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N.J. home sales flat as U.S. data show improvement

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Sales of new single-family homes in September were up 5.7 percent from August, but 0.9 percent lower than September 2010 sales, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In New Jersey, though, sales of new homes have remained pretty much unchanged.

"The housing market has been moving sideways since May," said Jeffrey Otteau, president of East Brunswick-based Otteau Valuation Group, which provides information on real estate trends. "The bottom was reached in New Jersey in May. Since then, there has no longer been a decline in sales, but we haven't seen any improvement either."

Otteau cited a decline in consumer optimism and slow job creation as significant factors in home sales.

"Housing demand is, at the root level, driven by job creation," he said. "You have to be working and have an income if you want to make that very expensive purchase."

The median sale price of new houses sold in September was $204,400; the average sale price was $243,900.

"On the one hand, it's positive news that New Jersey has hit the low point," Otteau said. "On the other hand, we have not seen any improvement or recovery yet. We expect this slowdown will continue into next year."

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