Somerset County’s Real Estate Market Conditions April 2021 – Bridgewater Edition

Residential Real Estate

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Somerset County’s Real Estate Market Conditions April 2021 – Bridgewater Edition

Get ahead of the residential real estate market drivers in Somerset County, New Jersey, with Coldwell Banker Residential Broker sales associate, Joe Peters. Joe’s monthly market update walks you through the economic conditions and trends that influence our local markets. You will come away knowing “what” is happening, and more importantly, “why” it is happening. As a result, you will be better informed to make home buying and selling decisions in 2021.

“What’s” Happening in Somerset County’s Real Estate Market?

Based on the last full month’s contract sales, statistics show a severely deficient supply of inventory of just one month. Normal market conditions average four to six months in Somerset County. Units going under contract averaged only 29 days on the market. Four hundred forty-six units went “under contract” in March, up from 359 in the prior month. Newly listed properties in the same period totaled 314, up from 207 in the preceding month.

Our total inventory number decreased from 1.009 this time last year to 521 units, 48% less than last year. Even at that, sales were up in March, as we saw the ongoing effect on the Real Estate market as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic effect. It is an optimum supply and demand curve for our sellers.

New Jersey Residential Real Estate Market Forecast

Because of the continued move to the west (urban flight), pent-up demand, and attractive mortgage rates, and sellers coming on the market as Covid fears subside we expect strong listings and sales thru the balance of 2021.

The good news is that most of the new listings are selling very quickly. So, even though we still have low inventory levels, sales are way up. We are still witnessing many homeowners facing financial and/or life uncertainty and holding off on listing their properties. There is also uncertainty in finding another house to move to.

Most sellers and buyers feel safer with virtual showings. Everyone is adjusting to the new virtual selling and buying tools and these methodologies are leading to safer showings and open-houses. Time will tell if these new approaches have an ongoing impact. But, we still have many more buyers than sellers.

Hunterdon County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Price For Last Month:

March March Total
Somerset County New Under Active Months’
Listings Contract Listings Supply
Condos/Town Houses * 92 158 151 1
Over 55 Communities* 9 16 25 2
$000K to $199K 8 15 16 1
$200K to $299K 35 62 43 1
$300K to $399K 61 102 84 1
$400K to $499K 42 66 62 1
$500K to $599K 35 38 55 1
$600K to $699K 27 45 38 1
$700K to $799K 24 26 37 1
$800K to $899K 26 25 35 1
$900K to $999K 11 24 23 1
$1,000K and Up 45 43 128 3
Totals for March 314 446 521 1
Average Price $697,607 $598,470 -14.2%
Average Days on Market 29
* Included in $ breakdowns
  • 55% of sales in houses > $500,000
  • 35% of sales in the $600,000 to $1,000,00K range
  • 10% percent of total sales (or 43 in total) in houses >$1,000,000

 

Hunterdon County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Municipality For Last Month:

Active Listings Under Contract Month’s Supply
Bedminster Twp 24 22 1
Bernards Twp 50 55 1
Bernardsville 50 22 2
Bound Brook 7 2 4
Branchburg Twp 28 15 2
Bridgewater Twp 49 67 1
Far Hills Boro 11 2 6
Franklin Twp 68 67 1
Green Brook 16 13 1
Hillsborough 53 44 1
Manville Boro 13 10 1
Millstone Boro 0 0
Montgomery Twp 42 35 1
North Plainfield 20 22 1
Peapack Gladstone 5 4 1
Raritan Boro 4 8 1
Rocky Hill Boro 0 1 0
Somerville Boro 5 12 0
South Bound Brook 7 8 1
Warren Twp 48 27 2
Watchung Boro 21 10 2
Totals 521 446 1

Only one area had no sales last month:

  • Millstone

THree areas reported 1 or 2 sales each last month:

  • Bound Brook
  • Far Hills
  • Rocky Hill

Hotspots:

  • Bernards/Bernards Twp. – 77 Sales
  • Bridgewater – 67 Sales
  • Hllsborough – 44 Sales
  • Montgomery – 35 Sales
  • Warren- 27 Sales

Hotspot areas equaled 56% of the sales last month. The average new listing coming on the market last month neared $697,607 The average price of a unit going “under contract” was $598,470 (14% less).

Bridgewater Township Statistics:

  • There are 49 homes for sale in Bridgewater Township as of this writing.
  • Of the 49 homes for sale, 16 are community properties (such as town houses and condos) and two are in our 55+ communities
  • The average list price for all listings in Bridgewater Township is $607,139.
  • There were 36 new listings in Bridgewater Township last month with an average list price of $624,528.
  • There were also 67 homes that have gone under contract in the past 30 days with an average list price of $517,388 and 21 days on market.
  • Giving us under 1 month of inventory
  • Call for additional details

Note: To get a competitive price point on your property based on location and uniqueness, contact me at (908) 238-0118. Coldwell Banker’s big data technology capabilities will give you a unique advantage. I can show you the latest age and earnings breakdown for your particular area where people move into that area from and how I can market to those specific areas and demographics directly. The result is in you receiving the maximum selling price with a shorter time on the market.  Houses priced and marketed accurately sell faster, especially with a real estate industry veteran and local expert helping you navigate the process.

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

“Why” it is happening

New Jersey’s Economic Drivers:

New Jersey Home Sales and inventory levels:

  • The rebound that started in June of last year has now continued through March but is now decreasing due to available inventory.
  • We still see many sellers reluctant to list due to uncertainty in this troublesome time and the ability to find other housing themselves.
  • The current month’s supply of inventory in Hunterdon and Somerset County is now under 1.5 months.  This is due to the quick sales as new inventory as it comes on the market.
  • Hunterdon and Somerset County have about 57% & 48% less inventory than we had a year ago, respectively.  This is a significant drop. And it is predicted to stay low as sales outpace listings because now inventory is selling almost immediately.
  • N.J., on a whole, has under 16,000 units in inventory this year compared to just under 28,000 a year prior (a 45% decline).
  • Decreases in inventory have occurred in all price points, with the under $400,000 market seeing the most considerable impact and the $400K to $600K the second largest.
  • We have seen increases in sales across most price points, with the under $400K range seeing a slight decrease of 10% due to lack of inventory.

Interest Rates:

  • Interest rates have been steadily increasing over the past few weeks.
  • The economy is adjusting, and average Interest rates are just over 3.15% for a 30-year conventional mortgage. A fifteen-year conventional mortgage rests at just under the 2.45%  mark. Five-year arms are just over the 2.8% range.
  • Mortgages are becoming harder to get based on which industry you are employed in and the new stricter rules being adopted by lenders.  This could affect the size of the buyer pool.
  • And, mortgage forbearance is causing unforeseen issues in the mortgage market, which may also cause a drop in the number of available sellers.
  • As said, rates in the last few months have been increasing slightly.  Yet, we expect the rates to continue to rise a bit, cutting into buyer’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy at rates they probably will not see again.

National Job Front:

  • On the national level, the US added over 2,100,000+ in 2019 v. 2,700,000 jobs in 2018.
  • U.S. unemployment rate slowed in January of 2020, with just 225,000 jobs added.  An additional 325,000 were added in February, which put the U.S. on pace to add 3 million + jobs in 2020.
  • Then COVID-19 appeared, and we saw nearly all of the jobs created in the past five years erased.
  • The December 2020 end-of-month numbers show improvement, with the unemployment rate at 6.7%. And in January of 2021 it dropped to 6.3% In February we added another 379K jobs and in March, by 900,000+and the unemployment rate dropped further to  6.0%.  This is encouraging, but we have to keep in mind that we have natural job growth of about 175K per month and this is not deducted.
  • These numbers indicated that the recovery was indeed well underway, with about 60% of the unemployed now back in the workforce.
  • But the balance of the nearly 9 million unemployed will take years to get back to where we started as they are in the hardest-hit sectors of Leisure, hospitality, and food services.
  • The claims have been falling each week and indicating that the PPP and associated programs are starting to work.
  • Fortunately, the economy was robust going into this, but the effect is still devastating and long-term.
  • The new stimulus bill has also offered some relief on the lower en of the economy.

New Jersey Job Front:

  • In 2019 NJ added 39,000 jobs once again. N.J. added 39,000+ jobs in 2018 as compared to 47,100 for the same period in 2017.
  • The NJ unemployment numbers were at 3.5% just twelve months ago and now have followed the national numbers but are now a bit higher than the U.S. at 7.8% for the last full month reported, which was February with 10,700 jobs added.
  • Construction, food services, and accommodations are again the leaders in job losses, though more states are now citing pain in retail, wholesale trade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Health care, social assistance, and manufacturing are shedding workers, too.
  • These job losses will undoubtedly have an impact on the buyers market in 2021.

Rental Market Trends:

  • Rental prices in New Jersey rose again in 2020, averaging just under $1,700 per unit. Current vacancy rates in New Jersey have increased to around 4.6% in central N.J. & state-wide.
  • The drop in New Jersey’s homeownership contributes to rental demand.  A 12+ year trend shows a decrease from  71% to 66%.  This 7% decrease compared to an 8% national decrease contributes to the slower recovery of home prices in the state and adds over 20,000+ additional renters in our state. However, the 71% level resulted from the lax lending standards of the early 2000s and is considered acceptable.  Households with no children stand at 65%, reflecting the decline in our school population.
  • One article states that the average homeowner who is 65+ has an average net wealth of over $318K, while the same for a renter is only just under $8K.  It also offers a stable place to live, an evident hedge against inflation, and a way to build wealth (a strong argument for homeownership).
  • However, the number of renters has increased by 7% over the past 25 years, with the less educated leading the way.  We saw more educated millennials moving east into higher rent and cost of living areas that eat into their discretionary income (including savings).  It makes one wonder where this all is heading.
  • The central NJ vacancy rate at the end of Q1 stands at 4.4%.

New Jersey Foreclosures:

  • Foreclosures in NJ in 2018 were the lowest in the state in over four years.  And, 2019 was even better with just under 38,000 foreclosure filings (the weakest since 2012). For 2020, N.J. looks to be on track for 12,000 foreclosures, representing a 70% decline.  This could change depending on how long it takes workers to get back on their feet from the COVID-19 pandemic and how many bankruptcies we see in later 2020.
  • However, New Jersey continues to face rising foreclosure rate filings at about 5.4% (which is up significantly from a year earlier). Other states have begun to or have already recovered.  And, some states like N.Y. are still much higher with an over 6% filing number. In a tight real estate market, these foreclosures sell at a discount.
  • The national baseline number sits slightly under 3.9% (up from 1.3% a year earlier).
  • The forbearance numbers will affect foreclosures as that program comes to an end.
  • However, this effect will be nowhere near the last housing crisis since the is a lot of positive equity in houses today.  But delinquencies are rising.

 

Hunterdon County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Real Estate Market Recap

Overall Economic Conditions:

  • In early March of 2020:
    • We were ending the 128th month of what is being called the “Great Expansion”
  • In late March, April, and May of 2020:
    • We went into an economic free-fall
    • This was done deliberately to contain the pandemic
  • From June thru August of 2020:
    • We saw an economic reopening
    • Job growth rebounded
  •  In September and October of 2020
    • We saw waining employment advances
  • In November and December of 2020:
    • We saw a flattening of employment growth
    • And we entered into a stage of recovery crawl
  • In early 2021:
    • We started to see new spikes in outbreaks
    • We also saw vaccines starting to appear
    • And, employment numbers continue to improve
    • The increasing vaccine rates seem to be now offering more home

It is now estimated that it may take years to get jobs back to where they were as the hardest-hit sectors start/continue to rebuild.

 

Changes in Lifestyle (Pre Covid):

  • The average age at marriage moved to the mid to late 30s (up seven years from just a decade ago).
  • Families usually have only one to two children due to costs and the ability to choose.
  • 70% of all NJ homes have no children of school age, and 50% do not have more than one person in them. This factor minimizes the need for larger housing not only in NJ but everywhere.
  • As a result of job opportunities, buyers were gravitating to areas within 15 miles of NYC with sound mass transportation systems.
  • But, we were already starting to see a reversal of the above as late millennials were looking for more space and a place to better raise their upcoming families.
  • This trend was sure to continue as 80% of consumers still perceive homeownership as part of the American Dream. It is just what they want to buy (or rent) that has changed.
  • Builders have been thinking of larger 4 BR center hall colonials on 1+ acre in the country (based mostly on local building codes).
  • Buyers were thinking of a smaller luxury hi-rise close to mass transportation and work in the east (truly a mismatch).
  • 60% of all new housing starts in 2019 in NJ were in the rental sector, and, the 2020 numbers surpassed that.  This is contributing to the lack of new construction and inventory.

Changes in Lifestyle (Post Covid):

  • The “Great American Move” is a term that we are starting to see for this new lifestyle.
  • The movement west was exacerbated by the pandemic and civil unrest in the city.
  • But, this move is primarily among the more educated and skilled workers that can adapt to a work-from-home environment.  First responders and lower-skilled service workers are not able to work from home in most cases.
  • Now, there is an open question of how many workers will continue to gravitate away from the city as they adapt to working from home and as buyers needed a live/work/play/learn environment.
  • Open floor plans, the list-topper for the past twenty years was no longer important as buyers are gravitating towards more compartmentalization within the home.
  • Live/Work/education/Exercise (or play) areas are now key.
  • Also, backyard recreation facilities such as pools now have a preference, and back yard oasis environments provided additional value for the above lifestyle.

Market conditions:

  • What a difference in consumer thinking since a year ago April.
  • Consumer confidence was put on pause (at best) last March and then started to fast forward in June (and has not slowed since).
  • The winter slowdown has never appeared in the real estate market.
  • Consumers will still see homeownership as a sound investment.  It is just that their shopping list as to what they want has changed.
  • And, in general, homeowners are sitting with more equity than ever (NJ reports 95+% with positive equity) and are no longer using their homes as an ATM.
  • A lot of these strong equity homeowners are deciding to sell in order to take advantage of the buying surge.
  • Some moved to their second homes as they no longer needed to commute.
  • Others pushed up their retirement plans.
  • The current seller’s market has resulted as we currently have many more buyers than sellers.
  • People usually buy and sell homes based on life events. This will not change. Life events have gone on (maybe even faster).
  • And never before seen (but slowly rising) low-interest rates plus the move west (which was already underway) has helped the migration pattern towards NYC to reverse.
  • We are hoping to see a continued trend down in new cases as the vaccines are starting to become a reality and things are better understood, and people get back to a new normal lifestyle.
  • But it is anticipated that the new lifestyle will be much different from the old as we adopt the best of the two cultures.
  • Nation-wide we actually sold more houses in 2020 than in 2019.  And we see 2021 being even better.
  • The current shortage is for a different reason than in 2020.  People who would list their homes in 2021 are being held back because of finding new housing themselves.

Forecast:

  • The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic now seems to be subsiding a bit due to vaccines becoming available.
  • The economy is continuing to recover (but at a slower pace) from the recent drops in the unemployment numbers.
  • It has been predicted by most that the balance of the recovery is going to be a long multi-year effort.  In effect, we have put the easy part of the workforce back to work, and the hard part remains in front of us.
  • And this will affect the following:
    • Increases in current and future real estate values (including any appreciation in the foreseeable future)
    • The amount of inventory available (hopefully we are starting to bottom out at -50%)
    • The ability for some buyers to get a mortgage
    • There may be additional foreclosures (this is way out)
  • Mortgage rates continue to drift upwards at around 3.15% as the fed has maintained its current level of investment in mortgage-backed securities.
  • Inventory supply will hopefully start to increase over as we move further into 2021.
  • The affordability index is better than ever with mortgage payments at just offer 21% of gross.
  • But, as we have a more substantial confidence level in having things under control, the housing market should have a strong continued bounce-back or upward spike due to:
    • The economy and housing market both being very strong going into the current COVID-19 issue.
    • Pent up demand, the move west, and the market was pushed out till further in 2021.
    • Life events (as mentioned earlier) will still happen and will surely drive the pent-up demand.
    • Lower than ever mortgage rates will persist (even as they start to drift up).
    • Sellers reluctant to sell in 2020 will start to appear in droves in 2021 if they can find available inventory in which to move to.
  • Due to the COVID-19 and recent unrest in NYC, we are starting to see more interest in living in more suburban counties such as Hunterdon and Somerset.
  • Also, many people have found that working from home is a reality, and we will probably see less commuting in general as things start to open up once again.
  • What were once “bedroom” communities are changing to” live, work, play & learn” communities bringing lots of change to our local economies.
  • It is only a matter of time before we see more jobs following the see workers into our suburban areas.
  • Retailing and use of vacant industrial space will have a major transformation to meet the new altered demands and lifestyles.
  • More attention is now being given to houses with pools and less open areas which lend themselves to working and studying at home.
  • And, the local market will have to adapt to the new suburban renaissance of where people will be working from and what they will need to adapt to this.
  • The lingering question is, “Can we keep this momentum up with low to falling inventory?”. So far, it seems to be happening due to quick sales.
  • Jobs will surely follow the workforce and housing then follow jobs.  It is a little out of logical sequence but will sort itself out as we progress.
  • Local property values are forecasted to see a 7% appreciation in 2021, depending on their location and price points.

Wow.  That is a lot to digest.  And it is changing daily but seems to be heading in the right direction for now.  For clarity and understanding, I am always available if you want to talk and better understand how this might affect your particular situation.

Note:  Presented as a public service by Joe Peters of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. I took reasonable precautions in presenting this information. Please consult with a professional sales agent and take no actions based on my opinions, gathered trends, and statistics.  I assume no liability. You can contact me at (908) 238-0118.

 

 

You can ask me a question or request a monthly copy of this newsletter here.

(pre -Covid)

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Somerset County’s Real Estate Market Conditions April 2021

Residential Real Estate

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Somerset County’s Real Estate Market Conditions April 2021

Get ahead of the residential real estate market drivers in Somerset County, New Jersey, with Coldwell Banker Residential Broker sales associate, Joe Peters. Joe’s monthly market update walks you through the economic conditions and trends that influence our local markets. You will come away knowing “what” is happening, and more importantly, “why” it is happening. As a result, you will be better informed to make home buying and selling decisions in 2021.

“What’s” Happening in Somerset County’s Real Estate Market?

Based on the last full month’s contract sales, statistics show a severely deficient supply of inventory of just one month. Normal market conditions average four to six months in Somerset County. Units going under contract averaged only 29 days on the market. Four hundred forty-six units went “under contract” in March, up from 359 in the prior month. Newly listed properties in the same period totaled 314, up from 207 in the preceding month.

Our total inventory number decreased from 1.009 this time last year to 521 units, 48% less than last year. Even at that, sales were up in March, as we saw the ongoing effect on the Real Estate market as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic effect. It is an optimum supply and demand curve for our sellers.

New Jersey Residential Real Estate Market Forecast

Because of the continued move to the west (urban flight), pent-up demand, and attractive mortgage rates, and sellers coming on the market as Covid fears subside we expect strong listings and sales thru the balance of 2021.

The good news is that most of the new listings are selling very quickly. So, even though we still have low inventory levels, sales are way up. We are still witnessing many homeowners facing financial and/or life uncertainty and holding off on listing their properties. There is also uncertainty in finding another house to move to.

Most sellers and buyers feel safer with virtual showings. Everyone is adjusting to the new virtual selling and buying tools and these methodologies are leading to safer showings and open-houses. Time will tell if these new approaches have an ongoing impact. But, we still have many more buyers than sellers.

Somerset County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Price For Last Month:

March March Total
Somerset County New Under Active Months’
Listings Contract Listings Supply
Condos/Town Houses * 92 158 151 1
Over 55 Communities* 9 16 25 2
$000K to $199K 8 15 16 1
$200K to $299K 35 62 43 1
$300K to $399K 61 102 84 1
$400K to $499K 42 66 62 1
$500K to $599K 35 38 55 1
$600K to $699K 27 45 38 1
$700K to $799K 24 26 37 1
$800K to $899K 26 25 35 1
$900K to $999K 11 24 23 1
$1,000K and Up 45 43 128 3
Totals for March 314 446 521 1
Average Price $697,607 $598,470 -14.2%
Average Days on Market 29
* Included in $ breakdowns
  • 55% of sales in houses > $500,000
  • 35% of sales in the $600,000 to $1,000,00K range
  • 10% percent of total sales (or 43 in total) in houses >$1,000,000

 

Somerset County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Municipality For Last Month:

Active Listings Under Contract Month’s Supply
Bedminster Twp 24 22 1
Bernards Twp 50 55 1
Bernardsville 50 22 2
Bound Brook 7 2 4
Branchburg Twp 28 15 2
Bridgewater Twp 49 67 1
Far Hills Boro 11 2 6
Franklin Twp 68 67 1
Green Brook 16 13 1
Hillsborough 53 44 1
Manville Boro 13 10 1
Millstone Boro 0 0
Montgomery Twp 42 35 1
North Plainfield 20 22 1
Peapack Gladstone 5 4 1
Raritan Boro 4 8 1
Rocky Hill Boro 0 1 0
Somerville Boro 5 12 0
South Bound Brook 7 8 1
Warren Twp 48 27 2
Watchung Boro 21 10 2
Totals 521 446 1

Only one area had no sales last month:

  • Millstone

THree areas reported 1 or 2 sales each last month:

  • Bound Brook
  • Far Hills
  • Rocky Hill

Hotspots:

  • Bernards/Bernards Twp. – 77 Sales
  • Bridgewater – 67 Sales
  • Hllsborough – 44 Sales
  • Montgomery – 35 Sales
  • Warren- 27 Sales

Hotspot areas equaled 56% of the sales last month. The average new listing coming on the market last month neared $697,607 The average price of a unit going “under contract” was $598,470 (14% less).

Note: To get a competitive price point on your property based on location and uniqueness, contact me at (908) 238-0118. Coldwell Banker’s big data technology capabilities will give you a unique advantage. I can show you the latest age and earnings breakdown for your particular area where people move into that area from and how I can market to those specific areas and demographics directly. The result is in you receiving the maximum selling price with a shorter time on the market.  Houses priced and marketed accurately sell faster, especially with a real estate industry veteran and local expert helping you navigate the process.

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

“Why” it is happening

New Jersey’s Economic Drivers:

New Jersey Home Sales and inventory levels:

  • The rebound that started in June of last year has now continued through March but is now decreasing due to available inventory.
  • We still see many sellers reluctant to list due to uncertainty in this troublesome time and the ability to find other housing themselves.
  • The current month’s supply of inventory in Hunterdon and Somerset County is now under 1.5 months.  This is due to the quick sales as new inventory as it comes on the market.
  • Hunterdon and Somerset County have about 57% & 48% less inventory than we had a year ago, respectively.  This is a significant drop. And it is predicted to stay low as sales outpace listings because now inventory is selling almost immediately.
  • N.J., on a whole, has under 16,000 units in inventory this year compared to just under 28,000 a year prior (a 45% decline).
  • Decreases in inventory have occurred in all price points, with the under $400,000 market seeing the most considerable impact and the $400K to $600K the second largest.
  • We have seen increases in sales across most price points, with the under $400K range seeing a slight decrease of 10% due to lack of inventory.

Interest Rates:

  • Interest rates have been steadily increasing over the past few weeks.
  • The economy is adjusting, and average Interest rates are just over 3.15% for a 30-year conventional mortgage. A fifteen-year conventional mortgage rests at just under the 2.45%  mark. Five-year arms are just over the 2.8% range.
  • Mortgages are becoming harder to get based on which industry you are employed in and the new stricter rules being adopted by lenders.  This could affect the size of the buyer pool.
  • And, mortgage forbearance is causing unforeseen issues in the mortgage market, which may also cause a drop in the number of available sellers.
  • As said, rates in the last few months have been increasing slightly.  Yet, we expect the rates to continue to rise a bit, cutting into buyer’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy at rates they probably will not see again.

National Job Front:

  • On the national level, the US added over 2,100,000+ in 2019 v. 2,700,000 jobs in 2018.
  • U.S. unemployment rate slowed in January of 2020, with just 225,000 jobs added.  An additional 325,000 were added in February, which put the U.S. on pace to add 3 million + jobs in 2020.
  • Then COVID-19 appeared, and we saw nearly all of the jobs created in the past five years erased.
  • The December 2020 end-of-month numbers show improvement, with the unemployment rate at 6.7%. And in January of 2021 it dropped to 6.3% In February we added another 379K jobs and in March, by 900,000+and the unemployment rate dropped further to  6.0%.  This is encouraging, but we have to keep in mind that we have natural job growth of about 175K per month and this is not deducted.
  • These numbers indicated that the recovery was indeed well underway, with about 60% of the unemployed now back in the workforce.
  • But the balance of the nearly 9 million unemployed will take years to get back to where we started as they are in the hardest-hit sectors of Leisure, hospitality, and food services.
  • The claims have been falling each week and indicating that the PPP and associated programs are starting to work.
  • Fortunately, the economy was robust going into this, but the effect is still devastating and long-term.
  • The new stimulus bill has also offered some relief on the lower en of the economy.

New Jersey Job Front:

  • In 2019 NJ added 39,000 jobs once again. N.J. added 39,000+ jobs in 2018 as compared to 47,100 for the same period in 2017.
  • The NJ unemployment numbers were at 3.5% just twelve months ago and now have followed the national numbers but are now a bit higher than the U.S. at 7.8% for the last full month reported, which was February with 10,700 jobs added.
  • Construction, food services, and accommodations are again the leaders in job losses, though more states are now citing pain in retail, wholesale trade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Health care, social assistance, and manufacturing are shedding workers, too.
  • These job losses will undoubtedly have an impact on the buyers market in 2021.

Rental Market Trends:

  • Rental prices in New Jersey rose again in 2020, averaging just under $1,700 per unit. Current vacancy rates in New Jersey have increased to around 4.6% in central N.J. & state-wide.
  • The drop in New Jersey’s homeownership contributes to rental demand.  A 12+ year trend shows a decrease from  71% to 66%.  This 7% decrease compared to an 8% national decrease contributes to the slower recovery of home prices in the state and adds over 20,000+ additional renters in our state. However, the 71% level resulted from the lax lending standards of the early 2000s and is considered acceptable.  Households with no children stand at 65%, reflecting the decline in our school population.
  • One article states that the average homeowner who is 65+ has an average net wealth of over $318K, while the same for a renter is only just under $8K.  It also offers a stable place to live, an evident hedge against inflation, and a way to build wealth (a strong argument for homeownership).
  • However, the number of renters has increased by 7% over the past 25 years, with the less educated leading the way.  We saw more educated millennials moving east into higher rent and cost of living areas that eat into their discretionary income (including savings).  It makes one wonder where this all is heading.
  • The central NJ vacancy rate at the end of Q1 stands at 4.4%.

New Jersey Foreclosures:

  • Foreclosures in NJ in 2018 were the lowest in the state in over four years.  And, 2019 was even better with just under 38,000 foreclosure filings (the weakest since 2012). For 2020, N.J. looks to be on track for 12,000 foreclosures, representing a 70% decline.  This could change depending on how long it takes workers to get back on their feet from the COVID-19 pandemic and how many bankruptcies we see in later 2020.
  • However, New Jersey continues to face rising foreclosure rate filings at about 5.4% (which is up significantly from a year earlier). Other states have begun to or have already recovered.  And, some states like N.Y. are still much higher with an over 6% filing number. In a tight real estate market, these foreclosures sell at a discount.
  • The national baseline number sits slightly under 3.9% (up from 1.3% a year earlier).
  • The forbearance numbers will affect foreclosures as that program comes to an end.
  • However, this effect will be nowhere near the last housing crisis since the is a lot of positive equity in houses today.  But delinquencies are rising.

 

Hunterdon County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Real Estate Market Recap

Overall Economic Conditions:

  • In early March of 2020:
    • We were ending the 128th month of what is being called the “Great Expansion”
  • In late March, April, and May of 2020:
    • We went into an economic free-fall
    • This was done deliberately to contain the pandemic
  • From June thru August of 2020:
    • We saw an economic reopening
    • Job growth rebounded
  •  In September and October of 2020
    • We saw waining employment advances
  • In November and December of 2020:
    • We saw a flattening of employment growth
    • And we entered into a stage of recovery crawl
  • In early 2021:
    • We started to see new spikes in outbreaks
    • We also saw vaccines starting to appear
    • And, employment numbers continue to improve
    • The increasing vaccine rates seem to be now offering more home

It is now estimated that it may take years to get jobs back to where they were as the hardest-hit sectors start/continue to rebuild.

 

Changes in Lifestyle (Pre Covid):

  • The average age at marriage moved to the mid to late 30s (up seven years from just a decade ago).
  • Families usually have only one to two children due to costs and the ability to choose.
  • 70% of all NJ homes have no children of school age, and 50% do not have more than one person in them. This factor minimizes the need for larger housing not only in NJ but everywhere.
  • As a result of job opportunities, buyers were gravitating to areas within 15 miles of NYC with sound mass transportation systems.
  • But, we were already starting to see a reversal of the above as late millennials were looking for more space and a place to better raise their upcoming families.
  • This trend was sure to continue as 80% of consumers still perceive homeownership as part of the American Dream. It is just what they want to buy (or rent) that has changed.
  • Builders have been thinking of larger 4 BR center hall colonials on 1+ acre in the country (based mostly on local building codes).
  • Buyers were thinking of a smaller luxury hi-rise close to mass transportation and work in the east (truly a mismatch).
  • 60% of all new housing starts in 2019 in NJ were in the rental sector, and, the 2020 numbers surpassed that.  This is contributing to the lack of new construction and inventory.

Changes in Lifestyle (Post Covid):

  • The “Great American Move” is a term that we are starting to see for this new lifestyle.
  • The movement west was exacerbated by the pandemic and civil unrest in the city.
  • But, this move is primarily among the more educated and skilled workers that can adapt to a work-from-home environment.  First responders and lower-skilled service workers are not able to work from home in most cases.
  • Now, there is an open question of how many workers will continue to gravitate away from the city as they adapt to working from home and as buyers needed a live/work/play/learn environment.
  • Open floor plans, the list-topper for the past twenty years was no longer important as buyers are gravitating towards more compartmentalization within the home.
  • Live/Work/education/Exercise (or play) areas are now key.
  • Also, backyard recreation facilities such as pools now have a preference, and back yard oasis environments provided additional value for the above lifestyle.

Market conditions:

  • What a difference in consumer thinking since a year ago April.
  • Consumer confidence was put on pause (at best) last March and then started to fast forward in June (and has not slowed since).
  • The winter slowdown has never appeared in the real estate market.
  • Consumers will still see homeownership as a sound investment.  It is just that their shopping list as to what they want has changed.
  • And, in general, homeowners are sitting with more equity than ever (NJ reports 95+% with positive equity) and are no longer using their homes as an ATM.
  • A lot of these strong equity homeowners are deciding to sell in order to take advantage of the buying surge.
  • Some moved to their second homes as they no longer needed to commute.
  • Others pushed up their retirement plans.
  • The current seller’s market has resulted as we currently have many more buyers than sellers.
  • People usually buy and sell homes based on life events. This will not change. Life events have gone on (maybe even faster).
  • And never before seen (but slowly rising) low-interest rates plus the move west (which was already underway) has helped the migration pattern towards NYC to reverse.
  • We are hoping to see a continued trend down in new cases as the vaccines are starting to become a reality and things are better understood, and people get back to a new normal lifestyle.
  • But it is anticipated that the new lifestyle will be much different from the old as we adopt the best of the two cultures.
  • Nation-wide we actually sold more houses in 2020 than in 2019.  And we see 2021 being even better.
  • The current shortage is for a different reason than in 2020.  People who would list their homes in 2021 are being held back because of finding new housing themselves.

Forecast:

  • The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic now seems to be subsiding a bit due to vaccines becoming available.
  • The economy is continuing to recover (but at a slower pace) from the recent drops in the unemployment numbers.
  • It has been predicted by most that the balance of the recovery is going to be a long multi-year effort.  In effect, we have put the easy part of the workforce back to work, and the hard part remains in front of us.
  • And this will affect the following:
    • Increases in current and future real estate values (including any appreciation in the foreseeable future)
    • The amount of inventory available (hopefully we are starting to bottom out at -50%)
    • The ability for some buyers to get a mortgage
    • There may be additional foreclosures (this is way out)
  • Mortgage rates continue to drift upwards at around 3.15% as the fed has maintained its current level of investment in mortgage-backed securities.
  • Inventory supply will hopefully start to increase over as we move further into 2021.
  • The affordability index is better than ever with mortgage payments at just offer 21% of gross.
  • But, as we have a more substantial confidence level in having things under control, the housing market should have a strong continued bounce-back or upward spike due to:
    • The economy and housing market both being very strong going into the current COVID-19 issue.
    • Pent up demand, the move west, and the market was pushed out till further in 2021.
    • Life events (as mentioned earlier) will still happen and will surely drive the pent-up demand.
    • Lower than ever mortgage rates will persist (even as they start to drift up).
    • Sellers reluctant to sell in 2020 will start to appear in droves in 2021 if they can find available inventory in which to move to.
  • Due to the COVID-19 and recent unrest in NYC, we are starting to see more interest in living in more suburban counties such as Hunterdon and Somerset.
  • Also, many people have found that working from home is a reality, and we will probably see less commuting in general as things start to open up once again.
  • What were once “bedroom” communities are changing to” live, work, play & learn” communities bringing lots of change to our local economies.
  • It is only a matter of time before we see more jobs following the see workers into our suburban areas.
  • Retailing and use of vacant industrial space will have a major transformation to meet the new altered demands and lifestyles.
  • More attention is now being given to houses with pools and less open areas which lend themselves to working and studying at home.
  • And, the local market will have to adapt to the new suburban renaissance of where people will be working from and what they will need to adapt to this.
  • The lingering question is, “Can we keep this momentum up with low to falling inventory?”. So far, it seems to be happening due to quick sales.
  • Jobs will surely follow the workforce and housing then follow jobs.  It is a little out of logical sequence but will sort itself out as we progress.
  • Local property values are forecasted to see a 7% appreciation in 2021, depending on their location and price points.

Wow.  That is a lot to digest.  And it is changing daily but seems to be heading in the right direction for now.  For clarity and understanding, I am always available if you want to talk and better understand how this might affect your particular situation.

Note:  Presented as a public service by Joe Peters of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. I took reasonable precautions in presenting this information. Please consult with a professional sales agent and take no actions based on my opinions, gathered trends, and statistics.  I assume no liability. You can contact me at (908) 238-0118.

 

 

You can ask me a question or request a monthly copy of this newsletter here.

(pre -Covid)

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Hunterdon County’s Real Estate Market Conditions April 2021

Residential Real Estate

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Hunterdon County’s Real Estate Market Conditions April 2021

Get ahead of the residential real estate market drivers in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, with Coldwell Banker Residential Broker sales associate, Joe Peters. Joe’s monthly market update walks you through the economic conditions and trends that influence our local markets. You will come away knowing “what” is happening, and more importantly, “why” it is happening. As a result, you will be better informed to make home buying and selling decisions in 2021.

“What’s” Happening in Hunterdon County’s Real Estate Market?

Based on the last full month’s contract sales, statistics are still showing a severely deficient supply of inventory of just one month. Normal market conditions average four to six months in Hunterdon County. Units going under contract averaged 40 days on the market. Two hundred seventeen units went “under contract” in March, up from 158 in the prior month. Newly listed properties in the same period totaled 131, up from 89 in the preceding month.

Our total inventory number decreased from 607 this time last year to 259 units, 57% less than last year. But, sales were up in March, as we saw the ongoing effect on the strong Real Estate market as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic effect. It is an optimum supply and demand curve for our sellers.

New Jersey Residential Real Estate Market Forecast

Because of the continued move to the west (urban flight), pent-up demand, and attractive mortgage rates, and sellers coming on the market as Covid fears subside, we expect strong listings and sales thru the balance of 2021.

The good news is that most of the new listings are selling very quickly. So, even though we still have low inventory levels, sales are way up. We are still witnessing many homeowners facing financial and/or life uncertainty and holding off on listing their properties. There is also uncertainty in finding another house to move to.

Most sellers and buyers feel safer with virtual showings. Everyone is adjusting to the new virtual selling and buying tools and these methodologies are leading to safer showings and open-houses. Time will tell if these new approaches have an ongoing impact. But, we still have many more buyers than sellers.

Hunterdon County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Price For Last Month:

March March Total
Hunterdon County New Under Active Months’
Listings Contract Listings Supply
Condos/Town Houses * 27 41 46 1
Over 55 Communities * 3 6 5 1
$000K to $199K 9 20 14 1
$200K to $299K 11 28 20 1
$300K to $399K 25 42 41 1
$400K to $499K 17 41 28 1
$500K to $599K 15 30 30 1
$600K to $699K 15 24 26 1
$700K to $799K 14 12 30 3
$800K to $899K 12 7 21 3
$900K to $999K 6 2 10 5
$1,000K and Up 7 11 39 4
Totals for March 131 217 259 1
Average Price $581,275 $512,824 -11.8%
Average DOM 40
* Included in $ breakdowns
  • 60% of sales in houses > $500,000
  • 30% of sales in the $600,000 to $800,00K range
  • 10% percent of total sales (or 20 in total) in houses >$800,000

 

Hunterdon County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Municipality For Last Month:

           Here is the March activity by municipality:
Hunterdon County Active Listings Under Contract Last Month Months’ Supply
Alexandria Twp. 28 6 5
Bethlehem Twp. 5 8 1
Bloomsbury Boro. 5 0
Califon Boro. 5 6 1
Clinton Town 5 3 2
Clinton Twp. 15 27 1
Delaware Twp. 17 6 3
East Amwell Twp. 8 5 2
Flemington Boro. 2 6 0
Franklin Twp. 9 5 2
Frenchtown Boro. 0 2 0
Glen Gardner Boro. 0 5 0
Hampton Boro 2 0
High Bridge Boro. 2 7 0
Holland twp. 11 9 1
Kingwood Twp. 10 10 1
Lambertville City 14 10 1
Lebanon Boro. 2 5 0
Lebanon Twp. 14 6 2
Milford Boro. 4 1 4
RaritanTwp. 30 35 1
Readington Twp. 29 33 1
Stockton Boro. 1 0
Tewksbury Twp. 28 17 2
Union Twp. 8 5 2
West Amwell Twp. 5 0
Totals 259 217 1

Four areas had no sales last month:

  • Bloomsbury
  • Hampton
  • Stockton
  • W Amwell

Two areas reported 1 or 2 sales each last month:

  • Frenchtown
  • MIlford

Hotspots:

  • Clinton/Clinton Twp. – 30 Sales
  • Raritan – 35 Sales
  • Readington – 33 Sales
  • Tewksbury- 17 Sales

Hotspot areas equaled 53% of the sales last month. The average new listing coming on the market last month neared $581,275. The average price of a unit going “under contract” was $513,824 (12% less).

Note: To get a competitive price point on your property based on location and uniqueness, contact me at (908) 238-0118. Coldwell Banker’s big data technology capabilities will give you a unique advantage. I can show you the latest age and earnings breakdown for your particular area where people move into that area from and how I can market to those specific areas and demographics directly. The result is in you receiving the maximum selling price with a shorter time on the market.  Houses priced and marketed accurately sell faster, especially with a real estate industry veteran and local expert helping you navigate the process.

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

“Why” it is happening

New Jersey’s Economic Drivers:

New Jersey Home Sales and inventory levels:

  • The rebound that started in June of last year has now continued through March but is now decreasing due to available inventory.
  • We still see many sellers reluctant to list due to uncertainty in this troublesome time and the ability to find other housing themselves.
  • The current month’s supply of inventory in Hunterdon and Somerset County is now under 1.5 months.  This is due to the quick sales as new inventory as it comes on the market.
  • Hunterdon and Somerset County have about 57% & 48% less inventory than we had a year ago, respectively.  This is a significant drop. And it is predicted to stay low as sales outpace listings because now inventory is selling almost immediately.
  • N.J., on a whole, has under 16,000 units in inventory this year compared to just under 28,000 a year prior (a 45% decline).
  • Decreases in inventory have occurred in all price points, with the under $400,000 market seeing the most considerable impact and the $400K to $600K the second largest.
  • We have seen increases in sales across most price points, with the under $400K range seeing a slight decrease of 10% due to lack of inventory.

Interest Rates:

  • Interest rates have been steadily increasing over the past few weeks.
  • The economy is adjusting, and average Interest rates are just over 3.15% for a 30-year conventional mortgage. A fifteen-year conventional mortgage rests at just under the 2.45%  mark. Five-year arms are just over the 2.8% range.
  • Mortgages are becoming harder to get based on which industry you are employed in and the new stricter rules being adopted by lenders.  This could affect the size of the buyer pool.
  • And, mortgage forbearance is causing unforeseen issues in the mortgage market, which may also cause a drop in the number of available sellers.
  • As said, rates in the last few months have been increasing slightly.  Yet, we expect the rates to continue to rise a bit, cutting into buyer’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy at rates they probably will not see again.

National Job Front:

  • On the national level, the US added over 2,100,000+ in 2019 v. 2,700,000 jobs in 2018.
  • U.S. unemployment rate slowed in January of 2020, with just 225,000 jobs added.  An additional 325,000 were added in February, which put the U.S. on pace to add 3 million + jobs in 2020.
  • Then COVID-19 appeared, and we saw nearly all of the jobs created in the past five years erased.
  • The December 2020 end-of-month numbers show improvement, with the unemployment rate at 6.7%. And in January of 2021 it dropped to 6.3% In February we added another 379K jobs and in March, by 900,000+and the unemployment rate dropped further to  6.0%.  This is encouraging, but we have to keep in mind that we have natural job growth of about 175K per month and this is not deducted.
  • These numbers indicated that the recovery was indeed well underway, with about 60% of the unemployed now back in the workforce.
  • But the balance of the nearly 9 million unemployed will take years to get back to where we started as they are in the hardest-hit sectors of Leisure, hospitality, and food services.
  • The claims have been falling each week and indicating that the PPP and associated programs are starting to work.
  • Fortunately, the economy was robust going into this, but the effect is still devastating and long-term.
  • The new stimulus bill has also offered some relief on the lower en of the economy.

New Jersey Job Front:

  • In 2019 NJ added 39,000 jobs once again. N.J. added 39,000+ jobs in 2018 as compared to 47,100 for the same period in 2017.
  • The NJ unemployment numbers were at 3.5% just twelve months ago and now have followed the national numbers but are now a bit higher than the U.S. at 7.8% for the last full month reported, which was February with 10,700 jobs added.
  • Construction, food services, and accommodations are again the leaders in job losses, though more states are now citing pain in retail, wholesale trade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Health care, social assistance, and manufacturing are shedding workers, too.
  • These job losses will undoubtedly have an impact on the buyers market in 2021.

Rental Market Trends:

  • Rental prices in New Jersey rose again in 2020, averaging just under $1,700 per unit. Current vacancy rates in New Jersey have increased to around 4.6% in central N.J. & state-wide.
  • The drop in New Jersey’s homeownership contributes to rental demand.  A 12+ year trend shows a decrease from  71% to 66%.  This 7% decrease compared to an 8% national decrease contributes to the slower recovery of home prices in the state and adds over 20,000+ additional renters in our state. However, the 71% level resulted from the lax lending standards of the early 2000s and is considered acceptable.  Households with no children stand at 65%, reflecting the decline in our school population.
  • One article states that the average homeowner who is 65+ has an average net wealth of over $318K, while the same for a renter is only just under $8K.  It also offers a stable place to live, an evident hedge against inflation, and a way to build wealth (a strong argument for homeownership).
  • However, the number of renters has increased by 7% over the past 25 years, with the less educated leading the way.  We saw more educated millennials moving east into higher rent and cost of living areas that eat into their discretionary income (including savings).  It makes one wonder where this all is heading.
  • The central NJ vacancy rate at the end of Q1 stands at 4.4%.

New Jersey Foreclosures:

  • Foreclosures in NJ in 2018 were the lowest in the state in over four years.  And, 2019 was even better with just under 38,000 foreclosure filings (the weakest since 2012). For 2020, N.J. looks to be on track for 12,000 foreclosures, representing a 70% decline.  This could change depending on how long it takes workers to get back on their feet from the COVID-19 pandemic and how many bankruptcies we see in later 2020.
  • However, New Jersey continues to face rising foreclosure rate filings at about 5.4% (which is up significantly from a year earlier). Other states have begun to or have already recovered.  And, some states like N.Y. are still much higher with an over 6% filing number. In a tight real estate market, these foreclosures sell at a discount.
  • The national baseline number sits slightly under 3.9% (up from 1.3% a year earlier).
  • The forbearance numbers will affect foreclosures as that program comes to an end.
  • However, this effect will be nowhere near the last housing crisis since the is a lot of positive equity in houses today.  But delinquencies are rising.

 

Hunterdon County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Real Estate Market Recap

Overall Economic Conditions:

  • In early March of 2020:
    • We were ending the 128th month of what is being called the “Great Expansion”
  • In late March, April, and May of 2020:
    • We went into an economic free-fall
    • This was done deliberately to contain the pandemic
  • From June thru August of 2020:
    • We saw an economic reopening
    • Job growth rebounded
  •  In September and October of 2020
    • We saw waining employment advances
  • In November and December of 2020:
    • We saw a flattening of employment growth
    • And we entered into a stage of recovery crawl
  • In early 2021:
    • We started to see new spikes in outbreaks
    • We also saw vaccines starting to appear
    • And, employment numbers continue to improve
    • The increasing vaccine rates seem to be now offering more home

It is now estimated that it may take years to get jobs back to where they were as the hardest-hit sectors start/continue to rebuild.

 

Changes in Lifestyle (Pre Covid):

  • The average age at marriage moved to the mid to late 30s (up seven years from just a decade ago).
  • Families usually have only one to two children due to costs and the ability to choose.
  • 70% of all NJ homes have no children of school age, and 50% do not have more than one person in them. This factor minimizes the need for larger housing not only in NJ but everywhere.
  • As a result of job opportunities, buyers were gravitating to areas within 15 miles of NYC with sound mass transportation systems.
  • But, we were already starting to see a reversal of the above as late millennials were looking for more space and a place to better raise their upcoming families.
  • This trend was sure to continue as 80% of consumers still perceive homeownership as part of the American Dream. It is just what they want to buy (or rent) that has changed.
  • Builders have been thinking of larger 4 BR center hall colonials on 1+ acre in the country (based mostly on local building codes).
  • Buyers were thinking of a smaller luxury hi-rise close to mass transportation and work in the east (truly a mismatch).
  • 60% of all new housing starts in 2019 in NJ were in the rental sector, and, the 2020 numbers surpassed that.  This is contributing to the lack of new construction and inventory.

Changes in Lifestyle (Post Covid):

  • The “Great American Move” is a term that we are starting to see for this new lifestyle.
  • The movement west was exacerbated by the pandemic and civil unrest in the city.
  • But, this move is primarily among the more educated and skilled workers that can adapt to a work-from-home environment.  First responders and lower-skilled service workers are not able to work from home in most cases.
  • Now, there is an open question of how many workers will continue to gravitate away from the city as they adapt to working from home and as buyers needed a live/work/play/learn environment.
  • Open floor plans, the list-topper for the past twenty years was no longer important as buyers are gravitating towards more compartmentalization within the home.
  • Live/Work/education/Exercise (or play) areas are now key.
  • Also, backyard recreation facilities such as pools now have a preference, and back yard oasis environments provided additional value for the above lifestyle.

Market conditions:

  • What a difference in consumer thinking since a year ago April.
  • Consumer confidence was put on pause (at best) last March and then started to fast forward in June (and has not slowed since).
  • The winter slowdown has never appeared in the real estate market.
  • Consumers will still see homeownership as a sound investment.  It is just that their shopping list as to what they want has changed.
  • And, in general, homeowners are sitting with more equity than ever (NJ reports 95+% with positive equity) and are no longer using their homes as an ATM.
  • A lot of these strong equity homeowners are deciding to sell in order to take advantage of the buying surge.
  • Some moved to their second homes as they no longer needed to commute.
  • Others pushed up their retirement plans.
  • The current seller’s market has resulted as we currently have many more buyers than sellers.
  • People usually buy and sell homes based on life events. This will not change. Life events have gone on (maybe even faster).
  • And never before seen (but slowly rising) low-interest rates plus the move west (which was already underway) has helped the migration pattern towards NYC to reverse.
  • We are hoping to see a continued trend down in new cases as the vaccines are starting to become a reality and things are better understood, and people get back to a new normal lifestyle.
  • But it is anticipated that the new lifestyle will be much different from the old as we adopt the best of the two cultures.
  • Nation-wide we actually sold more houses in 2020 than in 2019.  And we see 2021 being even better.
  • The current shortage is for a different reason than in 2020.  People who would list their homes in 2021 are being held back because of finding new housing themselves.

Forecast:

  • The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic now seems to be subsiding a bit due to vaccines becoming available.
  • The economy is continuing to recover (but at a slower pace) from the recent drops in the unemployment numbers.
  • It has been predicted by most that the balance of the recovery is going to be a long multi-year effort.  In effect, we have put the easy part of the workforce back to work, and the hard part remains in front of us.
  • And this will affect the following:
    • Increases in current and future real estate values (including any appreciation in the foreseeable future)
    • The amount of inventory available (hopefully we are starting to bottom out at -50%)
    • The ability for some buyers to get a mortgage
    • There may be additional foreclosures (this is way out)
  • Mortgage rates continue to drift upwards at around 3.15% as the fed has maintained its current level of investment in mortgage-backed securities.
  • Inventory supply will hopefully start to increase over as we move further into 2021.
  • The affordability index is better than ever with mortgage payments at just offer 21% of gross.
  • But, as we have a more substantial confidence level in having things under control, the housing market should have a strong continued bounce-back or upward spike due to:
    • The economy and housing market both being very strong going into the current COVID-19 issue.
    • Pent up demand, the move west, and the market was pushed out till further in 2021.
    • Life events (as mentioned earlier) will still happen and will surely drive the pent-up demand.
    • Lower than ever mortgage rates will persist (even as they start to drift up).
    • Sellers reluctant to sell in 2020 will start to appear in droves in 2021 if they can find available inventory in which to move to.
  • Due to the COVID-19 and recent unrest in NYC, we are starting to see more interest in living in more suburban counties such as Hunterdon and Somerset.
  • Also, many people have found that working from home is a reality, and we will probably see less commuting in general as things start to open up once again.
  • What were once “bedroom” communities are changing to” live, work, play & learn” communities bringing lots of change to our local economies.
  • It is only a matter of time before we see more jobs following the see workers into our suburban areas.
  • Retailing and use of vacant industrial space will have a major transformation to meet the new altered demands and lifestyles.
  • More attention is now being given to houses with pools and less open areas which lend themselves to working and studying at home.
  • And, the local market will have to adapt to the new suburban renaissance of where people will be working from and what they will need to adapt to this.
  • The lingering question is, “Can we keep this momentum up with low to falling inventory?”. So far, it seems to be happening due to quick sales.
  • Jobs will surely follow the workforce and housing then follow jobs.  It is a little out of logical sequence but will sort itself out as we progress.
  • Local property values are forecasted to see a 7% appreciation in 2021, depending on their location and price points.

Wow.  That is a lot to digest.  And it is changing daily but seems to be heading in the right direction for now.  For clarity and understanding, I am always available if you want to talk and better understand how this might affect your particular situation.

Note:  Presented as a public service by Joe Peters of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. I took reasonable precautions in presenting this information. Please consult with a professional sales agent and take no actions based on my opinions, gathered trends, and statistics.  I assume no liability. You can contact me at (908) 238-0118.

 

You can ask me a question or request a monthly copy of this newsletter here.

(pre -Covid)

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Somerset County’s Real Estate Market Conditions March 2021 – Bridgewater Edition

Residential Real Estate

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Somerset County’s Real Estate Market Conditions March 2021 – Bridgewater Edition

Get ahead of the residential real estate market drivers in Somerset County, New Jersey, with Coldwell Banker Residential Broker sales associate, Joe Peters. Joe’s monthly market update walks you through the economic conditions and trends that influence our local markets. You will come away knowing “what” is happening, and more importantly, “why” it is happening. As a result, you will be better informed to make home buying and selling decisions in 2021.

“What’s” Happening in Somerset County’s Real Estate Market?

Based on the last full month’s contract sales, statistics show a severely deficient supply of inventory of just one month. Normal market conditions average four to six months in Somerset County. Units going under contract averaged 47 days on the market. Three hundred fifty-nine units went “under contract” in February, up slightly from 335 in the prior month. Newly listed properties in the same period totaled 207, down slightly from 217 in the preceding month.

Our total inventory number decreased from 1.019 this time last year to 452 units, 56% less than last year. Even at that, sales were up 1% in February, as we saw the ongoing effect on the Real Estate market as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic effect. It is an optimum supply and demand curve for our sellers. At this point, we have still sold more houses YTD in 2021 than in 2020 in Somerset County by about 5%.

New Jersey Residential Real Estate Market Forecast

Because of the continued move to the west (urban flight), pent-up demand, and attractive mortgage rates, and sellers coming on the market as Covid fears subside we expect strong listings and sales thru the balance of 2021.

The good news is that most of the new listings are selling very quickly. So, even though we still have low inventory levels, sales are way up. We are still witnessing many homeowners facing financial and/or life uncertainty and holding off on listing their properties. This should lessen as the year goes on. Many sellers are still restricting showings, and some are still hesitant to list because they still do not want people in their houses.

Most sellers and buyers feel safer with virtual showings. Everyone is adjusting to the new virtual selling and buying tools and these methodologies are leading to safer showings and open-houses. Time will tell if these new approaches have an ongoing impact. But, we still have many more buyers than sellers.

Hunterdon County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Price For Last Month:

February February Total
Somerset County New Under Active Months’
Listings Contract Listings Supply
Condos/Town Houses * 61 119 136 1
Over 55 Communities* 7 10 23 2
$000K to $199K 8 13 12 1
$200K to $299K 15 47 41 1
$300K to $399K 41 81 69 1
$400K to $499K 29 45 49 1
$500K to $599K 20 45 44 1
$600K to $699K 25 34 32 1
$700K to $799K 13 29 25 1
$800K to $899K 16 15 31 2
$900K to $999K 14 15 28 2
$1,000K and Up 26 35 121 3
Totals for February 207 359 452 1
Average Price $657,484 $492,866 -25.0%
Average Days on Market 47
* Included in $ breakdowns
  • 52% of sales in houses > $500,000
  • 38% of sales in the $600,000 to $1,000,00K range
  • 10% percent of total sales (or 14 in total) in houses >$1,000,000

 

Hunterdon County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Municipality For Last Month:

Active Listings Under Contract Month’s Supply
Bedminster Twp 22 20 1
Bernards Twp 53 42 1
Bernardsville 47 18 3
Bound Brook 5 5 1
Branchburg Twp 22 22 1
Bridgewater Twp 39 43 1
Far Hills Boro 9 3 3
Franklin Twp 52 53 1
Green Brook 15 7 2
Hillsborough 33 37 1
Manville Boro 11 8 1
Millstone Boro 0 1
Montgomery Twp 44 30 1
North Plainfield 13 24 1
Peapack Gladstone 3 5 1
Raritan Boro 7 3 2
Rocky Hill Boro 0 0
Somerville Boro 6 5 1
South Bound Brook 5 4 1
Warren Twp 46 20 2
Watchung Boro 20 9 2
Totals 452 359 1

Only one area had no sales last month:

  • Rocky Hill

One area reported 1 or 2 sales each last month:

  • Millstone

Hotspots:

  • Bernards/Bernards Twp. – 100 Sales
  • Bridgewater – 39 Sales
  • Montgomery – 44 Sales
  • Warren- 46 Sales

Hotspot areas equaled 64% of the sales last month. The average new listing coming on the market last month neared $657,484 The average price of a unit going “under contract” was $492,866 (25% less).

Bridgewater Township Statistics:

  • There are an even 39 homes for sale in Bridgewater Township as of this writing.
  • Of the 39 homes for sale, 9 are community properties (such as town houses and condos) and two are in our 55+ communities
  • The average list price for all listings in Bridgewater Township is $458,560.
  • There were 26 new listings in Bridgewater Township last month with an average list price of $537,650.
  • There were also 43 homes that have gone under contract in the past 30 days with an average list price of $636.962 and 32 days on market.
  • Giving us a little under 1 month of inventory
  • Call for additional details

Note: To get a competitive price point on your property based on location and uniqueness, contact me at (908) 238-0118. Coldwell Banker’s big data technology capabilities will give you a unique advantage. I can show you the latest age and earnings breakdown for your particular area where people move into that area from and how I can market to those specific areas and demographics directly. The result is in you receiving the maximum selling price with a shorter time on the market.  Houses priced and marketed accurately sell faster, especially with a real estate industry veteran and local expert helping you navigate the process.

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

“Why” it is happening

New Jersey’s Economic Drivers:

New Jersey Home Sales and inventory levels:

  • The rebound that started in June of last year has now continued through February but is now decreasing due to available inventory.
  • We still see many sellers reluctant to list due to uncertainty in this troublesome time and the recent spike in new cases.  However, the vaccine availability offers new hope.
  • The current month’s supply of inventory in Hunterdon and Somerset County is now two and one month respectively.  This is due to the quick sales as new inventory as it comes on the market.
  • Hunterdon and Somerset County have about 60% & 56% less inventory than we had a year ago, respectively.  This is a significant drop. And it is predicted to stay low as sales outpace listings.
  • N.J., on a whole, has under 15,000 units in inventory this year compared to just under 29,000 a year prior (a 54% decline).
  • Decreases in inventory have occurred in all price points, with the under $400,000 market seeing the most considerable impact and the $400K to $600K the second largest.
  • We have seen increases in sales across most price points, with the under $400K range seeing a slight decrease of 2% due to lack of inventory.

Interest Rates:

  • Interest rates have been steadily increasing over the past few weeks.
  • The economy is adjusting, and average Interest rates are just over 2.9% for a 30-year conventional mortgage. A fifteen-year conventional mortgage rests at just under the 2.35%  mark. Five-year arms are just over the 2.9% range.
  • Mortgages are becoming harder to get based on which industry you are employed in and the new stricter rules being adopted by lenders.  This could affect the size of the buyer pool.
  • And, mortgage forbearance is causing unforeseen issues in the mortgage market, which may cause a drop in the number of available sellers.
  • As said, rates in the last few months have been increasing slightly.  Yet, we expect the rates to continue to rise a bit, cutting into buyers once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy at rates they probably will not see again.

National Job Front:

  • On the national level, the US added over 2,100,000+ in 2019 v. 2,700,000 jobs in 2018.
  • U.S. unemployment rate slowed in January of 2020, with just 225,000 jobs added.  An additional 325,000 were added in February, which put the U.S. on pace to add 3 million + jobs in 2020.
  • Then COVID-19 appeared, and we saw nearly all of the jobs created in the past five years erased.
  • The December 2020 end-of-month numbers show improvement, with the unemployment rate at 6.7%. And in January of 2021 it dropped to 6.3% In February we added another 379K jobs and the unemployment rate dropped further to  6.2%.  This is encouraging, but we have to keep in mind that we have natural job growth of about 175K per month and this is not deducted.
  • These numbers indicated that the recovery was indeed well underway, with over 54% of the unemployed now back in the workforce.
  • But the balance of the 9.1 million unemployed will take years to get back to where we started as they are in the hardest-hit sectors of Leisure, hospitality, and food services.
  • The claims have been falling each week and indicating that the PPP and associated programs are starting to work.
  • Fortunately, the economy was robust going into this, but the effect is still devastating and long-term.

New Jersey Job Front:

  • In 2019 NJ added 39,000 jobs once again. N.J. added 39,000+ jobs in 2018 as compared to 47,100 for the same period in 2017.
  • The NJ unemployment numbers were at 3.5% just twelve months ago and now have followed the national numbers but are now a bit higher than the U.S. at 7.6% for the last full month reported, which was December with 7,100 jobs added.
  • Construction, food services, and accommodations are again the leaders in job losses, though more states are now citing pain in retail, wholesale trade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Health care, social assistance, and manufacturing are shedding workers, too.
  • These job losses will undoubtedly have an impact on the buyers market in 2021.

Rental Market Trends:

  • Rental prices in New Jersey rose again in 2020, averaging just under $1,700 per unit. Current vacancy rates in New Jersey have increased to around 4.6% in central N.J. & state-wide.
  • The drop in New Jersey’s homeownership contributes to rental demand.  A 12+ year trend shows a decrease from  71% to 66%.  This 7% decrease compared to an 8% national decrease contributes to the slower recovery of home prices in the state and adds over 20,000+ additional renters in our state. However, the 71% level resulted from the lax lending standards of the early 2000s and is considered acceptable.  Households with no children stand at 65%, reflecting the decline in our school population.
  • One article states that the average homeowner who is 65+ has an average net wealth of over $318K, while the same for a renter is only just under $8K.  It also offers a stable place to live, an evident hedge against inflation, and a way to build wealth (a strong argument for homeownership).
  • However, the number of renters has increased by 7% over the past 25 years, with the less educated leading the way.  We saw more educated millennials moving east into higher rent and cost of living areas that eat into their discretionary income (including savings).  It makes one wonder where this all is heading.

New Jersey Foreclosures:

  • Foreclosures in NJ in 2018 were the lowest in the state in over four years.  And, 2019 was even better with just under 38,000 foreclosure filings (the weakest since 2012). For 2020, N.J. looks to be on track for 12,000 foreclosures, representing a 70% decline.  This could change depending on how long it takes workers to get back on their feet from the COVID-19 pandemic and how many bankruptcies we see in later 2020.
  • However, New Jersey continues to face rising foreclosure rate filings at about 5.6% (which is up significantly from a year earlier). Other states have begun to or have already recovered.  And, some sets like N.Y. are still much higher with a 6.1% filing number. In a tight real estate market, these foreclosures sell at a discount.
  • The national baseline number sits slightly under 3.9% (up from 1.3% a year earlier).
  • The forbearance numbers will affect foreclosures as that program comes to an end.
  • However, this effect will be nowhere near the last housing crisis since the is a lot of positive equity in houses today.  But delinquencies are rising.

 

Hunterdon County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Real Estate Market Recap

Overall Economic Conditions:

  • In early March of 2020:
    • We were ending the 128th month of what is being called the “Great Expansion”
  • In late March, April, and May of 2020:
    • We went into an economic free-fall
    • This was done deliberately to contain the pandemic
  • From June thru August of 2020:
    • We sawan economic reopening
    • Job growth rebounded
  •  In September and October of 2020
    • We saw waining employment advances
  • In November and December of 2020:
    • We saw a flattening of employment growth
    • And we entered into a stage of recovery crawl
  • In early 2021:
    • We started to see new spiles in outbreaks
    • We also saw vaccines starting to appear
    • And, employment numbers continue to crawl along

It is now estimated that it maytake years to get jobs back to where they were as the hardest-hit sectors start/continue to rebuild.

 

Changes in Lifestyle (Pre Covid):

  • The average age at marriage moved to the mid to late 30s (up seven years from just a decade ago).
  • Families usually have only one to two children due to costs and the ability to choose.
  • 70% of all NJ homes have no children of school age, and 50% do not have more than one person in them. This factor minimizes the need for larger housing not only in NJ but everywhere.
  • As a result of job opportunities, buyers were gravitating to areas within 15 miles of NYC with sound mass transportation systems.
  • But, we were already starting to see a reversal of the above as late millennials were looking for more space and a place to better raise their upcoming families.
  • This trend was sure to continue as 80% of consumers still perceive homeownership as part of the American Dream. It is just what they want to buy (or rent) that has changed.
  • Builders have been thinking of larger 4 BR center hall colonials on 1+ acre in the country (based mostly on local building codes).
  • Buyers were thinking of a smaller luxury hi-rise close to mass transportation and work in the east (truly a mismatch).
  • 60% of all new housing starts in 2019 in NJ were in the rental sector, and, the 2020 numbers surpassed that.  This is contributing to the lack of new construction and inventory.

Changes in Lifestyle (Post Covid):

  • The “Great American Move” is a term that we are starting to see for this new life-style.
  • The movement west was exacerbated by the pandemic and civil unrest in the city.
  • But, this move is primarily among the more educated and skilled workers that can adapt to a work from home environment.  First responders and lower-skilled service workers are not able to work from home in most cases.
  • Now, there is an open question of how many workers will continue to gravitate away from the city as they adapt to working from home and as buyers needed a live/work/play/learn environment.
  • Open floor plans, the list-topper for the past twenty years was no longer important as buyers are gravitating towards more compartmentalization within the home.
  • Live/Work/education/Exercise (or play) areas are now key.
  • Also, backyard recreation facilities such as pools now have a preference, and back yard oasis environments provided additional value for the above lifestyle.

Market conditions:

  • What a difference in consumer thinking since a year ago March.
  • Consumer confidence was put on pause (at best) in March and then started to fast forward in June (and has not slowed since).
  • The winter slowdown has never appeared in the real estate market.
  • Consumers will still see homeownership as a sound investment.  It is just that their shopping list as to what they want has changed.
  • And, in general, homeowners are sitting with more equity than ever (NJ reports 95+% with positive equity) and are no longer using their homes as an ATM.
  • A lot of these strong equity homeowners are deciding to sell in order to take advantage of the buying surge.
  • Some moved to their second homes as they no longer needed to commute.
  • Others pushed up their retirement plans.
  • The current seller’s market has resulted as we currently have many more buyers than sellers.
  • People usually buy and sell homes based on life events. This will not change. Life events have gone on (maybe even faster).
  • And never before seen low-interest rates plus the move west (which was already underway) has helped the migration pattern towards NYC to reverse.
  • We are hoping to see a continued trend down in new cases as the vaccines are starting to become a reality and things are better understood, and people get back to a new normal life style.
  • But it is anticipated that the new lifestyle will be much different from the old as we adopt the best of the two cultures.
  • Nation-wide we actually sole more houses in 2020 than in 2019.  And we see 2021 being even better.

Forecast:

  • The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic now seems to have its ups and downs (at least in our area).
  • The economy is continuing to recover (but at a slower pace) from the recent drops in the unemployment numbers.
  • It has been predicted by most that the balance of the recovery is going to be a long multi-year effort.  In effect, we have put the easy part of the workforce back to work, and the hard part remains in front of us.
  • And this will affect the following:
    • Current and future real estate values (including any appreciation in the foreseeable future)
    • The amount of inventory available (hopefully we are starting to bottom out at -50%)
    • The ability for some buyers to get a mortgage
    • There will be more possible foreclosures (this is way out)
  • Mortgage rates continue to drift upwards at around 2.9% as the fed has maintained its current level of investment in mortgage-backed securities.  It is clear that the low 3% rate is not too far distant.
  • Inventory supply will hopefully start to increase over as we move further into 2021.
  • The affordability index is better than ever with mortgage payments at just offer 21% of gross.
  • But, as we have a more substantial confidence level in having things under control, the housing market should have a strong continued bounce-back or upward spike due to:
    • The economy and housing market both being very strong going into the current COVID-19 issue.
    • Pent up demand, the move west, and the spring market was pushed out till further in 2020.
    • Life events (as mentioned earlier) will still happen and will surely drive the pent-up demand.
    • Lower than ever mortgage rates will persist (even as they start to drift up).
    • Sellers reluctant to sell in 2020 will start to appear in droves in 2021.
  • Due to the COVID-19 and recent unrest in NYC, we are starting to see more interest in living in more suburban counties such as Hunterdon and Somerset.
  • Also, many people have found that working from home is a reality, and we will probably see less commuting in general as things start to open up once again.
  • What were once “bedroom” communities are changing to” live, work, play & learn” communities bringing lots of change to our local economies.
  • It is only a matter of time before we see more jobs following the see workers into our suburban areas.
  • Retailing and use of vacant industrial space will have a major transformation to meet the new altered demands and lifestyles.
  • More attention is now being given to houses with pools and less open areas which lend themselves to working and studying at home.
  • And, the local market will have to adapt to the new suburban renaissance of where people will be working from and what they will need to adapt to this.
  • The lingering question is, “Can we keep this momentum up with low to falling inventory?”. So far, it seems to be happening due to quick sales.
  • Jobs will surely follow the workforce and housing then follow jobs.  It is a little out of logical sequence but will sort itself out as we progress.
  • Local property values are forecasted to see a 5% appreciation in 2021, depending on their location and price points.

Wow.  That is a lot to digest.  And it is changing daily but seems to be heading in the right direction for now.  For clarity and understanding, I am always available if you want to talk and better understand how this might affect your particular situation.

Note:  Presented as a public service by Joe Peters of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. I took reasonable precautions in presenting this information. Please consult with a professional sales agent and take no actions based on my opinions, gathered trends, and statistics.  I assume no liability. You can contact me at (908) 238-0118.

 

You can ask me a question or request a monthly copy of this newsletter here.

(pre -Covid)

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Hunterdon County’s Real Estate Market Conditions March 2021

Residential Real Estate

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Hunterdon County’s Real Estate Market Conditions March 2021

Get ahead of the residential real estate market drivers in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, with Coldwell Banker Residential Broker sales associate, Joe Peters. Joe’s monthly market update walks you through the economic conditions and trends that influence our local markets. You will come away knowing “what” is happening, and more importantly, “why” it is happening. As a result, you will be better informed to make home buying and selling decisions in 2021.

“What’s” Happening in Hunterdon County’s Real Estate Market?

Based on the last full month’s contract sales, statistics show a severely deficient supply of inventory of just two months. Normal market conditions average four to six months in Hunterdon County. Units going under contract averaged 55 days on the market. One hundred fifty-eight units went “under contract” in February, up slightly from 142 in the prior month. Newly listed properties in the same period totaled 89, down from 102 in the preceding month.

Our total inventory number decreased from 643 this time last year to 255 units, 60% less than last year. As a result, sales were down 12% in February, as we saw the ongoing effect on the Real Estate market as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic effect. It is an optimum supply and demand curve for our sellers. At this point, we have sold fewer houses YTD in 2021 than in 2020 in Hunterdon County by about 8%.

New Jersey Residential Real Estate Market Forecast

Because of the continued move to the west (urban flight), pent-up demand, and attractive mortgage rates, and sellers coming on the market as Covid fears subside we expect strong listings and sales thru the balance of 2021.

The good news is that most of the new listings are selling very quickly. So, even though we still have low inventory levels, sales are way up. We are still witnessing many homeowners facing financial and/or life uncertainty and holding off on listing their properties. This should lessen as the year goes on. Many sellers are still restricting showings, and some are still hesitant to list because they still do not want people in their houses.

Most sellers and buyers feel safer with virtual showings. Everyone is adjusting to the new virtual selling and buying tools and these methodologies are leading to safer showings and open-houses. Time will tell if these new approaches have an ongoing impact. But, we still have many more buyers than sellers.

Hunterdon County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Price For Last Month:

February February Total
Hunterdon County New Under Active Months’
Listings Contract Listings Supply
Condos/Town Houses * 19 33 35 1
Over 55 Communities * 5 3 7 2
$000K to $199K 4 14 13 1
$200K to $299K 8 16 22 1
$300K to $399K 18 28 35 1
$400K to $499K 19 19 35 2
$500K to $599K 8 26 26 1
$600K to $699K 19 19 31 2
$700K to $799K 8 15 25 2
$800K to $899K 1 10 14 1
$900K to $999K 0 4 9 2
$1,000K and Up 4 7 45 6
Totals for February 89 158 255 2
Average Price $553,371 $546,879 -1.2%
Average DOM 55
* Included in $ breakdowns
  • 49% of sales in houses > $500,000
  • 38% of sales in the $600,000 to $800,00K range
  • 13% percent of total sales (or 14 in total) in houses >$800,000

 

Hunterdon County Real Estate Market Inventory Breakdown By Municipality For Last Month:

Hunterdon County Active Listings Under Contract Last Month Months’ Supply
Alexandria Twp. 19 2 10
Bethlehem Twp. 10 7 1
Bloomsbury Boro. 3 1 3
Califon Boro. 3 4 1
Clinton Town 2 2 1
Clinton Twp. 20 15 1
Delaware Twp. 17 5 3
East Amwell Twp. 9 2 5
Flemington Boro. 2 3 1
Franklin Twp. 11 6 2
Frenchtown Boro. 1 0
Glen Gardner Boro. 2 7 0
Hampton Boro 0 1 0
High Bridge Boro. 6 6 1
Holland twp. 10 5 2
Kingwood Twp. 8 4 2
Lambertville City 13 14 1
Lebanon Boro. 5 3 2
Lebanon Twp. 12 7 2
Milford Boro. 1 2 1
RaritanTwp. 34 22 2
Readington Twp. 28 19 1
Stockton Boro. 0 1 0
Tewksbury Twp. 29 9 3
Union Twp. 8 9 1
West Amwell Twp. 2 2 1
Totals 255 158 2

Only one area had no sales last month:

  • Frenchtown

Eight areas reported 1 or 2 sales each last month:

  • Alexandria
  • Bloomsbury
  • Clinton (town)
  • Delaware
  • E Amwell
  • Hampton
  • Lebanon Twp.
  • Stockton
  • W. Amwell

Hotspots:

  • Clinton/Clinton Twp. – 17 Sales
  • Raritan – 22 Sales
  • Readington – 19 Sales
  • Lambertville – 14 Sales

Hotspot areas equaled 46% of the sales last month. The average new listing coming on the market last month neared $553,371. The average price of a unit going “under contract” was $546,879 (1.2% less).

Note: To get a competitive price point on your property based on location and uniqueness, contact me at (908) 238-0118. Coldwell Banker’s big data technology capabilities will give you a unique advantage. I can show you the latest age and earnings breakdown for your particular area where people move into that area from and how I can market to those specific areas and demographics directly. The result is in you receiving the maximum selling price with a shorter time on the market.  Houses priced and marketed accurately sell faster, especially with a real estate industry veteran and local expert helping you navigate the process.

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

“Why” it is happening

New Jersey’s Economic Drivers:

New Jersey Home Sales and inventory levels:

  • The rebound that started in June of last year has now continued through February but is now decreasing due to available inventory.
  • We still see many sellers reluctant to list due to uncertainty in this troublesome time and the recent spike in new cases.  However, the vaccine availability offers new hope.
  • The current month’s supply of inventory in Hunterdon and Somerset County is now two and one month respectively.  This is due to the quick sales as new inventory as it comes on the market.
  • Hunterdon and Somerset County have about 60% & 56% less inventory than we had a year ago, respectively.  This is a significant drop. And it is predicted to stay low as sales outpace listings.
  • N.J., on a whole, has under 15,000 units in inventory this year compared to just under 29,000 a year prior (a 54% decline).
  • Decreases in inventory have occurred in all price points, with the under $400,000 market seeing the most considerable impact and the $400K to $600K the second largest.
  • We have seen increases in sales across most price points, with the under $400K range seeing a slight decrease of 2% due to lack of inventory.

Interest Rates:

  • Interest rates have been steadily increasing over the past few weeks.
  • The economy is adjusting, and average Interest rates are just over 2.9% for a 30-year conventional mortgage. A fifteen-year conventional mortgage rests at just under the 2.35%  mark. Five-year arms are just over the 2.9% range.
  • Mortgages are becoming harder to get based on which industry you are employed in and the new stricter rules being adopted by lenders.  This could affect the size of the buyer pool.
  • And, mortgage forbearance is causing unforeseen issues in the mortgage market, which may cause a drop in the number of available sellers.
  • As said, rates in the last few months have been increasing slightly.  Yet, we expect the rates to continue to rise a bit, cutting into buyer’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy at rates they probably will not see again.

National Job Front:

  • On the national level, the US added over 2,100,000+ in 2019 v. 2,700,000 jobs in 2018.
  • U.S. unemployment rate slowed in January of 2020, with just 225,000 jobs added.  An additional 325,000 were added in February, which put the U.S. on pace to add 3 million + jobs in 2020.
  • Then COVID-19 appeared, and we saw nearly all of the jobs created in the past five years erased.
  • The December 2020 end-of-month numbers show improvement, with the unemployment rate at 6.7%. And in January of 2021 it dropped to 6.3% In February we added another 379K jobs and the unemployment rate dropped further to  6.2%.  This is encouraging, but we have to keep in mind that we have natural job growth of about 175K per month and this is not deducted.
  • These numbers indicated that the recovery was indeed well underway, with over 54% of the unemployed now back in the workforce.
  • But the balance of the 9.1 million unemployed will take years to get back to where we started as they are in the hardest-hit sectors of Leisure, hospitality, and food services.
  • The claims have been falling each week and indicating that the PPP and associated programs are starting to work.
  • Fortunately, the economy was robust going into this, but the effect is still devastating and long-term.

New Jersey Job Front:

  • In 2019 NJ added 39,000 jobs once again. N.J. added 39,000+ jobs in 2018 as compared to 47,100 for the same period in 2017.
  • The NJ unemployment numbers were at 3.5% just twelve months ago and now have followed the national numbers but are now a bit higher than the U.S. at 7.6% for the last full month reported, which was December with 7,100 jobs added.
  • Construction, food services, and accommodations are again the leaders in job losses, though more states are now citing pain in retail, wholesale trade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Health care, social assistance, and manufacturing are shedding workers, too.
  • These job losses will undoubtedly have an impact on the buyers market in 2021.

Rental Market Trends:

  • Rental prices in New Jersey rose again in 2020, averaging just under $1,700 per unit. Current vacancy rates in New Jersey have increased to around 4.6% in central N.J. & state-wide.
  • The drop in New Jersey’s homeownership contributes to rental demand.  A 12+ year trend shows a decrease from  71% to 66%.  This 7% decrease compared to an 8% national decrease contributes to the slower recovery of home prices in the state and adds over 20,000+ additional renters in our state. However, the 71% level resulted from the lax lending standards of the early 2000s and is considered acceptable.  Households with no children stand at 65%, reflecting the decline in our school population.
  • One article states that the average homeowner who is 65+ has an average net wealth of over $318K, while the same for a renter is only just under $8K.  It also offers a stable place to live, an evident hedge against inflation, and a way to build wealth (a strong argument for homeownership).
  • However, the number of renters has increased by 7% over the past 25 years, with the less educated leading the way.  We saw more educated millennials moving east into higher rent and cost of living areas that eat into their discretionary income (including savings).  It makes one wonder where this all is heading.

New Jersey Foreclosures:

  • Foreclosures in NJ in 2018 were the lowest in the state in over four years.  And, 2019 was even better with just under 38,000 foreclosure filings (the weakest since 2012). For 2020, N.J. looks to be on track for 12,000 foreclosures, representing a 70% decline.  This could change depending on how long it takes workers to get back on their feet from the COVID-19 pandemic and how many bankruptcies we see in later 2020.
  • However, New Jersey continues to face rising foreclosure rate filings at about 5.6% (which is up significantly from a year earlier). Other states have begun to or have already recovered.  And, some sets like N.Y. are still much higher with a 6.1% filing number. In a tight real estate market, these foreclosures sell at a discount.
  • The national baseline number sits slightly under 3.9% (up from 1.3% a year earlier).
  • The forbearance numbers will affect foreclosures as that program comes to an end.
  • However, this effect will be nowhere near the last housing crisis since the is a lot of positive equity in houses today.  But delinquencies are rising.

 

Hunterdon County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020

Real Estate Market Recap

Overall Economic Conditions:

  • In early March of 2020:
    • We were ending the 128th month of what is being called the “Great Expansion”
  • In late March, April, and May of 2020:
    • We went into an economic free-fall
    • This was done deliberately to contain the pandemic
  • From June thru August of 2020:
    • We saw an economic reopening
    • Job growth rebounded
  •  In September and October of 2020
    • We saw waining employment advances
  • In November and December of 2020:
    • We saw a flattening of employment growth
    • And we entered into a stage of recovery crawl
  • In early 2021:
    • We started to see new spiles in outbreaks
    • We also saw vaccines starting to appear
    • And, employment numbers continue to crawl along

It is now estimated that it may take years to get jobs back to where they were as the hardest-hit sectors start/continue to rebuild.

 

Changes in Lifestyle (Pre Covid):

  • The average age at marriage moved to the mid to late 30s (up seven years from just a decade ago).
  • Families usually have only one to two children due to costs and the ability to choose.
  • 70% of all NJ homes have no children of school age, and 50% do not have more than one person in them. This factor minimizes the need for larger housing not only in NJ but everywhere.
  • As a result of job opportunities, buyers were gravitating to areas within 15 miles of NYC with sound mass transportation systems.
  • But, we were already starting to see a reversal of the above as late millennials were looking for more space and a place to better raise their upcoming families.
  • This trend was sure to continue as 80% of consumers still perceive homeownership as part of the American Dream. It is just what they want to buy (or rent) that has changed.
  • Builders have been thinking of larger 4 BR center hall colonials on 1+ acre in the country (based mostly on local building codes).
  • Buyers were thinking of a smaller luxury hi-rise close to mass transportation and work in the east (truly a mismatch).
  • 60% of all new housing starts in 2019 in NJ were in the rental sector, and, the 2020 numbers surpassed that.  This is contributing to the lack of new construction and inventory.

Changes in Lifestyle (Post Covid):

  • The “Great American Move” is a term that we are starting to see for this new life-style.
  • The movement west was exacerbated by the pandemic and civil unrest in the city.
  • But, this move is primarily among the more educated and skilled workers that can adapt to a work from home environment.  First responders and lower-skilled service workers are not able to work from home in most cases.
  • Now, there is an open question of how many workers will continue to gravitate away from the city as they adapt to working from home and as buyers needed a live/work/play/learn environment.
  • Open floor plans, the list-topper for the past twenty years was no longer important as buyers are gravitating towards more compartmentalization within the home.
  • Live/Work/education/Exercise (or play) areas are now key.
  • Also, backyard recreation facilities such as pools now have a preference, and back yard oasis environments provided additional value for the above lifestyle.

Market conditions:

  • What a difference in consumer thinking since a year ago March.
  • Consumer confidence was put on pause (at best) in March and then started to fast forward in June (and has not slowed since).
  • The winter slowdown has never appeared in the real estate market.
  • Consumers will still see homeownership as a sound investment.  It is just that their shopping list as to what they want has changed.
  • And, in general, homeowners are sitting with more equity than ever (NJ reports 95+% with positive equity) and are no longer using their homes as an ATM.
  • A lot of these strong equity homeowners are deciding to sell in order to take advantage of the buying surge.
  • Some moved to their second homes as they no longer needed to commute.
  • Others pushed up their retirement plans.
  • The current seller’s market has resulted as we currently have many more buyers than sellers.
  • People usually buy and sell homes based on life events. This will not change. Life events have gone on (maybe even faster).
  • And never before seen low-interest rates plus the move west (which was already underway) has helped the migration pattern towards NYC to reverse.
  • We are hoping to see a continued trend down in new cases as the vaccines are starting to become a reality and things are better understood, and people get back to a new normal life style.
  • But it is anticipated that the new lifestyle will be much different from the old as we adopt the best of the two cultures.
  • Nation-wide we actually sole more houses in 2020 than in 2019.  And we see 2021 being even better.

Forecast:

  • The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic now seems to have its ups and downs (at least in our area).
  • The economy is continuing to recover (but at a slower pace) from the recent drops in the unemployment numbers.
  • It has been predicted by most that the balance of the recovery is going to be a long multi-year effort.  In effect, we have put the easy part of the workforce back to work, and the hard part remains in front of us.
  • And this will affect the following:
    • Current and future real estate values (including any appreciation in the foreseeable future)
    • The amount of inventory available (hopefully we are starting to bottom out at -50%)
    • The ability for some buyers to get a mortgage
    • There will be more possible foreclosures (this is way out)
  • Mortgage rates continue to drift upwards at around 2.9% as the fed has maintained its current level of investment in mortgage-backed securities.  It is clear that the low 3% rate is not too far distant.
  • Inventory supply will hopefully start to increase over as we move further into 2021.
  • The affordability index is better than ever with mortgage payments at just offer 21% of gross.
  • But, as we have a more substantial confidence level in having things under control, the housing market should have a strong continued bounce-back or upward spike due to:
    • The economy and housing market both being very strong going into the current COVID-19 issue.
    • Pent up demand, the move west, and the spring market was pushed out till further in 2020.
    • Life events (as mentioned earlier) will still happen and will surely drive the pent-up demand.
    • Lower than ever mortgage rates will persist (even as they start to drift up).
    • Sellers reluctant to sell in 2020 will start to appear in droves in 2021.
  • Due to the COVID-19 and recent unrest in NYC, we are starting to see more interest in living in more suburban counties such as Hunterdon and Somerset.
  • Also, many people have found that working from home is a reality, and we will probably see less commuting in general as things start to open up once again.
  • What were once “bedroom” communities are changing to” live, work, play & learn” communities bringing lots of change to our local economies.
  • It is only a matter of time before we see more jobs following the see workers into our suburban areas.
  • Retailing and use of vacant industrial space will have a major transformation to meet the new altered demands and lifestyles.
  • More attention is now being given to houses with pools and less open areas which lend themselves to working and studying at home.
  • And, the local market will have to adapt to the new suburban renaissance of where people will be working from and what they will need to adapt to this.
  • The lingering question is, “Can we keep this momentum up with low to falling inventory?”. So far, it seems to be happening due to quick sales.
  • Jobs will surely follow the workforce and housing then follow jobs.  It is a little out of logical sequence but will sort itself out as we progress.
  • Local property values are forecasted to see a 5% appreciation in 2021, depending on their location and price points.

Wow.  That is a lot to digest.  And it is changing daily but seems to be heading in the right direction for now.  For clarity and understanding, I am always available if you want to talk and better understand how this might affect your particular situation.

Note:  Presented as a public service by Joe Peters of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. I took reasonable precautions in presenting this information. Please consult with a professional sales agent and take no actions based on my opinions, gathered trends, and statistics.  I assume no liability. You can contact me at (908) 238-0118.

 

You can ask me a question or request a monthly copy of this newsletter here.

(pre -Covid)

 

Somerset County's Real Estate Market Conditions September 2020