Written by Jeff Lipton
Spurred by reconstruction of a $44 million boardwalk, property values in Long Beach are expected to rebound to pre-Hurricane Sandy levels — and probably even better, according to local real estate agents.
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“I think that the boardwalk coming back is a very, very positive sign for the city,” said Donald Press, a longtime real estate attorney and former chairman of the city’s zoning board. “Property values have suffered some sort of decline, but Long Beach is coming back and property values may exceed what they were previously. It’s just going to take a bit of time to catch up.
“This is actually a great time to invest in Long Beach,” he added.
Press, 80, a lifelong Long Beach resident, said he recently walked along the new boardwalk and witnessed the excitement first-hand.
“People were jogging and bicycling and it’s not even 50 percent completed,” he said. “The boardwalk is the lifeline of the city.”
One of the city’s top real estate brokers, who requested anonymity, expressed enthusiasm over the real estate market in Long Beach, in large part, due to the new boardwalk.
“I believe people will be flocking here once it’s done,” she said. “People have been waiting for it to go up.”
The 2.2-mile span, with brand new Brazilian hardwood decking, is scheduled for completion in November. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to reimburse the city for almost the entire $44.2 million boardwalk reconstruction tab, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) recently announced.
The broker said her multiple listing numbers show that the real estate market has been rebounding quite nicely even before the first plank secured on the boardwalk. About 95 homes – ranging in price from $115,000 to $1.3 million – have been purchased in Long Beach over the past eight months.
She added that many of these “distressed properties,” which were heavily damaged during the hurricane, were being bought and not at bargain basement prices.
“You can’t keep them on the market for more than two weeks,” she said. “People are coming in and showing great confidence in Long Beach. “There’s a lot of interest in Long Beach. My phone doesn’t stop ringing. Everybody is calling. Long Beach is hot.”
Another 203 homes are on the market with an asking price ranging from $133,000 to $3 million, she said.
“And so many people are actually keeping their property and taking their property off the market,” the broker said.
And the rental market is showing even stronger signs. Since Jan. 1, about 490 homes have been rented in Long Beach, with rents ranging from $950 to $4,500. In addition, 32 condos have been sold.
Real estate agents said they don’t believe locals have to fear price gouging on rentals and expect that landlords will not drastically jack up rents because a new boardwalk is being built.
“I don’t see rents going up myself,” Press said.
Alex Rubin of Douglas Elliman Real Estate said business has been booming. “It’s been a very busy year,” Rubin said. “We’re doing as much business by mid-June as we did a year before that.”
He attributes the interest in Long Beach real estate in large part to a reconstructed boardwalk. “It’s going to help,” he added. “The old boardwalk was run-down.”Rubin and Press agreed that the newly reconstructed span could spur further development in the community but it could take a few years. However, they are not convinced that a new boardwalk is enough to help the Superblock, the development of which has been discussed for decades.