From the NY Times:
ACCORDING to the early evidence, the New Jersey residential market went a bit weak in the knees in May — or even swooned — after the federal home buyer tax credit expired on April 30.
ales statistics are not yet final. But in a sample study of multiple-listing data from nine counties done by the Otteau Valuation Group of New Brunswick, which reports on the state’s real estate industry, the pace of contract signings was found to be down in all of them, and in some cases sharply.
In Middlesex County, for example, four straight months in which sales outpaced those of the year before were followed by a month of May with almost a third fewer sales than last: 467 contracts versus 672.
On average across all nine counties, according to the Otteau data, there were 23 percent fewer sales in May than there were in May 2009. The counties were: Bergen, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Ocean, Passaic and Union.
Even before these numbers were in, however, state lawmakers were readying plans for a new statewide tax credit, described by some as a “bridge” to help the housing market along until the overall economy fully recovers.
On June 10, legislators gave overwhelming final approval to a measure that would provide buyers with a tax credit of $15,000 (or 5 percent of the purchase price, whichever is less) over three years, as long as they lived in their homes for at least that length of time. A total of $100 million would be allocated for the program, which would place no income limits on participating buyers.
It is now up to Gov. Christopher J. Christie, who was silent on the issue during debate, to decide whether the program would effectively jump-start the housing market once again, and whether it makes sense at a time of budget crisis and already-declining tax revenues for the state.
Among the nine counties surveyed, the biggest loser was Camden, to the south, which had a 40 percent drop in sales volume last month over the previous year. Southernmost Ocean County had a 23 percent decline, whereas Bergen and Hudson Counties in northern New Jersey had only 13 percent declines.
Essex County is home to Newark, one of the poorer cities in the state and its largest, as well as affluent Short Hills, where several local brokers said they had not sensed any lost momentum in May. In all, 349 contracts were signed in Essex, 22 percent fewer than last year.
Morris County had 17 percent fewer sales; in Union and Passaic, also in the north, declines were 24 and 27 percent.