Part II: Fair Haven Real Estate Market

A reader asked to see the trend in Fair Haven home prices from 2005 to now. Here's the information. See if you agree or disagree with the conclusions.


A reader of the first part of this article asked me to compare this year’s Fair Haven home sales prices to those of 2005-06; or to show how prices have trended over time since then. Here are his/her comments:

Len, it would be interesting for you to compare this year's numbers with 2005/2006 or show the trend over the years. I think alot of people have just given up even trying to sell there home in this poor economy. And many people CAN'T even try, because they're under water, and would have to take a huge loss.

Len, here's the 2005 data:
81 homes sold in the Jan-Aug period...so FH is still way down.
Avg price was $748K, so versus your $689K number now, that's pretty dismal, too.
I know realtors love to show things are looking up!! But it seems obvious that the only reason why sales likely ticked up a tad is because prices are continuing to trend DOWN. Happy buyers, sad sellers.

My response ...

I’ve lived in Fair Haven for over 30 years, so I have more than an academic interest in what’s happening to home prices in our town. We’ve had our ups and downs, but in the last few years real estate prices have been remarkably stable.

In a small town like ours, the median price (i.e., the price at which 50 percent of the homes sold for more money and 50 percent sold for less money) is a better indicator of the real estate market than the average price.

This is because a few “outliers” (i.e., sales for much higher/lower than the median) can really distort the calculated average.

Let’s look at the median Fair Haven sales prices for each of the past six years:


Median Sales Price

Number Sold




















These are prices for the entire year, Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. Since the 2012 eight-month median sales price is within 1 percent of last year’s at this time, it’s reasonable to expect that the 2012 year-end median will be very close to what it was for 2011.

When I look at these numbers I see a remarkably tight range, with no trend either down or up.

I wish I could show you the numbers in a graph so you could see what I mean. There shouldn’t be very many people who are “under water," assuming that they didn’t pay way over market price when they bought their homes.

No one in Fair Haven should have given up on selling their home. There are buyers out there who’d love to live in a great town like Fair Haven, but they’re savvy buyers and they aren’t going to pay above-market prices.

As is always the case in real estate, while the buyer is trying to sell their home for the highest price, the seller is trying to buy the home for the lowest price.

That’s why it’s important to know the local market thoroughly, so that when you do a comparative market analysis you’re comparing recent sales, and comparing “apples-to-apples."

I give my clients as much objective data as possible, including price per square foot, number of bedrooms, baths, half-baths, fireplaces, garage spaces, etc.

I have that information in an Excel spreadsheet for every Fair Haven home that sold this year, and you definitely can see differences in four-bedroom homes vs. three-bedroom homes vs. two-bedroom homes.

The picture is also obviously different for waterfront vs. non-waterfront, newer home vs. older home and small lot vs. large lot.

SmallTownAntics, I hope this addresses your concerns. I’d be glad to talk about this with you over a cup of coffee, and I’ll be glad to change my mind if you show me some key information that I’ve overlooked.

Leonard “Len” Dunikoski

Realtor® Associate

Diane Turton Realtors – Rumson Office

8 West River Road

Rumson, NJ 0760


(732) 239-0739 cell   (732) 530-6686 office


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SmallTownAntics September 12, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Hi Len, OK i up for another challenge to your thinking. A real 'apples to apples' comparison. Take a look at some homes sold within the past few years in FH that just sold again in 2012. This tells the 'sad seller' story. I'll only list the street in order to maintain privacy, though the info is public record & in MLS. 1. A home on 2nd St just sold for $375K had sold in 2006 for $435K 2. A home on Ridge Rd that sold for 430K had sold for $520K in 2006 3. A home on 2nd St that just sold for $450K had sold for $515K in 2008 4. A home on Hance just sold for $500K had sold for $629K in 2008 and, drumroll, even in the 'high end' of nearly new homes....5. and 6. TWO homes on Kemp just sold for $1,210,000 and $1,300,000 and both sold just a couple of years ago for $1,355,000 and $1,522,000 respectively. Now that's totally apples to apples, no 'averages or medians'. I suspect those sellers on Kemp are not so happy taking a $100K to $150K LOSS in just a couple of years, & they probably aren't believing your "no trend up or down" comment. With such a small number of homes sold in town, you really need to look so closely and not just at the big picture numbers. And again I would argue that anyone who bought (like the sellers above) 2003-2008 who is now trying to sell in 2012 may not be totally under water, but still may take a huge hit with they sell if they take 1. a loss vs the price they purchased 2. paid the 5% commission and factored in a few % for closing costs. Len?
Len Dunikoski, GRI September 12, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Nice work- thank you! Obviously there were Fair Haven home owners who lost money when they sold their homes this year, but from what I see the percentage who came out behind was lower than in many of the surrounding towns. I did a quick look at the 32 Fair Haven homes that sold in the last 3 months (from June 1st through August 31st). Six of them were new construction so I didn’t count them; two of them had no previous sale information listed in the MLS. That left 24 home sales, and 18 of the 24 home owners made money when they sold their homes, and on the surface that sounds pretty good. However, many of those individuals had been living in their homes for more than 10 years. If you look only at people who bought in the past 10 years (2002 – 2011), 7 made money and 6 lost money. If you narrow the search to those who bought their homes between 2005 and 2008, the numbers turn ugly: 5 lost money while only 2 made money. Ouch! There were only 2 who bought their homes between 2009 and 2011, but both of them made money when they sold this year. I still don’t see a downward trend in Fair Haven real estate, but I’d love to continue our discussion in person. You and I seem to be kindred spirits, because we both like to drill down and look at both the big picture and at the individual details. Please give me a call- the coffee (or tea) is on me! Len
Thomas Bruno September 13, 2012 at 10:40 AM
"There shouldn’t be very many people who are “under water," assuming that they didn’t pay way over market price when they bought their homes." - Len D. Len - I suspect there is a corollary point to this statement. It is on the face of it true - many folks probably did pay a fair price at any point they bought there homes ... whether 30 years ago (and who sit on considerable equity) or 3 months before Lehman Brothers (who started with between 10 and 20% equity let's presume). Trouble is in America it isn't the price you paid vs. current worth - it is the price you paid plus all the other consumer debt you rolled into your mortgage (another way of saying all the equity you sucked out) vs the present offering prices. So many people are in trouble. But it isn't he housing market they have to blame. They should instead look at their car payments and last three-five years of credit card statements to realize they were living well beyond their means. Too many people think we had a housing crisis in America. We did but not to the extent many would wish to believe (easier then to blame a banker ...). What we had was an Impulse Crisis - we couldn't resist the impulse to buy buy buy. And when our paychecks couldn't feed the greed we turned to housing equity. That was the real crisis. The new crisis? Our inability to understand why this is significantly different AND our lack of perspective to do anything differenly in the future. Buy buy buy
Thomas Bruno September 13, 2012 at 10:48 AM
Len/Small Town - aside from my comment on Len's article - I think the differing analyses (ST showing specific examples of losses exceeding Median Analysis -- Len showing the variance based on Time-Held vs Expected Return) gives rise to a clear insight. Real estate isn't a short term investment - and while the anomolies of the market are always a factor (even in Len's Median Analysis you see up and down movements of 5-7%) the real challenge is the cost of entry and exit. Transaction costs -- whether in stocks, leasing, real estate, heck even pet ownership -- are poorly understood by the 'Average American'. We all want the number we see in the NYT (i.e., "the stock market is up 5% but my broker's account is only returning 3.5% ... why is he so bad at what he does?"). So while ST's assessment is right (numbers are numbers) the expectations aren't tuned into reality. Sell a house within the first five years of buying it and you'll undoubtedly have trouble making money even in a slightly upwards market once you factor in taxes, commissions, points on mortgages, etc. Time to educate our children on concepts like Total Cost of Ownership and Return on Investment, and the Time Value of Money. Subjects they used to learn in 'simple classes' like math, economics, and accounting in elementary, middle, high and post-high schools. That said - Len really appreicate your column and ST really appreciate the comments - you make me think. As we should. Thanks!
Len Dunikoski, GRI September 13, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Very insightful comments- thank you! You obvious have both the expertise in the subject and the ability to explain complicated information so that it's easy to understand. Have you considered starting a blog of your own? - Len


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