Lakewood: Rental Market Out of Control – What Does the Future Hold?

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A number of years ago, there was a joke going around about a man who built a house on top of Lake Carasaljo in Lakewood, NJ. He was then looking to buy a submarine, so that he could rent out his basement.

With today’s market, it’s not such a joke.

There is a severe apartment shortage in Lakewood partially due to the natural growth of the community and also because of the impact of Covid and the fact that many couples who would have gone to Eretz Yisroel have stayed local. The shortage is an unprecedented one – and so are the rental prices.

For many years, the Masa Umatan rental listings comprised many pages. Apartments in West Gate fetched $6-700 a month. An expensive apartment in the hot areas went for $1,100. Today, smaller apartments in less desirable areas are garnering $1,200 or more a month.

“We have never seen anything like this,” a realtor who has been doing business for 20 years told “And it’s not like people who can’t find apartments can just go out and buy a home, because, while interest rates are low, housing prices have shot through the roof.”

Indeed, the shortage has driven people to buy further and further out into Jackson, even purchasing in Manchester and beyond.

“Where this will end we don’t know,” said one real estate developer. “But the Covid restrictions don’t seem to be ending any time soon, so the influx of couples who would go to Israel is only going to grow. And even once they go to Israel, the growth of the community will require more apartments. We’re in big trouble.”

A homeowner who has a 2-bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment told that previously he was overjoyed to get $900 a month in rent. Today, if his apartment would go on to the market, he’d get $1,100 in no time.

Larger, 3-bedroom, 2-bedroom basement apartments, which were previously renting for $1,250-1300 depending on their condition are now being rented for $1,500 or more.

“This type of market is good for no one, not even the landlords,” said one askan, “because what goes around comes around. When their own children get married and have to rent apartments, they’ll be paying these absurd prices.”

It’s hard to believe that just 3 years ago, the Lakewood area had many vacancies. In fact, some of the most popular areas of Lakewood were not attracting renters. At the time, in 2017, did a survey and found that there were over 40 available spaces for rent in the general yeshivah area (Forest Avenue, Clifton Avenue, Lexington Avenue, etc.) and about 15 available spaces for rent in the 14th Street/Hope Chapel area. Coventry had 10 available homes, and there were over 90 in the Squankum, Ridge, East County Line, Somerset, and Rt. 88 areas. There were 15 vacancies in the Brook Hill/Joe Parker/ Raintree area, and over 50 in the New Central, Central, and West Gate area. As Lakewood further developed, and residents began seeking more affordable housing options beyond its borders in Jackson, Toms River and Brick, a seller’s market transformed into a buyer’s market. These factors – the affordability of homes, the availability of homes, and over-development – in part led to hundreds of empty apartments and homes for rent.

That was just 3 years ago.

Today, it’s a different world.

Now, in January 2021, it’s a whole different story. One is hard-pressed to find an apartment in any desirable area, and apartments are usually taken before they even hit the rental market, as word of mouth brings the renters straight to the landlords’ doors.

When asked to predict what the future holds, all of the experts spoke to were in agreement that there are too many factors that determine real estate markets to be able to have a worthwhile opinion. But they were all quite concerned, stating that there is reason to be alarmed.

So, will apartments in Central Jersey become more or less affordable? Only time will tell.

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  1. It’s all over. Nobody wants to be a pioneer and move with a chevra to an out-of-town community. Nah, si paas nisht faar mir. Moving out of town is only for baalei teshuva, older singles, and losers. Not for unzira bessereh menschen. Unfortunately, that’s the sediment I’m hearing. We have a generation of spoiled brats little shnooks.

    • I live out of town and am neither a baal teshuva, an older single, or a loser thank you. What an offense to every older single and baal teshuva that they are equated with losers. I’m a regular heimish mother of a large family who was sick of the Lakewood rat race and chose, yes CHOSE to move out of town. I couldn’t care less what any one else thinks and surprise- we’re happy! Happy to be part of a community with old fashioned values like respecting one another even if they have different minhagim than me. I live in a community where everyone is nice and friendly to each other simply because you are a yid. You can live in a big house or small house and no one could care less! People have tochen here. So call me a loser for being happy to live among mentschen who give huge chunks of money to support many Lakewood mosdos, besides supporting our own mosdos. I consider it a zechus.

      • Maybe you respect people who have different minhagim than you but it sounds like you still have progress to make in the area of bein Adam l’chaveiro the way you generalize the entire Lakewood into a bunch of nasty evil individuals having a rat race. I actually recently moved to Lakewood and I love the neighborhood with such fine bnei Torah with amazing middos too.

  2. Important to keep this in perspective. A 3 Bedroom, 2.5 Bath, 1,725 Sq. Ft. apartment one block from me in the Bronx, in a nice buiding with a Jewish school in the basement, rents for $3,800.00/month.

  3. Economics 101.
    Supply vs Demand.
    If the supply is short and the demand is high, as is the case today, prices rises.
    Of course when demand is low, ie they are building too many homes, and supply is high the price fall.

    Nothing new here.

  4. As soon as Israel opens again and the hundreds of yungeleit will go back, this temporary man-made demand will subside and rents will stabilize again.

    The rental market in Lakewood has always been cyclical and rental amounts have historically go up and down, depending on several outside factors. There’s no reason to overhype the market.

    I would be totally unsurprised if someone wanting to get approvals for an apartment complex is behind this article.

  5. A few points.
    This situation is temporary, construction slowed and covid… things are picking up again, the prices compared to any frum neighborhood are still cheaper
    It’s always cheaper when u move to the edge until the edge becomes full , like marine park years ago…
    Manchester is a very good option , truly it’s out but it’s not way out.
    Yawn, out of town what u save on housing you spend on high tuition, and numerous addl. Expenses why should one live in Ohio if u can live in lakewood

  6. When I live in Soviet Union we all shared apartments we live 2-3-4 families together. I believe this is the solution for Lakewood etc ch”d, family moves in together, share the unit and reduce the cost. Think a $1000 a month divide by 4 is about 250$, this is affordable now.


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