Spring is here and summer is just around the corner, and it looks like it's going to be a busy one on the Jersey Shore - for both visitors and home sales. In a recent New York Times article, Bay Head luxury REALTOR® Shawn Clayton of Clayton and Clayton Realtors was asked about his thoughts on real estate around Bay Head and Mantoloking in Ocean County. Clayton noted that post Hurricane Sandy, waterfront home prices dropped and still aren't back to where they were before the superstorm.
“People are starting to say, ‘Hold it, I’m going to miss out on this,’ ” said Clayton told the Times. “ ‘Let me get my financing together so I don’t miss out.’ ”
Since Sandy rolled through New Jersey in October, 2012, much of the Jersey Shore area in Ocean and Monmouth Counties has been a construction zone. Drive along the oceanfront in Mantoloking and scores of stately houses are covered in Tyvek sheeting. In Ortley Beach, whole blocks have been reduced to sand lots with the odd framing of a new home. But other communities look good as new - shops, homes and boardwalks are mostly restored.
Since July 2013, Shawn and his team have sold 8 oceanfront properties. Before Sandy came along, Clayton and Clayton usually sold 5 such properties a year. Most buyers are tearing down what exists and building large elevated houses according to the stricter guidelines, and adding elevators, swimming pools and walls of windows.
Naturally prices for waterfront property in hard-hit areas plunged after the storm, mostly because houses were damaged. But then, all of a sudden, towns where land wasn't available, such as Mantoloking, had listings. Between Nov. 20112 and June 2013, the price on waterfront homes (median selling price) went down 34% from the same period a year earlier. But that opened up the market for people who wanted to own waterfront property in a place like Mantoloking. Now they could afford to buy land or purchase that coveted home on the beach.
So now buyers are snapping up lots and building new homes in the area, and they're taking precautions against another superstorm rolling in. Protections include raising homes, hurricane-proof windows and breakaway wall - outside walls that are meant to collapse during a major storm without damaging the elevated part of the home or foundation.
Buyers who had previously been priced out of the market may now be able to get a foothold in a town like Mantoloking, where a house with 70 feet of footage on the ocean sold for $3.75 million before Sandy. After the storm, a similar lot with more than double the oceanfront footage sold for $2.75 million. In Lavallette, bayside lots that listed for $550,000 before the storm now list for $400,000. And in Ortley Beach, bayside lots that listed for $350,000 before the storm now list for $200,000.
Precautions Against Another Sandy
The federal government recently signed off on a $36 million project to build a steel sea wall for the Mantoloking and part of Brick.
The wall will protect Mantoloking and a section of Brick's oceanfront beach from future storms and should help restore confidence that another major hurricane won't do the same amount of damage Sandy did. Hopes are high because Sandy unearthed a long-buried sea wall in Bay Head, which is immediately north of Mantoloking. The stone wall was 1,260 meters long and buried beneath the sand. It dates back to 1882. Bay Head survived relatively unscathed, but Mantoloking, which didn't have a sea wall, bore the brunt and suffered serious damage. The Bay Head seawall dampened the waves and there was some flooding, however in Mantoloking homes were reduced to rubble. Experts say the damage in Bay Head was minimized by the sea wall. In advance of the steel sea wall construction, which was slated to begin this month, Homeowners on East Avenue in Mantoloking have started to install a stone wall in front on the ocean homes that will be covered by sand for a natural dune.
The project to protect Mantoloking and Brick will see the installation of four miles of steel sheet piling to be driven deep into the beaches in Mantoloking and Brick in what state DEP Commissioner Bob Martin has said will safeguard Route 35 and nearby homes and businesses from future catastrophic storms. The sea wall will provide the base of a make-shift dune system. The steel will extend 16 feet above the beach and get driven down 32 feet below sand level. None of the metal will be seen because it'll be covered in sand.