From the NY Times:
WHEN a newly built house beside the beach in Sea Girt went into contract for $3.6 million last month, it was sort of a good news-bad news occurrence, in the eyes of real estate brokers and agents.
The good news — obviously — was the handsome price, fetched in a market overflowing with expensive homes in this part of Monmouth County. The not-so-good news was that the sale had taken three years. And the really bad news was that the sale price amounted to only 68 percent of the original asking price of $5.288 million for the house, at 9 the Terrace.
In the first four months of this year 138 houses were put on the market in the three towns Mr. Wight mentioned, which are considered a submarket by the county’s multiple listing service. There were 28 closed sales during those months, with an average sale price of $1.2 million, according to listing data. The year before, 29 homes were sold, for an average of $1.36 million.
In the first quarter of this year the median sale price was also down, to $774,550 from $975,000 in early 2010. (The median represents a midpoint, with half the sales for more and half for less; statisticians prefer it to the average, because it tends to be less affected by one or two very high-priced or low-priced sales.)
And as prices sank, the time that a typical house spent on the market increased, to 144 days, from 119 last year.
“On the positive side,” said Keith Kernan, an agent in Ward Wight’s office in Sea Girt, “most sellers have become more realistic about prices, and the average home is now selling for 92 percent of its list price.”
“There are buyers out there for these exceptional homes, with some percentage of them being second-home buyers, since this is a resort area,” said Mr. Kernan, estimating that about 30 percent of buyers in the area pay cash, and do not take out a mortgage.
“This type of buyer is acutely aware of market conditions,” he said. “If a house is priced right, it will move right away, no matter what price range you are talking about.”
But the price range does make a difference.
Recently a house in Wall Township, just inland of Spring Lake, was sold in a single day; it had not found a buyer when priced in the mid-$500,000s, but as soon as the price fell below $500,000, it was snapped up — with multiple offers still pending should that deal fall through, according to Mr. Wight.
Manasquan, the most southerly of the three towns, typically has a somewhat larger sale inventory than Spring Lake. At the beginning of April, according to the Otteau Valuation Group, a New Brunswick company that compiles monthly real estate reports, 118 properties in Manasquan had not sold after at least a month on the market.
Spring Lake had 96 houses sitting on the market. Sea Girt had 37. Most of the highest-price houses for sale are in these two towns.