National Housing Numbers Deceiving – Local Market Warming Up

(You can see a video of Kelly Holmquist talking about the market in Northwest New Jersey by clicking here. )

LONG VALLEY, N.J. – The National Association of Realtors last week said that the number of existing homes sold across the country was down in March, but the numbers for the first calendar quarter were the best in several years.

Announcement about pending home sales – homes that went into contract and will close later – are to be announced Thursday.

National numbers tell you nothing about what’s going on locally. You need a Realtor who is familiar with the neighborhoods you’re interested in. It really doesn’t matter how well the market is doing in Timbuktu if you’re interested a specific neighborhood in Chester, Mendham, Mount Olive, Long Valley or somewhere else in this area.

More sold signs are popping up.

Speaking of those towns and our area, the market is warming up to be a great spring. That doesn’t mean the market has changed, but we’re definitely seeing signs that this is the best market we’ve seen in a long time, and if you need to buy or sell a home, well, you know the rest of the line: It’s a good time to do it.

Recent reports say that the number of homes that went into contract in March in the Chesters (two in the Borough, nine in the Township), the Mendhams (14) , Mount Olive (21) and Long Valley (19 for Washington Township) were the highest number of pending home sales since the beginning of the year. In fact, acrossMorrisCounty, 502 homes went into contract in March, the highest since the year began. Last year, only 383 homes were sold in March acrossMorrisCounty, so it’s an increase since last year, also.

It’s not a trend yet, but here’s a news release and video we issued when the existing  home sales report came out late last week:


LONG VALLEY, N.J.– The volume of existing home sales in Northwest New Jerseyhas been “tremendous” during the last month, according to Kelly Holmquist, a prominent Realtor in the area.

Ms. Holmquist, who leads The Holmquist Team, part of Keller-Williams Towne Square Realty, made her remarks as the National Association of Realtors announces its monthly report on existing home sales. That report says that home sales fell slightly nationally, but that sales for the first three months of the year were better than the same period last year.

Saying there is no national real estate market, Ms. Holmquist said real estate is very local. While she did not disclose specific numbers, Ms. Holmquist said sales in the northwestMorrisCountyarea have been very strong during March and April, with homes selling in a week our two and sellers receiving multiple offers.

“The buyers are finally getting it,” said Ms. Holmquist. “Interest rates are down, prices are down and there’s a good selection of homes. It’s not going to get much better.”

While prices may slip a little more, she anticipates that interest rates will begin to rise soon. The rising rates will erase any price decreases. That, of course, is not the best news for home sellers.

“The good news is that there are buyers, so if you need to move, you can sell your home,” said Ms Holmquist.

While she sees the current conditions as excellent, she’s not ready to declare the market changed. That, she says, can only be determined by looking back at six months worth of market statistics. While she’s hoping current conditions become a trend, she’s concerned that the spring selling season could slow down because it started so early. She notes, however, that in most towns in her area, homes are being sold very quickly. That keeps the inventory fairly low.

The brisk activity is a bit of a game changer for those buying or selling homes, says Ms. Holmquist.

“There are a lot of homes coming on where the Sellers are realistic and aggressive with their pricing,” she said. “Buyers are competing with multiple offers. You need to study the comps and really know the value of the home you want.”

Sellers also need to compete knowledgeably.

“Stage your house,” she said. “Make it look great. Houses that look great and are priced well are the homes that are moving.”

Ms. Holmquist is the team leader for The Holmquist Team, part of Keller Williams Towne Square Realty, and one of the top-producing real estate teams in Morris County, N.J.  She has been in real estate since 1997, specializing in residential home sales. After working at other agencies, she founded The Holmquist Team in 2008. A Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), she holds a bachelor of science fromPennStateUniversity. More information is at or by calling (908) 867-7109. 

So…what are you seeing in your neighborhood? More “For Sale” signs? More “Sold” signs?



With the Housing Market Warming Up, Perhaps It’s Time for You to Jump In

If you’ve been wondering whether it’s time to dive into the housing market, a bunch of recent headlines seem to be saying, “C’mon in. The water’s fine.”

A lot of people have wanted to sell their home or buy a new home because of changes in their life. But they’ve been holding off because the housing market has presented so many challenges.  But look at these recent reports:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of building permits in February was the highest since October 2008 (although down a bit from January);
  • The closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller Report indicates that pricing was flat in the metro areas covered by the monthly survey.
  • While the number of existing homes sold during February was down slightly, the numbers were the second highest since May 2010.
  • Here inNew Jersey, appraiser Jeff Otteau, who has become the outstanding monitor of the state’s housing market, says the housing market is recovering. He said sales were up about 30 percent in January and February, compared with last year.
  • InMorrisCounty, according to Otteau, there were 266 sales in January and 320 in February. There were fewer homes available in February than January and more buyers for each seller.
  • Every news report has more and more economists and analysts speaking optimistically.

These ideas mean it’s a good time to take another look at the housing market. You’re not the only one who has been thinking about it. There are four or five years of pent-up demand ready to come into the housing market.

You still need to proceed carefully though.

If you bought your home in 2005 or 2006, it’s not the time to put your house on the market at what you paid for it. Housing prices are down and they’re going to stay down for a long time.

But if it’s time for you to get out of your home because you’ve outgrown it, because you don’t need that much space any more, because you are driving two hours a day to your new job or because its just time for a change, it’s worth talking to a Realtor. And if it’s time to get out of your house because you just can’t afford it, the odds are a little more on your side.

But move carefully and work with a professional. These are tricky times.

On the sales side, a Realtor can help you decide on the right price for your home. Overpriced homes aren’t going to sell. He or she can help you develop a sales strategy, decide how best to fix up and stage your home, and pick the right deal. If you’re upside down on your mortgage, make sure you pick an agent who is comfortable and successful with short sales and other methods of dealings with underwater mortgages.

On the buying side, a Realtor can help you decide how much you can afford, prequalify for a loan and decide what a reasonable offer is on a home you decide you like.

Spring is always a good time to buy or sell a home. This year is shaping up to be one of the best springs in a long time. If changing homes has been on your mind, maybe it’s time to jump into the market. At least c’mon in and take a look around!