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 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.

Retiring to the Jersey Shore – Part 3

This is the third post in this series exploring the Baby Boomer generation’s retirement trend and its relation to real estate, from Boomer habits and goals, specifically focused on housing and money trends.

As mentioned in earlier posts, Boomers are continuing to buck the trend of moving to traditional retiree hotspots like Florida and Arizona. Boomers are opting to stay put, or very close to home and instead alter their homes to adapt to their changing lifestyles.

Aging in Place

According to the Demand Institute’s Study, 63% of Boomers don’t plan on moving in retirement.

While Boomers may be “aging in place” and willing to settle down closer to home, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to contribute in a major way to the housing market in their retirement. It’s estimated that Boomers will spend $1.9 trillion in real estate and $500 billion on rent over the next five years. Putting that in more digestible terms, Boomers will account for almost $1 out of every $4 spent on home purchases and rent in the next five years.

Source: Demand Institute

Housing Trends

Above all, Boomers are looking for low-maintenance houses, and for a lot of retirees, that means staying in place, and remodeling their current homes to fit their new lifestyle. This could mean one-story homes, or homes with elevators, but still with upscale appliances and amenities like hardwood floors and granite countertops. A lot of Boomers are attracted to condos and townhomes for similar reasons: luxury with low maintenance.

Retrofitting to Stay Put

10 years ago, Baby Boomers accounted for less than one-third of home-improvement spending, according to a Harvard-led study on housing trends. By 2011, Boomer home-improvement spending was up to 45% of the total market share. The biggest home improvement trends for Boomers are simple ones, but crucial in order to transition into the next stage of life:

  • Ability to Live on One Floor

    Boomers are planning to stay in their homes long past the years when they want to be climbing up steep stairs to go to sleep. Putting a master bedroom and bath on the first floor is an easy solution to keeping your house elder-friendly, while leaving the upstairs bedrooms for guests. Not surprisingly, 40% of new homes built have master bedrooms on the first floor.

  • Wide Doorways and Hallways

  • Doors and halls must be wide enough for walkers and wheelchairs.

  • Bathroom Remodels

    A small space can be a huge difference maker for Boomers. According to one contractor, it’s not unusual for a $30,000 bathroom remodel, including a wider shower with a bench, higher toilets, and a grab bar.

  • Easy Maintenance

    Less work means less headaches for Boomers entering their retirement years. Lower cabinets, or even something as simple as cabinet pulls that are easier on arthritic hands, are all small fixes that make a big difference. There’s also a trend to replace big lawns with patios, making outdoor maintenance a breeze.

Source: Harvard JCHS Remodeling Report 2013 and Demand Institute and

Mortgage Trends

Unlike generations past, where the trend was to save money, avoid debt later in life, and rely on traditional pensions and Social Security, Boomers are facing less stability and uncertainty, with more focus on individual investment and saving. While Boomers thrived financially in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the 2008 financial crisis was a major setback for Boomers, causing most to refocus their retirement plans. Even with those setbacks, Boomers seem to live in less financial fear, with more of an open mind about retirement possibilities.

Not Afraid of Debt

Boomers are proving they aren’t afraid of taking on more debt in retirement, and some are willing to take on more debt in order to live in their “dream homes” or live a lifestyle that they always wanted in retirement. Americans 65 or older with mortgage debt was at 30% in 2011, compared to 22% in 2001. In the same time period, loan balances also increased, from $43,400 to $79,000.

Source: Bloomberg and Demand Institute

Slowing Down? No Way!

One thing is clear – Boomers are showing no signs of slowing down in the housing market in the next decade. Buying, renting, and remodeling are all huge parts of their retirement plans.

Keep an eye out for Part 4 of this blog post, where we’ll discuss more Boomer Retirement trends.

Retiring to the Jersey Shore – Part 2

This is the second post in this series exploring the Baby Boomer generation’s retirement trend and its relation to real estate, from Boomer habits and goals, how and where they would like to retire, and the pros and cons of retiring to the Jersey Shore.

The Jersey Shore has always had a strong, year-round older population, but more than ever it’s making sense for retirees to consider moving full-time to their second home, or even consider buying homes down the shore for their retirement.

A few years ago, when the first Boomers were turning 65, real estate agents at the shore were worried that Boomers would be selling off their shore houses in preparation for retirement, however Boomers are proving that they are remaining loyal to the shore and want to continue to live there, at least part-time.

I’ve interviewed Baby Boomers entering their prime retiring years. Some already have owned houses at the shore for years, using their homes as vacation homes, while others have used their houses as investment properties, with renters all summer season. One interviewee, Jeff, has semi-retired to the Jersey Shore starting in July of this year, while others are seriously considering retiring to the Shore within the next 1-2 years. You will find their full interviews as a supplemental installments in this blog series.

Why Retire to the Jersey Shore?

When I interviewed Boomers, there was a clear lifestyle consideration in wanting to retire at the Jersey Shore, which is similar to the sentiment shown in the Boomer generation as a whole, and talked about in the first blog post of this series. All three expressed the desire to live at the shore for similar reasons, which I’ve summarized below:

  1. Lifestyle
    Lifestyle was the main consideration for all Boomers when thinking about where they want to retire. Most really like the quiet, peaceful aspect of the shore. Beth remarks,

    I would like nothing better than to spend most of the year at the Jersey Shore. I find that the slower pace of life down there, coupled with the off shore breeze and sound of the surf are incredibly relaxing. I can easily imagine enjoying the ‘shoulder seasons’ in the spring and fall before and after the influx of seasonal visitors.”

    In general, Boomers consider  the beach environment a major selling point in retirement, as Jim points out: “I love the smell of the ocean air. The lifestyle of being able to step outside and walk on the beach to me is a very positive thing.”  Boomers appreciate the slower pace of life at the shore.

  2. Location, Location, Location
    Having a home at the Jersey Shore is a major draw for kids and grandkids. Who wouldn’t want to spend a week with their parents enjoying the beach? Jim made a good point, “It’s an easy place for the family to get to. Everyone lives within a hundred miles of the Jersey shore.” In general, Boomers want to be close by to loved ones. According to a 2012 study, a third of Boomers want to live very close to their families – 62% plan on living in the same state as they currently reside. Boomers know that when they do need more care later in life, they’d rather have their family have the convenience of taking care of them near by.Chris is clear in his thoughts about it, “I want to be proximate to what’s important to me: my kids, and my friends and extended family, and we have a place at the shore that is central to all of that.”Another important factor for retirees these days is still having a close family association or place to go for family holidays. Beth points out what she likes most about the idea of being close to family: “the appeal and ease of accessibility of the place for visiting family and friends; the strong emotional associations and memories of past good times.” It’s clear Boomers are taking family into consideration when they think about retirement. Their retirement years are about relaxing, but also about continuing close ties with loved ones.
  3. The Outdoors
    Jim and Jeff both spoke specifically about the appeal of being close to the water in retirement. Jim’s house in Ocean City gives him great access to that, and the ability to have a more active, outdoors lifestyle than he currently has. He wants to be able to walk to town, and enjoy the benefits of the shore’s natural beauty. Beth and Jeff both echoed Jim’s sentiments. Beth is excited about the walkability of the shore points, and the idea of riding her bike, while Jeff talked about how much he loves fishing and frequently going out on his boat – something he can’t do when he’s not near the shore.
  4. Affordability
    Financial stability is a major concern for Boomers. Cape May County, home to popular destinations like Sea Isle, Ocean City, Avalon and Cape May, has the second lowest property tax rates in New Jersey. Compared to other Jersey counties and Philadelphia suburbs, the shore way of life is affordable.

“Cons” of Retiring to the Jersey Shore

Of course, there are always some cons when deciding where you want to spend most of your golden years.

  1. Weather
    Some drawbacks of making the shore your full-time residence includes unforeseen weather – Hurricane Sandy certainly comes to mind. Aside from catastrophic weather events, the cold, lonely winter is not too appealing for retirees at the Jersey Shore. Beth and Jim both see winter down the shore as a bit of a drag, and Chris worries about the isolation the shore in the winter can bring. Jeff doesn’t necessarily see winter down the shore as a bad thing, but he is breaking up the cold winter with some sun: “We knew the first year in the winter may have some interesting expectations…Florida is only a 2 hour plane ride away, we hope to spend some time there, when the skiing starts to end, just before the striper seasons kicks in for the Springtime.”
  2. Health Care
    Another con that Beth mentioned was the access to premiere health care in the area. She feels that she has good health providers in the Philadelphia area, and feels a little uneasy about being further away from her providers. In contrast, Jim viewed health care as a positive in his case. He wasn’t so much concerned, as Shore Medical Center, a large hospital, is close by in Somer’s Point.
  3. Taxes
    The Jersey Shore may not be as tax friendly as other popular retiree destinations. Taxes are a subject that will be discussed in the next blog post.

It’s a Shore Thing

If there is one thing for sure, it’s that Boomers are taking their retirement seriously. Jeff had his retirement plan started over 20 years ago, and though he’s made slight modifications to his original plan, he’s finally carrying it out. Chris says he thinks about retirement almost daily.

Retirement for Boomers may not be static. Boomers are active, and always evaluating their options. They’ve made it clear that they are considering every facet of retired life in their decision, with a specific emphasis on lifestyle, staying active, and family. And the Jersey Shore couldn’t be a better fit for those goals.

Part Three of this blog post discusses more Boomer Retirement issues including housing, taxes, and mortgage trends. Also, be on the lookout for Boomer interviews, being posted periodically on this blog.



Retiring to the Jersey Shore

This is the first post in this series exploring the Baby Boomer generation’s retirement trend and its relation to real estate, from Boomer habits and goals, how and where they would like to retire, and the pros and cons of retiring to the Jersey Shore.


Booming into Retirement

Did you know that 8,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day for the next 15 years? We’ll have our second largest population group (the largest are Millenials – aka Boomer children) figuring out where they are retiring to and how they want to spend the next quarter century. These days, that doesn’t necessarily mean heading off to Florida. In general, Boomers are more active and living longer than their parents, meaning their spending habits and market presence will continue to have influence well into their 80s and 90s. It also means that Boomers have more flexibility and choice in when, where, and how they retire. Boomers and their Millennial kin may have a lot more in common than they think – both are looking to buy a certain lifestyle, which means Boomers aren’t sticking with the stereotypical retirement plan of generations past.

Out with the Old

Historically, popular destinations for retirees have been warm-weather and reasonably low cost-of-living havens like Florida, the Carolinas, and Arizona. But these days, Boomers aren’t necessarily retiring to old folks homes or even have the desire to leave their home state.

Many Boomers are moving away from traditional retirement communities in favor of diversity, both in age and culture. Retirees don’t want to be stuck in a retirement community with people their same age and background. It is also important for Boomers to stay close to friends and family, and have a more active and balanced lifestyle, as they know this heavily contributes to their overall happiness and health in the long-term.

Boomer Retirement Trends

One thing Boomers have made clear is that they want to avoid the institutionalized, sterile environment that old folks’ homes have a reputation for. While community is very important for retirement-aged people, they want some diversity too. Some other retirement trends of the Baby Boomer generation include:

  1. City Mouse/Country Mouse

    Many Boomers find it appealing to be close to a city, like Philadelphia. Cities provide a place for retirees to have all the amenities they need in one compact place – great culture, an abundance of activities, restaurants, easy transportation and a relatively inexpensive cost of living. You have what you need at your fingertips!

    Many Boomers are also considering their second homes and vacation homes as their full-time retirement plan. Many owners I know at the Jersey Shore plan on using their vacation home as their next retirement destination. An interesting study done in the North Jersey Shore towns saw Millenials leaving shore towns but Boomers moving in more rapidly than ever before. In Ocean County, NJ, the full-time Baby Boomer population increased more than 9% between 2007 and 2013.

  2. Living Longer/Retiring Later

    People are living 7 years longer than they were when the social security age was determined to be 65. This means people are planning for a longer retirement, and aren’t necessarily retiring at 60 or even 65.

  3. Work Hard/Play Hard

    Boomers see themselves retiring in their late-sixties to early-seventies rather than at 60 or 65. Only 65% of people 65 and older have fully retired. And many don’t necessarily think they’ll be 100% retired ever. Many don’t like the idea of fully retiring or working full-time, but instead striking a balance of both that satisfies their lifestyle goals.

  4. Entrepreneurial Spirit/Getting Creative

    Many Boomers don’t plan on relying on government help for their retirement. They are being realistic and cautious, and plan to supplement their income well into retirement – just not with their current job. Boomers are open to other job opportunities into retirement, especially since most women in this generation are very well-educated.

  5. Lifestyle Trumps All

    Above all, Boomers value the lifestyle change that retirement brings. This means spending more time with family, traveling more, being culturally invested, and living an active and healthy lifestyle.

  6. Continuation of Care is Still Important

    Boomers aren’t naïve either – they know they will eventually need the same type of care that their parents are getting in nursing homes. However, this care may be delayed as Boomers are living healthier, longer lives. Coordination of care will continue to be very important for Boomers, but it’s something that will have to be coordinated around their lifestyle.

Part Two of this blog post discusses the Pros and Cons of retiring at the Jersey Shore highlighting some interviews with Boomer shore property owners considering this retirement option.