From the Star Ledger:
The piles of debris that towered in the front yards of flood-damaged homes are gone and the rumble of generators powering cold, damp homes has quieted.
But there’s a new symbol of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath popping up along the Jersey Shore: For Sale signs.
More than three months after the storm drove a surge of water into homes and uprooted the lives of thousands of residents, some homeowners grappling with the cost of repairing their homes — and rebuilding to new federal height regulations — are hoping someone else wants to buy their slice of the shore.
While some residents are making the “very personal decision” to put their homes on the market now, Peter Reinhart, director of the Kislak Real Estate Institute at Monmouth University said last week he didn’t expect many homeowners to sell.
“Jersey Shore people are a pretty hardy bunch,” he said. “If they can, economically, most of them tend to come back whether it’s this year or another year.”
But residents deciding to leave now expect to sell their homes for a fraction of what they were worth before the storm.
“I’m disgusted. They gave us money to fix it, but now we can’t raise it. We’re losing a lot of money,” said Irene Murphy, who lives on Valencia Drive in Brick with her husband, Tom. “I’m heartbroken.”
Murphy said the property, which they purchased in 1998, had an assessed value of $337,000 before the storm, but she now expects to sell it for $150,000 less than that price.
The home would have to be raised at least five feet, which would cost about $50,000, Tom Murphy said. “We’d love to be able to restore the house and say, ‘restore the shore,’ but we can’t afford to restore the shore,” he said.
That’s the reality Adrian Parish started to face last month, when she affixed a “For Sale” sign to the front of the bayfront property in Toms River that’s been in her family for 47 years.
Parish said the house and land was assessed at $892,000 before the storm. “Now, I would be thrilled, I would be ecstatic to get $400,000 to go live somewhere else,” she said.
Mike Ehrenkranz lives just a few doors from Parish. About two weeks ago, he stuck a “For Sale by Owner” sign onto the front of his home. The bay broke through the back of his house, dumping more than four feet of water through the main living area. “We’re not so sure we want to stay on the water anymore,” he said.
Though the house and property was worth about $800,000, he said now he’d be “lucky to get $500,000.”
Ehrenkranz said he’s received about 20 inquiries since he put up his sign, but nothing firm yet. He’s also fielded a few offers from builders, but he said they were way too low — in the $300,000 range.
But the threat of another storm like Sandy hasn’t deterred potential buyers, O’Brien said. “It’s a mix of people that are looking to build higher and drier, more efficiently and to the proper elevation,” she said.