Henry and Rachel Kirk bought their two-bedroom Mahwah town house in 2005, not long before the housing bubble began to deflate. As their family expanded to include three children, they thought of trading up but couldn’t face the loss as housing values plummeted.
“We could never have put the place on the market back then,” Henry Kirk says.
A lot of homeowners felt the same way, choking off much of the supply of houses on the market in recent years. But that’s starting to change as home values have begun to recover. Prices are now about 19 percent below their 2006 peaks in the New York metro area, an improvement over the 27 percent drop they hit in the depths of the housing bust. That’s led more homeowners, including the Kirks, to put their properties up for sale.
According to Fannie Mae’s Monthly National Housing Survey, 40 percent of those polled in February said it’s a good time to sell, up from 34 percent a year earlier. And the New Jersey Realtors recently reported that while inventories remain tight, new single-family listings in February jumped 16.4 percent in Bergen County and 17.9 percent in Passaic.
With these signs that homeowners are more willing to sell as the spring buying season gets under way, The Record talked to three sellers who recently listed their homes.
Sam Horowitz and Kelly McCormick bought their home, a Westwood colonial, in 2005. They loved the house and neighborhood, an easy walk to a playground, school and Westwood’s lively shopping district.
But they recently put it on the market so they could move to Morris County because both their jobs — he’s a commercial real estate broker, she’s a project manager for an engineering company — have relocated there.
Recognizing the reality of the market, they set a listing price of $389,000, even though they paid $455,000.
“Anytime you’re not getting out what you put in, you’re disappointed,” says Horowitz, who’s in his late thirties. “But we’ve lived in the house for almost a full decade, and the house was terrific for us that entire time. I also understand that every financial situation is not going to work out ideally.”
Nancy and Steven Brillo of Wayne sold their house gradually — then all at once.
They had bought the Cape Cod for $315,000 in 2002, after falling in love with the Packanack Lake neighborhood.
“I cannot tell you how much we love living here. Packanack is a great community,” says Nancy Brillo, who works in education, testing children with special needs.
But once the couple had two sons — now 8 and 10 — the house began feeling too small.
“There’s one bathroom for the four of us,” Brillo, 39, says. “We couldn’t take it anymore.”
They began looking for a bigger place about two years ago, but their choices were limited because they were determined to stay in Packanack Lake. They put their house on the market several times over the past two years, and got three offers. But those deals fell apart because the Brillos couldn’t find the right house nearby.
To flush out sellers, they put letters in mailboxes around the neighborhood — and hit pay dirt with a ranch house around the block. The owners weren’t ready to sell yet, but said they would be in a year or two.
“My husband and I knew this was the house,” Brillo says. “We were in love with this house.”