SUMMER, AT LAST
Through the dreary months of winter and early spring we fantasize about the dog days of summer. Well, summer is finally here. We are rewarded for another year of hard work by having the opportunity to live life to its fullest here at the Jersey shore. So sit back, relax, have a cookout, and enjoy the fruits of your labors.
THE CLOCK IS TICKING
The slower real estate market has different effects on different people. For those in their 30's and 40's, it's easier to sit back and wait for the media to tell us it's okay to buy real estate again. What's a few years sitting on the sidelines when you still have most of your life ahead of you.
But for many of us the clock is ticking. We've hit our 50's or 60's, so we're unwilling to wait to buy a second home. It's now or never, baby! We want to enjoy our leisure time while we're still physically active enough to follow our impulses.
My wife Joyce and I have ignored the "media experts" and taken the plunge into buying a second home. Of course, since we live at the shore year-round, our getaway spot is elsewhere. In our case, we purchased acreage in the mountains of West Virginia. We quickly had a log cabin built, and now we enjoy four or five days every month of peaceful solitude. Just like your visits to Cape May County, we leave our retreat totally refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready to tackle the business world at home.
What are you waiting for? Go ahead, search out a second home. You deserve it. You've paid your dues in life. Now is the time to parlay your hard work and lifetime of effort into a rewarding vacation home. And with real estate prices the lowest they've been in a few years, what better time to buy?
We look back at our 2006 decision to get a second home as a defining moment in our lives. We heard the clock ticking. Don't you?
The year-round population of Cape May County continues to drop, signaling a continuation of the trend toward seasonal homes.
As of July 1, 2006, the population was 97,724, down from the July 1, 2005 count of 98,805. The 2000 census had the figure at 102,326. That's 4.5% less year-round residents in just six years.
The drop can largely be attributed to the lack of year-round rental properties, which is the direct result of homes and multi-family homes being torn down and replaced with vacation condominiums, or folks buying distressed properties and renovating them once the year-round tenants are gone.
Local schools are feeling the pinch. Cape May, Cape May Point, Sea Isle City, Avalon, and Stone Harbor are all seeing dwindling ranks of students. Taxpayers begin to wonder if it's time to consider closing their local school in favor of consolidating. Some parochial schools, including St. Raymond's in Lower Township, have already rung their final bell.
This trend isn't just a Cape May County thing. It's happening all over the country in areas that are vacation destinations and attract the more affluent who can afford second homes.
Is it bad? Is it good? Either way, it's the direction of things.
The biggest real estate transaction in New Jersey history was recently announced. Kushner Companies listed 18,500 units for sale (most in New Jersey and Pennsylvania), and in just eight weeks it found a buyer for 16,784 units, situated in 86 apartment complexes. The price - a whopping $2 billion.
MOVIES ON THE BEACH
Outdoor movies on the beach are back in Wildwood for the third straight summer. It's sort of a drive-in movie, without the car.
The screen is inflatable, and it offers a viewing area 52 feet by 26 feet. Beach chairs, coolers, and bare feet have made this a popular venue for the family.
GET A LIFE
The new WalMart, located in the Rio Grande section of Middle Township, finally held its much anticipated grand opening in early June.
Sure, they have good prices, but the 8:00am opening had people lining up at 5:00am in front of the store. Is it just us, or do these folks really need to get a life? This wasn't tickets to a Beatles reunion or a visit by the Pope, it was just another one of 1,400 WalMarts.
By the way, WalMart grossed $348 billion (yes, billion!) last year. They estimate they lost $3 billion worth of merchandise to shoplifting and employee theft.
The national real estate numbers are out based on existing home sales through May 31. The expected sales figures for 2007 are 5.99 million existing units. With 4.43 million existing homes currently for sale, that's slightly less than a nine month supply of homes. The median price of a home in the USA is $223,700.
The city of Cape May agreed to loan the Beach Theatre Foundation $100,000, which the group will use to delay demolition of the 1950 movie house, The funds allow the group a year or so to raise enough money to buy the theatre and turn it into a multi-use arts center.
The group will need to raise in the vicinity of $10-12 million to purchase the oceanfront complex. They are attempting to secure grants for part of the funding.
Cape May County had seen a boom of newly built supermarkets in the last few years, dividing market shares more ways. Now the word is out that ShopRite is negotiating to buy Stop & Shop. What this means to Rio Grande is unknown, but with a ShopRite and new Stop & Shop located just six blocks apart, it seems inevitable that one will close when the merger is finalized.
Cape May County vacationers will have another leisure option when nearby Millville in Cumberland County opens its Thunderbolt Raceway and complex next spring.
Built in three phases, the 700-acre complex will provide 1,000 construction workers with jobs. Once the facilities are complete, it's expected that there will be 1,500 full-time and part-time workers.
The $150 million project includes the raceway, concessions, country club clubhouse, VIP suites, a three-quarter mile tri-oval track, and an off-road vehicle area. Restaurants and hotels are expected to follow.
Early talk that Thunderbolt would be a NASCAR track was unfounded. The raceway offers Grand Prix style racing.
JEWELL REAL ESTATE AGENCY
We love to talk about real estate and our island. We're always glad to share our insights, observations, and vision with you.
Stop by our office at 5602 New Jersey Avenue and chat. Or give Joyce or Douglas a call at 609-729-8505. We answer phones 6am to 9pm EVERYDAY. That's service!