Nearly every weekend, Maryland resident Silas McCullough makes the three and a half-hour drive to his vacation home in Asbury Park where he’s restoring a century-old house near the ocean. Real estate experts say McCullough is part of a new upward trend in New Jersey’s housing market.
“I feel that, especially in the last six months, we have really seen an uptick in buyers coming to the market especially along the shore towns,” said Sonja O’Brien, realtor associate for John C. Conover Agency.
A New Jersey Association of Realtors report indicates statewide home sales rose 6 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from the same period last year.
And in Monmouth County, housing market statistics reveal a dramatic rebound. Real estate sales are up 17 percent compared to the first six months of last year and sales jumped 35 percent in shore communities.
Real estate agent O’Brien says there are lots of reasons why the Jersey Shore housing market is on the rise.
“I think that when you see all that’s going on with the European debt crisis and the volatility of the market, that putting your money back into a brick and mortar investment is the way to go. And a benefit, a byproduct to that is why not put it in so that you can enjoy your investment and use it on the weekends and share memories with family and friends,” she said.
That’s part of what motivated McCullough and his partner to buy a second home.
“I consider real estate part of my investment portfolio,” said McCullough. “I feel I definitely have a direct connection with it and I can directly influence how it performs, if you will.”
O’Brien says sellers are pricing homes realistically coupled with historically low interest rates the market is attracting buyers from both in and out of the state.
“The interest rates definitely had an influence. I mean, it made a big difference,” McCullough said. “They were so low, it’s was almost like why aren’t you doing this?”
After visiting Asbury Park, McCullough was convinced the Jersey Shore offered more to homeowners than Maryland’s coastal communities.
“I think Jersey has something that Maryland doesn’t have and that is you’ve got this semi-urban context right next to the ocean,” McCullough said.
In the world of real estate, it always seems to come down to location, location, location.
“People want a secondary home or even a primary home that they can still commute to their jobs in Manhattan or a secondary place that they don’t have to be on the road a lot to get to,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien predicts the Jersey Shore’s housing market will continue to improve. As for McCullough, he plans to eventually sell his home in Maryland and turn his New Jersey weekend getaway into a year-round residence.
Lauren Wanko reports from Asbury Park.