Some South Jersey real estate markets are dealing with plenty of distressed properties that affect sale prices. Others have been selling expensive vacation homes.
Ultimately, the first half of 2014 showed the wide variety in local real estate throughout Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and southern Ocean counties.
The number of homes sold and median prices dipped in some regions, increased in others, plummeted in some and skyrocketed in others, according to a Press analysis of New Jersey Association of Realtors data.
In North Wildwood, the median selling price of a single-family home was $386,510 in the first half, 21 percent higher than the same period last year. The median means half of homes sold for less, half for more. There were 26 fewer sales there.
James Flynn, broker of Flynn Real Estate in North Wildwood, said sales were predominantly vacation homes to residents of New Jersey and Philadelphia suburbs.
High-end homes with water views have sold well, so far.
“They sell high, $800,000 ... $900,000 to $1.1 million. A lot of them, the buyers are not getting mortgages; they’re paying cash,” he said. “The high-end homes, they’re just using them for themselves.”
The New Jersey Association of Realtors said the spring season was off to a slow start across New Jersey. The early part of the year saw wet, wintry weather that kept potential house-hunters indoors.
Some markets still saw volume increases.
In Ocean City, total sales volume grew nearly 10 percent in the first six months of 2014. The median single-family home sold for $594,000, or 19 percent more than a year ago. Condos in Ocean City sold for $458,000, about 1 percent more.
Cumberland County, Vineland, Millville and Bridgeton all saw more total sales, although single-family home prices fell in Millville and Bridgeton, both by 13 percent, according to state Realtor data.
Larry DePalma, owner of DePalma Realty in Millville, said the volume of bank-owned properties and short sales are putting pressure on the market, particularly with prices.
“We have a lot of that kind of inventory to get through,” he said.
“I see the market as ‘spurty.’ We get three, four, five deals, it gets busy and then it seems to die off,” he said. “It seems like that for a while, and then you’ll get a flurry of activity.”
In Millville, for example, sales of single-family homes, condos and adult communities reached 172 the first half of 2014, compared with 127 the year before. The median single-family home sold for $110,000, which was $16,900 less than the first six months of 2013.
Cori Haberkern, broker at Century 21 Atlantic Professional Realty in Absecon and president of the Atlantic City and County Board of Realtors, said sales and dollar volume were down in the first half of the year.
Short sales are still a factor in the market, although Haberkern says more buyers are steering away from these sales, deterred by long wait times to find out if an offer was approved by the lender, and sometimes getting no answer.
“I don’t think they’ll be gone from the market for a while, but I think people are leaning toward traditional sales,” she said.
Weather played a factor early in the season, she said. In the coming months, fears of casinos closings in Atlantic City may influence the market.
“I think we may see a little of a lull with people being scared with the casinos closing,” she said.
In Egg Harbor Township, total first half sales fell from 217 last year to 192 this year, according to state Realtor data. The sale price of a single-family home there dropped 10 percent, to $195,000.
In Margate, first half sales were 106, four fewer than last year. The single-family price was up 10 percent.
Haberkern said interest rates are still attractive to buyers. The average for a 30-year fixed interest mortgage was 4.13 percent on July 24, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
That is lower than it was on Jan. 2, when it was 4.53 percent.
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