New statistics show a market that’s stabilizing, but has obstacles ahead

New statistics about the housing market in New Jersey, Morris County and in our backyard demonstrate that real estate market is still on a roller-coaster ride, albeit one that we see  getting better. For those with homes for sale in Morris County, the news is good.

The Otteau Valuation Group is arguably the most trusted observer of the New Jersey real estate market. The latest reports issued by the firm cover November and include mixed news.

  • First, the number of homes purchased during November was basically unchanged from a year ago. That’s actually pretty good, considering Superstorm Sandy brought things pretty much to a halt. In many places closings were put off until December or January on homes that weren’t badly damaged. Even with the slow-down, November marked the 13th consecutive month that sales have increased. Year-to-date activity is up 22 percent.
  • Also good: Unsold inventory declined 21 percent in November around New Jersey. That’s the lowest it’s been since 2005. It would take about 10.5 months to sell off all the current inventory, compared to 13.3 months a year ago. In Morris County, there’s about 7.6 months’ worth of inventory. That bodes well for those selling their homes.
  • Not so good: The housing market faces a litany of potential obstacles, starting with recovery from  Superstorm Sandy. While the storm will create jobs, it could also tie up resources and make building materials more expensive. Homes impacted by the hurricane may become unsellable or decreased in value. The good news is that Sandy will have less of an impact in Northwest New Jersey than in other parts of the state.
  • Also on the list of obstacles are things like the continuing “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Washington, D.C.; economic turmoil in Europe; tighter lending standards; and Middle East volatility – all things we have no control over around here.
  • Locally, inventory is down in our area. That means more competition for each home on the market and better opportunity for those selling. It can mean more of a challenge if you’re buying. So far, decreased inventory hasn’t translated into rising prices, although they’re stabilizing.  Sales in November were down everywhere in our area except the Chesters, which reflects the statewide trend triggered by Sandy and the storm immediately after Sandy. Here are some local statistics:
  • Chesters
    • Sales: 2011: 4; 2012: 9
    • Inventory: 2011: 89 homes; 2012: 70 homes
  • Mount Olive
    • Sales: 2011: 21 homes; 2012: 12 homes
    • Inventory: 2011: 164 homes; 2012: 145  homes
  • Long Valley and Washington Township
    • Sales: 2011: 12  homes; 2012: 10 homes
    • Inventory: 2011: 114 homes; 2012: 97 homes

It’s difficult to draw conclusions from figures and trends like this, but if you look at them in the larger context, it shows continued improvement in the market. Smart buyers and sellers will develop a strategy to get their best deal. To accomplish that, especially for sellers, we recommend consulting with your financial advisor, an attorney if you’re “underwater” with your mortgage and with a Realtor. Your Realtor can pull all the pieces together for you.

We’re experts in this area, and we’d be happy to help you with your real estate needs. Give us a call today at (908) 867-7109 or shoot me an email at kholmquist@comcast.net.