• July 19, 2019

Local housing market is as hot as the weather - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Local housing market is as hot as the weather

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Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2018 10:20 am

OCEAN CITY – Owning property at the Jersey shore is a dream for some people who long for idle summer days reclining on the beach and nights strolling the Boardwalk.

According to local real estate agents, that dream is closer than ever as a strong economy prompts home buyers to take the plunge. 

Kevin Halliday, a broker with Berger Realty, said the market is “very active” with most home sales occurring in the last three months. 

“We’re starting to see a lot of people looking for single families. I think Ocean City is starting to become a year-round community and we’re seeing people retire down here,” Halliday said. “We’re seeing a lot of single-family homes that are being sold. We’re still selling condos but I’m starting to see a market trend where definitely a lot of buyers are looking for single-family homes.”

Halliday said typically first- or second-floor condos were the majority of sales, but that shifted to single-family homes.

“We’re seeing a lot of folks that are retiring, whether it’s from Pennsylvania or Cherry Hill or Moorestown. They’re coming down here to retire and they want single-family homes,” Halliday said.

 Home sales include the entire island, from the south end to the Gardens, said Halliday, adding there’s also multiple home sales in Upper Township. Halliday attributes the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the Ocean Resort Casino to these home sales.  

“Right now Upper Township is red hot. I think in Upper Township it has more to do with the casinos,” Halliday said. “If you have a listing over in Upper that’s priced right it’s gone in a day.”

Amenities homebuyers ask for include granite and quartz countertops, hardwood floors and state-of-the-art appliances in a mix of older and new construction, according to Halliday.

“I think the city has done a fantastic job of marketing itself as a year-round community. I think that’s one reason that we’re very busy,” Halliday said.

Interest rates have nudged slightly higher, prompting buyers who were on the fence before to commit and buy a home, Halliday said.

Real estate agent Mark Grimes of Berkshire Hathaway said the real estate market is the most active he’s seen in 10 years.

Of the listings, 130 single-family houses are for sale, while 373 condo units are for sale. 

From Jan. 1 to June 25, there were 100 single-family units sold, and 332 condo units sold.

He attributes the strong stock market with bolstering consumer confidence, leading potential Ocean City homeowners to plunk down money for a summer property.

“The buyers coming into the marketplace are putting a lot of money down so you’re dealing with a completely different buyer than we did ten years ago when the market collapsed in ’05,” Grimes said. “Now it’s much stricter to get a loan, so the buyers are much stronger quality-wise.” 

Real estate agent Emily Wilkins of Goldcoast Sotheby’s International Realty said the current market is “interesting,” while sales for single-family homes are strong. 

“Buyers are definitely looking for things that are turn-key, so we’re seeing most buyers looking for houses that are newer with high-end appliances, granite or stone countertops or hardwood floors,” Wilkins said. “If they’re not new, then something has been updated. Most buyers when they’re looking at a vacation home aren’t really too excited about doing repairs and work. They like something nice that’s comparable to what they have at home or nicer. ”

Grimes said his agency averages 1,000 listings. Out of those, 200 are single-family homes while the rest are condo units. He said the agency averages 900 transactions a year in Ocean City, spread out over land, single–family homes and condo units.

“We’ve seen a demand for single-families, which is a good sign, sort of like the Avalon and Stone Harbor market,” Grimes said, adding the agency’s “bread and butter market” are three- or four-bedroom, two-bathroom houses on Central Avenue. 

He said the average cost of these coveted single-family homes is $500,000 to $1 million. 

“Those are the most popular units selling on a daily basis,” Grimes said. 

Halliday noted the inventory of properties for sale has shrunk this year.

“If you talk to most agents on the island there’s a lack of listings. Not just in Ocean City but in Upper Township,” Halliday said. “It’s harder to get listings. Because the economy is strong I think people just don’t want to sell. They’re just enjoying Ocean City. In Upper Township where three years ago there was a lot of inventory and now it’s all gone. People are happy I think in Upper Township.”

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