From the Record:
In a sign of growing demand for housing, eager home buyers scooped up properties quickly this spring: Sales of existing homes in May reached their highest levels since before the recession, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
The increased demand, coupled with reduced inventory, is sparking a return to bidding wars in some towns, North Jersey real estate agents say.
At the same time, lack of supply is “severely limiting choices and pushing prices out of reach for plenty of prospective first-time buyers,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement.
And prices overall remain below the levels of the housing boom a decade ago, which has kept many potential sellers from putting their homes on the market, further shrinking the supply of homes for sale.
In North Jersey, through May, single-family sales are up about 20 percent in Bergen County and 28 percent in Passaic, according to the New Jersey Realtors. And inventories have shrunk more than 28 percent in both counties over the past year. Both counties have about a six-month supply of homes at the current sales pace, compared with 4.7 months nationwide. Anything below six months is considered an indicator of prices rising in the near future.
Nationally, according to the NAR, homes have been selling, on average, in 32 days, the lowest number since the group began tracking it in 2011. Homes aren’t selling quite as quickly in the region, according to the New Jersey Realtors. Properties that sold in May had been on the market about two months in Bergen — down 20 percent from a year earlier — and three months in Passaic, which was unchanged from last year.
Even with the increased demand, however, prices have not taken off. Nationally, according to the NAR, the median price for a single-family home rose 4.6 percent over the past year. In Bergen County, prices ticked down 1.1 percent over that period, to a median $460,000 in May. Prices in Passaic rose 5.3 percent to a median $300,000. Home values in North Jersey remain about 17 percent below their peaks in mid-2006.