From the Record:
Home values have slid into a “double dip,” dropping more than 3 percent in March from a year earlier, the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index reported Tuesday.
“Home prices continue on their downward spiral, with no relief in sight,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s.
Values in the New York metropolitan area, including North Jersey, declined 3.4 percent in March from a year earlier. Nationally, home prices were down 3.6 percent.
Prices in the region have returned to the levels of January 2004, while national prices are back to the levels of mid-2002. Standard & Poor’s declared a double dip because values have dropped below the recent low point, hit in April 2009.
Prices were shored up in 2009 and 2010 by an $8,000 federal tax credit for home buyers. But after that credit expired last year, demand for homes plummeted and prices began trending down again. Hence, the double dip.
Case-Shiller does not break out sale prices by county, but according to the N.J. Multiple Listing Service, Bergen County single-family home prices rose 2.5 percent, to a median $410,000, from March 2010 to March 2011. According to the Garden State Multiple Listing Service, Passaic County single-family prices declined 18 percent to a median $242,040.
These numbers reflect the mix of properties sold during the month, so if a large number of lower-priced homes are sold, for example, that will tend to skew values lower. Case-Shiller is considered a more reliable measure of home values because it tracks the value of the same properties over time.
Several North Jersey real estate agents said they were not surprised to hear of the lower Case-Shiller numbers.
“Since the end of the tax credit, we anticipated a slowdown and we clearly saw it,” said Linda Port, a Re/Max agent in Paramus.
“I have seen prices come down a bit,” said Maryanne Elsaesser, a Coldwell Banker agent in Wyckoff. “Sellers seem to be holding firm on what they will accept, and buyers are holding firm on the max they will pay.”
Lisa Molnar, an appraiser with Skyline Appraisals in Ringwood, said values are holding steady among the most sought-after properties — such as lakefront homes or homes in Ridgewood, with its commuter train station and well-regarded school system.
But prices are sliding, she said, in Warren and Sussex counties, as well as in Paterson and Passaic, where most of the sales are foreclosures.