Home Sales Booming
Median price of new homes increasing
From 2002 to 2004, the median price of new single family homes in Monmouth County increased 48 percent, 40 percent, and 61 percent for lower priced homes, medium priced homes, and higher priced homes respectively.
 The median price of a new single-family home (excluding age-restricted units) in Monmouth County increased 25 percent over the previous year and 40 percent  over two years before,  said a study by the Monmouth County Planning Board.
 The survey studied home sales between September 2003 and August 2004.
 The survey found that a typical new single-family home was 3,900 square feet on a 2/3 acre lot, and cost $702,000.
 The study looked at 2,266 single family units, which were broken into five price range categories of about 450 homes each.
 Mark McDonald,  a real estate agent for Prudential Premier Properties in Asbury Park, said the coastal region of Monmouth County is appealing for several reasons, the primary one being the beachfront.
 McDonald said there is  a national trend of people having second homes on the beach, either for investment purposes or personal use.
  He said other reasons people are drawn to Monmouth County are its proximity to major cities such as New York and  Philadelphia, with available bus and train transportation, and because the county is a relatively quiet, safe place to live.
 Roger Wilbert, a senior  loan officer at First Interstate Financial Corp. in Shrewsbury, said Monmouth County’s closeness to large job markets  makes it a desirable place to live.
 “Monmouth County is a tremendous bedroom community for the employment centers of New York and New Jersey,” Wilbert said.  “Plus there’s many good wage employment centers within Monmouth County.”
 Wilbert said another reason for the increase in home prices is the low market interest
rates as well as the creation of many adjustable rate and interest programs that lower interest rates even further.
 Wilbert said that because of the low interest rates people are now moving into houses that they would not have been able to afford before.  
 He said homeownership affordability has reached record levels, but that the trend will not continue unabated.
 He said the market will begin to cool down as  interest rates go up.
 “What you should see is a leveling of prices as these mortgage programs begin to go through a cycle of interest rate increases,”  Wilbert said.
 McDonald said that although real estate, like any market, is full of uncertainty,  he does not anticipate seeing a major drop in home values in the near future.
 Robert Clark, the director of planning for the Monmouth County Planning Board said Monmouth County has been an attractive place to live for the last 40 or 50 years.
 He said that Monmouth County has followed the pattern of skyrocketing home prices throughout the country in the last few years.
 However, like Wilbert and McDonald, Clark said it is unlikely the home prices will continue to climb at such a tremendous rate.
 “I think at some point there’s got to be a little re-adjustment, so to speak,” said Clark.  “The way some of these homes are selling I think its way inflated and there will be a readjustment.”
 Clark added that people have predicted the market would slow down for the last few years, but home prices have continued their dramatic increase.
 Yen-Quen Chen, the project manager for the study, said the survey helps the planning board to gain an understanding of housing
trends that are happening in Monmouth County.
 He said one trend is the increase in senior communities (ages 55+) being built in the county.
 He said more than half of all new construction in the last year has been the building of senior communities.
 Chen noted that the survey only looked at new homes that were built as part of a development, and not as individual units.
 Another trend found by the survey  was the large increase in the price of higher-end multi-family developments in the county.
 The survey found that the median price for a new multi-family home rose from $325,000 in 2003 to $480,000 in 2004, a nearly 50 percent increase.
 The median price of the upper one-third of multi-family developments rose 98 percent from $700,000 in 2003 to $1,385,000 in 2004, the study said.
 The study said this is due  in part to the building of more luxurious units in response to the wealthier population segment’s increased interest in the multi-family market.
 The study also noted the increased development taking place in Monmouth County’s coastal communities, including Asbury Park.
 McDonald said the increased beachfront development in Asbury Park will have a “positive impact” on home values in the city.
 Chen said he likes what he has seen proposed in Asbury Park and the energy that is going into the redevelopment efforts.
 He said his hope is that the benefits of redevelopment will be citywide and not just for the oceanfront.