Sales in the Passaic County housing market continued to rise in the third quarter of 2016, but these sustained levels of buyer demand are not yet having their expected impact on pricing.
Sales. Passaic sales were up again in the third quarter, rising over 6% from last year and finishing the rolling year up over 10%. Indeed, we’ve now seen sustained increases in buyer demand for over five years, with quarterly sales up in 20 out of the last 22 quarters. As a result, Passaic closed almost 3,200 homes over the last rolling year, a level Passaic had not reached in over 10 years, since the last seller’s market.
Prices. Unfortunately, these sustained increases in buyer demand are not yet impacting pricing. Prices were down, with the average price falling slightly while the median price was down over 3%. We would normally expect sustained increases in buyer demand to drive meaningful price appreciation, but Passaic pricing has been stubbornly resistant over the past few years. It may just be a matter of time, but basic economic principles would indicate that increasing demand, coupled with declining inventory, should drive prices higher.
Inventory. We generally consider anything below six‑months of inventory as a signal for a seller’s market, where tight inventory leads to multiple offer situations, bidding wars, and ultimately appreciating prices. Passaic County is still working its way to that level, but inventory was down over 20% to 8.3 months, so it’s moving in that direction.
Negotiability. The negotiability indicators both showed that sellers are gaining leverage with buyers. The days‑on‑market were down just a tick for the quarter, signaling that homes were selling a little more quickly. And the listing retention rate was up, indicating that sellers were getting closer to their asking price. Together, they show that sellers are slowly gaining some bargaining power with buyers, which should eventually lead to modest price appreciation.
Going forward, we believe that Passaic’s fundamentals are sound, with homes priced at relatively attractive levels, rates near historic lows, and a stable economy. Accordingly, we expect buyer demand to stay strong through the end of the year, with the strong possibility of meaningful price appreciation in 2017.