The Bergen County housing market finished strong in the fourth quarter of 2016, with sales up sharply and prices showing signs of meaningful appreciation.
Sales. Bergen single-family home sales were up almost 11% for the quarter, the ninth straight quarter where we’ve seen year-on-year sales growth. And for the year, sales were also up 11%, marking the third straight year of sales increases. Indeed, sales in the 2016 calendar year hit their highest levels since 2005, and are now up 55% from their 2011 bottom.
Prices. These sustained increases in buyer demand showed signs of finally having their expected impact on pricing. Single-family home prices were up almost 4% on average and 3% at the median compared to the fourth quarter of last year, the largest quarterly increase in almost three years. Even with that strong fourth quarter, though, the calendar year was relatively mixed, with the average price down a tick and the median up just about 1%.
Inventory. Bergen single-family inventory tightened dramatically, with the number of available single-family homes falling almost 30% and the months of inventory now down under four months, well below the six-month mark that usually denotes a “tight” market. With inventory this low, and demand staying strong, we would expect some upward pressure on pricing.
Negotiability. The negotiability indicators were relatively mixed for single-family homes, with the days on market down a little and the listing retention rate up a bit. As inventory tightens and the market heats up, we would expect to start seeing sellers gain negotiating leverage, with homes selling more quickly and for closer to the asking price.
Condos. The Bergen condo market was relatively flat in the fourth quarter, with sales down a tick and prices mixed. For the year, though, the results were more encouraging, with sales up 10% and prices up about 4% across the board.
Going forward, we remain confident that Bergen County is slowly moving into a strong seller’s market. With inventory tightening, a relatively strong economy, near-historically low interest rates, and prices still at attractive 2004 levels, we believe that sustained buyer demand will drive meaningful price appreciation in 2017.