Large properties and a central location make the boroughs of Saddle River and Upper Saddle River (USR) attractive to buyers looking for peaceful neighborhoods and convenient commutes.
Local Realtors and community members say buyers can find beautiful homes that offer privacy, but not remoteness. Residents are near major highways, so shopping and entertainment trips are easy to plan.
Part of the charm of both towns is that they have zoning for larger lots, said Terrie O'Connor of Terrie O'Connor Realtors, with six locations in Bergen County, including Saddle River.
"Both communities really are valleys, called the Saddle River Valley, so they have a lovely topography where homes are either on the east or west side of the hill," O'Connor said. "We are boxed by Interstate 287, Route 17 and the Garden State Parkway. You can't get more efficient as far as a network of highways. If you need to take the train or the bus, both towns are very convenient to the stations in Ho-Ho-Kus, Allendale and Ramsey."
O'Connor said neither community has a big downtown, so shopping is done in the surrounding towns. She also said that both boroughs are family communities that put an emphasis on activities at the school and through local sports recreation programs.
Differences between both towns:
• Saddle River is zoned for about two acres, while Upper Saddle River is zoned for about one acre
• Saddle River is generally more expensive, with homes priced from $1 million to $15 million. Upper Saddle River homes cost $500,000 up to $3 million.
• Upper Saddle River has a library, while Saddle River residents can utilize nearby libraries for a nominal fee.
Vicki Gaily of Special Properties, Saddle River, said both boroughs are as rural as you can get for a location that's within 25 minutes of Manhattan.
"The scenery is beautiful, and I just enjoy riding through the area," she said.
Gaily, who is a 30-year resident of Saddle River, said people in both towns have access to ball fields, tennis courts and playgrounds and that residents of both boroughs tend to move within the town rather than leave the area when they want a new home.
"The market has definitely picked up in both communities," Gaily said. "We actually have lower inventories now in both towns than we've had in the last four years. Buyer confidence certainly has improved drastically in the last six months. With the adjusted prices, low interest rates and the fact that there are still choices to be had, it could not be a better time for a buyer to come into the market."
Residents who are new to either borough can meet new people and join social activities through the Saddle River Valley New Comers Club (srvnc.org).
Marie Janasa of Terrie O'Connor Realtors has been involved with the International Club, which is part of the New Comers Club. Throughout its nearly 28 years in existence, the International Club has had members from 25 different countries.
"I moved into Upper Saddle River in 1983, and since I didn't know anyone, joining the club was a great help to me in finding friends and taking part in their activities," Janasa said. "I took great interest in it, and was a co-chair of the International Group for almost 20 years."
Jenny Lindberg, of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Ridgewood, has been a resident of Saddle River for more than 12 years. She said she likes the bucolic, small-town feel of the area.
She described the borough's one public school as "close-knit."
"The principal knows every student and parent by name," she said.
Lindberg explained that some time in the late 1990s, Saddle River's middle school was torn down, and arrangements were made for borough children to attend the middle school and high school in Ramsey.
"So now Saddle River parents have the choice between Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale and Ramsey High School," Lindberg said. "Parents can choose one school for one child and the other school for another child, but once you choose a high school, you have to stay there for the four years."
Upper Saddle River has its own middle school, and students only go to Northern Highlands Regional High School.
"The Upper Saddle River school community is committed to helping students develop physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally," said Upper Saddle River Mayor Joanne Minichetti, who has lived in the borough for 20 years with her husband and four daughters. "The schools are supported by a dedicated PTO and Educational Foundation," she continued. "Located within the school is the USR After School Program, an inexpensive, supervised, non- profit program where students go after school to do homework and enjoy activities until their parents return from work."
HOME PRICES AND HISTORY
A majority of the homes in Saddle River and Upper Saddle River are single-family homes, but there are townhome communities in both locations.
According to Lindberg, prices for homes currently on the market in Saddle River range from $800,000 for a three-bedroom, 2 ï¾½ bath fixer upper to a $13 million estate. She said more than half of the current inventory is priced at $1.5 to $3 million.
Upper Saddle River homes that are currently on the market range from $420,000 to $3 million. More than 60 percent of the current inventory is priced between $750,000 and $2 million.
Planned communities in Saddle River include:
• Saddle River Grand, a new luxury townhome development, with an average price of $1.4 to $1.5 million.
• Burning Hollow, a single-family home development, which also has a townhome community inside called The Hollows. Single-family homes average $2.5 to $3 million. A townhome currently on the market is listed at $595,000.
• High Ridge, a single-family home development with an average price of $2 to $3 million.
Lindberg said there is a small townhome community in Upper Saddle River that was built in the early 2000s called Orchard Hill. One townhome currently on the market in that 39-unit community has three bedrooms, 2 ï¾½ baths and is listed at $729,000. Another townhome community in the borough is Crescent Estates, which has 35 brand new three-bedroom homes with either 2 ï¾½ or 3 ï¾½ baths. Two units on the market are priced for $549,000 and $599,000.
Gaily said both boroughs are dotted with 18th- and 19th-century homes that sell for $900,000 up to $1.5 million. She recently closed on a home that was built in the 1790s.
"Both towns are loaded with history," Gaily said. "You can have an antique home from the 1790s next to brand new construction. It's just very interesting the mix of homes in both communities."
Saddle River's downtown area has a number of historic buildings, Lindberg said. The Saddle River Inn for instance, is located in an old historic barn.
Minichetti said much of the history of Upper Saddle River has been preserved, adding to the borough's charm.
"Borough Hall was originally our one-room school house and is a historic building," Minichetti said. "The Upper Saddle River Historic Society maintains the Hopper-Goetschius Museum and Museum Gardens. The Upper Saddle River Historic Preservation Commission has registered many of the historic homes and sites in town and has installed commemorative plaques. - winning the 2010 Preservation Award. Both work closely with the schools to foster respect for the past in the students."
ABOUT TOWN IN SADDLE RIVER
• White, non-Hispanic: 2,570
• Asian: 297
• Hispanic: 162
• Black: 66
• Avg. Residential Tax Bill: $16,071.43
• Median Sales Price Year-Over-Year: $2.73 million
Wandell Elementary School, Smith Middle School in Ramsey, and either Ramsey High School or Northern Regional High School in Allendale.
• Graduation rates for Ramsey
High School and Northern Regional
High School: 100% (State: 94.7%)
Points of Interest
• Saddle River Valley Swim and Tennis Club: Mailing address is in borough; physical location is in Monsey, N.Y. (srvclub.com)
• Rindlaub Park
• Saddle River Museum (saddlerivermuseum.com)
• 5K Memorial Run/Walk for former resident Susan Suite on April 28 (humcfoundation.com)
• Holiday Tree Lighting
• Saddle River was incorporated as a borough on Nov. 22, 1894.
ABOUT TOWN IN UPPER SADDLE RIVER
• White, non-Hispanic: 6,809
• Asian: 828
• Hispanic: 355
• Black: 118
• Avg. Residential Tax Bill: $15,985.25
• Median Sales Price Year-Over-Year: $940,000
Reynolds and Bogert elementary schools, Cavallini Middle School, and Northern Regional H.S. in Allendale.
• Graduation rate for Northern Regional H.S.: 100% (State: 94.7%)
Points of Interest
• Upper Saddle River Library: 245 Lake St.
• Hopper-Goetschius House Museum: 363 East Saddle River Road
• Hess and Lions Parks
• Memorial Day Parade
• Upper Saddle River Day
• Dick Meighan 5K Memorial Run on Thanksgiving (dickmeighan5krun.org)
• Holiday Tree Lighting / Menorah Lighting
• According to the borough website, "In 1894 citizens of the area voted to incorporate as a borough; there were 100 eligible voters in town, and 50 of them cast ballots."