Zip codes in two Camden County boroughs and a Gloucester County township made Redfin’s list of the hottest neighborhoods for the coming year, as people seek less density and more affordability during the pandemic.
Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area usually top the annual list, but none made it this time, thanks to migration trends spurred by the pandemic that made room for the South Jersey towns.
Zip codes in the Borough of Stratford, Camden County; the Borough of Somerdale, Camden County; and Washington Township, Gloucester County, came in fourth, eighth, and ninth place, according to an analysis of October data. Redfin ranked zip codes based on the most growth in listing views compared to last year on Redfin.com, the fewest days on market, the largest numbers of homes getting multiple offers and buyers waiving contingencies, and the largest shares of homes selling above listing price.
“It’s a little shocking” that the South Jersey municipalities made the national list, said Jackie Imperato, a Redfin real estate agent who operates in the region. But like agents in the rest of the area, she has seen more buyer activity because of record low interest rates and the desire for more space.
While some neighborhoods on the list were already popular vacation destinations, people are moving to places such as Washington Township for bigger yards and homes that are still close to big cities. All the neighborhoods on Redfin’s list are within driving distance of major coastal cities: Philadelphia, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
People have been moving out of cities to find more affordable housing for a long time, said Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. But in previous years, people sought to live closer to where they worked, she said. Now, because of the prevalence of remote work, people are more often looking outside of major employment hubs and choosing neighborhoods that fit their desired lifestyle.
“The pandemic has definitely driven home-sale activity this year,” Fairweather said. “Some neighborhoods became very popular that weren’t as popular in years past.”
She predicted this trend will continue beyond the pandemic.
Imperato said she’s seen a lot of buyers who want to move from Philadelphia and North Jersey to South Jersey. She said the amount of property her clients can afford in South Jersey, along with less density, good schools, and proximity to the Shore, has attracted buyers. Median house prices in the South Jersey zip codes on Redfin’s list are below the $336,000 national median and below the $235,000 median for the broader Camden metropolitan area.
Low interest rates also are making monthly mortgage payments more affordable, making New Jersey’s high property tax rates less of a concern than in previous years, Imperato said.
The 08084 zip code in Stratford, the 08083 zip code in Somerdale, and the 08012 zip code in Washington Township scored similarly on the factors Redfin analyzed. Homes in these neighborhoods spent a median of between 18 and 20 days on the market, down more than a month from last year. The median number of views per listing was up between 240% and 255% in all three towns.
Slightly more than half of homes in the Somerdale and Washington Township zip codes sold above listing price. This was the case for two in five homes in Stratford.
“There are so many buyers that want to buy,” Imperato said. In Stratford and Somerdale, she is seeing that younger generations who grew up in the boroughs want to stay and are purchasing homes. Washington Township is home to an expanding Jefferson University hospital that attracts workers. Other buyers search in the overall region and like what they find in those municipalities.
Buyer activity has stayed strong even during the holiday season, Imperato said.
“This is usually our down time,” she said, “and we’re not getting it.”