From the Record:
After 30 years in their five-bedroom Old Tappan colonial, Enid and Generoso Squitieri wanted to downsize, but they held off on a sale, waiting for the housing market to improve. As the economy and real estate market brightened this year, they put the house on the market in late March — and had an offer the next day.
“Before I knew it, I was packing,” said Enid Squitieri. She and her husband are now living with their daughter while they look for a condo in Fort Lee.
As the Squitieris discovered, the spring real estate market has been the liveliest in years in North Jersey, as the region and the nation climb out of the worst housing bust since World War II. Low mortgage rates and a growing sense of job security have drawn buyers into the market.
“It’s a breakthrough year,” said Attilio Adamo, a broker with Better Homes and Gardens Randy Realty in Harrington Park. “If homes are priced right, they’re moving.”
“The ‘buy now, pay less’ mood among home buyers is creating a sense of urgency,” Jeffrey Otteau, an East Brunswick appraiser who tracks the statewide housing market, wrote in a recent report. The pace of sales in the state is the highest in six years, and Bergen County is one of New Jersey’s strongest markets, he said. The local multiple listing services report that sales volume is up about 12.5 percent in Bergen County and 18 percent in Passaic compared with last year.
“I think people are tired of waiting,” said Bob Lindsay, a Re/Max agent in Wayne. In addition, according to Orly Steinberg, an agent with Coldwell Banker in Ringwood, more investors have been buying homes, often with cash.
“Homes that were priced reasonably were receiving multiple offers very quickly,” said Melinda Cronk of Tarvin Realtors in Ridgewood. “If you waited until the open house to see it, you were too late.”
“The spring market has been incredible for sellers,” said Maryanne Elsaesser, a Coldwell Banker agent in Wyckoff. “Most of my listings sell within a week.”
Inventory is low for a couple of reasons, including a years-long plunge in home construction to levels not seen since World War II. Moreover, many homeowners — especially those who bought during the housing boom — can’t put their homes on the market because they owe more on their mortgages than the house is worth, said Otteau. Others are unwilling to accept prices that, in this region, are down about 25 percent from the market peaks in 2006.
But though this supply/demand imbalance has led to bidding wars, the area’s prices haven’t risen as quickly as in the nation as a whole.
“We’re not seeing a dramatic increase in prices,” said Joe Rand of Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, which has offices in Bergen and Passaic counties.