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Interactive Map: Census Data Shows NJ Housing Values Lower Than 5 Years Ago

Most recent U.S. Census data makes clear the pain that most homeowners are feeling as they wait for valuations to climb back to pre-2010 levels

The most recent census data indicates that the value of New Jersey homes remains significantly lower than five years ago.

The median decline in residential values in New Jersey was close to 11 percent, according to the 2015 American Community Survey data released on Thursday.

The typical home in the state was valued at almost $316,000 when averaged over the 2011-2015 period. That was 11.5 percent less than the 2006-2010 community survey estimate. Still, those estimates are skewed somewhat by pre- and post-recession valuations and by the damage Superstorm Sandy did in 2012 in hard-hit parts of the state.

The single-year estimates for New Jersey show a smaller drop — about 5 percent from 2010 to 2015, when the median home value was $322,000. The single-year estimates also show a slow but steady rise as New Jersey continues its economic recovery.

To minimize errors, the U.S. Census Bureau releases estimates for municipalities and other geographies with smaller populations on a five-year averaged basis only. This data makes clear the continuing pain property owners are feeling as they wait for what is for many their largest investment to return to its pre-2010 value.

The median home value dropped the most, by about a third, in Sea Bright, the Monmouth peninsula borough devastated by Sandy. The 2011-2015 averaged home value was almost $448,000, compared with more than $670,000 in 2006-2010. More than 500 of the state's municipalities saw 2015 values lower than in the previous five-year period. Less than 10 percent had an increase, the largest being a rise of about 25 percent to $780,000 in Princeton, although that is likely due at least in part to the merger of the former borough and township in 2013.

Thirteen communities had a median home value of more than $1 million, with two of those — Alpine and Mantoloking — valued at more than $2 million, the maximum value assigned by the American Community Survey. High property values come at a high cost: owners in 16 towns paid more than $4,000 a month in mortgage and other housing costs, the data shows. The lowest home value by far was in Camden, whose $84,600 estimate was below the $90,000 valuation in Winfield, the municipality with the second-lowest median value.

The median amount paid for the monthly mortgage bill and other housing costs was nearly $2,400, according to the data. The median rent was close to $1,200, but exceeded $3,000 a month in four Bergen County municipalities: Woodcliff Lake, Demarest, Englewood Cliffs, and Haworth.

Since values and costs are often relative, the data also shows that large percentages of home owners and renters in both wealthy and poorer communities are cost burdened. Some 42 percent of New Jerseyans with a mortgage, and about 28 percent of home owners without a mortgage, paid more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs — the definition of cost burdened. Renters had it worse: almost 54 percent were paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

"These figures highlight the extreme shortage in affordable housing caused in part by 16 years of failure to uphold New Jersey's fair housing laws," said Anthony Campisi, a spokesman for the Fair Share Housing Center. The organization has a case before the state Supreme Court trying to force municipalities to cover any affordable housing obligations that accrued during the period from 1999 to 2015 when the state did not have valid rules in force. "We have forcefully argued that municipalities should be held responsible for tackling this problem by meeting the need for families that has accumulated since 1999."

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