From the South Jersey Times:
Real estate markets aren’t known for consistency, but as South Jersey inches toward pre-recession normalcy, one old adage appears to remain true — it’s all about location.
Specifically on the county level, data from recent reports on median home prices show Gloucester leading the pack, with Salem and Cumberland counties still struggling.
A recent report showed Gloucester’s median home prices increasing 3 percent year-over-year when looking at second-quarter numbers, a standout in the Greater Philadelphia region where many counties saw the same figure either stay flat or take a small dip.
It’s fair to say it’s something to be happy about, said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, a website that reports and analyzes market trends and foreclosure rates.
“That’s been happening now for five consecutive months, home prices have been up from a year ago,” said Blomquist. “That’s another good sign it’s not just market fluctuations.”
But not a great sign for Cumberland and Salem counties, which had the same figure come in at a steep decline of 16 percent, something Blomquist said was “pretty extreme” but likely skewed by foreclosure rates.
“It’s a pretty big drop, and digging into some of the other data we have, I think the reason we can point to behind it is there’s a bigger share of distressed sales in those two counties,” said Blomquist. “In fact it’s increasing, and particularly in Cumberland County.”
Just 1.4 percent of home sales in the county last July were considered distressed, and that figure jumped to 4.7 percent this year.
While there wasn’t enough data to parse out the distressed sale rate in Salem County, Gloucester’s showed a higher percentage than Cumberland’s at 8.1 percent, but that represents a decrease from last year when 12.3 percent of the county’s sales were distressed.
Gloucester’s good news is likely the calm before the storm, said Blomquist, who anticipates distressed sale rates may rise again as a backlog in New Jersey’s court system delayed the finalization of many foreclosure proceedings.
While most of those are leftover from the last housing bust, the recent closure of major employers in South Jersey, particularly in Atlantic City’s crumbling casino market, may end up impacting the housing market as well.
“That additional job loss we’re seeing could certainly cause even more distress to hit the market,” said Blomquist.