Hoboken Real Estate Story: Update

1/22/2011 Update:

2007 Flashback: How has Hoboken Real Estate changed?

With today being the usual “open house” day in Hoboken – I figured I’d bump this humorous Real State story originally published on Hoboken411 over 40 months ago. A gleeful story about how an “adorable” couple found their home in Hoboken.

Now that it’s 2011, what do you think is up with the Nanscawen’s?

  1. How do you think they feel that their property is probably now worth $150-$200k less?
  2. And that their property taxes also likely increased $5k a year?
  3. You think they’re still having luxurious dinner parties and whistling Dixie while they fold their laundry?

Read original story below…

Truth, fiction, or a glorified advertisement?


A 411 reader sent this link from tomorrow’s NY Times Real Estate section about a couple in search for the “Perfect Fit”, and how they landed in Hoboken. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Hoboken and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, however, I just felt a little funny about some things I read in this article.

See some of my observations in bold below:

Falling in Love With Hoboken*s Prices


Published: July 1, 2007

UNTIL their marriage last fall, Elana and James Nanscawen weren’t fussy about their living situation. Their one-bedroom rental in the financial district was perfectly adequate, if small.

“We planned so that the wedding was our focus, and we got that financial piece of it out of the way,” Mr. Nanscawen said. The same held for their honeymoon in Mexico. By spring, though, they were growing impatient to buy a bigger place where it would not be so inordinately difficult to do everything — cooking, entertaining, doing the laundry to her liking and keeping the place tidy enough for his.

When the two met three years ago, Elana Sebring, now 25, was sharing a three-bedroom rental in East Midtown with three friends from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, where she had studied fashion. The group paid about $2,400 a month.

Mr. Nanscawen, 34, an Australian, was living in a studio in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, for $800 a month. After he graduated from the University of Tasmania in Hobart, he headed for Kalamazoo, Mich., where his mother is from. He is now an information technology manager for the Thomson Corporation in the financial district.

They were introduced by mutual friends who invited them sailing. Only Mr. Nanscawen knew he was being set up. “On this sailing trip, I met my husband and my future,” Mrs. Nanscawen said.

Tired of the long commute from Bensonhurst, Mr. Nanscawen moved to Liberty Tower on Liberty Street, the neo-Gothic office building that was converted to a co-op in 1980. He rented a one-bedroom there for $1,750, which later rose to $1,950. His bride-to-be joined him.

They enjoyed the building — especially the doormen — but over time, little things loomed large. The neighborhood shut down early, and few of their friends visited. Construction noise was everywhere.

– Exactly how to you “enjoy” a doorman? Can someone please explain?

Worst of all, “It became agitating because there was no space in the apartment to put anything,” Mrs. Nanscawen said. Their wedding gifts sat at her mother’s house in Stroudsburg, Pa. Their two closets overflowed. Only once did the couple have a dinner party, inviting four guests for risotto. Everyone squeezed around a card table that doubled as the kitchen counter. “Never again,” said Mrs. Nanscawen, an accomplished cook.

She often ripped out magazine recipes, “and James was mad because there was no place to put them,” she said. “When I put something away in our tiny little apartment, I would end up forgetting about it, so I would leave the clippings out to remind me I wanted to make the recipes. We would have weekends where we would power-clean and find recipes everywhere.”

– I personally know no one that gets “mad” about recipes or “power-cleans” on the weekends.

She longed to do the laundry herself, too. Their building wasn’t even near a coin laundry, so they spent at least $20 every week for pickup and drop-off service.

– Was that in her eHarmony personal ad? “I’m longing for romantic candle lit nights with fine wine and gentle spin cycles”

“Being in fashion, I care about my clothes,” said Mrs. Nanscawen, who works for Cockpit USA, which makes military- and Americana-inspired clothing.

– Remember, only people in “fashion” have clothes nice enough to actually care about.

“Tank tops would turn into tube tops,” she said. “We had a lot of stuff shrunken or ruined, texture-wise.”

– Correct. Because the wash-n-fold industry is out to get all fashionable people.

They began their hunt with a budget of $550,000 to $700,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, an amount that was low for Manhattan. “We had some married friends hunting at the same time, and they would come back to us with the same numbers we were finding,” Mrs. Nanscawen said. So they asked themselves, “Do we want to fall in love with an apartment and find out it costs a million dollars, or look at things we can afford and then fall in love?”

– Hmm. I wonder if their real estate approach also works for actual relationships?

A good friend who lived in Hoboken, N.J., had no trouble persuading them to look there. “Take the same amount of money, and it is night and day in terms of amenities you get,” Mr. Nanscawen said. Hoboken seemed to fit their personalities, too. “You walk up and down Washington Street and it’s all strollers, a fun atmosphere,” Mrs. Nanscawen said.

– Yep. You just got a sneak preview of the 2008 Hoboken tourism guide. “Washington Street – All Strollers” is the #1 amenity in Hoboken.

See the rest of the article and commentary – after the break!

A listing for a duplex condominium on Madison Street led them to Katherine Petsinis, an agent at Liberty Realty Hoboken. They found the layout awkward, but Ms. Petsinis began culling listings for them. “They wanted something luxury but not too luxury, somewhere in the middle,” she said.

Most places they saw were perfectly fine, but “it just wasn’t something where you felt it was definitely it,” Mrs. Nanscawen said. “It was always a little, little issue that we didn’t want to settle on.”

– Yep, it always came down to where to put those pesky recipes. DAMNIT.

For example, they loved the apartments at 1100 Adams Street, part of the Upper Grand development, but thought they were too far from the heart of Hoboken.

– You can tell where the heart of Hoboken is by the double-parked cars (that’s the “cholesterol” of the arteries)

The Nanscawens liked another Madison Street apartment with a large kitchen. But it was a third-floor walk-up, and they worried about access for their parents.

“We were trying to talk each other into it,” Mr. Nanscawen said. “We were saying, ‘Can we handle it? The stairs are carpeted, maybe it’s not so bad, it’s only a gradual slope.’ ” But they immediately reconsidered. “What are we doing?” he said. “This is our first home and we are committing to it, so we want to make absolutely sure that this is absolutely the place, no doubt.”

– Aww, that is sweet. For the handful of times their parents visited, they gave up a fabulous kitchen that was perfect for their dinner parties.

Ms. Petsinis contacted them as soon as a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium in their price range became available in Adams Square. The 1870 building, formerly Public School 3, the Daniel S. Kealey School, was converted to rentals in 1996 and is now being converted to condominiums.

Inside, they found 12-foot ceilings, an open layout, a dishwasher, lots of light and overhead storage. The second bedroom could function as a combination guest room, home office and future nursery. “I looked at James and gave him the eyebrows-up this-is-it look,” Mrs. Nanscawen said.

– This is where I’m a little confused. Is this a real story or an advertisement for Adams Square? Regardless, the “dishwasher” would also convince me to buy a condo too.

The price was $615,000, with common charges of about $350 a month, and taxes of $7,600 a year.

To keep themselves from acting impulsively, the Nanscawens had not brought a checkbook. Now they feared someone else would like the place as much as they did. So they grabbed the PATH train home and returned the same afternoon, check in hand.

– Yes, because the lines to buy condos in Hoboken are a mile long. Take a look at that auction at Velocity last week!

In the month since their move, Mrs. Nanscawen has been organizing her recipes in a binder and planning the menu for a dinner party for 12. She bought a color-coded set of laundry bags on a rolling rack. “It is awesome” to do laundry in the building’s laundry room, she said. “We let everything accumulate because we were so busy. I did five loads at once. I was happy as could be.”

– Holy Holly Homemaker! The eagle has landed! Utopia on earth! Joy to the World! Ebony and Ivory! Recipes and Laundry! Whoo Hooo! (I almost passed out from the excitement)

When their new furniture was delivered, the delivery man told them he had gone to school there. “He said, ‘I’ve lived here in Hoboken my whole life, and I was really excited to see they did something good with this place,’ ” Mr. Nanscawen said.

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36 Comments on "Hoboken Real Estate Story: Update"

5 years 9 months ago

According to tax records this couple still owns this place. They paid the full $625k asking price in 2007. It’s 1023 square feet, which is on the smaller side for a 2 bedroom unit. This building has no central air and no laundry in the units (the lack of which are unacceptable in the $500k + range these days). Given these factors and what comparable units have been selling for in this building recently, I’d say they could get $425-$450k tops for this place now. Ouch.

5 years 9 months ago

I thought I was the only one who flew into a rage when I misplaced my recipes.

5 years 9 months ago
5 years 9 months ago

Comments removed for “post violations”? I though you normally just delete comments when you don’t like what they say. [quote comment=”202407″][/quote]

5 years 9 months ago
9 years 3 months ago

I wonder what this couple thought of the scene at the Russo party on their street on Sunday.