After a long, cold winter, spring has finally arrived in Oceanside and Island Park — and with it has come a newly rejuvenated housing market.
While fears of a poor market haunted the South Shore after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the area in 2012, real estate has begun to pick up, even as the two seaside communities continue to rebuild.
“I think the market is going to actually pick up big time — right after the new year, it was very busy,” said Michael Karlen, a real estate agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty in Oceanside. “The snow definitely slowed things down big time … but when you have two major snowstorms per week, it’s tough to get people out. Recently, though, I did open houses the last two weekends, and I had about 10 couples at each open house. It was actually pretty crazy.”
Karlen said that in spite of worries about the South Shore’s ability to withstand future storms, home buyers continue to find the area attractive. While waterfront homes are moving more slowly than he has seen in years past, the prices of most homes are better than he expected. “The rates are still good,” he said. “They’re doing what they can to stabilize flood insurance with the [Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act] that was passed recently, and hopefully that will help the south Oceanside and Island Park markets.
“The rates [in general] are pretty low and competitive,” Karlen added. “I don’t think the mortgages are that low. They always fluctuate. They go down a little and it drives buyers.”
Michael Scully, of Century 21 and Scully Realty in Island Park, sees the situation similarly. “I think, overall, we’ve been pretty steady,” he said. “We even had activity through the cold spell, but it seems on the past couple of weeks we’ve picked up, and we’re in a steady stride right now toward the spring market. There are people out there looking and there are people out there buying.”
Scully, who is also the vice president of the Island Park Chamber of Commerce, described a “steady flow” of first-time buyers looking for a place to settle and second-timers hoping for more expansive homes. He also noticed a number of “handy-people” looking to buy beat-up homes at low prices and renovate them.