From the Star Ledger:
In the real estate business, there is a budding sense of optimism these days.
A warmer winter, a stronger sense of job security and a general feeling that home prices have stopped dropping are fueling a new outlook.
“This is extraordinary,” said Jeffrey Otteau, president of the Otteau Valuation Group in East Brunswick. The market is “exploding off the charts, and I’m convinced this is just the early stages of what is yet to come.
“And, I’m not an optimistic person by nature,’’ he added. “I’ve seen so many negatives.”
Springtime is traditionally a busy buying and selling season for homeowners: the weather is nice, and buying now gives new homeowners time to settle in before school starts in the fall. But this year, activity started earlier and there are already stories of double-digit visits at open houses, bidding wars and homes sold within days.
The reasons are numerous, according to real estate agents. Potential buyers are tired of waiting on the sidelines, worrying that prices could drop further. Interest rates are still at historic lows, but are starting to creep upward, which in turn gives buyers a sense of urgency to make a move. And sellers, long reluctant to accept the reality that their homes’ values have declined, are increasingly willing to list them at realistic prices.
“We’re seeing the kinds of activities that lead us to believe we’re going to have some improvements in the market over what we’ve seen in previous springs, (and) over the last several years,” said Charlie Young, CEO of Parsippany-based ERA Real Estate. “What it tells us is people are feeling like it might be time to stick their head out from the rabbit hole and look around.”
In mid-March, Jodi Luminiello, with Coldwell Banker, handled a bidding war on a three-bedroom split-style house in Cranford. She had listed it and hosted an open house on Sunday, and by Monday multiple prospective buyers had sent in their offers. It was priced correctly, she said.
“We’re getting double-digits when running open houses, so I think it’s overall very active out there,” Luminiello said. “Sellers are finally coming to terms with the true value and being realistic about their prices, so that’s helping everything get active again.”
Activity in New Jersey is slightly above what is happening nationwide, said Young, of ERA. And from what his agents tell him, the momentum is happening throughout the state, not just in select towns that were somewhat immune to the recession because of their location or housing stock.
That’s what Gary Large, president of the New Jersey Association of Realtors, is seeing too.
“In most cases, we’re starting to see a stabilization of prices,” said Large, who is branch manager of Prudential New Jersey Properties in Morristown. “We’re getting very close to the point we’ll be able to say prices have stabilized and the correction is over.”