Home prices have been falling in Jersey for the past 8 months, but new data indicates home sales in the Garden state have taken off like a rocket since the beginning of the year.Jeff Otteau, President of Otteau Valuation Group, says "home sales in New Jersey rose by 31 percent in January - which is the largest increase that we've seen in more than 3 years -it seems to indicate that the housing recovery is officially underway."

He says "there is a seasonality to the housing market, where the greatest number of home sales typically occur from March through August…but what we're seeing is that the rise in home sales is 31 percent above what we would have expected in January, and it tells us is that the increase is likely to continue and gain momentum as we move closer to that prime spring selling season."

Otteau point s out this is happening because "potential home buyers feel more confident in their job security today because it seems like the double dip possibility for a recession has now disappeared…also home prices have receded to 2003 levels - so home prices are at a bargain price today, and thirdly interest rates are at astounding lows…and all of that together is causing people who've been sitting on the fence to decide that now is the time to get back in the market."

He adds "unless we have some severe or dramatic economic event, this recovery is likely to continue to build going forward…we do have concerns that the backlog of foreclosures - which have built up in New Jersey - will soon be released into the market and that is going to have the effect of tempering this recovery - but nonetheless the housing market will get better from this point forward."