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

 

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 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.

Sea Isle City Single Family Home Under $400K

My ongoing series on “great deals” in Sea Isle City presents a single family home on a 32 x 100 lot.   How many different ways can you say “adorable?”    This lovely light blue cottage holds all the charms of yesteryear.  The box shelved wall is my favorite.  Or, is it the bright and cheerful sunny yellow porch that’s my favorite?  You won’t find too many of these around town anymore except maybe in Strathmere you will.   This home is situated on Landis Avenue where all the action is and where you can sit and watch the passer byers as they head into town for an evening out.  You have the option of taking advantage of this great location, which is very close to the beach,  by tearing this vintage cottage down and building a beautiful new single family home.     Enjoy the new vantage points by taking in the sights of the city from one of your decks on the second or third floors.  The lot size is big enough for a 2,500 square foot new construction.  Priced at $399,000, as is, you can’t beat it.   This property was very well cared for and obviously loved for decades.  Walk everywhere from this fine location and never worry about driving or parking.    Call me for more details on how you can buy this one-of-a-kind, well preserved home.    I also can provide you with specific information as to what you can build and everything involved with property redevelopment in Sea Isle City.

 

Real Estate Deals in Sea Isle City

Sea Isle City is a charming, family sea shore resort that has changed dramatically over the last 40 years.  There are many types of homes here and in every price range.  Prices range from $150,000 to $2,000,000.     Style of home ranges from a small one bedroom condo to a large beach front single family home.  The real estate deals are the homes for sale that are a little older and don’t have all the bells and whistles.    Here is one currently for sale:

230 76th Street South, Sea Isle City, NJ

4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms Asking $479,900

Pick #2Pick #2aPick #2b

BACK ON THE MARKET AT A REDUCED PRICE ! One of a kind design, 4 bedroom, 2 full bath townhouse. Located in the south end on a very private street with little traffic, this unit has a traditional layout with the living room, kitchen and dining area on the first floor. Two bedrooms and one bath on the first floor and two very large bedrooms and a bath on the second floor. At the entrance of the unit is a large sunny deck for major enjoyment and outdoor dining. The yard has partial fence and a peek at the bay. The property is on an extra wide street that is family friendly.    You will like this:  There are no condo fees!    You pay taxes and insurances just like you would on any other home.
Call me if you would like more information on this property or others like it.

Sea Isle City Polar Bear Plunge Weekend 2016

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POLAR BEAR PLUNGE 2008:

Check out the video:

mb20.awards.plunge 083

mb20.awards.plunge 061

 

It’s time to start planning PBP weekend in Sea Isle City, New Jersey.   Next weekend is the Super Bowl and the following is PBP so if you don’t have a plan yet, get one going!      Winter storm Jonas took a bite out of 42nd street beach so the plunge will take place on 40th St.   Yes, sadly a few dunes were affected but not much and thankfully the dunes kept the ocean back where it belongs.  Everywhere else I looked, the dunes and beaches looked like a storm never hit.   So bring your PBRs to the PBP and let’s celebrate that it is February and we are on our way to Summer 2016!   I hope to see you there!   Please “like” Ocean View Realty on Facebook. Thank you!

Sea Isle City Passes Ordinance Limiting the Size of New Homes

Ordinance 1584 was passed by City Council this morning with 3 voting in favor and 2 against.     For almost 2 hours, opinions, concerns and questions were exchanged.   Architectural plans were introduced showing three different size duplexes demonstrating that from the front, they will look like they do now whether they are .7, .8 or .9.  The size difference doesn’t mean much except that future homes built will be smaller.   It may be that there is one less bedroom but maybe not.   There is no limit to the number of bedrooms in the Ordinance.  This is exactly what is frustrating because will the difference in size really make a difference?  Will we have that many less cars and people to notice because some homes will be a little smaller?   I doubt it.    The cow left the barn a long time ago.   I also disagree with the quickness in which this all happened.   It was suggested by some concerned people, and I agree, that the Ordinance should become part of the Master Plan for the City that will be completed in about a year by the  City’s Planning Board.   I like this because this very important issue would have been examined more carefully and completely.   It is be better to have real facts to refer to when making good laws.    I think it was hastily done and I am not alone.  But, it is what it is.    A new design is on the horizon.  Please see:    Ord – 1584 – reinstate FAR at 8 – as introduced

The other issue is parking which will be next.  The City wants every duplex (condo/townhouses) to each have 4 parking spaces so that makes 8 parking spots for a side-x-side duplex.   The Ordinance that was just passed doesn’t change the footprint of the buildings.  And the height will not change.  The area remaining around the building will be the same so there won’t be more room for parking.  (The setbacks haven’t changed.)   However, the garages can go the full length of the building which will provide more garage parking unless these areas are closed in and used as living space which will be illegal but there are hundreds of illegal bonus rooms existing today.   What would stop anyone from doing it again?  (I think this is what is referred to as creating a monster, no pun intended.)     The amount of impervious coverage is 70%.  In the architectural drawings provided at today’s meeting, it showed 8 parking spots which would require concrete underneath.    Unless a house is pitched correctly, water could accumulate in the rear of the property.  This created another series of comments and peoples’ ideas of a better way.   It will be a challenge to meet this requirement.     It’s because of bad laws in the past that we don’t have as much parking as we should because the curbs in between the driveways have been cut too small and a car can’t fit.polar-bear-plungeI will keep you up to date as to what happens with the parking.  I hope the solution makes sense.   See you at the Polar Bear Plunge