Home Prices Dropped 8.9 Percent In Third Quarter


HomeValuePrices of existing homes in the region fell 8.9 percent during the third quarter, a Realtors’ group reported Tuesday, in a sign that the housing market has yet to emerge from its three-year-old slump. The report would appear to be good news for buyers, who can take advantage of lower prices, rock-bottom mortgage rates and giant tax credits. But experts said the slow job market is taking a toll. “There are a lot of things that play on the consumer’s mind right now, things they worry about that they never worried about before,” said Jim Brown, senior vice president of Kastle Mortgage Corp. in Freehold. “And it all has to do with jobs.”

The National Association of Realtors reported that the median price of a home in Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex and Somerset counties was $343,800 during the third quarter, down from $377,300 the same quarter a year ago. Prices have fallen 17.2 percent since their third-quarter peak in 2006.

The housing market suffered since 2006, when many home owners couldn’t keep pace with their mortgage payments, defaulted on their loans and touched off a global recession.

Since then, the federal government has tried to jump-start sales. The Federal Reserve has bought mortgage-backed securities, which has helped push mortgage rates below 5 percent. And Congress has offered first-time home buyers tax credits of $8,000.

Congress expanded the tax-break last week so that repeat buyers can receive a tax credit of $6,500. That credit is available to residents who have lived in a home for five consecutive years at some point during the past eight years; single residents who make no more than $125,000 a year; and married residents who make no more than $225,000 a year.

The federal government’s programs to prop up the housing market are expected to last until this spring.

“The new tax credit is going to improve our market,” said Glenn Mills, president of the Monmouth County Association of Realtors and a real estate agent with Weichert Realtors in Lacey Township

All told, the timing couldn’t have been better for Robert and Paula Bonardi. They cobbled together money for a downpayment. They were approved for a mortgage with an interest rate of less than 5 percent. And last summer, they bought their first home — a townhouse in Manalapan for a little more than $300,000.

They have used the tax credit to spruce up their home and to buy appliances. Still, they aren’t immune to the trials of home ownership. They already have to contend with a higher property tax bill. And Paula Bonardi lost her job during the recession.

“We struggle, but we get along. So far, so good,” Robert Bonardi, 30, said. “I’m extremely satisfied with what we bought and thought the whole process went smooth.”

The region’s housing market performed better than the nation’s. The median home price nationwide was $177,900 during the third quarter, down 11.2 percent.

And the region’s decline during the third quarter was more moderate than the second quarter, when prices fell 11.2 percent.

“What it tells is us that the housing market has stabilized in most of New Jersey, and that the decline in prices is ending,” said Jeffrey Otteau, president of the Otteau Valuation Group, a research and consulting firm in East Brunswick.

Major hurdles remain. The unemployment rate has soared to 8.7 percent in Monmouth County and to 9.6 percent in Ocean County. And the housing market is unlikely to improve substantialy until the job market recovers, experts said.

“Everybody is concerned about what the future is going to bring for them,” said Tracy Cavanaugh, president of the CS Advisory Group, a Neptune-based mortgage consultant. “That’s something I haven’t seen before to this degree.” APP

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  1. The market is not really moving if you get an honest broker they will tell you. It is very difficult to sell a home these days as manly financing options have dried up. You used to get a no income no doc loan those are history so how can a majority of this town buy a home? A homer under 350k will sell fairly quick. If it s above 400k you need generally 20% down with good income. how many can do that? The market is slow If you are buying a home don’t beleive anything the realtor says bargain as much as you can it is a BUYERS market.

  2. i have 20% down and offered 475 for a 500k hous and got a no!!!

    houses are to expensive in lakewood.

    the older houses for 375 are also expensive. with no addtional income and after 20% down you still have a 308K mortgage plus tax you will end up needing to find close to $2300 a month which is too much. For those that pay taxs its more like $3000 a month before taxes.

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