Few Homes Have Sold in Post-Sandy Long Beach
Realtors say pre-storm contracts pending due to re-appraisal process.
While two single-family homes have sold in Long Beach since Hurricane Sandy struck in late October, according to Multiple Listing Service, some realtors said that either a handful of other homes have sold since then or are about to close, as well as that they’re not alarmed by the numbers.
As of Friday, Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listed an expanded cape on East Hudson Street that sold for $225,000 on Dec. 17, and a hi-ranch on Wilson Street for $465,000 on Dec. 31. Joe Sinnona, a director of MLS and an associate broker with Verdeschi Realty in the West End, said the Hudson Street home was originally listed at $249,000 and the Wilson Street home at $489,000.
“This signifies that the market hasn’t completely dropped,” Sinnona said about the post-Sandy market in Long Beach, where many potential homebuyers are searching for fire sales.
Miriam Gold, owner of Paul Gold Realty who has sold homes on the barrier island for nearly 50 years, doesn’t find the low number of home sales unusual. She takes into account not only that the city was devastated by an unprecedented storm, but also that home sales typically dips during the winter months.
“From Thanksgiving to Christmas it’s always very, very quiet; almost dead,” Gold said. “That was normal.”
As residents reevaluate and work to return to normalcy, the market is starting to show some signs of light, at least at her West End office, Gold said. She has about four single-family homes on the barrier island that are about to close.
“I have people who were in contract and they will be closing,” she said.
Sinnona said that, as of last week, 131 homes are for sale in Long Beach, which is about 31 more than before Sandy. Many of the homes that are available were in contract before the storm, but the banks must reexamine them, he added.
“They have to actually go through another appraisal process because of the damages,” said Sinnona, who noted that he hasn’t had any homes in contract since the storm.
Karen Adamo, a broker with Petrey Realty at East Park Avenue, said the terms of contracts entered before the storm can be renegotiated, based in part on the damages to flooded homes.
“The buyer will try to renegotiate and obviously if there is a lot of damage they don’t have to go through with it,” she said. “And the seller then has to determine if they are going to sell it for less.”
As Patch reported earlier this week, some brokers in Long Beach estimate that no more than 50 percent of city residents are living back in their homes since the storm. Sinnona believes that as more businesses reopen and more of the city’s infrastructure returns, most importantly the boardwalk, a resurgence of people will return to the island.
“Right now they are in a sort of paranoid state of mind because they have post traumatic stress,” he said.
Sinnona believes that realtors should send out positive messages and signs of hope to the community. Whenever a storm-damaged business reopens, he posts a mention of it on Facebook. “Because people want to hear that their neighborhood stores are back,” he said.
Adamo believes the majority of people who will return to the city are longtime residents who “love Long Beach and want to be here,” she said. But there are those who don’t necessarily regard Sandy as an unusual storm and are concerned that about future storm after they had refurbished their flooded homes following Hurricane Irene in August 2011.
“I know several people who renovated after Irene and now after Sandy they fear they’re going to have to do it again,” she said. “I think those are the people who are really concerned.”
More resident will return when they receive the money they need to rebuild, from both insurance companies and FEMA, funds of which have so far come mostly “in dribs and drabs,” said Adamo, who also supports the Sandy Relief bills as a means to rebuild.
Yet once the funds arrive, there is also the process of their allocation, such as when homeowners must turn over their insurance checks to mortgage companies to be endorsed.
“They’re holding on to some of it and they’re demanding receipts for the work that you’ve already done before they give you more money,” Adamo said.