Atlantic City, NJ Real Estate Market Trends & Analysis [Updated 2020]

by Than Merrill | @ThanMerrill
Published on Tue, Sep 15 2020

Jump To Another Year In The Atlantic City Real Estate Market:

The Atlantic City real estate market has been hit hard by the current pandemic. Local unemployment appears to have been less insulated from volatility than most of the country. As a result, consumer confidence in the housing sector has been shaken, and now serves as a primary obstacle on the road to recovery. Nonetheless, real estate in Atlantic City has made up a lot of ground since the last recession.

Near-term prospects for the Atlantic City housing market aren’t as bright as they were at the beginning of the year. However, the disruption brought about by COVID-19 has created a window of opportunity for patient investors. Emerging fundamentals suggest well-positioned entrepreneurs can take advantage of an attractive rental market. There are now several indicators working heavily in favor of prospective landlords in the Atlantic City real estate market.

Atlantic City Real Estate Market 2020 Overview

  • Median Home Value: $116,711

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: +10.4%

  • Median Home Value (1-Year Forecast): -1.4%

  • Median Rent Price: $1,400

  • Price-To-Rent Ratio: 6.94

  • Unemployment Rate: 24.0% (latest estimate by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics)

  • Population: 37,743 (latest estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Median Household Income: $27,786 (latest estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Percentage Of Vacant Homes: 24.17%

  • Foreclosure Rate: 1 in every 6,690 (1.4%)

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Atlantic City boardwalk

2020 Atlantic City Real Estate Investing

The Atlantic City real estate market has set the bar for real estate investing over the last decade. Few cities have successfully combined affordability and high foreclosure rates with unique demand in the way AC has. Despite the relatively low cost of entry for local investors, demand has remained consistent. The thriving gaming industry continues to draw people in from around the country, and investors should benefit.

For years, investors have been able to flip real estate with attractive profit margins. Even today, when most cities across the country have appreciated too much for the likes of rehabbers, Atlantic City still awards patient investors with plenty of flipping opportunities. That said, new fundamentals brought about by the pandemic have shifted many investors’ exit strategies.

Atlantic City real estate investors may still enjoy attractive profit margins on flips. However, many investors appear to be trading in the short-term prospects of flips for long-term rentals. Several emerging trends are tilting the scales in favor of landlords, and it’s all because of the new landscape created in the wake of the Coronavirus.

The Atlantic City real estate investing community should consider looking into long-term rental properties for three reasons:

  • Home prices have increased by about 31.2% in as little as three years. The ratios rehabbers prefer are getting harder to come by.

  • Interest rates are historically low. At 2.94%, interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are incredibly affordable and can significantly reduce borrowing costs.

  • With a price-to-rent ratio of 6.94, it is considerably more affordable to buy a home in the Atlantic City real estate market. Investors who do so intending to rent their property to tenants will find the price-to-rent ratio working in their favor. While it is considerably more affordable to own, the area’s low inventory will force many people to rent, driving up both competition and rental asking prices.

Investors are lucky to have several viable exit strategies at their disposal, but none appear more attractive than building a proper rental property portfolio in the wake of the pandemic. Too many important market indicators are pointing towards becoming a buy-and-hold investor to ignore.

2020 Foreclosure Statistics In Atlantic City

Foreclosure activity has eased across the entire country, and the Atlantic City real estate market is no exception. While The Great Recession brought about an influx of new foreclosures between 2008 and 2012, Atlantic City has made drastic improvements in the time since. In the last year, foreclosure filings in Atlantic City have dropped 82.0%, according to RealtyTrac.

For some context, Atlantic City lowered its foreclosure rate slightly more than the national average. As recently as August, “the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in the U.S. was 11% higher than the previous month and 81% lower than the same time last year,” according to a foreclosure trends summary presented by RealtyTrac.

After significantly detracting from its foreclosure filings in the last year, Atlantic City now has a foreclosure rate of 1.4%; that means one in every 6,690 homes is either in default, up for auction, or bank owned. The percentage of distressed homes across the United States, on the other hand, is a more modest 0.7%.

The Coronavirus is expected to cause a spike in foreclosures. The unexpected economic downturn will most likely prevent homeowners from paying down their principal. Consequently, more homeowners will find themselves distressed later in the year. Forbearance programs are expected to keep people in their homes for now, but homeowners will be expected to become current on their mortgages sooner or later. When that time comes, those who can’t comply may find themselves distressed, and well-positioned investors in Atlantic City may be able to offer a helping hand.

2020 Median Home Prices In Atlantic City

The Atlantic City real estate market has boasted unique price movements in recent history. Whereas the majority of the country has seen steady gains since the market bottomed out in 2012, Atlantic City saw its median home value take a different trajectory. It wasn’t until January 2017 that real estate in Atlantic City reached its lowest point of the last decade.

In the first quarter of 2017, Atlantic City’s median home value dropped as low as $85,200. Today, the median home value in Atlantic City is $116,711; that means home values have increased an impressive 31.2% in as little as three years. Dating back to July of last year, appreciation rates in Atlantic City have more than doubled the national average—10.4% and 4.1% respectively.

Despite recent progress, home values in Atlantic City are expected to take a short-term hit amid a pandemic. Over 12 months, it’s safe to assume values will drop by about 1.4%. Home values have already dropped slightly from their recent highs in March, and they may drop slightly more as the economy struggles to gain some traction during the pandemic.

Local unemployment woes have caused a lot of uncertainty in Atlantic City, and may suppress home values briefly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Atlantic City’s unemployment rate is a very unhealthy 24.0%. In spite of a more than 10.0% improvement over the previous month, AC’s unemployment rate is still more than twice the national average.

Fewer people with stable incomes will hurt home values until improvements are made. Unemployment is headed in the right direction, but confidence will remain low until the numbers correct themselves. Therefore, the Atlantic City real estate investing community may view today’s home prices as an opportunity. Home prices have increased for three consecutive years, and 2020 appears to offer a discount.

Atlantic City Real Estate Market: 2016 Summary

  • Median Home Price: $186,400

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: -13.1%

  • 3-Year Appreciation Rate: -17.7%

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.7%

  • 1-Year Job Growth Rate: 2.0%

  • Population: 39,551

  • Median Household Income: $50,546

Atlantic City Real Estate Investing 2016

The Atlantic City real estate market experienced a mixture of highs and lows in 2016. The first half of the year generated decent home prices in comparison to the national average, despite home appreciation and total equity gains not living up to expectations. Atlantic City’s real estate prices were down from the previous year, but the trend improved in 2016.

Factors influencing the Atlantic City real estate market in 2016 were affordability, new housing construction, and changes in the local economy. Affordability for the Atlantic City housing market was strong during the first-half, with homeowners paying less than historical standards. New housing construction continued to grow relative to the previous year. That said, the local economy recorded subpar numbers in the second quarter.

Appreciation rates remained vastly below the national average, as the second quarter recorded one-year and three-year rates of -13.1% and -17.7%. Price trends in the previous three years added to the post-recession slump the city was already experiencing at the time. Nevertheless, there remained one constant for the Atlantic City real estate market in 2016: investment opportunities. Local affordability and demand meant the Atlantic City real estate investing community had plenty of chances to thrive.

Atlantic City Real Estate Market: 2015 Summary

  • Median Home Price: $210,000

  • 1-Year Appreciation Rate: -3.3%

  • Unemployment Rate: 11.3%

  • Population: 39,551

  • Median Household Income: $52,127

Atlantic City Real Estate Investing 2015

There is no way around it: the Atlantic City real estate market was one of the worst-hit during The Great Recession. On top of a shrinking economy, the collapse of the casino sector was enough to drive the city into a financial crisis on par with Detroit. However, the gaming industry in Atlantic City was still afloat in 2015, which kept the local housing sector alive.

The median home price was $210,100 at the time; slightly above the national average. As a result, Atlantic City real estate investors saw several deals come their way with attractive spreads. The area’s affordability was historically strong in 2015 and continued to improve. Atlantic City homeowners spent about 10.7% of their income on monthly mortgage payments, compared to 15.1% that was the national average.

According to RealtyTrac, there were about 639 foreclosures within the Atlantic City limits in 2015. That is to say, each of these distressed properties was either at risk of being repossessed, already repossessed, or scheduled to be placed up for auction. Regardless of the scenario, these homes became a focal point of the Atlantic City real estate investing community. Distressed properties were a staggering 103.0% higher than the previous year.

The average, non-distressed home in Atlantic City had a median sales price of $66,000. Those of a distressed nature had an average sales price of $59,000. For those keeping track, that was an 11.0% discount at the time or about $7,000 per property.

Atlantic City County Map:

Map of Atlantic City area

Atlantic City Real Estate Market Summary

The Atlantic City real estate market wasn’t able to enjoy a fast-paced recovery over the last eight years. Whereas most markets across the country saw nearly eight consecutive years of price growth and demand drive healthy fundamentals, real estate in Atlantic City lagged behind the national average. That said, the Atlantic City housing market is very affordable, and the hotel scene still drives plenty of demand. The latest setback initiated by the Coronavirus may represent an opportunity for local investors. The long-term prospects look particularly attractive at the moment, and buying a home today could turn out to be a great move.

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