From the Courier News:
Last month saw the highest number of home-sale contract signings — 9,700 — for New Jersey homes since April 2006, according to a real estate expert who tracks home sales and prices. The number of contracts in April 2006 was also close to 9,700.
Jeffrey Otteau, a Central Jersey-based appraiser, said the April 2015 sale number represented a rise of 19 percent over April 2014.
The sale numbers are a result of pent-up demand and increased confidence among home buyers, he said. The people who live, breathe and eat real estate on a daily basis — real estate brokers and managers throughout the Central Jersey market — agree that these factors are playing a role in the increasing house sales, along with rising rental rates.
According to William O. Keleher Jr., president and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties, the market’s momentum started in March, after the last snow falls of the winter.
“It was a tough winter. We had snow from December through the end of February,” Keleher said. “Not only did people not want to go look at houses, but also sellers don’t like to show their homes in or after a storm, with people tracking snow and salt through their house.”
Weichert Regional Vice President Dominic Prevete said the 23 offices in his region saw the best April in eight years. He thinks that the pent-up demand had two components: The people who were waiting during the winter, and the people who were waiting after the recession. He also thinks sellers who were waiting for home prices to rise are now putting their homes on the market. The movement among sellers began once the April market heated up.
As a result, although the supply of homes is still tight, it’s not tight enough to inhibit demand. Multiple offers and bidding wars have tapered off in May, Prevete, Keleher and Tom Boniakowski agreed.
Boniakowski’s Green Brook-based offices are seeing a lot of first-time buyers, and he says many of those buyers are in the market because rents have become so high. Mortgage money is easier to get now, and it’s not unusual for these buyers to be able to buy a home with 10 percent down payments or less.
Stuart Davis, broker of record for Davis Realty in East Brunswick and Ocean Township, agrees that first-time buyers are key players in this market. He also said it’s because rentals have become so expensive that with today’s low interest rates, it’s less expensive to buy than to rent.
Boniakowski sees the market continuing to do well, although not necessarily as hot as April. With fewer multiple bids in May, he still calls the market “healthy.” He expects that eventually, interest rates will go up, but not just yet.
“I’ve been doing comps (comparable sales analysis)” he said. “Homes are selling 3 to 5 percent higher, depending on the location.”
Prevete also is optimistic. He says homes in popular price ranges are selling well, and people are buying homes further out than they used to . In his market, that means Sparta, Chester and the Long Valley section of Washington Township are doing better than they have in years.