family on the other side of Bloomfield ave for 325k to live in. I was not able to pick it up with the multiple offers that were on the property and didn't have cash at the time. So Montclair may be tough to get into. I would suggest looking into Bloomfield as that town is next as far as growth and they have been rebuilding their downtown infrastructure for the last few years near the train station. 

Tip.... Go to the town meetings for both towns and compare their master plans. There are deals everywhere, you just have to know how to evaluate them and make the educated decision as to where to invest. 

If you need any help with the analysis, then please feel free to reach out to me as I am an agent and a an investor in the area.