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Friday, February 11, 2011

Press of Atlantic City article on rising home prices at the shore

Home prices in Atlantic City region
rise 7 percent in final quarter of 2010

By Brian Ianieri

Median home prices for the Atlantic City metropolitan area rose 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 from the year before, the National Association of Realtors reported Thursday.
The typical home in the region, which includes Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties, sold for $238,200 in the fourth quarter, $15,500 more than a year ago.
Home values in the metropolitan area saw their steepest slide in 2008 and 2009 and have been inching their way up from a low of $213,300 in the first quarter of 2010.
Recently, sales have picked up, too, rising 10 percent statewide from the third to fourth quarters last year, the Realtor report said.
Allan “Dutch” Dechert, co-owner of Ferguson Dechert Real Estate Inc. in Avalon and president of the New Jersey Association of Realtors, pointed to signs that the economy is improving.
“We’ve gotten good reports from the overall economy, which translates to better consumer confidence,” he said.
After three years of declining property values, real estate agents welcomed the bottoming out and move upward, or at least a feeling of stabilization.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is I feel the prices have stabilized year to year. That’s important when you look back over the previous three years,” said Anthony D’Alicandro, president of the Atlantic City and County Board of Realtors and owner of Coldwell Banker Casa Bella Realtors in Linwood. “This is the first time we’ve seen some stability in the market.”
On their face, New Jersey home sales seem disappointing, dropping 27 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the same period of 2009.
But the 2009 sales were inflated by the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit, which offered an $8,000 government subsidy and bumped up the housing market throughout the state in 2009 and early 2010.
When that credit expired, home sales in New Jersey plummeted midyear.
They rebounded late in 2010 when the number of single-family, apartment and condominium sales rose 10 percent from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2010, the NAR survey said.
For all of 2010, the median home price in the region was 2 percent more than in 2009. However, that still left the 2010 price 11 percent less than in 2008.
D’Alicandro said he noticed the increase at the end of the year when more bank-owned properties came onto the market.
“It’s easy to overprice a home in today’s market, but the market is not going to let you underprice it,” he said.
“When something is perceived as good value, people want it — bottom line,” he said. “People are cautious and will continue to be cautious … but if something is perceived as having good value in their eyes, there will be multiple offers.”
D’Alicandro said he expects to see home prices stay steady throughout 2011.
Meanwhile, the average mortgage rate of a 15-year fixed mortgage was 4.29 percent on Thursday, and the average 30-year fixed mortgage reached 5.05 percent, government mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported.
These rates have crept up from all-time lows in the fall.
Rick Rixey, partner at Rixey Real Estate Agency in Cape May Court House said he has seen numbers stay flat and buyers remain less than abundant, although interest seems to be picking up.
“We’re getting a few more phone calls, more inquiries about our market, but I don’t think our numbers have gone up,” said Rixey, whose office serves the Middle Township area.
“Hopefully (the National Association of Realtor’s numbers) are indicative of what we’re heading towards because the real estate market really does fuel the breakout of the recession,” he said.

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