No, it’s not just your imagination: Homes are selling quickly again in Verona. And, better yet, in more than a few cases, there are multiple offers on them when they go under contract.
The home at 30 Birdseye Glen is among them. It came on the market in the last week of February and is already under contract. So is 108 Linden Avenue, which was a new listing on the weekend of March 4. So is 91 Hillside Avenue, which made its real estate listing debut in mid-March. According to data compiled through the Garden State Multiple Listing Service, 44 homes went under contract in the first quarter of this year, compared with 34 for the first quarter of 2011.
Lucia Gagnon, a Verona resident who is a real estate agent at ReMax Park Square is optimistic. “It might be the spring phenomena, it might be the incredibly low mortgage rate, it might be all the pent-up demand–or all three,” she says. “But things look better.” The Verona real estate market is typically more active in spring so that families can get settled in their new homes in time for school in the fall.
Nationwide, sales of newly built homes fell in March, but the price of the average home rose. Sales of so-called existing homes, a statistic that is much more representative of the built-out Verona real estate market, were virtually unchanged in February from January, but they were 8.8% higher than they were February 2011.
That’s the good news. The bad news (and yes there still is some) is that the prices at which the average listing is going under contract will still make you cringe. It was $340,173 for the 11 listings in January 2012, down from $441,080 for 10 listings in January 2011, according to data compiled through the GSMLS. For February 2012, the average listing (10 were listed) went under contract at $268,963, compared with $456,643 for the like year-earlier period when seven listings went under contract. For March 2012, the figure was $285,983 for 23 listings, compared with a year-earlier $398,162 for just 17 listings. Verona is a small real estate market, so even a difference of one house can sway the statistics.
Other key statistics may mean that it is too early to call a real estate recovery in Verona. Unemployment in New Jersey is still high, at 9% in February, but that is down from 9.7% in January 2010. (Before the economy tanked, New Jersey had a 4.2% unemployment rate.) New York state’s unemployment rate is 8.5%. New York City’s unemployment rate continues to lag the rest of the state.
Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, said recently that underlying factors in the national market are much better compared to one year ago. “The market is trending up unevenly, with record high consumer buying power and sustained job gains giving buyers the confidence they need to get into the market,” he said. “Although relatively unusual, there will be rising demand for both rental space and home ownership this year. The great suppression in household formation during the past four years was unsustainable, and a pent-up demand could burst forth from the improving economy.”
We can only hope.