In 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore. With the help of federal aid, (which was distributed in the aftermath of the storm to facilitate the community’s redevelopment and make up for a loss of tax revenue), communities rebuilt infrastructure, parks, and beaches. Now, as federal aid is coming to an end, individuals are rebuilding houses and changing the landscape along the coast.
On Ortley Beach, only 60 houses out of 2,600 weathered the storm, giving the community the opportunity to rebuild itself. New York and New Jersey residents have been investing in rebuilding the Jersey Shore for their holiday homes, despite the risks posed during hurricane season. This clean slate has attracted wealthy investors to build their dream holiday homes right on the coast (helped along by the fact that it is significantly cheaper than tearing down and rebuilding multimillion dollar homes in the Hamptons). Tim O’Shea, a real estate broker for Keller Williams Shore Properties, told the New York Times that prior to Hurricane Sandy, Ortley Beach “was mostly a blue-collar community where houses were passed down from one generation to the next … We’ve got a whole different thing going on here now, with 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot houses going up.”
In Toms River, where 10,000 houses were impacted by Hurricane Sandy, 2,000 properties are being rebuilt and another 1,200 are being renovated and put onto platforms to avoid future flood damage. Due to the extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection implemented regulations requiring all new developments and houses under renovation to be elevated one foot more than mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Many of these new elevated properties are ten feet above ground. Elevating homes in flood zones protects housing structures, and also significantly lowers costly insurance rates. For today’s buyers, mortgage lenders require owners to purchase flood insurance. However, houses that were passed on from generation to generation were not under the same scrutiny and left unprotected. Families who could not afford to rebuild their homes put the land up for sale. Real estate agencies subdivided the plots for buyers to rebuild on.
In Mantoloking, roughly 119 homes were destroyed. As of today, 115 have been rebuilt and almost 100 have been elevated. Buyers are changing the aesthetics and the market of this area as they build higher, larger, and more luxurious houses. Properties in Ocean Beach have traditionally been one-story. However, as owners rebuild their dream homes, they have had to seek approval from the homeowner’s association to build multiple story houses. While these homes are by no means inexpensive, they are still attracting young professionals from New York who are looking to buy large holiday homes for comparatively less than the cost of property in the Hamptons.