Heloc reset shocks not quite so shocking

Posted in Economics, Mortgages, National Real Estate, Risky Lending | 83 Comments

From HousingWire:

2.5 million borrowers face imminent payment shock

At least 2.5 million borrowers will face an average increase of $250 per month on their monthly mortgage payment due to the imminent reset in home equity lines of credit over the next three years, according to Black Knight Financial Services’ Mortgage Monitor Report.

However, depending upon borrower behavior between now and the time of the reset, payment increases could change, Kostya Gradushy, Black Knight’s manager of research and analytics, said.

Borrowers whose HELOCs will reset over the next three years are utilizing just under 60% of their available credit. If these borrowers utilize more of their credit, they could face even more payment shock as the monthly increase would rise above the $250.

And the news is not much better for the borrowers whose payments are not likely to reset until 2019. These borrowers are exhibiting even lower utilization ratios — about 40% of their available credit. Once reset, they will likely face an average monthly increase of $200.

2014 trails in North Jersey, lower inventory, higher prices.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Recovery, New Jersey Real Estate | 47 Comments

From the Record:

Bergen, Passaic home sales cool off as prices rise

The number of single-family homes sold in Bergen and Passaic counties is running about 10 percent below last year’s rate — a sign that the real estate market still has a way to go before it fully recovers from the worst downturn since World War II.

At the same time, prices for single-family homes have risen this year, according to the New Jersey Association of Realtors. Through July, median prices for single-family homes are up 3.4 percent in Bergen and 1.7 percent in Passaic over the same period last year, NJAR says.

The slower pace of sales in North Jersey reflects a similar trend nationwide. U.S. existing home sales in July were 4.3 percent below last year’s rate.

Mortgage rates are still in the 4 percent range, which might be expected to boost home sales. But the pace of sales has slackened for a number of reasons, including this year’s harsh winter weather, flat incomes, tight mortgage standards, lower inventory and rising home values, which have priced many would-be buyers out of the market.

“Median family incomes are still lagging behind price gains,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said recently. He warned that homes are likely to become less affordable in the years ahead, since the Federal Reserve has signaled that interest rates will rise in 2015.

Through July, there were 3,964 closed sales in Bergen County and 1,820 closed sales in Passaic, both down about 10 percent from the first seven months of 2013.

The year got off to a slow start with snowstorms that kept sellers and buyers out of the market. “Sellers didn’t want to put their houses on the market with 4 feet of snow around them,” said Dawn Cox, a Weichert agent in Wayne.

“Our spring market was very short,” agreed Robert Abbott of Abbott & Caserta Realtors in Ho-Ho-Kus.

Another reason buyers haven’t been purchasing homes: There’s not a lot of inventory out there. Homeowners are reluctant to list their homes, in many cases because they still owe more on their mortgages than the properties are worth.

Home inventories in July were down about 6 percent in Bergen County compared with a year earlier, at about 4,500 homes, and about 3 percent in Passaic County, at about 3,050 homes.

“Unsold inventory remains low, limiting choices for home buyers,” said Jeffrey Otteau, an East Brunswick appraiser who tracks the state housing market.

With the real estate market entering the traditionally slow fall season, it’s unlikely that the downward trend will turn around. Fannie Mae, the mortgage finance firm, recently downgraded its 2014 sales outlook.

Safer to spend Labor Day in Detroit than at the Jersey Shore

Posted in Shore Real Estate | 41 Comments

From the Daily Record:

Ocean County: The most dangerous place in America?

Time magazine declared this week that Ocean County is the most dangerous place to live in the United States because of the potential for natural disasters.

The magazine cited data from the storm events database of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ocean County was considered the most dangerous. Time listed five other New Jersey counties as among the top 15 most dangerous to live in the nation — in terms of the potential for destructive weather. The safest place in America with regard to Mother Nature, statistically speaking? Sweet Grass County, Montana, according to Time.

Christie said his administration has and is taking steps to make Ocean County a safer place to live after superstorm Sandy demonstrated how vulnerable its coastal communities were to a storm of that magnitude.

“But, I don’t know,” Christie said, with one of his trademark quips about to come, gazing out at the packed beachfront Friday afternoon. “I look out there and it doesn’t look that dangerous to me.”

From Shore News:

Time puts Atlantic, Cape May counties as among most disaster prone in nation

According to Time Magazine, Cape May County is one of the most dangerous places in the nation for natural disasters. Atlantic County is safer, according to the magazine, but still makes the list of top 15 danger spots.

In fact, it appears from Time’s data that New Jersey is an exceptionally disaster prone area.

In a recent posting online, Time listed the safest counties in the nation, based on an analysis of 50 years of data on weather patterns and natural disasters.

The conclusion: Sweet Grass County, Mont., with a population of 3,651 in the last census, is the safest place in the country.

There are no New Jersey counties listed in the top 15 safest places, but six New Jersey counties show up in the list of the 15 most dangerous counties in the nation, with Ocean County coming in at number one. Orange County, Calif. is number two, and Cape May County is number three.

Other listed Jersey counties include Monmouth County, number four, Burlington County, number seven, Atlantic County is number 12 and Camden County closes out the list at number 15.

No Florida counties made the top 15 list.

NJ building permits up 30%, rentals account for 63%

Posted in Housing Recovery, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 52 Comments

From the Record:

NJ builders on track to start largest number of homes since 2006

Despite last winter’s weather delays, New Jersey builders are on track to start the largest number of homes since 2006, led by a boom in rental construction.

Through July, home builders have obtained more than 17,200 building permits this year, up 30 percent over the same period last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Multifamily construction has continued to lead the way, accounting for 63 percent of the activity this year.

Builders are focusing on rentals because many households have been unable to buy homes in a time of tight mortgage lending standards and flat incomes. In addition, many younger residents are wary of owning a home because the housing bust showed them that property values could drop.

North Jersey has dominated the state’s home construction market, with about 30 percent of building permits this year in Bergen and Hudson counties.

“The northeastern part of the state has been getting spillover demand from the New York City market,” said Patrick O’Keefe, an economist with CohnReznick, an accounting firm with offices in Roseland.

O’Keefe is expecting a total of about 28,500 housing units to be approved this year, which would be about 17.5 percent ahead of last year’s total and the highest number since before the recession.

Multifamily projects have recently been completed or are under construction in Fort Lee, Edgewater, Elmwood Park, Fair Lawn, Wood-Ridge and Bloomingdale, among other North Jersey towns.

Single-family permits have also risen this year, but at a much slower pace than multifamily. O’Keefe said that single-family builders are being careful not to produce houses more quickly than sellers can buy them.

Foreclosures tumble, Northeast struggles to clear

Posted in Foreclosures, Mortgages, National Real Estate | 117 Comments

From National Mortgage Professional:

National Foreclosure Report Indicates Over 20 Percent Decrease, Year-Over-Year

CoreLogic released its July National Foreclosure Report, which provides data on completed U.S. foreclosures and foreclosure inventory. According to CoreLogic, for the month of July 2014, there were 45,000 completed foreclosures nationally, down from 57,000 in July 2013, a year-over-year decrease of 21.2 percent. On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures were down by 8.5 percent from the 49,000 reported in June 2014. As a basis of comparison, before the decline in the housing market in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006.

Completed foreclosures are an indication of the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been approximately 5.1 million completed foreclosures across the country.

As of July 2014, approximately 640,000 homes in the United States were in some stage of foreclosure, known as the foreclosure inventory, compared to 976,000 in July 2013, a year-over-year decrease of 34.4 percent. The foreclosure inventory as of July 2014 made up 1.6 percent of all homes with a mortgage, compared to 2.4 percent in July 2013. The foreclosure inventory was down 3.3 percent from June 2014, representing 33 months of consecutive year-over-year declines.

“The stock of distressed debt continues to rapidly decline, especially in western states,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic. “The number of seriously delinquent loans fell by more than 25 percent from the prior year in 10 states and seven of those states were in the west.”

“Based on current trends, the overall foreclosure inventory could trend down to as low as 500,000 homes by year-end which is very positive news for the housing market. The picture is considerably brighter in the non-judicial states which maintain consistently lower foreclosure stocks and, in general, lower levels of serious delinquency,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “In total, there are now 36 states with an inventory of foreclosed homes lower than the national rate of 1.7 percent.”

The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in July 2014 were: Florida (120,000), Michigan (44,000), Texas (38,000), California (32,000) and Georgia (31,000).These five states account for almost half of all completed foreclosures nationally.

The five states with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were: New Jersey (5.7 percent), Florida (4.8 percent), New York (4.3 percent), Hawaii (3.0 percent) and Maine (2.7 percent).

Home prices slow, but continue to show gains

Posted in Economics, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 156 Comments

From Bloomberg:

Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Rose in June at a Slower Pace

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose at a slower pace in the year ended in June as declining affordability and weak wage gains kept appreciation in check.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values increased 8.1 percent from June 2013, the smallest 12-month gain since January 2013, the group reported today in New York.

Price gains are slowing as more houses are coming up for sale and investors retreat to the sidelines. That, combined with an improving job market, could put homeownership within reach of more Americans grappling with disappointing wage growth and strict lending rules.

“We’re seeing more inventories coming on line, which is putting downward pressure on prices,” Anika Khan, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina, said before the report. “In general, we have seen prices rise at a faster pace than the fundamentals would call for. There’s a normalization happening.”

The median forecast of 27 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected an 8.3 percent gain in the 12 months ended in June. Estimates ranged from 7.7 percent to 9 percent.

Another report confirmed price gains are decelerating. Property values rose 0.8 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months after increasing 1.3 percent at the start of the year, according to figures from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Don’t blame it on the Boomers, blame it on Gen X

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Recovery, Risky Lending | 101 Comments

From HousingWire:

Generation X housing woes impact entire mortgage market

Generation X, people 35 to 49, got hit the hardest by the financial crisis and as a negative side effect are now prohibiting the rest of the market from making any progress.

Generation X homeowners are far more likely to be underwater on their mortgage than millennial and baby boomer homeowners, according to the second quarter Zillow Negative Equity Report.

As a whole, the national negative equity rate dropped to 17% in the second quarter, with more than 8.7 million homeowners with a mortgage owing more than their home was worth. This is expected to continue to drop, falling to 14.9% by the second quarter of 2015.

“On the surface, the housing recession did not overtly impact millennials’ housing wealth to the degree it did generation X and the baby boomers, as most millennials were likely too young to have purchased a home during the bubble years,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

“But as this huge generation begins to consider buying homes, they’re entering a market still very much in recovery and far from anyone’s definition of normal. Because so many homes are stuck in negative equity or are effectively underwater, the inventory of homes for sale is severely constrained, leading to more competition for those that are available,” he continued.

To put it in perspective, approximately 42.6% of generation X homeowners are underwater on their mortgage, compared to 15.3% of millennial homeowners (20-34 years old) and 31.1% of baby boomers (50-64 years old).

The fed hopes that the housing market recovery would accelerate once employment growth revived and younger adults were able to get jobs.

But until that happens, the least expensive homes that millennials are more likely to buy are mostly underwater. Among all homes with a mortgage, 28.2% valued within the bottom third of home values were underwater in the second quarter, compared to 15.8% of homes in the middle tier and 9.2% in the top tier.

And then Baby Boomers who are trying to move out are also stuck since they are unable to find move up buyers for their homes.

But will the banks pay up?

Posted in Foreclosures, New Jersey Real Estate | 87 Comments

From the Star Ledger:

N.J. law would levy hefty fines against abandoned homes, absentee creditors

At one time, the opulent McMansion at the corner of Greentree Road and Lamson Lane in Washington Township was the definition of a dream home. High ceilings anchored by a crystal chandellier in the foyer, a wrought-iron and monogrammed gate that opens to a three-car garage, an expansive tiled patio surrounding an elevated, in-ground pool, an industrial-grade outdoor kitchen — the list of its amenities goes on and on.

But now, scattered papers, broken toys and trash lay beneath the chandelier. At least a dozen piles of rotting trash are scattered throughout the backyard. The letters M-O-L-D are drawn vertically alongside the double front doors where a note from FedEx is stuck, indicating an October 2013 package went undelivered.

While the Lamson Lane home is a particularly dramatic example, vacant and overgrown properties pose a problem to municipalities throughout the state, and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4 of Washington Township) hopes his newest bill-turned-law will help get them cleaned up.

The bill, which was signed into law last Friday, gives towns the ability to go after banks that own problem properties where it matters most — their pocket books. It allows municipalities to charge hefty fines to creditors that own properties in violation of the township’s code, a minimum of $1,500 a day for in-state creditors and $2,500 a day for out-of-state creditors.

It also requires those out-of-state creditors to designate a party located within New Jersey to handle maintenance of any property it forecloses on.

“It’s just a paper asset in a portfolio to [creditors],” said Moriarty as he observed the damaged Lamson Lane home last week. “But to the people who live here, it’s an eyesore that’s affecting their property values, an eyesore in their neighborhoods.”

Many neighbors near those homes are concerned not only with the physical appearance of neglect, but with insects and diseases incubating in stagnant pools, animals that take over abandoned properties and criminals who may seek out the homes for squatting or scrapping.

But when Donovan attempts to track down the property’s owner, she’s often led on a wild goose chase that ends with financial middle men refusing to disclose the true identity of the creditor.

“I might have a list of five to six companies that I have called and hope one of them will take responsibility for the property, and nobody does,” said Donovan, who added New Jersey is one of only a few states that do not require the party that pays taxes on a property to reveal the bank that’s putting up the funds.

Going Long Jersey

Posted in Demographics, Housing Recovery, NYC, New Development | 98 Comments

From the NYT:

Life After Brooklyn

By many measures, Jeff Huston and his wife, Lisa Medvedik-Huston, arrived late to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They weren’t among the first waves of artists and hipsters in the early-to-mid ’90s to cross the East River in search of cheaper, grittier confines. When they rented a spacious, duplex loft two blocks from the Bedford Avenue subway stop in 2007, they found a safe neighborhood already dotted with clothing boutiques and wine shops. The height of the real estate boom was approaching, and condos were rising along both the waterfront and McCarren Park.

Yet Brooklyn was still emerging from its postwar slump, and the borough felt new to many, including the young couple. It was five years before the first episode of “Girls” aired on HBO. The concerts that excited the neighborhood were held at an unused city pool, not a world-class arena christened by Jay Z. And real estate investors eager to make all-cash deals were still fixated on Manhattan.

Over the past several years the couple witnessed the much-bemoaned arrival of banker types, chain stores and tourists. Brooklyn has become a global brand.

And last year, when they were ready to buy, the couple quickly realized they had been priced out. “I can’t tell you how many listings said, ‘cash only,’ ” said Mr. Huston, whose real estate search included everything from $500,000 apartments to $900,000 fixer-upper rowhouses and took him from Williamsburg to Bedford-Stuyvesant. “That was a wake-up call.”

And so the Hustons bid farewell to Brooklyn. In October, they spent $550,000 on a 2,000-square-foot loft in a converted suitcase factory in Jersey City Heights, a section of Jersey City that overlooks Hoboken. “We weren’t sure there was anyone like us in the neighborhood,” he said. Then a Brooklyn-style coffee shop arrived. “The line down the street was all people like us. We could have been in Williamsburg. It was all, like, expats.”

July home sales at 10 month high

Posted in Economics, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 108 Comments

From Forbes:

July Existing Home Sales Hit Highest Pace Of 2014

Sales of previously-owned homes in July rose for the fourth straight month, hitting their highest pace in 2014, according to data released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors.

Sales of existing-homes–which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops–climbed 2.4% to an annual (seasonally adjusted) pace of 5.15 million in July. That tops June’s downwardly revised annual (seasonally adjusted) pace of 5.03 million and is the highest rate in nine months.

July’s numbers are good news for housing after a sluggish start this year, when the market was weighed down by winter storms, underwater mortgages, tight inventory, and rising mortgage rates. However, the numbers can’t match housing’s 2013 hot streak: last month’s pace was 4.3% below the July 2013 (last year’s peak), when the pace stood at 5.38 million units.

Still, the slowed pace of price gains is helping to normalize the market. And as housing prices rise, more people put their homes on the market, easing inventory levels. “The number of houses for sale is higher than a year ago and tamer price increases are giving prospective buyers less hesitation about entering the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “More people are buying homes compared to earlier in the year and this trend should continue with interest rates remaining low and apartment rents on the rise.”

Existing-home sales data is an important bellwether of the housing market, since the vast majority of homes are resales rather than new construction. At the end of July there were 2.37 million existing homes available for sale, a 5.5-month supply at the current sales pace. (A six-month supply is considered a healthy market.) Unsold inventory is 5.8% higher than a year ago.

For now, home prices are rising at a slower rate than last year’s breakneck pace. In July the median price of an existing-home was $222,900, 4.9% over the median price one year earlier. Year-over-year, home prices have now risen for 29 consecutive months.

Sales pace and price level varied widely by region in July. In the Northeast, the pace stayed flat from June to July but was 9.9% below the rate one year earlier. The median price in this region was $273,600 in July, 2.4% above the price in July 2013.

Distressed homes (foreclosures and short sales) accounted for just 9% of home sales in July, down from 15% one year earlier. That marks the first time the market share of distressed properties has dropped to single-digits since NAR started tracking them in October 2008.

The share of first-time buyers in the housing market rose slightly in July (for the second straight month) to 29%, but remains historically low.

Distressed sales continue decline in June

Posted in Economics, Housing Recovery, Risky Lending | 136 Comments

From CoreLogic:

Distressed Sales Accounted for Just 11 Percent of Total Home Sales in June

Distressed sales (REO and short sales) accounted for 11.4 percent of total home sales in June, the lowest share since December 2007 and a strong improvement from the same time a year ago when this category made up 15.8 percent of total sales. Within this category, REO sales made up 7.2 percent of total home sales, and short sales made up 4.2 percent of total sales in June. At its peak, the distressed sales share totaled 32.5 percent of all sales in January 2009, with REO sales making up 28 percent of that share. The more recent shift away from REO sales is a driver of improving home prices, as REOs typically sell at a larger discount compared to healthy sales than do short sales. There will always be some amount of distress in the housing market, so one would never expect a 0-percent distressed sales share, but the pre-crisis share of distressed sales was traditionally about 2 percent.

Michigan had the largest share of distressed sales of any state at 27 percent[1] in June, followed by Illinois (24.1 percent), Florida (23.6 percent), Nevada (22.7 percent) and Georgia (20.7 percent). California experienced a 14.6-percentage point drop in the distressed sales share, the largest of any state. Of the largest 25 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) based on population, Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill. had the largest share of distressed sales at 27.4 percent, followed by Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla. (26.4 percent), Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (24.8 percent), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (24.6 percent) and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (23.9 percent). Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif. had the largest drop in its distressed share, falling by 17.1 percentage points from 33.1 percent in June 2013 to 16.1 percent in June 2014.


Posted in National Real Estate, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 90 Comments

From the Star Ledger:

Business leaders pushing Meadowlands casino plans as Atlantic City casinos close

Business and community leaders huddled in the Meadowlands this morning to discuss the district’s next big bet: casinos.

With Atlantic City’s gaming industry sputtering, lawmakers are looking to revisit the question of whether to expand casino gaming outside its borders, with the Meadowlands being a likely target.

Last month, the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce released the results of a survey of 93 northern New Jersey businesses, 76 percent of whom felt that the best place to put a new gambling facility would be the Meadowlands Sport Complex.

Talk of a possible 2015 referendum has the chamber updating its 2011 “vision plan” for the region to include as many as four casino-style gambling facilities.

The expanded plan includes a resort casino district, a so-called “racino” with slot machines at the Meadowlands Racetrack, a convention center and expanded parking to accommodate visitors to the facilities, as well as the long-stalled American Dream Meadowlands project, where construction is expected to return in full swing soon.

“A casino will allow the Meadowlands to draw on an already existing customer base that wants to gamble and be entertained, but is currently driving past us to get to casinos in nearby states,” chamber president Jim Kirkos said before the meeting.

Atlantic City’s gaming revenues have been on a downward trend since 2006, falling from a high of $5.2 billion to $2.8 billion last year. Industry analysts attribute much of that decline to competition from neighboring states that have legalized gambling. Those who support pushing New Jersey gaming northward say it could help recapture some of the revenue bleeding outside state borders.

Another proposal would put a $4.6 billion casino project next to Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City.

Meanwhile, more out of state competition is looming, with four resort-style casinos expected to be approved in New York state by fall, according to The New York Times.

NJ to Banks: Clean em’ up

Posted in Foreclosures, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 97 Comments

From the Courier Post:

Christie signs bill allowing towns to crack down on problem properties

Gov. Chris Christie has signed into law a measure empowering towns and cities to fine banks or creditors that fail to properly maintain vacant properties in foreclosure.

The bill was approved by the New Jersey Legislature in June and signed by Christie on Friday. It authorizes municipalities to pass ordinances regulating the care of vacant properties in foreclosure and permits them to levy fines of up to $2,500 a day for violations that have not been remedied within 30 days of receiving notice.

The new law also allows towns to mandate that banks and other lenders name an in-state representative or entity that would be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of properties in foreclosure.

Sponsors of the law said it was intended to give towns teeth to address vacant homes that create blight and attract crime.

“Vacant properties are neighborhood eyesores that attract pests and criminal activity and drag down property values,” Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-32nd of Secaucus, said in a statement. “Municipalities will now be able to take action against creditors who create nuisance situations for neighborhoods and municipalities by failing to maintain vacant properties that are set for foreclosure.”

Philly doing any better? Nah.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 157 Comments

From the Philly Inquirer:

Regional home sales up, but still lag

The real estate market in the eight-county Philadelphia region thawed its way out of a disappointing winter and into a sunnier spring in 2014′s second quarter, but sales still lagged the same period of a more hopeful 2013.

Using data from the Trend Multiple Listing Service, the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach HomExpert Market Report shows second-quarter sales regionwide running 6.6 percent below the same period in 2013 – 14,795 vs. 15,844.

Year over year, prices were basically flat, the report indicates, with the average price just 0.3 percent higher than in March to June 2013 – $264,842 compared with $264,000.

Median price – half the homes sold for more, half for less – was just 0.5 percent higher, $221,000 in this year’s second quarter vs. $220,000 last year.

Joseph Scott McArdle, a BHHS Fox & Roach agent who focuses on the Chester County market, said the second quarter was “filled with ‘make up for lost time.’ ”

“When the weather finally cooperated, [buyers] seemed to come out in droves,” McArdle said. Among the things he noticed during the second quarter was that “for the first time in seven years, buyers no longer have the fear of continued falling prices.”

Apparently reflecting a more realistic approach by sellers, asking price improved vs. sale price in the second quarter. On average, the data show, sale price was 92 percent to 97 percent of asking price, depending on the number of homes on the market and traditional factors such as location and school district.

The second quarter’s for-sale inventory, 42,014 houses, was about 600 fewer than in the same period last year, the data show – well below normal numbers for the peak spring selling season.

But continuing short supply – which local agents called a major stumbling block to the market’s recovery – resulted in dramatically quicker sales. Average days on market were down 34.5 percent, to 76 days this year from 116 in 2013′s second quarter.

“The recovery, such as it is, remains a highly local phenomenon,” said economist Kevin C. Gillen, senior research consultant at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government who tracks the area housing market.

“Some segments are racing forward at breakneck speed, while others have been stuck in neutral for several years,” Gillen said. “Until price appreciation and sales activity become more geographically and demographically widespread, we cannot claim the region’s housing market is in full recovery.”

In the second quarter, sales fell in every county but Camden (up 0.6 percent) and Gloucester (up a more solid 4.3 percent), the data show.

Since when is Cliffside Park and Wood-Ridge not Suburbia?

Posted in Housing Recovery, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 110 Comments

From the Record:

As housing rebounds, construction pace picks up at 2 developments

In a sign of the housing industry’s rebound, two large North Jersey redevelopment projects — in Wood-Ridge and Cliffside Park — are picking up momentum after being stalled during the real estate downturn.

The steel framework is going up at the Towne Center project in Cliffside Park, and developers Fred Daibes and James Demetrakis of Edgewater now expect the project to open around September 2015.

And at the Wesmont Station redevelopment, on part of the old Curtiss-Wright factory site in Wood-Ridge, Pulte Homes has begun work on a section of 217 town houses, while nearby, land is being cleared for 104 affordable apartments.

The Wood-Ridge and Cliffside Park redevelopments are moving forward at a time when home building — especially multifamily building — is on the rise again in New Jersey, after falling to post-World War II lows in the wake of the recession and housing bust. This year, New Jersey home construction approvals are running at their strongest pace since 2006, about 29 percent ahead of last year’s level.

“You’re seeing a convergence of long-term trends toward more multifamily, transit-oriented residential development and the housing market emerging from the deep recession that the industry was in,” said Christopher Jones, vice president for research at the Regional Plan Association.

“There’s a pent-up demand for housing, and builders are getting into position to meet this demand,” said Ralph Zucker, head of Somerset Development, the master developer at Wesmont Station.

The two projects reflect builders’ interest in North Jersey; Bergen and Hudson counties have accounted for about 30 percent of the home building in the state this year. And multifamily projects like these two currently make up about 60 percent of the construction activity in the state — an unprecedented share at least since World War II.

“It’s a fundamental and dramatic change in the housing market,” said James Hughes, a Rutgers economist. After “the great suburbanization trend from 1950 to 2000,” he said, “the geography of housing development is changing.”

“Living far out in the suburbia and exurbia is giving way to moving back toward the center of the region,” Hughes said.

Millennials, in particular, want a more urban lifestyle, closer to mass transit, Jones and Hughes said.

“They have been raised in the suburbs, and they were happy with that; it was a safe environment,” said Hughes. “But that’s not where they want to live. They don’t want to be stuck in a plain vanilla suburb.”