Total new-home closings: 7,114
The good: Housing hot spots in Northern and Central New Jersey.
The bad: Signs of withdrawal, including falling housing inventories, fewer homes under construction, and starts and closings down for a rolling four quarters.
The bottom line: By following niche markets and capitalizing on 29.5 months of lot inventories, there's plenty left to spur competition among builders.
Builders aren't traveling to Atlantic City to place their bets in Jersey; instead, they're showing their hands in Central New Jersey, where starts have taken off in the first quarter of 2015 by a 32.5% increase over the fourth quarter of 2014. Northern New Jersey is another location to bet on, where a niche market among those aged 55 and over is producing 30% of total home sales. Those hot spots aside, the region shows signs of withdrawal. Compared with the fourth quarter of 2014, total housing inventories in this year's first quarter dropped by 5%, representing a 10.8% decrease year over year, as the number of under-construction units fell by 2.7%, a 12.4% decrease year over year. Meanwhile, finished vacancies decreased by 7.4% over the same period. With the first quarter of 2015 delivering a 61.1% year-over-year increase in lots delivered, starts in mid-2015 may serve as indicators for where this region is heading.