[This monthly market report is provided by Jeffrey Otteau of the Otteau Appraisal Group who also authors a series of widely followed market reports on the New Jersey real estate market. This information is collected from various sources including Boards of Realtors and Multiple Listing Systems in New Jersey.] I have known Jeff for many years and consider him one of the leaders in the real estate appraisal profession. He has taught me a lot about quantitative real estate market analysis over the years. -Jonathan Miller


SPRING MARKET STALLS EARLY

The New Jersey housing market took a sharp turn for the worse in April as contract-sales activity declined 11% from the prior month and ran 20% below the April 2005 level. At the same time, the inventory of unsold homes on the market increased by nearly 6,000 homes in April and now stands 71% higher than a year ago. That this deterioration comes in the midst of the prime spring selling season when home sales would normally be accelerating provides solid confirmation that the transition to a buyer-controlled market is now complete.

Different from one year ago when buyers were competing with each other by increasing their offering prices, it is now the sellers who find themselves in a scramble to gain the interest of buyers. In most cases, that will require a reduction in asking price to recapture the lost sense-of-urgency which dissipated once inventory increased and home prices ceased their upward spiral.

In examining the market from the perspective of price levels, there are significant disparities. The unsold inventory of homes on the market presently accounts for a 7-month supply (up from 3-months one year ago). This supply is however less for lower priced homes as demonstrated in the table at right (6-months below $600k, 10-months between $600k-$1-million, and 14-months above $1-million). The weakness in the market in excess of $1-million is likely to worsen in coming years due to a combination of economic and demographic trends which will further disadvantage the luxury home market in New Jersey.

Here are the 2005 annual stats as well.


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