County's housing market is slowing in terms of prices, sales
By: CHRISTOPHER BISHOP (Sun, Aug/20/2006)
In the spring of 2002, during a national economic downturn, some Burlington County business leaders said the area's real-estate market seemed almost recession-proof.
Real estate agents boasted of rising housing prices. They vigorously recruited new staff. Potential homebuyers waited in line in some areas to put in bids for new homes.
New statistics show the rise in housing prices in Burlington County is slowing and fewer houses are being sold.
A report from real estate giant Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors shows that the median price of homes sold in Burlington County rose 9.1 percent to $240,000 for the first half of 2006. The median price in the first half of 2005 was $219,900.
Prudential Fox & Roach HomExpert Market Report looks at home sales for the first half of 2006 and compares them to sales from the first half of 2005.
The report said home sales declined from 4,033 in the first half of 2005 to 3,557 in the first half of this year, a drop of 11.8 percent.
Homes for sale are staying on the market longer, an average of 40 days, compared to 29 days for the first half of 2005, 22 days for the first half of 2003 and 26 days in 2004.
The new data reflect national trends, according to the executive in charge of the HomExpert Market Report.
“We're not talking about a bad situation here,” said Steve Storti, senior vice president for Prudential Fox & Roach. “We're talking about getting into a more balanced buyers' market. It reflects the national trend, the transition between a buyer and seller's market.”
Storti said housing price increases were not as high as they were the past two years when they reached double-digit levels.
Daniel Roccato, a managing partner with Moorestown-based Lane-Bridges Associates Wealth Management Group, agreed the real-estate market was softening.
Roccato said the changing market was part of the cyclical nature of the business, adding that Burlington County would probably not see a dramatic drop in prices compared to other regions such as Florida or Arizona. In general, the Burlington County economy was more stable than other areas because of a healthy job market and a lower cost of living, Roccato said.
“The (housing) supply has increased dramatically, and it will take time for demand to get back in line” said Roccato, who also serves on the Moorestown Township Council. “This is normal. Real estate is very cyclical.”
“If you are a buyer, you have a lot more choices,” said Robert Michaud, manager of the Medford office of Weichert Realtors.
“It's definitely a change in the supply side,” he said.
Michaud said houses were now staying on the market for as many as 50 days.
Ken Steidel, manager of the ERA Advantage Realty office in Mansfield, was not surprised by the slowdown. He said a combination of factors was at work, including higher interest rates, rising gasoline prices and the uncertain future of property-tax reform.
Steidel said sellers needed to adjust their expectations to the new environment and not expect the double-digit increases that were common two years ago.
“As buyers and sellers get reasonable,” Steidel said, “you have a plain, old, normal market, with 5 to 6 percent (price) growth.