(NorthJersey.com, December 29) After the deepest downturn since World War II, North Jersey's housing market continued its slow climb back in 2013, with home prices, sales and construction all on the rise.
Home prices for the New York metropolitan area, which includes North Jersey, rose 4.3 percent in the 12 months ended in September, compared with 13.3 percent in the nation as a whole, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. Prices in the region didn't drop as much after the housing boom as in many areas, so they have less ground to make up. Both national and regional home values remain about 20 percent below their peaks in mid-2006.
Also this year, home builders reached for their hammers again after sitting on the sidelines for several years after the recession and the financial crisis. Builders are on track to start more than 23,000 housing units in New Jersey this year, the highest number since 2007. But the pace of building is still below long-term averages that exceeded 30,000 units a year.
While the worst of the foreclosure crisis has passed in most of the nation, New Jersey still has a backlog of distressed properties that were held up in the foreclosure pipeline while lenders addressed questions about mortgage industry abuses. That overhang is putting downward pressure on prices, since foreclosures tend to sell at a discount.
But lenders are ramping up foreclosure activity in the state, filing more than 34,000 actions statewide through October, up from about 19,000 in the same period in 2012. In Bergen County, there have been 2,548 foreclosures started this year through October, and in Passaic County, there have been 2,343.
"We're seeing a very big increase in New Jersey," said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, a California company that follows the foreclosure market. "That's going counter to the national trend. … Banks are now going ahead and initiating the foreclosure process on some of those delayed defaults."