It’s a great time to buy a home in NJ … if people are selling
Compared to the same week in 2019, home purchase contracts in the Garden State were down 51% in the first week of April this year. In March 2020, which was only partially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of homes for sale in New Jersey was down about 29% compared to a year prior.
Potential home buyers and sellers are reluctant to go through the normal motions in the face of a public health emergency — and some real-estate agents as well — but expectations are this will be just a temporary slide for an otherwise active New Jersey housing market.
"This is a health crisis, not a housing crisis. The market will bounce back," said Randi Dickman, broker associate with RE/MAX First Realty in East Brunswick. "The prediction is that spring market is getting pushed to September, October, November."
Individual appointments to view homes are still considered essential business in New Jersey, but Dickman has seen many folks put the process on the back burner over the past couple weeks.
Open-house events are prohibited in order to promote social distancing and stem the spread of COVID-19. When possible, sellers and agents are creating virtual tours of a home — it could be as basic as walking around the home while filming with a smartphone.
"Me personally, I'll only show a vacant home at this time. I will not go into an occupied home," Dickman added.
New Jersey Realtors has created a handful of forms specifically addressing potential COVID-19 impacts on transactions and showings. First Vice President Robert White said there are still people that have to buy and have to sell during these uncertain times, and the housing market is open for business, with record-low interest rates for buyers.
"The one downside now is new listings coming on the market," White said. "I think there are certain sellers saying, 'Let's wait.'"
Dickman said she has two sellers whose homes she has not yet listed, mainly because buyers are expecting to get a home "at a discount" during this crisis.
"The prices are going to dip just for the next few months," she said.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.