From the APP:
New Jersey real estate pros are reading tea leaves, searching for positive signs — anything remotely positive, really — that point to a rebound in the state’s tortured housing market.
They want to tell home buyers and sellers there is hope, so they point to trends ticking slightly upward: low mortgage rates that indicate it’s time to buy, employment rates showing signs of life, even Jersey Shore summer rentals that are ahead of last year’s pace.
But the cold, hard data of sales, inventory and foreclosures remain in free fall, leading analysts to predict that the rock bottom of the real estate crash — once widely expected to arrive late this year or the start of 2012 — now may not arrive until 2013.
“Broad-based, all indications are that prices will probably finally bottom out in 2012 or 2013,” said James W. Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. “But then, we’re looking at a long period back.”
“Not in this decade,” Hughes said.
Much of the past week’s real estate market pessimism was spawned by a nationwide analysis by the Zillow website, which reported that home prices swooned at a rate not seen since 2008.
In New Jersey, the Zillow report showed, first-quarter median home prices fell 3.3 percent. During the past year, Garden State home prices have fallen a full 9 percent. That’s further and faster than our neighbors in New York (1.4 percent, 3.4 percent) and Pennsylvania (3 percent, 7.3 percent.)
Elsewhere, an Otteau Valuation Group report showed New Jersey median home prices falling twice as fast, 6.6 percent, in the first quarter of 2011.
Hughes said the first three months of 2011 represented a “double-dip,” with falling prices made to seem more steep by the artificial sales bump created by government tax incentives at the start of 2010.