New-home sales in the United States have risen to the highest rate since July 2008, and are almost 29 percent higher than one year ago, according to newly released Commerce Department data.
The sales of newly constructed homes jumped 15.6 percent in January, though the median price fell more than 9 percent, to $226,400, showing that buyers are flocking to less expensive properties.
In New Jersey, the sale of single-family homes — both existing and new construction — rose by 21 percent in 2012. In January 2013 alone, they were up 24 percent over the year-ago period.
The upswing in the housing market is a boost for the economy overall, said Jeffrey G. Otteau, president of the appraisal firm Otteau Valuation Group, in East Brunswick.
"The recovering housing market creates construction jobs and generates retail spending," he said. "People who buy houses end up buying carpeting, furniture and major appliances. All of that helps the economy."
The number of existing homes on the market in New Jersey is dramatically lower than this time last year, Otteau said, with 46,500 available today, compared to 57,500 a year ago.
"The increased buying activity is the result of an improving job market and very low interest rates," he said.