One of Hurricane Sandy’s most devastating after-effects has been the displacement of hundreds of local citizens from their homes, both on the barrier islands and the mainland. As a result, real estate professionals are seeing a great impact to the local real estate market.
“Right now, we’re just trying to help people find short-term rentals,” said Chris Anthony of Weichert Realtors in Toms River. “I was displaced myself, along with friends and family members, and we’re doing our best to find them homes. We’re working on that more than anything.”
Donna Walesiewicz of Crossroads Realty in Toms River said the push is greatest for rental properties.
“The biggest thing we’re facing right now is trying to get as many people affected by the storm into rentals. We’ve been in contact with Monmouth County, trying to get empty homes rented to these people,” said Walesiewicz.
Walesiewicz said that she and her co-workers have been working “around the clock” to accomplish that task.
“These people are already looking at being out of their homes for at least 8 months, and not knowing if FEMA can assist them. People are coming here with nothing, like they’re refugees. We rented a home to a lady yesterday, and she couldn’t stop crying and hugging me,” the realtor explained.
Walesiewicz described another situation where a rented residence in Point Pleasant located for tenants was initially without heat or electricity, until the generosity of neighbors provided them with those essentials.
“Our first priority is to find housing for those displaced, and get them a roof over their heads, heat and electricity. Everyone is helping out the best they can, and those who were affected have been strong and resilient,” said Walesiewicz.
Jim Flanagan, Broker of Record for Coldwell Banker in Toms River, also explained the job of finding housing for those displaced by Sandy as “our challenge and our crisis.”
“We don’t have an inventory of short-term rentals, but we are actively working with the Ocean County Board of Realtors on this. We have been inundated with calls for help from residents,” said Flanagan.
Flanagan characterized the areas where the calls originated from as “anywhere near water,” and specifically mentioned the barrier island, Shelter Cove, Snug Harbor, Green Island and Money Island, to name a few.
“In the next few weeks, the climate will be tense to find housing for everyone. FEMA does have housing available, but it’s not within the county. There are people who have children looking to go back to school and people who commute for work, looking at being without their homes for eight months to a year. In the short-term, it will be chaos,” Flanagan said.
The realtor said that his office had created an emergency housing list, and has notified residents on that list when housing has become available for them. According to Flanagan, they have also been in contact with the state on easing restriction for vacant homes in neighboring areas, to be able to offer them as rentals. He also encouraged those who may know of a vacant home to be rented to contact Mary Ann Wissel at the Ocean County Board of Realtors, at 732-244-8111.