Real estate market still on downswing

Sales associate Lisa Alper-Russo, of Northfield, checks market data at Coldwell Banker Casa Bella Realtors in Linwood, one town where monthly home sales rose from June a year ago.

June existing home sales in three area counties dropped from a year ago, as U.S. sales fell slightly off a seasonally adjusted annual pace to 5.08 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors and regional Multiple Listing Service data.

Locally, counties all saw some degree of decline last month from June 2012 - 31 fewer sales in Atlantic County, 16 fewer in Cape May County and 14 fewer in Cumberland County.

But within those counties, some areas fared better last month. In Linwood, nine MLS-listed homes were sold in June, compared with two a year ago. Egg Harbor Township existing home sales were identical to June 2012.

Others were down, such as Ocean City, where 18 fewer homes and condominiums sold, and Ventnor, whose nine June sales were half of those from last year.

The National Association of Realtors reported mixed news on Monday during its monthly report of existing home sales. Seasonally adjusted figures, which represent the pace of sales expected in one year, fell about 1 percent.

U.S. home sales have accelerated in the past year, and despite the seasonally adjusted dip, June sales were still 15 percent higher than in June 2012.

Housing markets lately have had to face mortgage rates increasing from ultra-low levels driven by federal economic policy.

Government mortgage giant Freddie Mac said the national average for a 30-year-conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.07 percent in June, up from 3.54 percent in May. The NAR says that makes it the highest since October 2011.

Anthony D'Alicandro, owner of Coldwell Banker Casa Bella Realtors in Linwood, said he has not seen any impacts yet from the rise in interest rates.

"Prices are so low right now we haven't really seen an impact on affordability," he said.

He said mortgage rates are still significantly lower than they have been historically. In the 1990s, they mostly ranged from 7 percent to 10 percent.

According to, the difference between a 4.07 percent rate on 30-year mortgage of $200,000 and a 7 percent rate is about $368 a month.

Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors and owner of a home in Margate, said it is too early to tell how the rise in mortgage rates will affect U.S. home sales.

"The headline number was probably disappointing as the consensus was for a small rise in sales. So investors may start thinking that the higher rates are kicking in," he said in a statement. "They shouldn't, at least not yet. Given how long it takes to get a mortgage and close on a home, we are looking at purchases made months ago."

Nationally, foreclosures and short sales represented 15 percent of the market in June, compared with 18 percent in May. This was the lowest percentage since the figures began being tracked in October 2008, the NAR said.

Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 16 percent below market value; short sales for 13 percent less, the NAR said.

Contact Brian Ianieri:


Existing home sales

County June '13 May '13 June '12

Atlantic 218 255 249

Cape May 279 281 295

Cumberland 40 57 54

Source: Regional Multiple Listing Service data

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