Won’t fix, won’t sell, why bother?

Posted in Economics, Foreclosures, New Jersey Real Estate | 108 Comments

From the Philly Inquirer:

N.J. municipalities join forces to deal with vacant homes

For Michael Miller and Allison Rupert, 58 Grove St. truly is the evil twin.

A ramshackle residence that shares a wall with the Haddonfield couple’s well-kept home, 58 lost its last human dweller several years ago. Varmints got in through gaping windows, and Miller and Rupert have heard mice scurrying in the walls. They have spent thousands of dollars of their own money for tree removal to get rid of encroachment from 58′s yard, where, in the summer, mosquitoes breed in untended puddles.

With 58′s violation notices, weatherworn paint, and scruffy grounds, it can be embarrassing having friends over.

“So, yeah, it’s a mess,” Rupert said. “It sucks big time.”

They have complained. Boy, have they complained. But it hasn’t been easy figuring out whom to complain to, let alone get results.

“It’s been bouncing back and forth from service company to service company,” Miller said, “and quite frankly they haven’t done much.”

A new initiative could change that.

Several Camden County communities – Collingswood, Audubon, Haddonfield, Haddon Township, Oaklyn, Pennsauken, and the Fairview section of Camden – have joined forces, enlisting the help of two doctoral candidates and a master’s student from Rutgers-Camden’s department of public policy and administration to identify the abandoned or derelict vacant properties in their midst.

The hope is that the coalition will be able to convince banks that may have gotten the houses through foreclosure that it is worthwhile to sell them. At the least, it wants the banks and mortgage companies to do a better job of maintenance.

Many of the properties – nearly 700 have been counted so far – are believed to be the casualties of the recession, the mortgage crisis, or both. Some are so-called zombies – properties in which foreclosure was commenced but not completed and the former owners have moved out. They are in communities of every economic stripe.

The Philadelphia region has the fifth-highest rate of zombies in the nation, according to RealtyTrac, a national real estate search engine. New Jersey’s identified zombies went up 58 percent from the last year.

The towns believe the banks or mortgage companies should be responsible for the properties’ maintenance. “The quality of that leaves a lot to be desired,” said Neal Rochford, Haddonfield’s commissioner for public safety. “We’re constantly on the phone.”

Steindel gets the axe

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 64 Comments

From NJBIZ:

Report: Amid overly optimistic revenue projections, Christie’s chief economist resigns

Charles Steindel, chief economist of the New Jersey Department of Treasury, has resigned from his post to pursue a college teaching position, according to a report this morning from Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg reports that Steindel, who joined the Treasury in 2010, informed Gov. Chris Christie’s administration months ago that he would be resigning at the end of August to accept a position as a resident scholar at Ramapo College in Mahwah.

The department has subsequently put out a job posting for Steindel’s position, which existed under a different title in prior administrations. The state is seeking applicants by a July 30 deadline, the report said.

According to Bloomberg, Steindel’s overly optimistic revenue projections in four out of the last five years have been off target by a total of $3.5 billion.

New Jersey faces a projected budget revenue shortfall of $1.7 billion in the current fiscal year alone.

The forecasts have been often cited in downgrades to the state’s debt by Wall Street credit rating agencies over the years.

Prior to his work in Trenton, Steindel served as a senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

June Unemployment

Posted in Economics, Employment, Housing Recovery, New Jersey Real Estate | 70 Comments

From the Star Ledger:

N.J. unemployment rate falls in June as private sector adds 9,600 jobs

New Jersey’s unemployment rate ticked down in June to 6.6 percent, adding nearly 10,000 more private sector jobs, according to preliminary data from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The May unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.

Public sector employment continued to fall however, with 1,400 newly unemployed, led by a drop of 2,200 at the state government level.

The monthly job gains were made in the private sector, which added 9,600 jobs last month.

Leading the way was education and health services with 3,500 new hires, followed by finance with 2,600, leisure and hospitality with 1,700; and trade, transportation and utilities with 1,500 new jobs.

The lone sour note was in construction, which suffered a sharp decline with 2,600 newly unemployed in June, Labor statistics showed.

The latest jobless figure remains above the national unemployment rate, which stands at 6.1 percent, but well below New Jersey’s jobless rate in June 2013, when it was 8.4 percent.

In a statement that followed the jobs report, Gordon MacInnes, president of the left-leaning think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective, called June’s employment numbers, “welcomed good news for a change.”

But, he added, “one month of positive data does not a strong recovery make. The Garden State has now recovered just 45 percent of the jobs it lost in the recession, far fewer than the nation as a whole — which has recovered 105 percent — and our neighbors in New York (183 percent) and Pennsylvania (93 percent).”

In the past year, MacInnes said, New Jersey has added just 7,200 jobs, while 52,100 residents have left the labor force. “This is not an indication of a strong economy,” he said.

Foreclosures nearly back to normal, but not everywhere.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Foreclosures, Politics | 60 Comments

From CNBC:

Foreclosure activity hits lowest level in eight years

Foreclosure activity has been falling steadily for the past few years as the housing market recovers, but the latest reading shows it has hit a new milestone.

According to RealtyTrac, a foreclosure sales and analytics company, 107,194 U.S. properties had a foreclosure filing in June—the lowest level since July 2006, before the housing price bubble burst.

“Over the next six to nine months, nationwide, foreclosure numbers should start to flat line at consistently historically normal levels,” said RealtyTrac’s Daren Blomquist in a release.

Improvement, however, does not mean the level of distressed housing is back to normal; not by a long shot. There continues to be a wide discrepancy between states that require a judge in the foreclosure process and those that do not.

Nine states saw foreclosure activity rise in the first half of 2014 compared with a year ago, according to RealtyTrac. They include judicial states such as New Jersey (up 54 percent), Maryland (up 18 percent), Massachusetts (up 4 percent) and Connecticut (up 4 percent). Florida, also a judicial foreclosure state, had the highest rate, with one in 74 housing units receiving some kind of foreclosure filing.

“There continue to be concerning trends in some states and local markets that clearly indicate those markets are not completely out of the woods when it comes to the lingering foreclosure problem left over from the housing bust,” Blomquist said.

It has all created an interesting scenario. The result of the foreclosure crisis was a complete overhaul of the rules governing lending. That improved mortgage quality dramatically and all but negated delinquencies on the latest loans.

“There’s virtually nothing new entering the pipeline—loans issued over the past few years are performing at the highest rates in history,” Sharga said.

Fed: No idea why housing slowed down

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 74 Comments

From the WSJ:

Yellen, Fed Still Worried About Slowdown in Housing Recovery

The Federal Reserve remains concerned about the U.S. housing recovery–which began to slow down last year when mortgage rates spiked–and has so far has failed to regain much traction, Chairwoman Janet Yellen said Tuesday.

“The housing sector…has shown little recent progress,” Ms. Yellen said in remarks prepared for delivery before the Senate Banking Committee. “While this sector has recovered notably from its earlier trough, housing activity leveled off in the wake of last year’s increase in mortgage rates, and readings this year have, overall, continued to be disappointing.”

Her comment Tuesday reinforced a warning she offered when testifying before lawmakers more than two months ago. On May 7, Ms. Yellen told the Joint Economic Committee that “readings on housing activity–a sector that has been recovering since 2011–have remained disappointing so far this year and will bear watching.”

Several broad gauges of housing-market activity stumbled last year after mortgage interest rates rose when the Fed began discussing the end of its bond-buying program, which now is on track to end later this year. The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.35% in early May 2013 to 4.51% in mid-July 2013, according to Freddie Mac. Rates have come down since then, to an average of 4.15% last week.

But while the rise in rates is “the most obvious explanation for the weakness in the housing market over the past year,” it “seems unlikely that interest rates are the whole story,” according to the Fed’s semiannual Monetary Policy Report, also released on Tuesday. “Historical correlations between mortgage rates and residential investment suggest that the effects of last year’s run-up should have begun to fade by now, but housing activity has yet to pick up.”

It also said that “ongoing increases in house prices may indicate that constraints on the supply of new housing are binding more significantly than seemed to be the case.”

Stalemate

Posted in Economics, Housing Recovery, New Jersey Real Estate | 43 Comments

From HousingWire:

Credit Suisse: Homebuyers discouraged by rising prices

Homebuyers held off purchasing homes in June due to rising home prices, Credit Suisse reported in their monthly traffic survey of real estate agents.

“Comments from agents in June suggest that buyers are growing increasingly discouraged by economic and employment conditions, and as a result, have made the decision to hold-off on purchases—particularly at current prices,” the company reported.

Out of the 40 markets surveyed, 32 saw lower than expected traffic, five were in line with expectations and three saw better than expected traffic. Those numbers were all a decline from May, when only 28 were below expectations and five saw better than expected traffic.

The only three markets that saw better than expected traffic last month were Columbus, Ohio, Ft. Myers, Florida, and Dallas. Some of the weakest markets were San Diego, New York/Northern New Jersey and Phoenix, which all saw Buyer Traffic Index levels below 30 (50 is neutral, where the traffic met expectations).

New York/Northern New Jersey (traffic index at 23) — “Stalemate. Buyers expect deal and sellers expect rebound in market pricing.”

How to kill Atlantic City (good riddance?)

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment | 94 Comments

From the Record:

North Jersey casinos concept gets early support, but experts warn that competition is fierce

Analysts are offering a tempered endorsement of the concept of two North Jersey casinos being championed by a number of state Democratic lawmakers, but they cautioned against overestimating returns in an increasingly saturated region for gambling.

More than a dozen casinos and racinos have opened in nearby states in the past decade, and more are likely to come on line in the near future in New York and Pennsylvania.

Still, the analysts say, North Jersey is a big affluent market, capable of supporting two casinos — in part by generating new business and attracting residents who now travel to casinos in neighboring states.

“Let’s recapture that revenue we’ve lost,” said Steve Norton, a private gambling consultant who once served as an executive with Atlantic City Resorts.

Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, said that the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack serves as a case in point of how a well-placed gambling venue can be a big winner. Centrally located in the middle of Queens, the site produced $435 million in tax revenue for New York last year, double what New Jersey received from its entire Atlantic City casino industry.

“You can see from Aqueduct how successful a casino can be when it comes into a large market,” Gros said.

The future of New Jersey’s casino industry is a huge issue for state officials, who in recent years have watched tax revenue plummet along with the fortunes of the state’s only casinos in Atlantic City.

Talk of an end to the seaside resort’s monopoly has increased dramatically since Governor Christie backed recent comments by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester County, that lifted a five-year moratorium on such discussions in Trenton. Sweeney suggested the issue may go to voters statewide in a November 2015 referendum, a move that would likely cut a full year off the timeline for the possible addition of casinos elsewhere in New Jersey.

The changing landscape was underscored by revelations last week of a $4.6 billion preliminary proposal for a 95-story casino, 100,000-seat auto racing track and giant Ferris wheel near the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City. Backers of a Meadowlands casino have tried to make sure that the sports complex in East Rutherford also remains a likely site for a casino.

Supporters of North Jersey casinos, including state Sens. Paul Sarlo of Wood-Ridge and Raymond Lesniak of Union County said the state treasury could reap at least $500 million a year, based on a tax rate of 50 percent or more on casino operations, similar to rates in New York and Pennsylvania.

No (where to) sleep till in Brooklyn

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Recovery, NYC | 31 Comments

From the Daily News:

Brooklyn or bust! Thin inventory and hot demand send home prices to new record high

Soon enough, no one will be able to afford Brooklyn.

A lack of inventory coupled with strong demand sent the average price of a residential property in the borough to a record $783,296 in the second quarter, up 16.6% from the year-ago period, according to a report from Douglas Elliman.

“Prices pretty much soared,” Frank Percesepe, senior regional vice president, Brooklyn, at Corcoran Group, told the Daily News.
“The inventory crunch continues. We would have done much more business if there was more to sell.”

With Brooklyn prices rising, the borough’s affordability rep is rapidly fading.

The gap in median sales prices between Brooklyn and Manhattan has gone from $500,000 in the second quarter of 2008, before the real estate market tanked, to $335,000 today – a 33% decline, according to Douglas Elliman.

“The spread is narrowing,” Jonathan Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, which compiles the Douglas Elliman report, told the Daily News.

A million dollars a job subsidy, nothing to see here, move on.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Politics | 117 Comments

From the Star Ledger:

N.J. gives $260 million tax break to energy company with political ties

New Jersey officials today approved a $260 million package of tax credits — the third-largest economic subsidy in state history — for a nuclear-energy company planning to build reactors on the Camden waterfront.

It was the largest tax subsidy awarded in recent years by the state Economic Development Authority, and it went to Holtec International, a Marlton-based company whose board includes one of the state’s most influential Democrats, George Norcross.

Under the terms of the award, Holtec will create 235 new full-time positions and relocate 160 existing jobs from other parts of the state to Camden. Once those workers are in place, the firm will reap subsidies of $26 million a year for 10 years.

In exchange, New Jersey will realize $155,520 in net economic benefits over 35 years, the authority estimated. Under the terms of the agreement, however, the company is required to stay at the Camden location for only 15 years.

Liberals and conservatives alike criticized the $260 million tax break for a politically connected firm at a time when New Jersey is strapped for tax revenue to pay for its schools, hospitals, property tax rebates and pension obligations.

“This is just another form of crony capitalism, and it needs to end,” state Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Warren), one of the state’s most conservative lawmakers, said. “The more we do of this, the worse the economy gets in the state of New Jersey.”

New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal research organization, said the tax break awarded to Holtec was one of the largest ever bestowed in the United States. The state is paying $658,228 for each job — “a sky-high number that has never been seen before in New Jersey and is even far higher than the average per-job cost of the largest ‘megadeals’ across the country,” Jon Whiten, Policy Perspective’s deputy director, said.

Doherty said the real cost was even higher, since 160 of the jobs already existed in the state.

“It looks like New Jersey is paying over $1 million for each new job that’s being created, and this is a disturbing trend,” he said.

Doherty added: “My understanding is that small businesses create 98 percent of the jobs in the state of New Jersey. Let’s provide tax relief for small business — a broad-based program of tax relief — not a bunch of insiders sitting around a table picking the winners and losers, government picking the winners and losers.”

Wage Home Price Disconnect?

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Recovery | 164 Comments

From HousingWire:

Is wage stagnation keeping homebuyers away?

Perhaps the reason buyers are staying away from the housing market is because they simply can’t afford it.

At least, that’s what one report suggests. In Trulia’s Price Monitor for June, Trulia’s chief economist Jed Kolko compares the rise in asking prices with the rise (or lack thereof) of wages in the 100 largest metro areas.

The results are a bit troubling for those who think they should be earning more money.

According to Trulia’s data, in the ten markets where asking prices have risen the most year-over-year, wages have barely increased. In Riverside-San Bernardino, California, asking prices rose 16.9% from June 2013 to June 2014. Wages in that area only rose by 0.6% from 2012-2013, according to recently released full-year 2013 wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

In Atlanta, asking prices rose 15.7% while wages only rose 0.8%. In Bakersfield, California, asking prices rose 13.9% while wages actually dropped by 0.3%.

“In fact, average wages per worker rose less than 1% in 2013 in all but one of the 10 metros with the largest price increases,” Kolko said. “Nationally, asking prices (year-over-year in June 2014) rose faster than wages per worker (year-over- year in 2013) in 95 of the 100 largest metros.

NJ continues to lead nation in foreclosures

Posted in Foreclosures, New Jersey Real Estate | 109 Comments

From MarketWatch:

5 states with the most (and fewest) foreclosures

There were 47,000 completed foreclosures nationally in May, down from 52,000 a year ago, which is a drop of 9.4%. But if you look at the month-over-month numbers from just April to May, completed foreclosures were up by 3.8%, according to mortgage-data firm CoreLogic. This is still more than double the amount of foreclosures that typically took place before the housing market crash in 2007: Completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006.

Completed foreclosures reflect the actual number of homes lost to foreclosure. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been around 5 million completed foreclosures in the U.S. In May, roughly 660,000 homes were still in some stage of foreclosure, down from 1 million in May 2013, a decline of 37%. The foreclosure inventory as of May 2014 represented 1.7% of all homes with a mortgage, compared with 2.6% in May 2013.

Foreclosures may also weigh on house prices in areas where they’re more common, experts say, and there’s still wide disparity between the foreclosure inventories in states. The five states with the highest foreclosure inventory in May were New Jersey (5.8% of all mortgaged homes), Florida (5.2%), New York (4.3%), Hawaii (3.1%) and Maine (2.8%). The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory were Alaska (0.3%), Nebraska (0.4%), North Dakota (0.4%), Wyoming (0.4%) and Minnesota (0.5%).

Bad Vibes

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Recovery | 68 Comments

From CNN/Money:

Housing market is a ‘crapshoot’

The housing market is a “crapshoot” now, according to one of America’s leading real estate experts.

Karl “Chip” Case is an economist whose name is synonymous with home prices. He is co-creator of the much watched S&P/Case-Shiller home price indexes with Bob Shiller, who won the Nobel Prize in economics last year.

“You’ve got much more negative vibrations in the housing surveys about homeownership than we ever had before,” Case told CNNMoney. “I think it’s because people got hosed. They thought that housing prices will never go down. That’s just bull — you know what.”

At age 67, Case still rattles off housing data with the kind of enthusiasm that most people use to recite popular song lyrics. For Case, the key metric to watch is housing starts, a measure of new residential home construction.

The housing starts figures have been “unbelievably regular” for 50 years, oscillating between a million a month (annualized) in not so great times and two million during peak economic times.

“Every time it’s gotten below a million in the past, it’s come right back,” Case says. Every time except the Great Recession.

He calls the real estate market “segmented” these days. It’s no longer a guarantee that housing prices will go up across the country. That only happens in some places at some times.

The demand side of the equation will also be key. Will millennials actually purchase homes? Will foreign buyers keep coming?

“The Chinese are coming over here with millions and billions of dollars, and they want to spend it on assets that tend to hold their value. And at least the theory is that housing does. But it is far from what it was in 2004,” Case notes.

The advice Case gives to first-time homebuyers is familiar to most. Be sure you can afford the house and don’t expect a quick profit.

“If you’re not buying it for the long haul, don’t buy because there’s a good chance you’ll have to sit through some down cycles. But when it goes, it’s very nice,” he says.

But even Case doesn’t always call housing trends correctly, at least in the short-term. He estimates that another property he owns lost close to half its value in the downturn. For now, he’s keeping it.

Living at home? Not quite.

Posted in Demographics | 35 Comments

From the Atlantic:

The Misguided Freakout About Basement-Dwelling Millennials

More than ever, young people are living in their parents’ basements.

You’ve surely heard that one before. The Washington Post, the New York Times, the New Republic, Salon, and others have repeated it over and over in the last few years. More than 15.3 million twentysomethings—and half of young people under 25—live “in their parents’ home,” according to official Census statistics.

There’s just one problem with those official statistics. They’re criminally misleading. When you read the full Census reports, you often come upon this crucial sentence:

It is important to note that the Current Population Survey counts students living in dormitories as living in their parents’ home.

When you were adjusting to your freshman roommate, you were “living with your parents.” When you snagged that sweet triple with your best friends in grad housing, you were “living with your parents.” That one time you launched butt-rattling bottle rockets at the stroke of midnight off your fraternity roof? I hope you didn’t make too much noise. After all, you were “living with your parents,” and mine definitely went to bed around 11.

According to Richard Fry, the wonderful Pew demographer, the answer has less to do with “laziness” or the recession’s impact on Millennial wages and jobs. It has mostly to do with education.

As you can see in the graph below, the share of 18-to-24-year-olds living at home who aren’t in college has declined since 1986. But the share of college students living “at home” (i.e.: in dorms, often) has increased. So the Millennials-living-in-our-parents meme is almost entirely a result of higher college attendance.

It ain’t the debt

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Recovery | 20 Comments

From the NYT:

College Debt and Home Buying

Swelling student loan debt is commonly cited as a primary factor in the declining homeownership rate among 25- to 34-year-olds. But are the two really related?

While homeownership is down nationally since the housing market collapse, the drop among younger adults is particularly striking. Rates in the 25-to-34 age group dropped by nearly 8 percentage points from 2004 to 2013, according to a recent report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Over the same period, student debt soared by more than 400 percent to top $1 trillion — a run-up that dwarfs the surge in mortgage debt during the housing bubble, said John Dyer, the lending practice lead for the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, which serves the financial services industry. He predicts the debt level will be a drag on home buying for years to come.

“What seems to be happening is you have a pause in your housing pipeline,” Mr. Dyer said. “Where a younger generation would normally be buying homes, it’s just not happening.”

Last year, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggested that student debt was suppressing homeownership. Before 2009, the researchers found, 30-year-olds with student loan debt were far more likely to be homeowners than those without it, in part because of their higher levels of education and incomes. But the gap between homeownership rates of 30-year-olds with loan debt and those without began to close during the recession. And by 2012, the trend had reversed.

But Beth Akers, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy, says these findings do not prove a causal relationship. In fact, they could be misleading.

She said she has looked at young-adult homeownership rates over a longer period, and found that the reversal cited by the Fed is “a return to a longstanding trend that existed prior to 2004.” For most of the last 20 years, homeownership rates among young households with student loan debt have been lower, not higher, than rates among households with no debt, she said.

Her research, co-authored with Matthew M. Chingos, a senior fellow at the Brown Center, also disputes the notion that the payment burden is higher on today’s young adults. While the level of education debt has risen over all among young households (ages 20 to 40), the monthly burden of student loan repayment has not increased greatly over the last two decades. From 1988 to 2010, the typical household spent 3 to 4 percent of its monthly income on student loan payments. The monthly burden has remained fairly flat because of offsetting increases in income and longer repayment terms.

Extremely high burdens are still rare. In 2010, about 75 percent of households with people ages 20 to 40 who have education debt owed $20,000 or less, Ms. Akers said. Only 2 percent were carrying more than $100,000.

Perhaps the declining number of young homeowners has more to do with the weak economy and tight lending conditions.

Are the experts right or wrong?

Posted in Demographics, Housing Recovery, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 74 Comments

From the Star Ledger:

NJ housing crisis: 8 key takeaways from live chat with experts

1) “New Jersey has quite a bit of affordable housing, but number one, not enough, and not necessarily in the right places.”

The overwhelming majority of affordable housing that’s available is in urban areas — far from the suburban places where there are jobs available.

2) “There are far more people who are eligible for affordable housing than there are units. As a result, most [eligible] people, the great majority of those people..spend more than 30 percent, often more than 50 percent, of their income for rent.”

3) “Let’s say you have a family income of…22,000, which means maybe you have somebody who’s working full time as a nurse’s aid or in a Wal-Mart or something, and trying to support 2 or 3 kids, and you’re paying $900 dollars a month for housing, which…is a pretty low rent compared to the average in New Jersey. After you’re done, you’ve got about $1,000 per month for everything else. … As long as everything goes well, you can somehow survive, but if anything goes wrong you’re over the edge.”

4) “The housing market has tiers. … If you don’t have first-time buyers, whether it be affordable or just above the affordable, then the whole housing market stalls. So you might be pretty well off. Your house might be worth $800,000. Well, it’s not going to stay at $800,000 or go up, if there isn’t this constant influx of new buyers into the market.

1) There’s currently a mismatch between what home buyers are looking for (smaller, higher density homes, closer to public transit and walkable downtowns) and what’s available (larger, single-family homes in suburban communities). The mismatch is due largely to local zoning laws, which were generally established in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and which haven’t kept pace with demand.

2) Demand for rental properties is on the rise, in part because of the difficulties that people — especially young adults with short credit histories and large student debts — face in getting a mortgage than in past years. Outdated zoning laws, onerous approval processes and financing difficulties also makes it hard for developers to build enough rental properties to meet rising demand. With more people competing for a limited number of rental units, rental costs are on the rise.

3) Cities like Trenton and Newark are full of boarded up and abandoned homes that can be purchased inexpensively. But these homes don’t help solve the problem of supply. Crime and poor city services deter buyers from wanting to move into these areas. Plus, many of these homes require “gut rehab,” which would be prohibitively expensive for many buyers.

4) “Most of New Jersey, by its nature, particularly because of its proximity to New York, particularly because of the nature of its work/job base, is going to be a more expensive state than most in this country.”