Activity in the Bergen County Housing Market was up significantly in the second quarter of 2016, but pricing continued to struggle.
Sales. Bergen sales rose again in the second quarter, with transactions up over 11% for the quarter. Buyer demand in Bergen has now been growing for almost two years, with seven straight quarters of year‑on‑year sales growth. And for the rolling year, sales are now up almost 14%, with the 6,593 year‑long sales marking the highest total in almost ten years.
Prices. Unfortunately, these sustained levels of buyer demand are not yet having their expected impact on pricing. Single‑family prices were down over 2% on average and 1% at the median compared to last year’s second quarter, although the rolling year trend was slightly positive. Bergen County prices have been flat for almost eight years now, after the sharp correction in 2008‑09. It might be that the demand is stronger in the lower‑priced markets, which is driving prices down by changing the mix of properties sold.
Inventory. We generally consider anything below 6 months of inventory as a “tight” market that leads to multiple offer situations, bidding wars, and ultimately appreciating prices. Bergen single‑family homes crossed over that threshold last quarter, and remains at about 6 months in the second quarter, a clear indication that we are going to see some upward pressure on pricing.
Negotiability. Sellers might be gaining a bit of leverage with buyers. The average days‑on‑market fell sharply, dropping almost 7% and now down to almost two months of market time. So homes are getting into contract more quickly. Similarly, sellers were becoming slightly more demanding on pricing, with the listing retention rate closing on 97%.
Condos & Coops. Bergen condo sales and prices were both up sharply, demonstrating that buyer demand in the county might be particularly strong in the entry‑level markets. Condo sales were up over 8%, consistent with what we saw in single‑family homes. But pricing was far more robust, with the average up almost 13% and the median up over 6% compared to last year. Those types of increases are not sustainable, but the rolling year increase of 4% on average and 2% in the median are probably what we can expect for the rest of the year.
Going forward, we remain confident that Bergen County is slowly moving into a strong seller’s market. Although we are not yet seeing price appreciation in the single‑family market, we expect that increases in buyer demand, coupled with a decline of inventory, will eventually drive meaningful appreciation like we are seeing in the condo market.