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Sandy Recovery Coming From New Homes, Not Existing Ones, Data Shows

Paul Jones Drive in Brick where the American flag once was taped to a mailbox. The area is now under construction with new houses being built. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Paul Jones Drive in Brick where a number of small homes on Barnegat Bay have been replaced by a few large homes. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

As Ocean County’s tax base turns a corner from the devastating blow it took during Superstorm Sandy, the numbers illustrate what locals already know: high-value, new construction is taking off while the values of more modest homes, some of which have not been repaired following the storm, are languishing.

From the barrier island section of Brick, to lagoon communities like Shore Acres, across the county to Long Beach Island, middle class ranch and Cape Cod style homes are sometimes not being rebuilt, while investors are buying up lots and destroyed properties on the cheap and constructing large, modern, high-value homes.

The latest real estate valuation data from Ocean County was revealed Wednesday at a meeting of the Ocean County freeholders where the 2015 county budget was proposed. According to the county’s financial officials, the tax base – still reduced by 16 percent from before the storm – has turned a corner, increasing by $1.6 billion between 2014 and 2015.

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“Most of this increase is from new and redeveloped construction, not from existing property values,” said Freeholder Director John C. Bartlett. “We’re not really seeing a recovery in old values, what we’re seeing is a build-up in new property values.”

The county’s tax ratable base hit its peak in 2009, at $110 billion. After the effects of the 2008 real estate crisis were realized, Sandy hit, sending the value of the county’s real property plunging to $90.9 billion. In 2015, the value is pegged at $92.5 billion.

In Brick, real estate prices have remained largely stagnant over the past year. The median sale price of a home is currently $214,500, while the median list price is $265,000. Both are down less than 1 percent since Dec. 2013, according to RealtyTrac, a website that tracks real estate data. In Mantoloking’s ZIP code, which includes Brick’s barrier island portion, the average list price of a home is $890,000 – down 31 percent since Dec. 2013 – while the average sale price is $875,000, up 19 percent.

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