So What’s Going on in the Sussex County Real Estate Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for 2015Q4

NJ GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-6-3The Sussex County housing market surged in the fourth quarter, with a dramatic spike in sales that continued a yearlong trend of markedly higher transaction rates. Nevertheless, we are still not seeing these sustained levels of buyer demand have their expected impact on pricing.

Sales. Sussex sales were up sharply in the fourth quarter, rising almost 39% from last year and finishing the year up almost 18%. Indeed, Essex closings have now gone up in each of the last four years, during which sales have now increased by almost 80% from their 2011 levels at the bottom of the market. With sustained levels of buyer demand, the market is in much stronger shape than it has been at any time since the 2008-09 market correction.

Prices. This spike in sales, though, has not yet had an impact on pricing, which has actually deteriorated, even while buyer demand increased. Average and median sales prices were down for both the fourth quarter and the full calendar year, which was a little disappointing given the transactional strength in the market. Moreover, prices have been trending downward now for several years, in defiance of what we would expect from normal economic behavior. Generally, it takes time for increases in demand to drive pricing changes, so we believe this will turn around if buyer demand remains at its current levels.

Negotiability. The negotiability indicators – the amount of time sold homes were on the market, and the rate at which sellers were able to retain their full asking price – were mixed. The days-on-market fell dramatically in the quarter, dropping over 13% — and almost a full month! For the year, the market time was down as well, although not as significantly. But we didn’t see the same dynamic in the listing retention rate, which actually fell a bit for the quarter and was flat for the year. Generally, we expect that as buyer demand heats up, homes will sell more quickly and for closer to the asking price. We’re starting to see quicker sales, but nothing that would indicate that sellers are gaining leverage in their negotiations with buyers.

Going forward, we do expect better things for the Sussex market. We believe that buyer demand will stay strong through 2016, especially with a relatively strong economy, homes priced at attractive levels, and near-historically low interest rates. And if buyer demand stays at its current levels, we expect that Sussex will start to see some meaningful price appreciation by the end of the year.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 10, 2016 at 2:01 pm
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Essex County Real Estate Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for 2015Q4

NJ GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-5-2The Essex County housing market closed the year with a modest increase in sales and some mixed results in pricing. For the year, sales were up fairly significantly, but we’re still not seeing any meaningful price appreciation.

Sales. Essex sales were up in the fourth quarter, rising over 4% from last year and finishing the year up almost 10%. Indeed, Essex closings have now gone up in each of the last four years, during which sales have now increased by over 50% from their 2011 levels at the bottom of the market. The market is in much stronger shape than it has been at any time since the 2008-09 market correction, with sustained levels of buyer demand.

Prices. This jump in sales, though, has not yet had an impact on pricing, which remains relatively flat over the past three years. We are seeing pricing about 8% higher than at the bottom of the market, but we haven’t seen any movement over the past three years, even while transactions went up. Generally, it takes time for increases in demand to drive pricing changes, so we believe it’s just a matter of time before we start to see meaningful price appreciation in Essex.

Negotiability. The negotiability indicators – the amount of time sold homes were on the market, and the rate at which sellers were able to retain their full asking price – were essentially flat. The days-on-market fell slightly in the quarter and for the year, indicating that homes were selling just a bit quicker, and the listing retention rate was up a little for both the quarter and the year, but neither indicator moved in a way that would dramatically affect the negotiating balance between buyers and sellers.

Going forward, we expect that buyer demand will stay strong through 2016. With a relatively strong economy, homes priced at attractive levels, and near-historically low interest rates, we believe that we will start to see some meaningful price appreciation by the end of the year.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 10, 2016 at 10:29 am
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Morris County Real Estate Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for 2015Q4

NJ GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-4-2The Morris County housing market sagged a bit in the fourth quarter, with only a modest increase in sales and basically flat prices. For the year, sales were up slightly, but we are still not seeing any meaningful price appreciation.

Sales. Morris County sales were essentially flat for the fourth quarter, rising 1.5% and finishing the year up 7.6%. This did mark the fifth straight quarter of year-on-year sales growth, and the market closed over 5,500 sales for the calendar year for the first time since the height of the seller’s market, so things are moving in the right direction. But compared to the other northern New Jersey county markets, Morris’s 2015 performance was relatively tepid.

Prices. Similarly, Morris pricing continued the trend of bouncing around a bit. For the quarter, the average price was up a tick and the median was down slightly. And for the year, the average was up and the median flat. That’s what we’ve basically seen over the last few years: prices up one quarter, down the next, the average up but the median down, etc. We’re not getting any clear read on where pricing in Morris is going, except that we remain confident if buyer demand continues to grow it will eventually start pushing prices up.

Negotiability. The negotiability indicators – the amount of time sold homes were on the market, and the rate at which sellers were able to retain their full asking price – were basically flat. The days-on-market rose slightly in the quarter and for the year, indicating that homes were taking just a little longer to sell. But sellers were getting slightly closer to the asking price, with the listing retention rate up a bit for both the quarter and the year. Again, like with sales and prices, the results were basically “meh” – no clear trend, no major movement one way or the other.

Going forward, despite the relatively lackluster results in 2015, we still believe Morris County is poised for serious growth. With homes still at historically affordable prices, interest rates low, and a generally improving economy, we expect that buyer demand will strengthen and drive more meaningful price appreciation in a robust spring market and throughout 2016.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 9, 2016 at 2:05 pm
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Passaic County Real Estate Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for 2015Q4

NJ GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-3-2The Passaic County housing market closed strong in the fourth quarter of 2015, with solid increases in both sales and prices. As a result, Passaic finished its third straight year of meaningful price appreciation, clearly indicating that it is moving into a seller’s market.

Sales. Passaic sales continued to go up in the fourth quarter, rising almost 7% and finishing the year with a 13% increase off 2014 levels. Indeed, we’ve now seen sustained increases in buyer demand for over four years, with quarterly sales up in 17 out of the last 19 quarters. Moreover, the almost 3,000 sales for all of 2015 marked the highest calendar year total since 2006, at the height of the last seller’s market.

Prices. Although prices bounced around a little in 2015, they finished the year strong. In the fourth quarter, prices were up almost 5% on both the average and at the median. And even with the ups and downs throughout the year, Passaic still finished 2015 with a solid 2.1% increase in the average and 3.1% at the median, marking the third straight year of modest, but meaningful, price appreciation. Prices still have a long way to go to recover from the market correction of 2008-09, but they are moving in the right direction.

Negotiability. The negotiability indicators were mixed. The days-on-market were slightly up for both the quarter and the year, signaling that it was taking longer for homes to get sold. But the listing retention rate was also up, indicating that sellers were gaining some negotiating leverage with buyers, and were better able to command closer to their asking prices. As buyer demand continues to heat up, we would expect sellers to gain more negotiating power, leading to higher prices overall.

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 that Passaic County will flower into a fully-realized seller’s market in 2016, marked by continued increases in both sales and prices.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 9, 2016 at 9:57 am
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Bergen County Real Estate Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for 2015Q4

NJ GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-2-3The Bergen County housing market continued to expand in the fourth quarter, with both sales and prices up. For the calendar year, Bergen saw a solid increase in sales and modest but measurable price appreciation.

Sales. Bergen single-family home sales finished the year strong, with sales up almost 8% for the quarter and over 10% for the calendar year. This marked the fifth straight quarter of year-on-year sales increases. Indeed, we are starting to see transactions at “seller market” levels, with the 6,103 calendar year sales higher than any year since 2006.

Prices. With these sustained increases in buyer demand, we’re also seeing consistent, if modest, appreciation in pricing. Prices were up for the quarter, rising almost 1% on average and 5% at the median. And, for the year, prices were basically flat on average, with a more robust 3.4% increase at the median. We’re still seeing pricing at non-inflation-adjusted 2004 levels, about 15% below the height of the market in 2006, but we’re moving in the right direction.

Negotiability. The negotiability indicators implied that sellers might be gaining a bit of leverage with buyers. In the quarter, the average days-on-market fell sharply, dropping almost 13%, so homes were getting into contract more quickly. Similarly, sellers were becoming slightly more demanding on pricing, with the listing retention rate closing on 96%.

Condominiums. The Bergen condo market was up sharply, with sales rising almost 16% for the quarter and over 5% for the year. Pricing was mixed, with the average up for both the quarter and the year but the median down. We expect that if buyer demand continues to grow, it will start to drive meaningful price appreciation in this entry-level market.

Going forward, we remain confident that Bergen County is slowly moving into a seller’s market. Buyer demand is strong, which is driving up sales and starting to have a meaningful impact on pricing. With pricing close to 2004 levels, rates near historic lows, and the economy relatively stable, we expect demand to stay strong through a robust spring market and throughout 2016.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 8, 2016 at 1:40 pm
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for the Northern New Jersey Region for 2015Q4

NJ GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-1-2The Northern New Jersey housing market finished 2015 in a flourish, with sharp increases in sales and emerging signs of meaningful price appreciation. As 2016 begins, the region seems to be moving into a fully-realized seller’s market that will be characterized by declining inventory, increasing sales, and rising prices.

Sales were up over 8% for the region, rising in every county in the Report. Closings have now been trending up for about five years, ever since the market stabilized after the correction precipitated by the financial crisis of 2008-09. Although we are not yet at transactional levels that we saw during the last seller’s market of the mid-2000’s, the number of homes sold in 2015 was about 40% higher than at the bottom of the market.

Although prices were basically flat, they showed signs of emerging “green shoots.” The regional sales price was up less than 1%, but it did mark the third straight year of rising prices, even though the increases have been marginal. On the other hand, pricing is now about 8% higher than at the bottom of the market, so the trend is generally positive. Interestingly, pricing was stronger in the middle of the market, with mid-priced counties like Passaic generally faring a little better than higher-priced areas like Bergen or Morris.

Most importantly, we are starting to see a tightening of inventory. The industry measures the impact of inventory by calculating the “months of inventory” remaining on the market: i.e., the number of homes for sale divided by the average monthly transactions. So, for example, if we have 1,000 homes for sale and we close about 100 sales a month, we say that’s about 10 months of inventory. According to industry standards, six months worth of inventory signals a balanced market: any less, and we are likely to see too many buyers chasing too few homes, which will tend to lead to multiple offer situations, then bidding wars, and ultimately higher prices. Well, right now, we’re starting to see markets that are under 10 months of inventory, with some trending toward six months, signaling that we are moving into a tighter market.

Going forward, we believe that we are heading for a seller’s market. Sales have now been increasing for almost five years, and at some point that increased buyer demand is going to start driving down inventory and driving up pricing. 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 expect that the region will experience rising sales and prices through a robust spring market and throughout 2016.

Editor’s Note: We are delighted to present this comprehensive Report on the Northern New Jersey housing market for the first time. Although we have been providing reports to our clients on the Bergen, Passaic, and Morris County markets for several years, we are now expanding our focus to also cover Hudson, Essex, and Sussex Counties.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 8, 2016 at 9:49 am
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Dutchess County Real Estate Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for 2015Q4

NY GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-6-2Dutchess finished the year strong, with a nice increase in sales activity coupled with the first small signs of meaningful price appreciation. For the year, sales were up sharply while prices were basically flat.

Sales. Dutchess County single-family home sales surged again in the fourth quarter, with transactions up 11% from last year. This marked the fifth quarter in a row with year-on-year sales increases, ending a year where closings were up almost 25%. Indeed, the 2,140 yearly sales represented the highest calendar year total since 2006, at the tail end of the last seller’s market.

Prices. For the first time, we are starting to see some “green shoots” of price appreciation in Dutchess, with both average and median prices up, compared to the fourth quarter of last year. For the calendar year, average prices were down a tick while the median was basically flat, but we believe that the sustained increases in buyer activity we’re seeing in Dutchess are bound to have an impact on pricing in 2016.

Negotiability. The negotiability indicators show that Dutchess sellers might be starting to get some leverage. Homes were selling for a little closer to the asking price, with the listing retention rate up to almost 95%. And the days-on-market remains down below six months for the year, indicating that homes are selling a little more quickly. As sellers gain negotiating leverage, we would expect prices to go up.

Condominiums. The condo market was robust, with sales up over 31% compared to the fourth quarter of last year, and up over 20% for the year. And although prices were down sharply for the year, they spiked this quarter, indicating that we might be seeing odd fluctuations from outliers in a relatively thin market.

Going forward, we believe that with a stable economy, interest rates near historic lows, pricing at 2004 levels, and increasing buyer demand, Dutchess is poised for meaningful price appreciation in 2016.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Putnam County Real Estate Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for 2015Q4

NY GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-5-2Activity in Putnam surged in the fourth quarter of 2015, with sales up sharply, hitting levels we have not seen in over ten years. And although prices took a dip in the quarter, they were relatively flat for the year.

Sales. Putnam sales surged again in the fourth quarter, rising almost 12% from last year and up almost 21% for the year. Indeed, we have now seen sustained growth in Putnam sales for four years, with closings up for six straight quarters and 14 out of the last 15. And we are now seeing sales totals creep up to the seller market levels, with the 918 calendar sales being the most since 2005.

Prices. Pricing was disappointing, with the quarterly price down across the board after a robust showing in the third quarter. Indeed, for the year, prices were down just slightly, after rising for the past two calendar years.

Negotiability. The good news for prices came in the inventory numbers, which were down sharply. The months-of-inventory fell almost 21% from last year, down to below 9.0 months for the first time in over 10 years. With inventory tightening, we would expect negotiability to decline, which would tend to drive prices up as buyers chase fewer opportunities and homes sell more quickly and for closer to the asking price.

Condominiums. The condo market was similarly up, rising over 22% for the quarter and over 30% for the year. In this case, though, the surge in activity has already been felt in the pricing, with the average up over 11% for the quarter and over 9% for the year.

Going forward, we believe that these levels of buyer demand coupled with a declining inventory are likely to drive some meaningful price appreciation in a robust spring market and through the end of the year.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 7, 2016 at 11:34 am
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Orange County Real Estate Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for 2015Q4

NY GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-4-2Orange County surged again in the fourth quarter of 2015, with sales reaching levels we have not seen in over ten years, but this rising demand has not yet had its expected impact on pricing.

Sales. Orange County sales spiked again, rising 20% from the fourth quarter of last year and up 29% for all of 2015. We have now seen sustained sales growth for more than three years, with transactions up five quarters in a row and 14 out of the last 15. Indeed, we are now seeing sales at historically high levels, with the 2,843 yearly sales the most in any calendar year since 2006, at the height of the last seller’s market.

Prices. Unfortunately, we have not yet seen these sustained increases in buyer demand have an impact on pricing, with the average and median price both finishing the year down from 2014. Prices are now down to 2002-03 levels, having retained the price appreciation enjoyed from 1998-2003, but giving back everything in the “bubble years” from 2004-07.

Negotiability. We measure “negotiability” by looking at the inventory on the market, how quickly homes are selling, and how much sellers are discounting off their last listed price. By those measures, the only clear indication of increasing seller leverage is in the listing inventory, which fell to 10.0 months-of-inventory, the lowest level we have seen in about 10 years. If inventory continues to tighten, we would expect that buyers chasing reduced opportunities will drive prices up.

Condominiums. The condo market also surged, rising 20% for the quarter and up 28% for the year. Even with demand strong, though, we’re seeing even more pressure on prices in the condo market, with prices down again for the quarter and the year. With a narrow gap (about $80,000) between single-family and condo prices, and with rates at their current levels, many entry-level buyers can afford to stretch to get into a single-family home. That’s having a depressing effect on condo prices, and it won’t get better until single-family home prices start to rise.

Going forward, we believe that demand will continue to drive sales up through a robust spring market, but expect that we will need to see continued tightening in the inventory to drive any meaningful price appreciation in 2016.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 6, 2016 at 6:13 pm
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Rockland County Real Estate Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for 2015Q4

NY GRAPHS-BHG_Q4-2015 QMR-3-2Rockland sales surged again in a torrid end to 2015, with sales reaching levels we have not seen in over 10 years and prices showing meaningful signs of appreciation.

Sales. Rockland sales were up sharply, rising 26% from the fourth quarter of 2015 and up over 20% for the calendar year. We’ve now seen sustained rates of growth for over three years, with transactions up for the last five quarters and 13 out of the last 14. Indeed, sales totals are now approaching “seller market levels,” with the 1,830 yearly sales the largest calendar year total since 2004.

Prices. The Rockland average sales price rose in 2015 for the third straight year, up over 3% after more modest increases in 2013 and 2014. Although prices are still a long way from recouping the 25% plunge from 2008-09, and are still at 2004 levels (without adjusting for inflation), pricing is definitely moving in a positive direction.

Negotiability. The negotiability indicators were a little mixed, but the inventory numbers were startling. As of the close of 2015, Rockland had about 6.7 months of single-family inventory, the lowest level we have seen in over 10 years and tantalizingly close to the six-month level that signals a “tight” market. Similarly, the listing retention rate hit 96% for the first time since the market correction in 2008, indicating that sellers are gaining leverage when negotiating to get their asking price with buyers.

Condos. The condo market was not quite as robust, with sales up slightly for the quarter, but flat for the year. Prices were up on average, though, and inventory fell to about 7.4 months, so we might be seeing the beginning of some meaningful price appreciation in this entry-level market.

Going forward, we expect that Rockland is going to show signs of a fully realized seller’s market in 2016, with inventory at 10-year lows continuing to drive meaningful price appreciation in a robust spring market and through the end of the year.

To learn more about Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, visit their website and Facebook page, and make sure to “Like” their page. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Posted on February 6, 2016 at 2:55 pm
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , , ,