By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Katherine Custer, Sea Isle City’s public information officer, knows of some people who had wanted to bid on a house that was up for sale in the Townsends Inlet section.
However, they never really had a chance to buy the home because it sold in a lightning-fast eight days after hitting the market. The person who did buy it paid full price, Custer noted.
“The housing market is incredibly hot here,” she said.
Newly released figures by Sea Isle’s Construction Office for 2019 illustrate that the city continues to enjoy a strong housing market that combines single-family homes with the ever-popular duplexes.
“We have been steady for the last 10 to 15 years,” explained Neil Byrne, the city’s construction official. “It shows that Sea Isle is a market that people want to invest in.”
Between 2008 and 2018, an average of 86 residential units were built each year, a figure that reflected consistency in the housing market.
In 2019, a total of 86 new residential units were built, a 9 percent increase over the 79 new housing units in 2018, statistics show.
“We’re consistent, and consistently busy,” Byrne said of the pace of new housing construction.
Driving around Sea Isle, it is not unusual to see new homes or duplexes being built in virtually every part of town.
“We’re redoing our housing stock at a pretty good rate,” Byrne said.
A new house under construction on the ocean end of 63rd Street is emblematic of the next generation of large, custom-built homes popping up throughout town.
“New construction. Ocean views!” the Freda Real Estate Agency sign for the house says, using an exclamation point for emphasis. “5 Bedrooms, 6.5 Baths with elevator.”
Sea Isle’s new housing market is dominated by duplexes. From 2008 to 2018, an average of 56 duplex units were built each year compared to about 10 single-family homes on an annual basis, figures show.
Sea Isle has also been evolving into a more upscale resort town featuring multimillion-dollar vacation homes lining the beachfront and bays.
“While we’re still seeing many people who want to live in Sea Isle year-round, we’re also seeing people who consider their homes as investment properties,” Custer said.
In 2019, the typical home in Sea Isle was assessed at $670,445. Sale prices, though, can easily soar into the millions.
Byrne and Custer said Sea Isle’s housing market is attractive to year-round residents and second homeowners because of low taxes, steep discounts that are available for flood insurance and the city’s emphasis on building beautification and infrastructure projects.
“Sea Isle is a town that people want to be at and invest in,” Custer said.
Custer also pointed to the popularity of the city’s summer lineup of family-friendly entertainment and special events.
“They love being here in the summertime,” she said of vacationers.
Representing another trend in the housing market, developers have been constructing high-end condominiums on the top two or three floors of buildings that have commercial space on the ground level.
Two mixed-use projects combining commercial space with condos will open this year along the Landis Avenue corridor between 42nd and 44th streets, in the heart of the downtown business district.
One of those projects includes 12 condo units, while the other has six. The condos will occupy the top floors of three-story buildings that will have restaurant or retail space on the first level.
With a scarce amount of developable land available in the beach resort, new construction is often being done on property where old homes or commercial buildings were demolished.
One of the old homes demolished in 2019 was a house on 85th Street that dated to the late 1800s and formerly served as the summer estate of the Cronecker family, the famed Sea Isle hoteliers.
In 2019, 77 residential units and one commercial unit were demolished, according to figures compiled by Byrne’s office. From 2008 to 2018, an average of 62 residential and commercial units were demolished each year. During that same period, the number of demolitions peaked at 77 units, both in 2012 and 2013, and hit a low of 30 in 2011.