Single family as a luxury good

From Marketplace:

Home prices have risen 423% in 40 years, fueling economic discontent 

We’ve been dealing with high inflation in this economy over the last several years, with everything from groceries to new vehicles to construction supplies soaring in price.

But for one item in particular — houses — we’ve seen such sharp inflation over decades that it’s starting to change the landscape of American economic life. What happens in society, and in history, when costs for basic necessities, like shelter and food, shoot up in price? 

Let’s start by going back four decades, to 1984. The movie “Ghostbusters” was a blockbuster that year. And the median price of a new home wasn’t so scary: $79,900 in the fourth quarter of 1984, according to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Since then, consumer prices overall have risen 203%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics information and analysis section. Meanwhile, the median price of a new home was $417,700 in the fourth quarter of 2023. That works out to an inflation rate of 423%.

“There’s no question that the cost of a house has gone up relative to cost of living overall,” said Christopher Mayer, co-director of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate at Columbia Business School. “More and more, a single-family home has become a luxury good, which has not been the case in the United States until now. It’s a trend that, if it continues, I think will change society substantially.”

Mayer conducted research in the 2010s finding that approximately 80% of people 65 and older owned their own homes, including a significant proportion who had neither a high school nor a college degree.

He said that for previous generations, working-class homeownership was plausible, even likely. “Homeownership was not just about people in the middle or the upper middle class, homeownership was something that people in the lower middle class could have.” 

He’s seen this play out in his own family: “My in-laws lived in Redding, Pennsylvania; neither graduated from college. And yet, they were homeowners and owned multiple houses over their lives — having a part of the American dream. That would be very difficult for folks in the same circumstance, looking at the cost of homes today.”

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 139 Comments

Where does it stop?

From Patch:

Home Prices Jumped 10 Percent This Year In These NJ Counties


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $335,918
  • Percent change: 9.8 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $661,301
  • Percent change: 7.1 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $372,100
  • Percent change: 10.1 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $308,033
  • Percent change: 11.6 percent

Cape May

  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $685,882
  • Percent change: 4.8 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $235,671
  • Percent change: 7.5 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $581,327
  • Percent change: 9.5 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $338,798
  • Percent change: 10.1 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $572,960
  • Percent change: 4.2 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $563,896
  • Percent change: 8.7 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $399,260
  • Percent change: 11.1 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $500,177
  • Percent change: 8.5 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $664,550
  • Percent change: 8.7 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $616,032
  • Percent change: 10 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $486,446
  • Percent change: 8 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $510,780
  • Percent change: 8.6 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $259,541
  • Percent change: 9.1 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $592,974
  • Percent change: 9.8 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $393,243
  • Percent change: 10.2 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $549,056
  • Percent change: 8.5 percent


  • Average home value (Feb. 2024): $378,316
  • Percent change: 8.6 percent
Posted in Housing Bubble, New Jersey Real Estate | 119 Comments

Paterson Renaissance?

From the Record:

The Great Falls are essential to Paterson’s economic and cultural future

There aren’t many urban centers in America that have a waterfall a stone’s throw away from their downtown district. Well, part of Paterson’s point of difference is the Great Falls and the tremendous potential that the mighty cataract possesses.

When Alexander Hamilton saw the Falls, he saw the future. Therefore, in honor of our city’s founding father we are harnessing his vision to spark a renaissance in Paterson.

The rebirth of Hinchliffe Stadium was a significant step in our revitalization efforts. It put Paterson back in the win column with many more victories on the horizon. One of those wins is the anticipated opening of the Charles Muth Museum, which will help us tell the story of American integration with a nostalgic nod to the heroes of Negro League Baseball.

Just above Hinchliffe Stadium is Vista Park, the highest point in Paterson. It is an underutilized property that has tragically become a dumping ground. However, our plan is to invest $4 million in the site to transform it into a state-of-the-art park.

The Paterson Planning Board recently approved our ambitious vision for a rooftop restaurant, a food hall and a culinary arts school in the Great Falls District. The unanimous vote by the aforementioned body speaks to the synergy surrounding our desire to become a top-notch tourist destination.

The Paterson City Council gave our plan to auction off the former site of the Libby’s Lunch its stamp of approval. The property is ideally located and possesses the potential to be a restaurant, a café, or maybe even a boutique hotel.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 187 Comments

Montclair #4 in the country

From Patch:

NJ Town’s Real Estate Market Named One Of The Hottest In U.S.: Report

Montclair is not only the hottest town in New Jersey for real estate, but the fourth hottest in the entire country, according to data first reported by

So how exactly is “hot” defined in a real estate market? based its hotness rank on supply and demand data on its site — in other words, the unique views on property listings averaged along with the number of days the property has been listed, a representative told 

Other New Jersey towns that made the top 10 are Basking Ridge, Mount Laurel, and Ramsey, coming in at #5, #8, and #10, respectively.

Posted in New Jersey Real Estate | 125 Comments

You can’t afford it

From Business Insider:

A record 550 cities now have average home values above $1 million

A record number of US cities have an average home value of more than $1 million — a sign that the housing market is becoming increasingly out-of-reach for some Americans as prices continue to soar.

The US has 550 cities where the typical home value is north of seven figures, according to a recent Zillow report. That’s the highest number of so-called “million-dollar” cities ever recorded, the real-estate-listings site said, up from 491 a year ago.

California had the highest concentration of million-dollar cities, with 210 where the average home value exceeded $1 million. New York had 66, and New Jersey — which saw the highest increase — had 49, the report found.

High borrowing costs have deterred homeowners from listing their properties for sale, creating a supply-demand imbalance that caused home prices to rise at a record pace in January, per the Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

“The housing market is tight with few homes available, and competition is still high for homes. That competitive pressure is pushing home values higher across the US,” Anushna Prakash, an economic analyst at Zillow, said in a note on Tuesday.

Posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 48 Comments

Lazy men will destroy the housing market

From Yahoo Finance:

The ‘growing crisis of the young American male’ could send home prices falling for years or even decades, says the ‘Oracle of Wall Street’

Meredith Whitney, deemed the “Oracle of Wall Street” for successfully calling the financial crisis, says home prices are likely to fall substantially, and the reasons have to do with habits picked up by young guys.

“You have men staying single longer…and then you have what I call a growing crisis of the young American male…they’re twice as likely to live at home than women. So one out of five young men live at home with their parents, and these aren’t young men going to college and coming home for holiday breaks, these are young, grown men choosing to live at home,” Whitney told CNBC this morning.

The outcome could have profound effects on the housing market, she said.

“I think you’re going to start to see housing prices begin a multi-year/decade decline, just due to supply/demand dynamics,” Whitney said. “So you’ve had a demand, supply imbalance: more demand, less supply. And I think that’s going to invert.” So what that means is supply will then outweigh demand, which is why she sees home prices falling for years.

Whitney’s take is based in part on demographic shifts. The bulk of housing is owned by people and households over the age of 40, she said. But household formations are the lowest they’ve been in more than a century, which translates into a demand problem, she said today.

Yet many experts have predicted that home prices will only continue to go up from here. Mortgage rates reached a two-decade high last year, and people were still buying homes—and because there simply aren’t enough homes, demand outweighs supply, keeping home prices high. Whitney, however, is calling it differently as shifts within the housing world, and apparently among young male adults, occur. It’s not clear what data she is referring to here or in the information above.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, National Real Estate | 47 Comments

NJ led the Northeast in February

From Corelogic:

CoreLogic: US Annual Home Price Growth Slows but Still Up by Over 5% in February

    • U.S. single-family home prices rose by 5.5% year over year in February and are expected to taper to 3.1% growth by February 2025.
    • Four of the top five states with the highest annual home price growth are in the Northeast: New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maine and Connecticut
    • The five states where home prices remain furthest from the summer 2022 peak are Idaho, Washington, Utah, Vermont and Montana
    • The Miami and San Diego metro areas continued to lead the country for annual growth in February, both at about 10%.

    U.S. annual home price growth remained mostly consistent with numbers seen since last fall in February but finally slowed as the residual impact of comparing gains with weak 2022 home prices wore off. CoreLogic projects that year-over-year home price gains will continue to rise at a slower pace for the rest of 2024, which suggests more certainty for potential homebuyers who have been waiting to get a foot in the door. As noted in the most recent US CoreLogic S&P Case-Shiller Index report, an increase in for-sale inventory also benefits potential homebuyers, though affordability remains a concern, particularly if mortgage rates remain elevated throughout the spring homebuying season.

    “Home price growth pivoted in February, as the impact of the January 2023 Home Price Index bottom finally faded,” said Dr. Selma Hepp, chief economist for CoreLogic. “As a result, the U.S. should begin to see slowing annual home price gains moving forward.”

    “Nevertheless,” Hepp continued, “with a 0.7% increase from January to February 2024, which is almost double the monthly increase recorded before the pandemic, spring home price gains are already off to a strong start despite continued mortgage rate volatility. That said, more inventory finally coming to market will likely translate to more options for buyers and fewer bidding wars, which typically keeps outsized price growth in check. Still, despite affordability challenges, homebuyer demand appears to favor already expensive, coastal markets with a limited availability of properties for sale.”

    Posted in Housing Bubble, National Real Estate, New Jersey Real Estate | 30 Comments

    A new era in NJ politics? Thanks Murphy!

    From CNN:

    Federal court scraps New Jersey’s controversial ‘county line’ ballot design

    Voting rights advocates scored a major victory Friday in New Jersey when a federal judge struck down the use of a controversial primary ballot design that favored party-backed candidates.

    The decision is potentially a grave blow to the state’s powerful political machines, which have for decades used the so-called county line to prop up their endorsed candidates. The system is currently used in 19 of the Garden State’s 21 counties.

    The preliminary injunction granted by US District Judge Zahid Quraishi is almost certain to be appealed, but, for now, it means that New Jersey voters will use office block ballots – the standard across most of the country – during the June primary. The lawsuit was brought by Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, who is running for the seat of scandal-tarred incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez, and two other South Jersey-based House candidates, who argued that the current system is unconstitutional.

    Quraishi’s order includes specific language barring county elections officials from organizing their ballots “by column or row” and replacing it with a “randomized ballot order system … which affords each candidate for the same office an equal chance at obtaining the first ballot position.”

    Anger over the “county line” ballots has been growing for years in New Jersey, the only state that uses the design. Activists filed a lawsuit in 2021 that Kim, with the same lawyers, effectively revived with his Senate bid as he competed against party machine-favored rival Tammy Murphy, the first lady of New Jersey.

    But Murphy dropped out of the race earlier this week amid a grassroots backlash tied, in part, to frustration over the advantages conferred by “the line.”

    “Today’s decision is a victory for a fairer, more democratic politics in New Jersey. It’s a victory built from the incredible grassroots work of activists across our state who saw an undemocratic system marginalizing the voices of voters, and worked tirelessly to fix it,” Kim said in a statement that described the ruling as a triumph for those working “to restore and protect voting rights.”

    Posted in New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 35 Comments

    How much do you need? 2024 edition.

    From Bankrate:

    Study: Americans need a six-figure salary to afford a typical home in nearly half of U.S. states

    A combination of high mortgage rates, rising home prices and low housing inventory over the last two years is pushing homeownership further out of reach for would-be homeowners, especially first-timers. To afford a median-priced home of $402,343, Americans need an annual income of $110,871, according to a new Bankrate analysis. That’s nearly a 50 percent increase in just the last four years.

    To better understand the housing affordability crunch across the U.S., Bankrate also calculated how much aspiring homeowners need to earn annually to afford a median-priced home in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, compared to four years ago. Bankrate’s analysis found Americans need to earn six figures to afford a median-priced home in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Four years ago, only six states and the District of Columbia required a salary that high to afford a median-priced home.

    Curious about your state? Here’s the annual salary you’ll need to afford a typical home in 2024.

    Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, National Real Estate, New Jersey Real Estate | 51 Comments

    Living your best life in NJ

    From Patch:

    Morris Is Most Expensive County In NJ For Household Bills, Study Finds

    A new study shows that Morris County residents are forking over more for their monthly bills on average than in any other county in the state. 

    The doxoINSIGHTS 2024 U.S. Household Bill Pay Report found that consumers across the country saw the amount they pay to keep up on household bills increase 4 percent since last year. 

    This report, which reflects actual bill payment activity in more than 97 percent of U.S. zip codes, identifies the most and least expensive states for Americans to live in — based on average monthly spending on actual household bill payments.

    The average American household spends $25,513 per year, or 34 percent of their income, on the most common bills, the study found. doxoINSIGHTS included the following bills in its calculations: Mortgage and rent, utilities, car loans, mobile phone, cable and internet, home security, and coverage for auto, home, and life insurance. 

    In the Garden State, the average cost is higher – which may not come as a surprise to residents in the state with the highest property taxes in the nation. The average household in New Jersey was found to pay $2,802 per month, or $33,627 per year on bills.

    The latest doxoINSIGHTS report says New Jersey residents’ bills are $8,114 higher per year than the U.S. average, which is actually a slight decrease from last year’s amount of $8,165. It still makes New Jersey the fourth-most expensive state when it comes to the average cost of bill payments, the study said. 

    Morris County residents have higher bills than the state average — and pay $15,009 more per year than the average U.S. citizen, the study said.

    The average household in Morris County pays $3,377 per month, or $40,521 per year on bills, the study found. Most of this money goes to housing, with mortgages and rent eating up a majority of the cost. Per the study, the average monthly mortgage bill in Morris County is $2,996 compared to $1,403 nationally; and the average monthly rent bill is $1,923 in Morris County and $1,300 nationally.

    Posted in Demographics, Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 11 Comments

    NJ’s newest luxury residences

    From the Star Ledger:

    Decaying former Playboy Club has been sold, N.J. mayor says

    The empty former Playboy Club — a longtime subject of fascination in northwestern New Jersey — has been sold, according to a local mayor.

    Vernon Mayor Anthony Rossi posted an announcement about the sale on his Facebook page earlier this month and said he met with the new owner. However, no official announcement had been made about the property as of Thursday and it is unclear if a deal was finalized.

    Rossi did not identify the new owner of the sprawling property in Vernon in Sussex County, which was last known as the Legends Resort & Country Club after the Playboy Club exited in the early 1980s.

    “I am happy to announce that LEGENDS HAS SOLD!” Rossi, who took office in January, wrote on Facebook in a March 14 post.

    “I met with the new owner in my office to discuss his plans. He has requested that we jointly work on a press release together outlining his plans, which will be released in the next few weeks,” the mayor added.

    Rossi said Thursday he was unsure what was happening with a possible deal and had not been given any additional information about whether a sale would be announced soon.

    The property’s owner, Metairie Corporation, has not announced a sale. The company’s attorney, Thomas Molica, did not respond Thursday to a request to comment.

    Posted in Economics, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 41 Comments

    Home price jackpot? Think again.

    From the NYT:

    How Much Higher Are Your Post-Pandemic Property Taxes?

    The median price for a single-family home in the United States rose about 40 percent from 2019 to 2022, peaking at $480,000 before receding to about $417,000 at the close of 2023. The higher home prices have led to higher property taxes, adding even more to a monthly housing budget. A recent study by CoreLogic found that from 2019 through 2023, the median U.S. single-family property-tax bill rose by nearly 24 percent, to about $2,826.

    Property taxes are determined on the county level, based on a home’s assessed value and the local tax rate. Reassessment timelines differ — taxable home values are determined either at the time of sale, annually, or on another schedule — so the pandemic price increases have affected rates differently depending on location. CoreLogic found that taxes rose 26.3 percent ($612) among homes that were reassessed since 2019, and 18.4 percent ($402) among those that were not. What’s a few hundred dollars over the course of 12 months? Maybe not a deal breaker in lower-cost counties where the tax rates are more manageable.

    But don’t tell that to homeowners in Westchester, just north of New York City, the most expensive tax county of all. According to a separate CoreLogic study, the median tax bill there in 2023 was $15,373. Just across the Hudson River, Rockland County, N.Y., followed, with $14,879 a year in property taxes; and New York County, otherwise known as Manhattan, had the third-highest taxes, with a median of $14,073 a year.

    Overall, the New York City area had the highest taxes in the country, with 13 of the 15 most expensive tax counties located in the city or its suburbs.

    Posted in National Real Estate, New Jersey Real Estate, NYC, Property Taxes | 61 Comments

    NJ Loses Jobs

    From NJ Spotlight News:

    NJ Recorded loss of 5,300 jobs in February

    For the first time in seven months, nonfarm employment has decreased in New Jersey. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a decrease by 5,300 jobs in February to reach a seasonally adjusted level of 4,370,700. The unemployment rate stayed steady at 4.8% for the sixth straight month; the national unemployment rate is 3.9%.

    In February, 5 of 9 major private-industry job sectors recorded growth: private education and health services (+2,400), leisure and hospitality (+1,000), information (+500), financial activities (+200) and manufacturing (+100). The public sector recorded a seasonally adjusted gain of 700 jobs.

    From the Record:

    NJ lost 34,000 jobs in the past year. Are there choppy waters ahead?

    New Jersey’s economy posted a loss for the first time in six months, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday, after the labor market showed signs of slowing last year.

    The New Jersey jobless rate in February hovered at 4.8%, where it’s been since September, the latest data shows. That makes it the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, and above the national rate of 3.9%. 

    All told, the state lost 34,000 jobs between February 2023 and 2024, state data shows. Higher-paying sectors such as finance, professional services (accounting, architecture, legal work, technology) and telecommunications slowed hiring in the past year. 

    “Certainly, growth has slowed, really in the second half of the year,” said James Hughes, an economist at Rutgers University. 

    Posted in Demographics, Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 97 Comments

    New Home Sales Tank

    From Newsweek:

    Home Sales Collapse in Several States

    Sales of new homes in the Northeast and the Midwest plunged in February, helping to bring down the market overall across the country, as elevated mortgage rates dissuaded buyers from purchasing property.

    The Northeast registered a 31.5 percent nosedive in single-family home sales, while the Midwest saw a decline of 2.4 percent, contributing to a 0.3 percent of drop at the national level of 662,000, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Bloombergeconomists had forecast sales of 677,000. The South had more encouraging data, registering a 3.7 percent increase, while the West also saw positive numbers, up 2.3 percent for the month.

    Analysts blamed high mortgage rates for the disappointing numbers.

    “Rising mortgage rates subdued activity in February,” Yelena Maleyev, KPMG’s senior economist, said in a note shared with Newsweek.

    The fall in new home sales is a reverse of a recent trend in the existing homes market. That segment saw sales jump 9.5 percent last month despite the rise in mortgage rates, which for a while had dissuaded sellers from putting their homes on the market, reluctant to give up the low loan rates they secured in the past.

    Posted in Housing Bubble, National Real Estate, New Development | 78 Comments

    Better move fast

    From the Star Ledger:

    N.J. ranks second in nation for fastest selling homes. See latest list.

    Homes in New Jersey sold within a median of 39 days in February, the second fastest in the nation, the latest data from showed.

    Only Rhode Island, where homes sold within 38 days, had a hotter housing market. New Jersey and Massachusetts tied for second for fastest selling homes in the nation.

    Nationwide, homes sold within a median of 61 days in February, the data showed. Homes in Montana stayed on the market the longest. 

    Posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, New Jersey Real Estate | 71 Comments