Sea Isle City real estate market analysis

121 60thI have lived in Sea Isle City for over 28 years and have watched it change and grow.  It is a phenomena how this sleepy little town most of the year has such a following.    I totally understand it as I moved here because I fell in love with the shore as a kid.   It was magical to me and I still feel the same way.

The real estate market has well recovered since the collapse 10 years ago.  Values have been gradually climbing for the past 4+ years.  There is a unique character to this City that keeps investors and 2nd home buyers coming.   But, don’t just take my word for it, let the statistics do the talking.   I have taken the following information from the Cape May County Multiple Listings for as far back as their records go starting in 2008 when prices began to drop from those speculative highs before the crash and the mortgage crisis hit.   I used only condominiums and condo/townhouse sales which make up the bulk of residential sales.

Calendar Year                   #Units Sold                    Median Sold Price

2008                                         152                                       $646,750

2009                                         165                                        $606,100

2010                                          166                                       $598,500

2011                                           185                                       $585,000

2012                                          254                                       $565,000

2013                                          213                                       $600,000

2014                                          237                                       $630,000

2015                                          274                                        $626,500

2016                                          239                                        $660,000

1/1/2017 to 9/14/17*             168                                        $700,000

*There are 29 condos and condo/townhouses pending sales set to close in 2017 but are not included in the above figure for 2017.   We still have a Fall 2017 market to come.

For more specific data, please email me at luann@oceanviewrealty.us and I would be happy to provide whatever information you need regarding real estate in Sea Isle City or surrounding communities.    Thanks for reading.   I look forward to your comments too!

 

 

Sea Isle City Real Estate Taxes and Flood Insurance Rates

snoopyProperty taxes for Snoopy living in Oahu, Hawaii may be expensive but that’s not a problem Sea Isle City property owners have to worry about.    Out of the 16 municipalities in Cape May County, Sea Isle City ranks 4th in line below Cape May Point,  Avalon and Stone Harbor being the lowest in the county.    The current tax rate for 2016 is .672 per $100 of assessed value.  A house assessed at $750,000 has a property tax of $5,000.  Most home buyers are pleasantly surprised at this fact.    Another good reason to choose to buy in Sea Isle City is that the City works very hard at keeping its flood insurance rating with F.E.M.A. above average.  This keeps flood insurance rates low, averaging $400-600 per year depending on location and building elevation.    If your foundation has the appropriate amount of flood vents, you will enjoy a significant savings.    I recently bought a home where the flood insurance was almost $1,700 a year.   The owner put in flood vents as part of its renovation and I pay under $500.00.   Between low taxes and unusually low flood insurance, buying in Sea Isle City makes that a smart move.   Also, I am always surprised how quickly homes sell here.   If a home is properly maintained, staged well and priced accurately, it sells.    Sea Isle City is a home run when it comes to deciding where to buy a second home, vacation property or an investment property.

Townsends Inlet Bridge connecting Sea Isle to Avalon Now Open

Townsends Inlet Bridge Reopened 2 Weeks ago just before the Food Truck Weekend at Kix in June.  However, there is a 15 ton weight limit.   See chart below if you’re curious.

townsends.inlet.bridge2townsends.inlet.bridgeTIbridgeRoad-leading-to-Townsends-Inlet-Bridge

The TI bridge was indefinitely closed to traffic in early April of 2017 after an underwater inspection revealed a crack and extensive structural damage on the 75 year old bridge. Built in 1939, Inlet Bridge is now a foundational part of the local community as well as the tourism industry in Townsend, NJ and surrounding towns such as Avalon and Sea Isle. It is a crucial part of Ocean Drive and its closing not only created delays and detours for tourists hoping to see the beautiful views, it also made it harder for residents to enjoy the restaurants and local shops. Construction crews built up the bridge with reinforced steel on the support piers, and it is back up and running this afternoon. This is excellent news for local businesses and residents. Although the hope is that eventually a new span will be built in its place, the repairs will do in the meantime. 

Most readers will have zero concern that their are vehicles are over the 15 ton weight limit, but just for fun, I’ve added a chart of various vehicles and their weights.  I was sure the Jersey Transit buses were way over the limit but wondered about trucks, vans and motor homes. 

vehicles weight for TI bridge

 

Sea Isle City 2017 Polar Bear Plunge

Well Everybody, it’s that time of year again.    The holidays are over (for most)  and we are ready to make 2017 the best year of our lives!  Right?   So, why not take a refreshing dip into the Atlantic to get things rolling.  I have to confess, I have never plunged.  Yes, I’m a sissy.   So instead, I help everyone I know warm up after they bravely do so.    Here it is, the list of events for Polar Bear Plunge 2017, Yay!

The weekend starts on Friday, Feb. 17 with the Polar Bear Prince & Princess Contest at 7:30 p.m. at LaCosta, 4000 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City. At 9 p.m. is the Polar Bear King & Queen Contest at the deck bar, hosted by EMC Jimmy Bennett and Center Stage DJs. From 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., enjoy the Rockets on Stage. Be sure to take advantage of Plunge registration at LaCosta from 2 to 8 p.m.

On Saturday, Feb. 18, prepare to jump into the icy Atlantic at 2 p.m. at JFK Boulevard and the beach. Plunge registration begins at 8 a.m. at the Landis Avenue front tent. Register for the plunge online at lacosta-seaisle.com. Prior to the plunge is the costume contest at 12 p.m. in the main tent. Participants of the plunge must be 12 years and older. $25 non-refundable entry fee; receive a Polar Bear T-shirt and entry wristband. In order to be eligible for the costume contest you MUST be registered. Swimsuits or costumes only – no wet suits!

Stop by the Post-Plunge Party at 2:30 p.m. at LaCosta, featuring entertainment by Split Decision, The Insiders, Blacthorn, Gypsy Wisdom, The Rockets, FunZaLuv and more! The party is open to the public, but all registered Plungers receive complimentary entry. Costume contest awards will be presented at 4 p.m. under the main tent.

On Sunday, Feb. 19, the weekend ends with the Mike’s Seafood Polar Bear Walk/Run for Autism, and more entertainment at LaCosta.

Registration for Mike’s Seafood Polar Bear Walk/Run for Autism is 9 to 11:30 a.m. at Landis Avenue and JFK Boulevard. Register online at www.polarbearrunwalkforautism.com. Fees vary. Proceeds benefit Autism Speaks, Special Services Schools, Autism support groups and families of special needs children. Mike’s Seafood Polar Bear Walk/Run for Autism begins at 12 p.m. at JFK Boulevard and Promenade, and an awards ceremony and breakfast buffet will follow at 2 p.m. at LaCosta.

For more information on the Polar Bear Plunge Weekend in Sea Isle City, visit lacosta-seaisle.com.

For more information on Mike’s Seafood Polar Bear Walk/Run for Autism, visit www.polarbearrunwalkforautism.com.

mb20-awards-plunge-066

 

Sea Isle City Deals under $435,000 3 bed/2 bath with OCEAN VIEW

Pick Number 1 – near center of town:

 124 45th St.  Amazing Affordable Condo with Ocean Views!!! Why rent when you can become a homeowner in Sea Isle City with this refurbished and attractive condo that is close to downtown, shopping, restaurants and a few short blocks to the beach. In fact you can relax on your isolated private deck (no sharing with the neighbors) and enjoy your ocean view! This sparkling bright and cheery condo has an upgraded kitchen area. The kitchen, eating area, living room, full bath, washer and dryer compliment the second floor. Three bedrooms and full bath complete the third floor of this two story (2nd and 3rd floors) condo quad unit. Although on street parking is available, the owners are willing to provide and pay by way of $1,000 credit for a parking permit for the next five years!  The average price of a 3 bedroom 2 bath condo is $469,000.   The asking price of this charming condo is only $338,900.   Call for details.  Make you next summer a great one!

 

Pick Number 2 – in the beach block:

The one you’ve been waiting for! Unit D takes up the top floor of this 4 unit condo building and offers great ocean views from your private, front deck as well as from the living room/dining area. 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths, this property is located on sought after 85th St which has a beautiful beach with a playground, restrooms and beach patrol substation as well as Bernie’s Hot Dogs! Each unit has their own outside storage closet for your bikes and beach toys, and Unit D has one off-street parking spot. This unit also has a rear deck off of the master bedroom. This condo is in great shape as it’s not been rented, but could make a great investment property if you chose to rent. 85th Street is also in close proximity to some great restaurants, ice cream and Blitz’s Market. This one’s a winner!  Asking price:  $433,900

Sea Isle City to Revise Ordinance on Bump Outs

During City Council’s meeting this past Tuesday, December 13th, a presentation by one of the council members got other council members thinking.   A proposed ordinance was to be voted on that day, but it was demonstrated that it was flawed and needed to be rewritten.  Bump-outs are a decorative architectural feature in home construction.  They are also a way to expand a home while legally “encroaching” into the setback.  In Sea Isle, they can be as wide as 8 feet and can jut out as far as 18 or 24 inches from the house, depending on the size of the lot.   Not only do they enhance the exterior of a home but make a significant difference inside by creating a feeling of a much wider space.

Zoning laws in Sea Isle currently allow bump-outs only in side yards.  That is fine for inside lots.     It is the corner lots that suffer under the proposed ordinance.    The way corner lots are configured facing the street, they have only one side yard.     Currently, that side of the house, which is the  most visible,  can’t have bump-outs.   It is one long flat wall and has zero appeal.     Below is a good example of a 56th and Pleasure home with bump outs on its street side wall.

56th-st-sample

Some water front properties would also benefit by allowing bump outs in all side yards.  After all, isn’t architectural beauty something we should want to have in our community?  Big boxy homes have been built on the island and they are “not” a sight for sore eyes.  We don’t need any more of those.   I hope all architects and builders take advantage of bump outs as much as possible.

All this arose out of the “much ado about nothing” complaints from a minority of taxpayers many moons ago about Monster Houses which obviously still isn’t completely resolved.   Maybe after this hopefully last fallout is corrected, we will finally be at a good place again and be done with it.

Staging properties for sale in Sea Isle City

These photos are of a home I listed for sale where I did the staging as part of the service I provide my clients.

Staging a property to list for sale is tantamount to pricing it properly.     A well staged property becomes a home that a perspective buyer can see themselves occupying.    Any time and money invested into preparing your property to be listed usually brings you the return of more money and a quicker sale.

I offer to do the staging for my clients but if you’d rather do it yourself, here are some suggestions I  recommend:

  1.  The number one thing to do is to de-clutter.     Clear all unnecessary objects from furniture throughout the house.  Keep accessories and objects on the furniture restricted to groups of 1 – 3 items.  In general, a de-cluttered home helps a buyer mentally “move in” with their own things.  Rearrange or remove some of the furniture in your home.   Thin out overcrowded rooms to make the rooms appear larger.  If there is artwork you are taking with you, remove it and replace it with something else.
  2. Extra cleaning focus should be on kitchens and bathrooms.   All personal items should be stored away leaving only a few personal items on the counter.  Keep toilet seats down in the bathrooms because it looks better.  Put kitchen and bathroom rugs away unless they are decorative.  Remove trash from cans and containers.   Included in the deep clean if needed are carpets, windows, sliders, ceiling fans and trim.  I recommend hiring a professional cleaner.
  3. If there is anything cracked or broken, fix it if possible.
  4. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders in the living area or any room that needs it.
  5. Be sure there are no odors!  If you have a grade level bonus room, you may need to get a humidifier to remove the moisture that causes an unpleasant odor.
  6. Curb appeal is very important.   Take whatever steps you can to make the exterior look its best.  Tidy up plants, shrubbery, etc.    Repair broken items if possible.  I suggest power washing if there is build of black stuff on vinyl which is quite common at the shore especially on the soffits.
  7. Make sure all your lights work and any safety issues are addressed.
  8. Where ever possible, a little decorative touch is nice such has a centerpiece on a table.    Find great ideas at Home Goods or Cape May Wicker.
  9. Lastly as a helpful exercise to test your efforts, take a look at your property through the eyes of a buyer as though you have never seen it before.  You will notice if there is a anything left to be addressed.    Good luck!

Sea Isle City Monster Houses & The Monstrosity of Confusion They Created

The subject of Monster Houses in Sea Isle City just won’t go away.    The huge amount of time and effort by everyone involved with this issue was nothing but a dumpster fire.    The changes made won’t make any difference in Sea Isle City’s landscape.  Buildings will be just as high as before but a little bit smaller in floor area, which aspect I doubt the human eye will even notice.  But a small minority of residents are happy now as they thought they won but really, they only succeeded in causing unnecessary havoc in the city they claim to love and care for so much.

Now at issue in the building Ordinance is its vagueness in the definition of “Floor Area.”  See below as copied and pasted from Sea Isle Ordinance 1591.    In its content, the words “horizontal areas” and what that includes is the problem.    Apparently it needs to be defined more clearly because some people can’t see that a “horizontal area” does not include stairwells and elevator shafts.  I don’t know, call me crazy but the word “vertical” comes to my mind when I think of these two things.  Or, “open space” more accurately describes them than does “horizontal.”     I would think a”horizontal area” ends when it meets the stairwell and the elevator shaft and becomes becomes something else.   I can’t walk across a stairwell or an elevator shaft, this I am sure, without needing someone to call 911 from my injuries of “falling through” the “horizontal area.”    Elevator shafts and interior stairwells should be included with the other items below the Definitions that count as “0%.”    It is a no brainer to me but City Official(s) don’t see it this way.    I hope they come to their senses soon and correct this problem.

26-11 Definitions.

Floor area shall mean the sum of the gross horizontal areas of the several floors of the building, or buildings, measured from the exterior faces of exterior walls, or from the center line of party walls separating two (2) buildings. The calculation of the “floor area” of the building shall be based on the following standards: Enclosed floor area on the first floor or above 100%
Glass enclosed and covered porches 100%
Screened or otherwise enclosed covered porches or breezeways 50%
Enclosed attached or detached garage or open carports 0%
Basement space 0%
On-grade patios, terraces and uncovered or covered steps 0%
Open balconies, open attached covered or uncovered decks including roof decks, open covered porches, open breezeways 0%
Projections in compliance with 26-27.6 Encroachments 0%

 

Sea Isle City Summer Rental in the Beach Block with an Elevator

 

 

13 72nd St., East is a brand new south end beach block condo/townhouse available for summer rental most weeks this season.  This home was finished being built early in May 2016 and has 5/6 bedrooms, 5 full bathrooms and a half bath.   It has a 4 stop elevator beginning in the garage for loading convenience.  There are 3 master bedrooms en suite with decks and 2 middle hall bedrooms sharing a bathroom.   There is a possible 6th bedroom set up as a family room with a sleeper sofa and full bathroom.  This is a gorgeous home with an ocean view.   There are five (5) decks with the main deck off the Great Room perfect for al fresco dining.     This home has 2 level HVAC, 5 ceiling fans and is soundproofed well for privacy and comfort.  It is on steps to the beach being only 4 houses away.     Perfect for large family gatherings where parents, children and grandchildren can all get together to enjoy the sand, sun and surf.   Also works well for friends and there families to share with 3 private bedroom suites.  This homes sleeps 13 people.  There are 2 off street parking spots and all the amenities you would expect in a luxury home.  Please call for availability, rates and more details on this property.

Sea Isle City New Construction, Builders, Floor Area Ratio and Parking

This blog refers to buildings that are the standard, side-by-side condo/townhouse on a standard lot of 50 ft. by 110 ft.

The ongoing parking and Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.) issue being discussed by Sea Isle’s City Council, its residents and builders continues. The last amendments to Ordinance 1584 that passed this year limiting F.A.R. to .8% of the total lot size may change again.

In 2010, F.A.R. was eliminated. It was .7% but that did not include the grade level bonus room.  The 2010 ordinance allowed homes to be built higher to raise the bonus rooms from off the grade level to above Base Flood Elevation (B.F.E).   The building height limit was increased to 32 ft. above B.F.E. from 30 ft.    Before the 2010 ordinance took effect, bonus rooms were on the grade level and being used as living space but not insurable.  F.A.R. should never have been totally eliminated.  The building footprint did not need to change and shouldn’t have.  Raising the building height and, in essence adding another level for the bonus room, brought the F.A.R. to about .9%.  However, some developers took advantage of the no limit to F.A.R. and were building duplexes whose F.A.R. was over .10% and higher.  These are what I believe are the true “monster houses.”  The homes that were built to the intended translation of the 2010 Ordinance were not bigger, per se, just higher.  The intention of the 2010 amendments to Ordinance 1584 was to give Sea Isle City a better rating with F.E.M.A. and allow the much in demand bonus room to be legal and insurable.

It is important to understand that the increased building height to 32 ft. above B.F.E. has not been amended in the recent 2016 Ordinance 1584 which limited F.A.R. to .8%.    The reason I doubt it will ever change is because it adheres to F.E.M.A. rules.  There is a popular demand for this style home.  By meeting the demand, overall property values are sustained and have increased over time.  New construction is selling for higher prices now than it did before the bubble burst.

On Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 9:00 a.m., City Council convenes to address F.A.R. and a new Ordinance is forthcoming allowing F.A.R. to be changed from .8%.   I heard it may be .85% and I’ve also heard .87%.  Everybody is trying to figure out a way to create more parking by again changing F.A.R.  I’m afraid the cow has left the barn (and moved into a bigger home).   There are not many standard lots left prime for redevelopment to make a difference.  What City Council and all concerned may need to do is to stop wasting time trying to please those that view progress made in Sea Isle City as negative.  Instead it may be more useful to attack the real issue which is lack of parking and too many cars.   Here are a couple of ideas.   More parking areas could be provided for excess cars to park long term and only allow 1-3 cars per residence, depending on off street parking spots that residence has.  Maybe the cars can be parked at a remote location and Golf carts implemented that don’t take up much space.    Maybe they can be rented for a minimal fee at the remote parking locations.   It may need to become part of the rental lease that only 1-3 cars are allowed per residence and make it mandatory that guests or additional renters will need to carpool or be picked up at a remote location, especially on weekends.  The Jitney can be made available during the day. Maybe a bike path on the dunes would help. Lastly, let’s face it.  We are a resort town and for about 8 weeks, the population swells.  I have lived in the center of town for 25 years so I have an idea of what it is like.  I’ve used a bike to get around a lot.

 

I believe that the F.A.R. should be capped at .9% to meet the popular demand (for homes with 5 bedrooms plus a family room/6th bedroom) and keep flood insurance rates down.   Many owners have children and grandchildren they want to have room for which is within the tradition of Sea Isle City being a family town.  If you support this and agree, please come to the City Council meeting on Saturday, May 21, 2016.  I hope to see you there.