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NJAR CEO Optimistic About Housing Outlook

2-22-13

There are some mixed messages when it comes to real estate. The U.S. housing starts declined last month, but home sales hit their highest mark in the past three years. For an update on the housing market in the state of New Jersey, NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider spoke with Jarrod Grasso, CEO of New Jersey Association of Realtors (NJAR).

If you ask Grasso, the message of the housing market in New Jersey has been mostly positive, with increases in home sale prices in 7 out of 8 metro areas when comparing the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2011. The most pronounced increase in sale price can be found in Atlantic County, he says.

In addition to home pricing, Grasso says the other key indicator is volume.

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“Volume is up if you compare January of 2013 compared to January of 2012. We have seen an increase in units sold. So you’re looking at about 35,000 units sold for the Northeast area,” explained Grasso.

Grasso isn’t surprised that housing is coming back. When it comes to real estate, he says, what comes down must eventually go back up. “New Jersey is a resilient area and I think we’re starting to see a little light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

However, the effect of Hurricane Sandy will continue to linger along the Jersey Shore, according to Grasso, since many homes in those areas are vacation properties.

Towns like Seaside Heights that depend on tourism, he says, need to send a clear message they’ll be open for business when the summer season kicks in.

Seasonal renters, however, may find a limited inventory in communities hard-hit by Sandy.

“There’s going to be a little more pressure to find housing especially if you’re used to going to a certain area like a Point Pleasant or Seaside heights,” said Grasso. “The house that you might have rented in the past may not be there.”

An influx of foreclosed properties is expected to come onto the market, after being stalled in the judicial process. Grasso says the foreclosure market presents a great opportunity for home buyers who would have otherwise been shut out during the boom years.

“I think it’s an opportunity for Generation X, Generation Y, even the millennials to get into this housing market, [and to] take advantage of those foreclosed properties because you’re going to get them at a cheaper price and it’s a good way to get into the real estate market.”

With interest rates hovering at 3.5 percent for a 30-year mortgage, Grasso is optimistic about the housing market for the rest of the year.