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

Waiting For The Spring Market

If you’re looking for a positive sign in the New Jersey housing market you can take some comfort in knowing that increase in contract-sales activity from December to January was slightly greater than the month-to-month increase of 1 year ago. Despite relative improvement however, sales activity in January ran 12% less than January 2005 indicating that the weakness in the residential market which began in October has carried over into 2006. Further evidence that the market has softened comes from the continuing increase of unsold inventory which grew by more than 2,000 homes in January and now stands 46% higher than 1 year ago. Home buyers will clearly have much more to say in determining the selling price of a home in 2006 than was the case last year.

Despite these signs, the Spring Market will arrive, although later than we’ve grown accustomed to in recent years. Look for the Spring rally to start in late March once home buyers realize that the long predicted collapse in housing prices won’t occur and as climbing mortgage interest rates bring some urgency back into the home buying equation.

With all the increased competition on the market this year, the appearance of a home will play a greater role in determining marketing success. Items such as condition, décor, and curb appeal will take on greater significance as home buyers have a wider selection of competing homes from which to choose.

Here are the 2005 annual stats as well.

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