Homes in Northern New Jersey Are STILL Cheaper Than They’ve Been in a Generation

Right now is a really great time to be buying a home in Northern New Jersey

Man, do I hate saying that. As I’ve explained before, I hate the phrase “great time to buy,” for a couple of reasons.

First, people have different needs, and a market that’s great for one person might be terrible for another person.

Second, while markets tend to move together, we do see micro-markets (i.e., towns and villages) that defy larger trends. So while it might be a great time to buy in Village A, it might be not so great in Town B.

Third, and most importantly, though, “it’s a great time to buy!” just seems like a hack thing to say, the kind of thing that TERRIBLE real estate agents have said for generations to get unsuspecting and gullible people to buy an overpriced home. And I think that most people get suspicious when real estate agents talk like that.

So I understand if you’re skeptical. And that’s why I don’t want to just TELL you it’s a great time to buy, I want to SHOW you why it’s a great time to buy.

Specifically, I want to make this specific point: the monthly payment you need to buy an inflation-adjusted average priced home in Northern New Jersey is as low as its been in a generation.

Think about what I’m saying for a second. I’m NOT saying that homes are cheaper than they’ve ever been. That’s not true. Depending on the year, homes have appreciated, and if you go back more than 15 years, they’ve appreciated pretty dramatically. I’m just saying that the MONTHLY PAYMENT you need to make to buy the AVERAGE PRICED HOME is lower right now than it’s been in a generation — if you control for the effects of inflation.

Take a look at these graphs for Bergen and Passaic Counties, and you’ll see what I mean:

On these graphs, as we’ve done before, we’ve plotted the monthly payment that a purchaser in the county would have to make to purchase the average-priced home at various points over the years. After all, affordability is not just a matter of the sales price – it’s a matter of the monthly payment you’re going to have to make, which is partly a function of the prevailing interest rate. And then to measure the change in the monthly payment over time, we factored in the effects of inflation.

So we took the following data points:

•The average price of a single family home up to the end of 2016 – from the local MLS data.
•The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for every calendar year up to 2016 – from Freddie Mac.
•The prevailing inflation rate for every calendar year up to 2016– from the US Department of Labor.

You can see the results on the graph. The monthly payment you have to make to purchase the average-priced home in Bergen or Passaic is just about as low as it’s been in years. We saw the slightest uptick from 2012-2014, partially because of a slight increase in pricing and a slow inflating of interest rates. But the payment came down again over the past two years, with rates falling and prices stalling.

Generally, though, we’re talking about a monthly payment that is as low as anytime in the past 30 years – and as low as it was in the mid-1990s, during a crippling buyer’s market. We don’t have data going back in Passaic as far as we do in Bergen, but there’s no reason to think that the markets behaved differently during the 1980s.

So why are monthly payments lower than they’ve been in a generation? A couple of reasons:

1) Prices. Part of it is that we have not seen prices go up in any measurable way in almost 10 years. Home prices peaked in 2006-08, lost about 25-30% of value from 2008-2010, and have bounced around a little since then. But they’re still around 2004 levels — without controlling for inflation.

2) Inflation. Ah, yes, inflation — the value of money goes down a little bit each year as inflation takes a bite. Now, inflation rates have been pretty low over the past 15 years from historical standards, but that little bit each year does add up.

3) Rates. But the biggest reason we’re seeing monthly payments lower than they’ve been in a generation is that rates are still at historic lows. After all, about ten years ago, the average interest rate was about 6%. For the past few years, it’s been below 4%. That’s a huge difference in your monthly payment.
Again, I HATE it when real estate professionals say that “this is a great time to buy,” because at many times in our history that has been bad advice.

But if you measure a “great time to buy” by looking at the monthly payment you’ll have to make to buy a home, then we’re talking about as good a time to buy as any in the past decades. Prices have been flat for almost 10 years, and they’re down significantly if you factor in the effects of inflation. And interest rates are still as low as we’ve ever seen them. Unless we see some major shock to the economy, I think we’re looking at a near-decade of reasonable price appreciation coupled with increasing interest rates – both of which are going to drive that monthly payment up over the next few years.

So I’m not going to tell you what to do. That’s not my job. But if you’ve been thinking about buying a home, I think these graphs speak for themselves.

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

Joe Rand is the Chief Creative Officer of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | Rand Realty, and compiles and writes the Rand Quarterly Market Report.

Posted on January 10, 2018 at 12:50 pm
Vincent Abbatecola | Category: Analysis, Bergen County, New Jersey, North Bergen, Passaic County, Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , , ,

Homes in Northern New Jersey are More Affordable Right Now Than in a Generation

I have always hated it when real estate professionals say “it’s a great time to buy.”  It always seems so self-serving, and I know it immediately causes suspicion.

So I’m not going to SAY that it’s a great time to buy a home right now. I’m just going to show you.

Specifically, I’m going to show you that the monthly payment you need to make to buy an averaged priced home in Northern New Jersey is about as low as it’s been in a generation.

Think about what I’m saying for a second. I’m NOT saying that homes are cheaper than they’ve ever been. That’s not true. Depending on the year, homes have appreciated, and if you go back more than 15 years, they’ve appreciated pretty dramatically. I’m just saying that the MONTHLY PAYMENT you need to make to buy the AVERAGE PRICED HOME is lower right now than it’s been in a generation — that is, if you control for inflation.

Take a look at these graphs for Bergen and Passaic Counties, and you’ll see what I mean:

Bergen SF Affordability 2015

Passaic County Affordability 2015

On these graphs, as we’ve done before, we’ve plotted the monthly payment that a purchaser in the county would have to make to purchase the average-priced home at various points over the years. After all, affordability is not just a matter of the sales price – it’s a matter of the monthly payment you’re going to have to make, which is partly a function of the prevailing interest rate. And then to measure the change in the monthly payment over time, we factored in the effects of inflation.

So we took the following data points:

  • The average price of a single family home up to the end of 2015 – from the local MLS data.
  • The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for every calendar year up to 2015 – from Freddie Mac.
  • The prevailing inflation rate for every calendar year up to 2015– from the US Department of Labor.

You can see the results on the graph. The monthly payment you have to make to purchase the average-priced home in Bergen or Passaic is just about as low as it’s been in years. We saw the slightest uptick from 2012-2014, partially because of a slight increase in pricing and a slow inflating of interest rates. But the payment came down again in 2015, with rates falling and prices stalling.

Generally, though, we’re talking about a monthly payment that is as low as anytime in the past 30 years!

Why? Part of it is that we have not seen prices go up in any measurable way in almost 10 years, during which inflation has reduced the “true” cost of purchasing a home.

But more importantly, rates are significantly lower than they’ve been at any time in modern history. After all, about ten years ago, the average interest rate was about 6%. It’s now below 4%. That’s a huge difference in your monthly payment.

Again, I HATE it when real estate professionals say that “this is a great time to buy,” because at many times in our history that has been bad advice. But if you measure a “great time to buy” by looking at the monthly payment you’ll have to make to buy a home, then we’re talking about as good a time to buy as any in the past decades. Prices have been flat for almost 10 years, and they’re down significantly if you factor in the effects of inflation. And interest rates are still as low as we’ve ever seen them. Unless we see some major shock to the economy, I think we’re looking at a near-decade of reasonable price appreciation coupled with increasing interest rates – both of which are going to drive that monthly payment up over the next few years.

So I’m not going to tell you what to do.  That’s not my job.  But if you’ve been thinking about buying a home, I think these graphs speak for themselves.

Joe Rand is one of the Managing Members of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | Rand Realty, and compiles and writes the Rand Quarterly Market Report.

Posted on April 28, 2016 at 1:24 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 2015Q3

image001The Passaic County housing market surged in the third quarter of 2015, with sales activity up dramatically but prices relatively flat. If we continue to see these kinds of increases in buyer demand, though, it’s only a matter of time before Passaic experiences meaningful price appreciation.

Sales. Passaic sales were up dramatically in the second quarter, rising 22.3% from last year, marking the fourth straight quarter of year-over-year sales growth. Indeed, we’ve now seen sustained increases in buyer demand for over four years, with quarterly sales up in 16 out of the last 18 quarters. The 932 quarterly sales marked the highest total since the height of the seller’s market, and the 2,898 rolling year sales were more than in any calendar year since 2006.

Prices. Even with this continued increase in buyer demand, though, we’re not yet seeing a meaningful sustained impact on pricing. For the quarter, pricing was mixed, with the average down 0.2% and the median up 3.3%. For the year, the results are a little more encouraging, with average up just a tick and the median up almost 2%. Passaic is still struggling to shake off the after-effects of the market correction, with pricing still at a non-inflation-adjusted 2003 level.

Negotiability. The negotiability indicators did not reflect what we would expect to be the tightening effects of increased buyer demand. The days-on-market were up over 5% in the quarter, indicating that homes are taking a little longer to sell. And the listing retention rate fell pretty sharply, down to 96.3%, signaling that sellers are discounting more heavily to get into contract.

Going forward, we expect that Passaic County buyer demand will stay strong through the end of the year, but not necessarily at the rate of growth that we’re seeing right now. But the economic fundamentals are good: homes are priced at attractive levels, rates are near historic lows, and the economy is relatively stable. If buyer demand continues to stay at its current rates, we are bound to see some 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 October 15, 2015 at 9:00 am
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for Westchester and the Hudson Valley Region for 2015Q3

image001The housing market in Westchester and the Hudson Valley surged forward in the third quarter of 2015, with sales up dramatically throughout the region. More importantly, several counties showed signs of “green shoots” of meaningful price appreciation, reflecting the impact of the sustained increases in buyer demand that we’ve seen over the past few years.

Home sales continued to spike, rising 19% throughout the region. This continued a trend we’ve been tracking for several years, with year-over-year regional sales now up for four out of the last five quarters and 12 out of the last 14. And the trend was widespread, with sales up in every county in the Rand Report: rising 6% in Westchester, 24% in Putnam, 27% in Rockland, 32% in Orange, and 47% in Dutchess. As you can see, sales growth was strongest in the lower-priced markets, which was also true within each county, where sales condo markets generally outpaced single-family homes.

Indeed, we’re now seeing sales at “seller market” levels. The 4,500 single-family regional sales were the highest quarterly total since 2005, and the 13,000 rolling year transactions were the highest since 2007. To put this in perspective, those 13,000 rolling year transactions are about 20% below the 16,000-sale rate at the very height of the seller’s market in 2004-05, but about 60% higher than the 8,000-sale rate we experienced at the very bottom of the market in 2008-09. When it comes to transactional levels, we’re a lot closer to 2005 than 2009.

These sustained increases in buyer demand might be starting to impact pricing. Pricing was relatively mixed, with average prices up in Putnam, Rockland, and Orange, but down in Westchester and Dutchess. This is obviously nothing to get too excited about, but it’s still noteworthy that most of the counties in the Report are starting to see “green shoots” or price appreciation. (Note that the regional price fell about 6%, but that’s only because the relative strength in the lower-priced counties changed the mix of properties sold.)

We believe it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing meaningful price appreciation. As we have said before, it takes time for changes in market activity to impact market psychology. Back in the last seller’s market, sales fell for almost three years before we started to see prices start to go down. And while we’ve now seen over three years of increasing sales activity, we expect that buyers are still skeptical about pricing based on their vivid memories of the market correction of 2008-09. But basic economics tells us that when inventory is stable, and demand is going up, pricing is bound to increase eventually.

Going forward, we expect the market to finish the year strong, with sustained buyer demand eventually driving meaningful price appreciation by the spring market of 2016. With pricing in most of the counties at non-inflation-adjusted 2003-04 levels, rates near historic lows, and a stabilized economy, we believe it’s just a matter of time before we enter a fairly robust seller’s market characterized by increasing demand, narrowing inventory, and rising 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 October 9, 2015 at 11:22 am
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So What’s Going on in the Market?: The Rand Quarterly Market Report for Westchester and the Hudson Valley Region for 2015Q2

Westchester and Hudson Valley Regional 2015Q2This week, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty is releasing its Quarterly Market Report for all the counties it services: Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, and Dutchess Counties in New York; and Bergen, Passaic, and Morris Counties in New Jersey. Below is an excerpt from the report, but you can get the full Report here.

The real estate market in Westchester and the Hudson Valley surged in the second quarter of 2015, with sales spiking throughout the region. But even with transactions reaching highs that we have not seen in almost ten years, pricing remains stubbornly flat or even down in most of our local markets.

Home sales were torrid, rising almost 15% throughout the region. This continued a trend we’ve seen for most of the last year, marking the third straight quarter of year-on-year sales increases. And the results were impressive not just in comparison to a relatively tepid 2014, with the 3,070 second quarter sales and the 12,258 rolling year sales representing the highest totals since 2007, at the tail end of the last seller’s market. More importantly, the surge was widespread, with sales up sharply in every county in the region: rising 15% in Westchester, 18% in Putnam, 10% in Rockland, 31% in Orange, and 21% in Dutchess. Clearly, buyer demand has come back to the region at levels we have not seen in almost ten years.

This surge in buyer demand did not, though, have its expected impact on pricing, with regional prices down 5.5% from last year. Now, that does not necessarily mean that the average home in the region declined by over 5% in value. Rather, some of the decline is simply a change in the mix of properties sold – after all, if you look at the sales increases listed above, you can see that we saw the strongest results in the lowest-priced counties like Orange and Dutchess. Indeed, we saw the same kind of results within each county, with most of the areas showing more strength in the lower-end of the market. So part of the reason for the decline in pricing is simply that the market was more heavily weighted down by lower-priced homes.

But the main reason for the continued sluggishness of pricing is simply that we are still working our way out of the 2008-2011 market correction. As we have noted before in this Report, it takes time for changes in buyer demand to have an impact on pricing. For example, if you look at the accompanying graph displaying regional sales and prices going back almost 15 years, you can see that sales topped out and started falling sometime in 2004-05, but prices only started to come down in 2008. In other words, it took almost four years for a decline in buyer demand to have an impact on pricing. Similarly, we have argued that it will take several years of increasing demand to start driving prices back up – and you can see that sales only started to climb back up in 2012 or so. So we’re not necessarily surprised that prices are still bouncing around at the current levels.

Going forward, we believe it’s only a matter of time before these sustained increases in buyer demand have an impact on pricing. We’re now going into our fourth year of mostly sustained increases in sales, and basic market economics tells us that increasing demand coupled with stable supply is eventually going to drive prices up. And given that we’re seeing homes at relatively affordable levels, interest rates near historic lows, and a generally improving economy, we think that meaningful changes in price appreciation in the region are imminent.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE REPORT

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

Posted on July 20, 2015 at 5:31 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 2015Q2

Passaic County 2015Q2This week, Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty is releasing its Quarterly Market Report for all the counties it services: Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, and Dutchess Counties in New York; and Bergen, Passaic, and Morris Counties in New Jersey. Below is an excerpt from the report, but you can get the full Report here.

The Passaic County housing market continued to strengthen in the second quarter of 2015, with increases in both sales and prices that reflect a sustained increase in buyer demand. Going forward, we expect that this will continue through a seasonably strong third quarter.

Sales. Passaic County sales were up in the second quarter, rising 5.1% from last year. That marked the third straight quarter with year-on-year sales increases, demonstrating sustained growth in buyer demand. You can see that in the longer-term trend, with sales up 5.4% for the rolling year. Clearly, buyer demand in Passaic County is strong and getting stronger.

Prices. These sustained increases in buyer demand are having their expected impact on pricing, with prices up across the board from last year: 3.3% on average, and 3.1% at the median. For the year, we saw a mild but meaningful 1.1% increase in the average sales price, indicating that Passaic pricing is slowly but surely moving in a positive direction.

Negotiability. The negotiability indicators, though, were decidedly mixed, demonstrating that sellers are still struggling to gain negotiating leverage with buyers. The days-on-market indicator was essentially flat for both the quarter and the rolling year, and the listing retention rate was actually down a bit. In other words, homes were taking just about as long to sell, and were being discounted a little more heavily.

Going forward, we expect that Passaic County buyer demand will stay strong through the seasonally robust third quarter, and that we will continue to see price appreciation through the end of the year. With home prices at affordable levels, interest rates near historic lows, and a generally improving economy, we expect the Passaic market to stay strong.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE COMPLETE REPORT

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

Posted on July 20, 2015 at 5:25 pm
James Troia | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , ,

Are We In a Buyer’s or Seller’s Housing Market?

3d render image of houses with graph growingThe real estate industry is constantly going through changes, and that includes the climate of the market. If there is high inventory and low prices, you can bet that you are in a buyer’s market, and if there’s low inventory and high prices, you can be sure that you’re in a seller’s market. In the U.S., however, the type of market varies by location. Because of the size of the U.S., some areas might be displaying traits of a buyer’s market, and other places might be showing signs of a seller’s market. It all depends on where you live.

According to RealtyTrac, homes are selling for 108 percent of asking price on average in the Bay Area of California, as well as in Washington, D.C.; Cass County, North Dakota; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In these locations, sellers are receiving more than they originally asked for, which shows that there is a high demand for housing.

Then, there are areas, such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, where buyers have the most influence and sellers are receiving less than the asking price, and this is happening even though the number of homes on the market are limited.

According to RealtyTrac, less than a third of housing markets in the U.S. have homes that sell for above the asking price, 60 percent have homes selling for below the asking price, and only 14 percent of homes sell at their market value.

If you want further proof that the U.S. real estate industry can’t be pinned down to one kind of market over the other, there are also areas that have markets where the situation is on even ground between buyers and sellers. These places include the D.C. suburbs of Montgomery County, Maryland; Raleigh, North Carolina; the Phoenix metropolitan area; and Riverside County, California.

To give you an example of the areas around near where I live (the lower Hudson Valley and northern New Jersey), there is definitely a situation where there are certain counties that have markets that are more suitable for buyers, some that are better for sellers, and others that are great for both. Orange County is certainly a buyer’s market with its 30-percent sales increase of single-family homes from last year and a median sales price of $220,000. Dutchess County also has a relatively low median sales price, coming in at $249,600.00, but faired even better than Orange County in terms of sales for single-family homes, topping that region with a 21.4 percent increase. Putnam County experienced changes that have made it a decent market for both buyers and sellers, with sales having shown a considerable increase of 18.2 percent and prices displaying more consistency and a promise of growth.

The northern New Jersey counties near the lower Hudson Valley (Bergen, Morris, and Passaic), have been displaying wonderful activity within their markets. All three counties have enjoyed increases in sales and prices, and they also have the lowest amount of average days on market for their homes (ranging from 76-155 days), whereas Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties in New York have homes that spend a higher average of days on the market (ranging from 170-218 days).

When you’re looking to buy a home, it’s always important to study the current housing market and see where you can get the best deal for a home. Each area has its own market that favors either the buyer, the seller, or both, so you should have an idea about what a certain market is going to offer you before you actually visit that area. As long as you stay on top of the market and use it as a valuable real estate tool, you will surely know where it is best to search for a home.

If you’re interested in Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty’s full market report for the second quarter of 2015, you can find it here on our blog. The QMR includes a market overview and in-depth analyses pertaining to each county that Rand Realty covers.

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

 

Sources

www.cnbc.com

Posted on July 5, 2015 at 11:51 am
Rand Realty | Category: Rand Country Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,