BARNEGAT, NJ – Increased activity in the residential market is an encouraging sign for local homebuilder Ed Walters, Jr., founder and partner of Walters Group, an award-winning developer in southern Ocean County.

“The market appears to be improving nicely compared to a year ago,” said Walters. “We’re seeing an increase in traffic activity, and we plan to build on that momentum as we move forward on new developments.”

Walters has several South Jersey communities under construction, including luxury single-family, multi-family developments, and affordable apartment projects. Three of their residential developments – Ocean Acres at Barnegat, Whispering Hills Townhouses, and Whispering Hills Single-family have seen significant increases in activity from interested homebuyers this year. At Whispering Hills Townhouses traffic increased by 47% during the first six months of 2013 compared with the same time last year. At Ocean Acres Single-family that number rose by 10%. And Whispering Hills Single-family, which began selling in June of last year, has seen a steady stream of prospective buyers.

The combination of pent-up buyer demand, a prolonged period of historically low interest rates, and low pricing are the key reasons for the upswing in activity, according to Walters. First-time home buyers, growing families, and older adults downsizing are responsible for most of the activity at Walters Homes’ developments. The area’s appealing coastal lifestyle is another draw for many buyers throughout the region who have thought about living at the Jersey Shore.

The Time to Buy is Now

Throughout the U.S., the housing market appears to be regaining its health after it collapsed five years ago. A report by the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development indicated that the number of housing starts in May reached an annual rate of 914,000, which is 28.6% above a year ago at the same time. Overall, the number of homes under construction reached a reported five-year high in May.

The same is true in New Jersey where builders have stepped up home construction. In fact, single-family home building has reached its fastest pace in five years. The latest census figures reveal that construction permits for 6,215 units were issued in the state through April, up from 4,864 in the same period in 2012.

“We feel positive about market conditions in southern Ocean County,” said Pamela Schuster. “Generally, home prices this year are slightly higher than last, and it would not surprise me to see them continue to rise. For the homebuyer that means that now is the time to buy. People who wait another year may be forced to lower their expectations.”

In Ocean County, a region that was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy, sweeping statistics do not tell the whole story. “It’s hyper-local,” says Thomas Wissel, Jersey Shore MLS administrator. “The communities located inland are doing better. So to get an accurate picture you need to segment communities located away from the water,” he added. Looking at market conditions for single-family homes located in central and southern Ocean County, Wissel claims that  the average price of a home this year has increased significantly as compared to 2012 listings.

Buying a newly constructed home has its advantages over older homes. Because new home prices have adjusted to the current market conditions, there are a wider variety of choices for buyers in all price ranges. In addition, when compared to older homes, newly constructed homes offer many superior features and amenities that improve the overall quality of the homeowners' lifestyles and also boost future resale values.

At Walters Homes, buyers have a multitude of new construction options available this summer. Luxury single-family homes at Ocean Acres at Barnegat start around $249,695; single-family homes at Whispering Hills start at $280,995; and new townhouse properties at Whispering Hills start at $231,185. All three developments are located in the historic community of Barnegat.

Another big benefit offered by Walters Homes is their adherence to sustainable construction methods and use of Energy Star-certified products, helping homeowners to lower their operating costs and conserve energy. An energy-efficient home uses less energy, water and natural resources, creating less waste, and offers a healthier and more comfortable living environment. “Our homeowners are realizing significant yearly savings of 30% to 35%,” said Schuster, “making them more efficient than a home built to current building codes.’’