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.

Fall Starts With Great News About The Housing Market

The lazy days of summer may be over, and with it the summer real estate market, but members of The Holmquist Team are seeing every sign pointing to an active housing market nationally and right in our backyard, with houses selling quickly.

The real estate market is heating up and homes for sale are selling quicklyOn the national scene, The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch Chief Economist writes, “As the U.S. economy rounds the Labor Day turn, it appears that the long-depressed housing market is climbing out of the basement.”  He notes that, “For the first time in a number of years, the supply of both new and used homes available for sale has dropped below demand.” While all real estate is local, that’s a trend we definitely see in our area.

Speaking of our area, Jeffrey Otteau, an appraiser who has earned the reputation as one of the foremost experts on the New Jersey housing market, points out that July saw a 24 percent increase in home purchase contracts compared with a year ago. Equally important, inventory is down 17 percent.

“The combined effects of the decline in unsold inventory with the increase in purchase demand are rebalancing the dynamics of the housing market toward price stability in 2012,” writes Otteau in his latest studies.

Those of dealing with homes for sale in the Chester/Long Valley/Mount Olive area are actually seeing many of the same trends.  Fifty-two homes were sold in those three towns during July 2012, compared to 40 a year ago. We’re seeing bidding contests for well-staged, properly priced homes in our area.  As of July 31, there were 527 homes on the market in the four communities. A year ago, there were 607 homes for sale in those towns.

What does all this mean for you? Aside from the math and economics, it means if you’ve been waiting to buy or sell a home, it’s time to make your move. With interest rates rising, and the market stabilizing, demand up and inventory down, there is nothing to be gained by more waiting.

If you’re selling, talk to us about how your home fits into the current market. Homes that are well-staged and properly priced and marketed are selling, sometimes very quickly. Your Realtor will help you make decisions about pricing, staging, marketing and getting the best deal.

If you’re buying, you should speak with The Holmquist Team. Desirable homes are moving quickly and while prices are stabilizing, interest rates are not. They’re starting back up. If you see a home you like, you need to move carefully, but quickly, to make it yours.

And if you’d like to sell, but you owe too much on your home, The Holmquist Team is well-versed and experienced in short sales. Banks are moving more quickly now, and a good agent – teamed with a specialized attorney – can help you get out from under an oppressive mortgage.

It really is a good time to take another look at the housing market. People who move soon can be in a new home by the time the winter holidays arrive. One thing is clear, though: While temperatures are cooling off, it looks like the housing market is just warming up.  Call The Holmquist Team today.