DMG Investment’s Benjamin Watson: Buyer Demographics Trending Older Than Expected
by Josh Anderson
JERSEY CITY, NJ — Multi-family is an integral part of the Gold Coast commercial real estate equation, and you never quite know what’s happening in New Jersey when it comes to rental or condo trends. So at CapRE’s Second Annual New Jersey Gold Coast North & Bergen County CRE Summit, Founder and CEO of CapRE kicked off the panel Multifamily Outlook: Analysis of Leasing Trends and Absorption in the Region’s Luxury, Mixed-Use and Affordable Units with a deep-dive into the multi-family sector. Below, we cover a brief Q&A that Klebash moderated with Benjamin Watson, Vice President, DMG Investments
Klebash: What types of clients are you working with?
Watson: We’ve actually found that our buyer demographic has trended older than what we were expecting. We have a lot of foreign buyers – Chinese, Korean, people from the Turkish community. But we also have a lot of people who have sold larger homes in Bergen County or the Hudson Valley, that are looking for condo living, access to New York City or Jersey City or Hoboken. They want that amenity-lifestyle type of building. They no longer want to make payments on a larger home.
So we’ve found a lot of interest from families looking at our buildings, couples who are established in their careers and looking to start or a family, or it’s at least in their five-year mindset, but we’ve found that most of our buyers have come from the New Jersey Market, not the Manhattan market. We’re actually going to be starting a lot of broker outreach to the Manhattan side, trying to pull some buyers that might be priced out of Brooklyn or Long Island City. Because we are 30 minutes to Midtown. So we’re doing a marketing campaign to target that.
Klebash: Do you see a shift back from renter to buyer in the past year?
Watson: You know, I think we’ve found that, for all of the projects currently on the market, such as Avora, One Park, Nine of the Hudson, Glass House, we’ve found that buyers want to see the final product. We’re all in a state where our products are nearing completion and we’ve definitely seen an uptick in April and we expect a busy May, now that we have a model unit to show. Now that our amenities are starting to take shape. And other people I’ve talked to are starting to say the same thing.
We see that people in the rental market are not necessarily in a rush to buy. They see it as an opportunity to see everything on the market. And they are. And they’re also willing to look at multiple, different, markets before they make their final decision. A lot of buyers that we track may come back four to six months after their initial visit to make an offer.
Klebash: What’s the most under-valued sub-market in the Gold Coast North area?
Watson: Quite honestly, I think that Cliffside Park, talking about suburban vs urban, our building has the benefit of having a suburban field, but having an urban lifestyle. They have close enough proximity to public transportation. We’re near what people need for their day to day, in terms of commuting to their employer, we have access to entertainment, access to conveniences and things that they require, so there’s been some real growth in that community.
For more from this panel, check out an earlier CapRE Insider Report: Up-Close with CBRE’s Nat Gambuzza at New Jersey Gold Coast North & Bergen County CRE Summit on Q1 Multi-Family Trends