The Bergen County housing market continued to expand in the fourth quarter, with both sales and prices up. For the calendar year, Bergen saw a solid increase in sales and modest but measurable price appreciation.
Sales. Bergen single-family home sales finished the year strong, with sales up almost 8% for the quarter and over 10% for the calendar year. This marked the fifth straight quarter of year-on-year sales increases. Indeed, we are starting to see transactions at “seller market” levels, with the 6,103 calendar year sales higher than any year since 2006.
Prices. With these sustained increases in buyer demand, we’re also seeing consistent, if modest, appreciation in pricing. Prices were up for the quarter, rising almost 1% on average and 5% at the median. And, for the year, prices were basically flat on average, with a more robust 3.4% increase at the median. We’re still seeing pricing at non-inflation-adjusted 2004 levels, about 15% below the height of the market in 2006, but we’re moving in the right direction.
Negotiability. The negotiability indicators implied that sellers might be gaining a bit of leverage with buyers. In the quarter, the average days-on-market fell sharply, dropping almost 13%, so homes were getting into contract more quickly. Similarly, sellers were becoming slightly more demanding on pricing, with the listing retention rate closing on 96%.
Condominiums. The Bergen condo market was up sharply, with sales rising almost 16% for the quarter and over 5% for the year. Pricing was mixed, with the average up for both the quarter and the year but the median down. We expect that if buyer demand continues to grow, it will start to drive meaningful price appreciation in this entry-level market.
Going forward, we remain confident that Bergen County is slowly moving into a seller’s market. Buyer demand is strong, which is driving up sales and starting to have a meaningful impact on pricing. With pricing close to 2004 levels, rates near historic lows, and the economy relatively stable, we expect demand to stay strong through a robust spring market and throughout 2016.