A Summer’s-End Eye on Shore Real Estate Trends

Many Buyers Want Pools, Prefer New Construction
By MARIA SCANDALE | Aug 29, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

As LBI-region summer of 2018 catches its last waves, real estate professionals have already turned to analyzing trends in the market. Have price points risen in the past year? What amenities did new homeowners insist upon? Is there evidence that confidence in the national economy is high enough to trigger buyers?

Periodically, The SandPaper business column rotates such questions among a sampling of area Realtors. The analysis can be complex and site-specific, but let’s open with an indicative observation on amenities from a Long Beach Island Realtor:

“More people want pools than ever before,” noted Roberta Brackman, broker-salesperson at Pacesetter Realty, North Beach Haven, “both as buyers and renters.”

As trends show, “One of the big things I’ve noticed is, put a pool in and the house will both sell quicker, and it will rent like a charm,” she said.

The reasons that clients gave for wanting a swimming pool in view (and at times in lieu) of the beach seem to revolve around elements of convenience that are built into a perfect vacation house.

“I think it’s a few things,” Brackman answered our question. “It is a vacation luxury they do not have at home, and a quieter place to relax and stay cool after a morning or day at the beach, and where the kids can play while being watched by the adults.”

On the broader scale of what’s selling this summer, “new construction is hot,” said Brackman, who has rented and owned on LBI for the past 23 years, and summered in Beach Haven as a child.

“Obviously, since (Superstorm) Sandy, we’ve had so much new construction, and with the older houses not above base flood level being torn down, new construction is selling.”

“Our prices are back up to above pre-Sandy,” added Brackman, a lawyer by profession, who applies that knowledge in negotiating and finance to her full-time real estate practice. “People are still looking for that bargain in the 6’s and 7’s ($600,000-700,000), but they are few and far between.”

As was reported by The SandPaper, the median home sales price on Long Beach Island hit the million-dollar mark more than a year ago.

Still, in 2018, “A million is pretty much the average, because now we have so many more in the two, three, four-million range,” Brackman confirmed.

Most new homes are being built with numerous bedrooms, which maximizes rental potential. And as other Realtors also noted, rent income is very lucrative with the prime properties.

Brackman was posed the question: Are a noticeable number of new buyers planning to retire on Long Beach Island?

“I think the number of people buying to live year-round has increased,” she observed. “A lot of people are buying knowing that the plan is to use it as a beach house for now and move here full-time year-round upon retirement.”

And isn’t a pool nice for either situation?

Prices Swing Higher

On High-End Homes

Realtors are speaking of an upswing in sale prices in the last month on some highest-end Long Beach Island properties, involving several agencies that were either the listing or selling agents.

In particular, a $5.995-million home recently went to contract under listing/sales agent Craig Stefanoni of Berkshire-Hathaway Home Services, Zack Shore Realtors, who has been previously quoted in The SandPaper real estate updates.

The highest LBI sales price that closed in 2018 was the $4.65 million Loveladies listing of Michael Ziman of Joy Luedke Real Estate LLC, with Bonnie Wells, broker/owner of Coastal Living Real Estate Group, as the selling agent.

Wells also sold and listed a bayfront in The Dunes at a $4.35 million price that was the highest bayfront sale on LBI so far in 2018, according to Jersey Shore Multiple Listing Service.

Prior to joining with Coastal Living Real Estate Group, Wells owned and operated a real estate brokerage for 12 years in Bergen County, and worked for Sotheby’s International Realty.

Wells sees recent high-dollar closings as breaking what seemed to be a slowdown from a spring weather event and some national economic uncertainty.

Last year, “We ended up having a great fall and that carried over into January-February, but it really kind of stopped for the high-end properties as soon as the nor’easters hit in March,” she said.

“Now all of our listings that are high-end are starting to get a lot of views, which is wonderful.”

Wells surmised that possibly the change in tax laws did not have as much of an impact on real estate values as some prospective buyers had feared.

“We have an economy that people are concerned about, but that continues to stay strong. I believe buyers have more faith in making high-end purchases whereas before they might have been apprehensive.”

Sales in the under-$2 million market “have been very active” as well, the Realtor said. That segment, in fact, had stayed stable all year, Wells said.

“We think we’re going to have a very promising fall.”

Wells confirmed an apparent trend of buyer attraction to new construction.

“New is selling way over used construction,” she said. “People are starting to have a palate for homes built since Sandy. A tremendous percentage of successful sales are new construction.”

The number of buyers investing in LBI homes is also on a rise “because interest rates are still really good,” Wells noted. “A lot of buyers are using the house for a two-week period. And with a decent down payment, they are able to cover costs with rental income, because the rental income is so high down here. It doesn’t compare to anywhere.”

How high? As high as $28,000 per week for a prime Loveladies oceanfront home containing six bedrooms and nine baths.

Southern Mainland Values

Pushing Prices Up

Sales prices are up in several segments of the mainland market, according to data from New Jersey Realtors.

The local market update for the Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor areas were obtained from New Jersey Realtors data provided by Harry Disbrow Jr., broker associate/manager of Coldwell Banker Riviera Realty BayShore Agency Team.

Highlights include a 22.9 percent hike in the past year in the median sale price of single-family homes in Tuckerton: from $170,000 as of July 2017, to $209,000 year-to-date in July 2018.

In neighboring Little Egg Harbor Township, the median sales price of single-family homes rose by 6.8 percent from a year ago. That’s to $186,400 today, as compared to $174,500 in July 2017.

Sales were strong in the adult community category in Little Egg Harbor Township, up 28 percent from a year ago. That percentage translates to a rise from $166,750 median price to $213,750.

Townhouse/condo sales prices, on the average, were up by 48.8 percent in Little Egg Harbor: from $89,900 a year ago to $132,450 at the end of July.

“Most buyers are looking for properties they can use themselves, either as a primary or second home,” said Disbrow, an Ocean County Realtor since 1978 and a recipient of the 2016-17 NJ Realtors Circle of Excellence sales award.

“Some are investors but they are the minority.”

Disbrow added, “We also have flippers who are coming in and buying some of the remaining Sandy-damaged homes and either fixing them up, or tearing them down.”

There seems to be a difference between buyers’ preferences on Long Beach Island and in some mainland areas regarding a willingness to buy fixed-up, flood-damaged homes, according to sales information.

“It sounds crazy but if there is not a ‘substantially damaged’ letter on file, they can renovate the home without raising it,” said Disbrow. “Seems odd to me as a Realtor but it’s happening a lot and buyers are buying the finished products. Those homes will certainly be looking at a higher flood insurance cost moving forward.”

mariascandale@thesandpaper.net

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