From the NY Times:
LAST month a few strong blips indicated a quickening pulse on the New Jersey condominium market. Or maybe just a pulse.
There were 15 sales in four weeks at one building in Jersey City, 6 at another, 5 at a Hoboken building where sales had been lagging — even a premarketing sale at a town house development in Livingston.
Portents of a spring revival? Or a mere minitrend that will melt with the last of the snow?
“Ha! That’s the $64 million question, now isn’t it?” said Dean Geibel, the chief executive of Metro Homes, who described February as the best month in two years for his two buildings — Gulls Cove in Jersey City and Metro Stop in Hoboken.
“This is not an uptick in prices,” Mr. Geibel added. “But the increase in sales is still huge, because it has been so slow for so long. It raises the question, ‘Is there going to be a traditional spring market with a widespread uptick?’ ”
Why would the sales heat up in February? Ms. Ferrara suggested that one reason might be concern over mortgage rates’ climb beyond 5 percent, and over their potential to rise significantly, and fast, when the economy improves. About 60 percent of recent buyers at Crystal Point are employed in finance, she said, and therefore probably likely to keep a close watch on trends.
Also, she added, a tight rental market in New Jersey is probably a factor. The statewide vacancy rate is at a low 6 to 7 percent, according to market analysts; price breaks and other incentives have largely been abandoned; and monthly rates are starting to rise.
“In the rent-versus-buy scenario,” Ms. Ferrara said, “when people take tax benefits of ownership into account, we are now seeing some urgency of people deciding to buy.”
Meanwhile, condominium prices remain depressed. Over the last year, the average price in Jersey City dipped by 13 percent, to $467,297, according to a Marketing Directors analysis.