Activity in the Sussex County housing market surged yet again in the second quarter of 2017, with sales up sharply even while prices continued to soften.
Sales. Sussex sales were up yet again in the second quarter, rising over 25% from last year. And for the year, sales increased over 20%, with over 2,600 home sales representing the highest 12-month total in over 10 years. Indeed, Sussex sales are now up almost 125% from the bottom of the market in 2011.
Prices. Prices in Sussex have been bouncing around for the last year. The average was up 8% in the fourth quarter, then down 2% in the first quarter, and now down again by almost 2% in the second quarter. So what’s going on? Most likely, we’re just seeing some noise in the short-term data. If we look at the rolling year, the numbers make more sense, with both the average and the median up about 1%. That’s probably the kind of appreciation we’ll be looking at for the rest of the year.
Inventory. The Sussex inventory of available homes for sale fell dramatically again, dropping almost 26% and now down to under 10 months. That’s a significant decline, but inventory is still higher than in other Northern New Jersey counties, which are all approaching the six-month inventory line that usually signals the beginning of a seller’s market. But if inventory continues to go down, we would expect that to put some additional upward pressure on pricing.
Negotiability. The negotiability metrics indicated that sellers were gaining some negotiating leverage with buyers . The days-on-market fell again, dropping by 12% (20 days) and now down to under five months of market time. And sellers were retaining a lot more of their asking price, with listing retention jumping three percentage points and now up to almost 97%.
Going forward, we expect that Sussex is going to continue to see rising sales coupled with more consistent price appreciation. With an improving economy, homes priced at attractive levels, and near-historically low interest rates, we expect buyer demand coupled with declining inventory to drive a robust Summer market and a strong 2017.