The threat of COVID-19 essentially killed the home buying and selling market in the Garden State for a number of weeks in 2020.

But since the market relaunched several months ago, demand for properties hasn't taken a break — even during a very cold start to 2021.

According to updated numbers from New Jersey Realtors, closed sales were up 17% in January 2021, compared to the same month in 2020. There were another 9,823 pending sales in January of this year.

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"We’re still in uncharted territory," said New Jersey Realtors 2021 President Jeff Jones. "We have yet to see to the full impact of the pandemic."

Traditionally, the colder months keep many prospectors from looking for New Jersey homes, the group said. The lingering "pandemic push" for housing is likely linked in part to depleted inventory — about 23,000 single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums, and adult community properties were available for sale in January of this year, compared to about 41,000 a year prior. New listings were down 21.4%.

"The homes just are not there, so you're seeing the high bidding wars where you're getting 20, 30, maybe 40 offers at a time," said Matthew Tully, with Realty One Group Central in Freehold.

Low inventory and high demand continue to push home prices higher. The median sales price for all properties in New Jersey was $370,000, up about 20% over January 2020, according to New Jersey Realtors. It's first-time homebuyers who may be impacted the most, since they likely won't have the assets to bid tens of thousands of dollars higher than a home's asking price.

Tully anticipates that activity from wannabe buyers will increase even further as the warmer months approach. New Jersey Realtors suggests that continued vaccine distribution will encourage hesitant potential sellers to list their properties.

"Hopefully more listings come on the market because that's what we're lacking," Tully said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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