The Northern New Jersey housing market surged again in the third quarter of 2017, with another increase in sales and modest-but-meaningful price appreciation. With inventory levels continuing to fall throughout the region, we expect that sustained buyer demand will drive a robust seller’s market through rest of the year and into 2018.
Sales surged throughout the region. All the Northern New Jersey markets continued to grow, with regional sales up over 4% and transactions rising in every market in the region: up 1% for Bergen houses, 5% for Bergen condos, 8% in Passaic, 0.4% in Morris, 4% in Essex, and 17% in Sussex. For the rolling year, sales were up 8%, reaching sales levels we have not seen since the height of the last seller’s market. Indeed, regional sales are now up over 75% from the bottom of the market in 2011.
The number of available homes for sale continues to go down. Indeed, inventory was down from last year in every individual county in the Rand Report: Bergen single‑family homes down 17%, and condos down 22%; Passaic down 28%; Morris down 29%; Essex down 29%; and Sussex down 11%. Moreover, most of our Northern New Jersey markets have reached the six‑months‑of‑inventory level that traditionally starts to signal a seller’s market. If inventory continues to tighten, and demand stays strong, we are likely to see more upward pressure on pricing.
With sales up and inventory down, prices are starting to show some “green shoots” of modest price appreciation. Basic economics of supply and demand would tell us that after five years of steadily increasing buyer demand, we would expect to see some meaningful price increases. And we’re starting to see some promising signs: the regional average sales price was flat, but prices were up sharply in Bergen, Passaic, and Morris, even while they continue to struggle in Essex and Sussex.
Going forward, we remain confident that rising demand and falling inventory will continue to drive price appreciation through the rest of 2017. Sales have now been increasing for five years, which has brought inventory to the seller’s market threshold in much of the region. The economic fundamentals are all good: homes are priced at 2004 levels (without even adjusting for inflation), interest rates are still near historic lows, and the regional economy is stable. Accordingly, we continue to believe the region is poised for a strong fall market and a strong 2018.