From the NY Times:
REMEMBER when brokers used to say the sales pace in a particular town, neighborhood or ZIP code had turned white-hot or was sizzling?
Back in the day (say, two years ago or more), a list of the hottest communities was published each month in the Otteau Valuation Group’s report to subscribing real estate professionals. Sometimes, more than two dozen towns would be on that list, each with just four months’ worth of inventory or less to burn; six months’ inventory is considered the threshold for health.
In late 2009, after inventory swelled precipitously in New Jersey, the “hot” lists stopped coming.
Today, few towns would qualify for the now-extinct list: Chatham, for instance, had just three months’ worth of listed homes to sell, according to the December report from Otteau Valuation, which is based in New Brunswick. But analysts tend to compile statistics based on developing trends — and hotness is no longer, well, hot.
In fact, today’s trend should perhaps be called “coldness.” Using the statistics reported by Otteau, it is striking how starkly the coldest communities stand out.
But even within the northern half, narrowing focus to half a dozen counties within the metropolitan area — Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic and Union — plenty of spots are in the grip of a fierce chill.
Beyond a doubt, the coldest is in the Essex County city of Irvington, which has an estimated 52.5 months’ worth of unsold inventory. In other words, it would take more than four years to sell all the houses currently listed.
Interestingly, the municipality in northern New Jersey with the second-largest inventory is a small and affluent one, the borough of Ho-Ho-Kus in Bergen County.
Like its county neighbor Alpine — the nation’s wealthiest ZIP code, according to Forbes Magazine — as well as nearby Franklin Lakes, Ho-Ho-Kus has a high median household income ($164,000, according to census projections from citydata.com) and house values ($1.2 million).
But as in those two small and exclusive communities, relatively few houses are put up for sale at any time — and those few are taking longer to sell. With 33 homes on the market in October and November, two contracts were signed in November and none in October. That put the inventory rate at 33 months’ worth. In Alpine, it was 28 months, and in Franklin Lakes, 21.4.
In Essex, home of Newark, the state’s largest city, communities that ranked just below Irvington were: Essex Fells, with 38 months’ worth; North Caldwell, with 25.5 months; East Orange, with 23.6 months; and Belleville, with 23. Newark itself had 19.8 months’ worth.
In Hudson County, which includes the string of Hudson riverfront towns facing Manhattan, West New York had the highest inventory: 23.3 months’ worth. This mostly middle-class community is home to part of the high-end Port Imperial riverfront residential complex, which saw slacker condominium sales — especially resales — despite its two light rail stops and ferry station.
The second- and third-biggest inventories were in the Journal Square section of Jersey City and in Weehawken.
In Passaic County, the places with the biggest backlogs were Pompton Lakes, with 29.3 months; Haledon, with 24.7; and Bloomingdale, with 17.7. Wanaque’s inventory was almost the same as Bloomingdale’s, 17.5 months.
In Union County, which over all had the lowest inventory of any county, at 9.6 months, those communities with the highest were Roselle, at 19.6 months; Plainfield, at 18.7; and Linden, at 14.1.