Hurricane Effects Slow Local Real Estate Market

Local experts report closings have been delayed, showings have been slowed.

During a time of the year when the real estate market would already be starting to slow down, the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy seem to have put the brakes on even harder locally, according to local real estate experts.

"People are in survival mode," said Vic Amoroso of Daniel Gale Sotheby's International. "It puts people in a different frame. People find it very difficult right now to make decisions about their residences."

Among the consequences: closings have been delayed somewhat, banks have been requesting re-inspections of homes in contract, and showings and open houses have slowed.

Amoroso said the hurricane's effects are "probably going to add about three weeks to a normal closing process."

Robin Ward, a licensed sales agent with Coach Realty, said she has been unable to show some houses and open house events were few and far between over the past couple of weeks. But, she said, there are some buyers who are motivated despite the hardships created by the hurricane.

"Because I had buyers that have a deadline of the end of this year, I have had to show houses without electricity," she said. "I think for the buyers that are must-haves by a specific date they’re out there trying to get in anyway."

Ward predicted that agents would begin holding open house events more widely again this weekend.

Scott Sanders of Shea and Sanders Real Estate also said the local real estate market appears quiet at the moment.

"I think people are dealing with the tragedy at hand. Everyone is affected," he said. "We have not been selling too many homes or listing too many homes."

Both Amoroso and John Fitzgerald, president of Realty Connect USA, said real estate activity leading up to the hurricane was very, very strong.

"It was the best real estate prices we’ve seen, the best interest rates we’ve seen on Long Island," Fitzgerald said. "There was an opportunity for people who could not move up or buy because of those interest rates and the prices."

However, the local impact of the hurricane is probably just temporary.

"I would suspect that as we all come back to normalcy, things will kickstart," Sanders said. "That was a nasty storm."

Fitzgerald agreed.

"It has had a dramatic effect, of course, but we’re trying to get to the final result of what that effect is going to be," Fitzgerald said. "The long-term effect, I think the market will be fine."

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