In the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey often ranks alongside Illinois when it comes to foreclosure activity, as tracked by ATTOM Data Solutions.

That relationship does not carry over to home buying, according to ATTOM executive vice president of market intelligence Rick Sharga.

A new report from ATTOM shows that while October is the best time to buy in Illinois and most of the rest of the country, February is the optimal month to move in the Garden State.

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In fact, New Jersey's -3.9% discount below market value in the second month of the year is the biggest price gap ATTOM measured for any state in any month.

The pace of home buying typically falls off in the fall and winter, according to Sharga, but he said that often makes sellers more willing to negotiate.

So it's logical that the best buying opportunities come in the lowest months for sales.

"It's very likely that February isn't a frenzied month of buying activity in New Jersey. It's actually just the opposite, and that's why the prices are actually depressed a little bit in that month," Sharga said. "It just really comes down to when people are looking to buy in those states, really not tied into foreclosures or anything else other than seasonality."

Best days to buy a home
Infographic courtesy ATTOM

And it's not that New Jerseyans aren't thinking about buying or selling as much in the other months; it just may not be as practical.

For one thing, Sharga said, the market is seeing "a return to more normal patterns" post-COVID, the pent-up housing demand that followed, and children returning in-person to classes.

"The majority of homeowners have families, and they tend not to like to disrupt the school year for their kids, so you see a lot of buying activity, really, in the spring and summer months," he said.

But also, the old adage still applies — location, location, location.

"There's seasonality that affects pricing, but I also think there's regionality," Sharga said. "Pennsylvania, like New Jersey, has some of the best bargains later in the winter."

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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