NEW JERSEY—Traditionally, a very cold January would have dampened prospectors looking for New Jersey homes, but according to New Jersey Realtors January market data, it seems like nothing can stop the pandemic push for properties.

Inventory, while customarily on the lower end during the winter, is the lowest it’s been in months. Only 23,011 single family homes, townhomes and condominiums, and adult community properties were available for sale in the month of January. Last January, that number was 41,005.

Low inventory and high demand continue to push prices higher. The rush to New Jersey doesn’t seem to be slowing down, despite infection rates dropping slowly. The median sales price for all properties in January was $370,000, a marked 19.7 percent increase over January 2020. As the state approaches the one-year anniversary of the pandemic’s arrival in New Jersey, more and more potential buyers are being lured to either move into the state from neighboring cities or are ready to upgrade their current New Jersey home.

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"Having 13 of 20 days with snow impacted us a little this month, but if we don't have any more storms, the market might get as hot as it was in August, when it was very busy," said George Hansen of ERA Suburb Realty in Scotch Plains. "We are still getting a lot of people from New York and from Bergen County. (During the lockdown), they had no place to go. Here, you can have a backyard. We have so much more to offer for the money, in terms of property and the school system."

Inventory is low

Houses are needed, Real Estate Broker Associate Samseketha Cooper — or Sam, as she's known — says.

"The pandemic has caused a significant shortage of available homes to purchase in the city of Plainfield. There are a total of 118 single family homes/condos on the market, with 75 of same being under contract, and another 14 in attorney review.  That leaves roughly 35 properties available to tour. This is not our norm.”

Cooper added, "With Covid cases still high in NYC, and more people being able to work remotely, Plainfield has become a preferred choice on the list of cities to purchase in. With its variety of unique homes in the County of Union,  Plainfield does not disappoint with the amount of large colonials and victorians to view. It is because of such that homes have been selling significantly over list price - and quickly. The market range is $300,000 to $450,000, and some of these homes have sold for $40,000 to $50,000 over the original list price."

Cooper says if you are thinking about selling, now is a great time to do so. Prior to the pandemic, some homeowners were under water with their mortgages, and that’s not really the case of late. This is also a great time to refinance as interest rates are still at historically low levels.

"We’re still in uncharted territory," said New Jersey Realtors 2021 president Jeff Jones. "We have yet to see the full impact of the pandemic. The continued widespread availability of a vaccine will certainly encourage potential sellers to list which will hopefully increase the currently depleted housing inventory."

Closed sales were up 17% compared to last January, despite new listings down 21.4%, and the number of homes for sale down a staggering 43.9%.

Affordability remains a concern. As prices continue to rise, the first-time homebuyer market segment will be impacted the most. However, demand drives on, with 9,823 pending sales in the pipeline for January, up 17.4% over last year, a clear indicator the desire for New Jersey is going to outlast the winter freeze.

Sustainability of higher prices is likely here to stay for the short-term due to Freddie Mac’s prediction of low mortgage rates for 2021, but talks of a housing bubble lack evidence as today’s market differs greatly in viability from the market correction of 2008.

To view New Jersey Realtors reports, visit njrealtor.com/data.