Home prices in New Jersey are still more than 16 percent below their record high, reached in the middle of 2006 before the housing meltdown, according to the most recent federal data.

For Sale sign
Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ

Returning to that peak is not a certainty.

Since the pricing bottom in New Jersey, the beginning of 2012, prices have increased by 6.2 percent. But that's slower than what's being seen nationally.

"Overall, we're moving in the right direction, although we're not gaining the kind of momentum that would lead to a full price recovery in the foreseeable future," said Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at CohnReznick in Roseland.

O'Keefe suggested home prices in New Jersey are being dragged down partially by an overhang of distressed mortgages. For the last nine quarters, the Garden State has had the largest share of mortgages that are 90 or more days delinquent, or are already in the foreclosure process.

New Jersey's recovery from the economic downturn has been somewhat slower than the nation's as a whole. Relative to the U.S. bottom for prices in 2011, prices nationwide are up more than 23 percent. Prices in New Jersey are just 4.3 percent higher.

According to O'Keefe, New Jersey home prices are expected to increase over the intermediate term. The more difficult prediction is when, or if, they'll ever return to the high of nearly a decade ago.

"The gains that we have made from the bottom have been very slow, and it would take a very long time at that incremental pace to get back to where we were in the middle of 2006," he said.

Dino Flammia is a digital journalist for New Jersey 101.5FM. Follow him @Flammia1015 on Twitter or send an email to dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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