Spring has finally arrived. Daffodils are blooming, the trees are in blossom and the For Sale signs are out in the yards of our neighborhoods.
But just as the weather can be unreliable and patchy at this time of year so the spring market is a little uncertain. While the rest of New Jersey seems to be in a holding pattern and still weathering the impact of recession, Chatham seems to be holding its own as a “hot” or at least “warm” spot.
According to Jeffrey Otteau, of the Otteau Valuation Group, which provides real estate analysis and information to realtors and others, there has been an increase in home sales in New Jersey throughout February compared with January when many communities suffered a downturn in activity because of the snow. Otteau suggests the increase merely confirms that the housing market still has a pulse but it remains faint.
The inventory of unsold homes is slightly higher this spring than last year but this increase has hit the lower priced homes much harder. Otteau advises that homes priced below $600,000 have seen a 25 percent increase in supply.
The increase in home sales in February suggests that sales will continue to rise as we move into the prime spring selling season. But the pace of the market will depend on how quickly New Jersey can generate meaningful job creation and the impact of the lifting of the foreclosure moratoriums which could result in a substantial number of distressed homes coming onto the market.
How are we doing in Chatham? Comparing the first three months of 2010 with 2011, the inventory of homes on the market this spring is lower than 2010 in the Borough and the Township. The supply of homes on the market is a very low 3.1 months in the borough and 4.2 months in the township. It certainly feels like the buyers have a heightened sense of urgency this spring as we see a number of sellers entertaining multiple offers on their homes.
The number of homes under contract is higher this year in the township and slightly lower in the borough (23 homes under contract compared with 27 last year). The average number of days a home stays on the market before going under contract has dropped to 47 days in the borough and 94 days in the township.
And in the average sale price has increased in the borough and the township this spring compared with the average sale price last spring. These are all very positive indicators for our local housing market.
Once again it seems that Chatham is holding its own as a “hot” or at least “warm” spot in the housing market. Let’s hope that as the spring weather progresses we continue to enjoy the benefits of our fortunate position in the housing market throughout the year.