The Bergen County housing market plateaued in the third quarter of 2016, with sales and prices flat over the summer after a spike in spring activity.
Sales. Bergen sales were flat in the third quarter, rising less than 1% after a pretty robust period over the past two years. Indeed, even with that minimal sales increase, Bergen has now seen eight straight quarters of year‑on‑year sales growth. That sustained period of increasing buyer demand resulted in a rolling year where sales were up 10%, with the 6,657 sales marking the highest twelve‑month total in over ten years — at the height of the last seller’s market.
Prices. Unfortunately, we are still not seeing this sustained increase in buyer demand have any impact on pricing. For the quarter, prices were mixed, with the average down almost 2% and the median up 1%. The same was true for the rolling year, where the average price fell over 1% and the median was flat. As we’ve said before in this Report, 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 simply stronger in the lower‑priced markets, which is driving the average and median price down by changing the mix of properties sold. If that’s the case, then it’s just a matter of time before prices start to go up.
Inventory. Bergen inventory continues to tighten, with the number of available single‑family homes falling 26% and the months of inventory now below the six‑month mark that usually denotes a “tight” market. Indeed, declining inventory might be contributing to the relative slackness in sales, if buyers are on the sidelines waiting for new homes to hit the market.
Condominiums. 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 almost 7%, and pricing was up 4% on average and 5% at the median. This continues a long‑term trend we’ve been watching, with the rolling year average price up almost 5% and the median up 3%. Those are sustainable price increases, and probably foreshadow what we’ll see next year with single‑family homes.
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 modest but meaningful appreciation by mid-2017.