By BRIAN IANIERI
New Jersey’s housing market has shown signs of strengthening in the past 12 months, with single-family homes selling 13 days faster and for $11,000 more than the prior year, according to new data from the New Jersey Association of Realtors.
“The market is starting to rebound,” said Jarrod Grasso, the association’s CEO. “We’re having a stronger market than we’ve seen in the last several years.”
But some South Jersey markets have been markedly slower.
In Cape May County, for example, the median home sale price dropped to $369,275 in the 12-month period ending in August, a 12 percent decline, the NJAR data show.
Atlantic County’s median sale price increased by $7,200 to $214,900, while the overall number of sales dropped about 2 percent during that time.
Cumberland County saw sale prices drop $13,000 — or nearly 9 percent — while single-family home sales rose 2 percent.
For the month of August, the average single-family home in Atlantic and Cape May counties was on the market for fewer days than in August 2012.
In Atlantic County, the average home was on the market for 103 days, 10 days fewer. In Cape May County, it was 109 days, nearly 44 days fewer.
Across New Jersey, the average was 82 days on the market.
“This is still high and it’s still a lot better than where we were,” Grasso said.
Last August, the average New Jersey home was on the market for 96 days.
The figures for Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties reveal the ongoing trend of a sluggish housing market compared to the rest of the state and the nation.
However, in the month of August, there were some bright spots in single-family home sales — 108 homes were sold in Cumberland County that month, compared to 89 in August 2012.
And the number of new listings in Atlantic County shot up to 455 in August, compared to 376 a year ago.
The latest figures were released the past week by the New Jersey Association of Realtors as part of a new project to provide detailed housing data at state, county and local levels each month.
The NJAR says the reports will shed light on the intricacies of the housing markets throughout the state. The data comes from nine Multiple Listing Services in New Jersey and is analyzed by 10K Research & Marketing.
The figures were also released several days before the National Association of Realtors put out its highly followed monthly report on existing home sales in the U.S.
An unknown in real estate today is the future of interest rates, which the federal government drove to historic lows after the recession to stimulate borrowing and homebuying.
In August, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.46 percent, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac. This rate has increased throughout the year, and was 3.41 percent in January.
The difference in mortgages on a $300,000 home is $181 per month, according to Bankrate.com.
“If they’re creeping up, it will put a little more pressure on buyers getting into this market,” Grasso said. “If interest rates start creeping up, it will affect affordability. … It all goes back to the individual purchaser, what they’re comfortable with and what they can afford. When interest rates go up and you’re running a tight budget, that can impact whether you can buy that home.”
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