February 16, 2014 at 8:35 PM
WESTFIELD, NJ – Building on a very robust season last year, the 2014 real estate market in town is off to a strong early start despite frigid temperatures and heavy snows, local realtors said.
“There is a strong demand to come to this area and very, very little inventory,” said Nancy Kronheimer, a realtor at Weichert Realtors in Westfield.
According to statistics provided by Kronheimer, there were 75 houses actively on the market in Westfield with 12 properties under contract on Feb. 3. (Some of these properties are for new construction “to be built,” but are nevertheless listed pre-construction.) In contrast, on Feb. 4 a year ago, there were 102 houses on the market and 24 under contract in town.
Westfield continues to be a destination for young professional couples, many who have children and are moving from places like Hoboken or Jersey City in search of a more suburban environment that still offers good transportation to New York City and a walkable, attractive downtown.
Kronheimer has already seen stiff competition for available homes. She recalled a client whose bid on a $1.1 million listing in Westfield was taken out by a significantly higher offer while the property was in attorney review.
“It’s in all price ranges that this is happening,” Kronheimer said of the competition.
So far in 2014, the average list asking price in Westfield is $753,832, while days on the market is 51, said Susan Massa, a broker associate at Keller Williams.
“There is a good window of opportunity through to 2015,” Massa said. “Homes are still affordable, income levels stable with potential, confidence in the marketplace and historically low interest rates. But if inventory becomes scarce in Westfield the market will become competitive and prices will rise exponentially.”
Kronheimer and Massa agree that sellers still need to prepare carefully to show their homes to potential buyers. The first step is decluttering, a daunting task to some.
Buyers want to see an immaculate house, so Kronheimer advises sellers to “let them see a very clean palate.”
Sellers also need to make sure their home is priced accurately. In this recent climate, many realtors say homes that sit on the market too long are priced too high. Some sellers may also be unsure about their timing to sell and wonder if they should hold onto their homes and see if prices rise.
Buyers, meanwhile, should examine their finances, verify their ability to buy and determine what amenities are important to them in a new home, said Massa.
Kronheimer noted that, even with the frequent snowfalls this winter that could dampen enthusiasm for house hunting, some buyers will still make an effort to visit properties for sale.
“A motivated buyer wants to buy,” she said. “They will have a better shot getting a house now than they will even a month from now.”