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NY, NJ and CT Face Unprecedented Problems After Sandy

November 5th, 2012 by Bill Collins Leave a reply »

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NY, NJ and CT Face Unprecedented Problems After Sandy

While residents of the coastal areas are still dealing with immediate problems related to the storm, public officials are just beginning to comprehend the massive long term housing issues they will have to deal with, similar to those faced after Hurricane Katrina. 

Our pond-front office on the south shore of Long Island is largely intact and power has come back.  Many others have not fared so well on Long Island with the City of Long Beach, Village of Lindenhurst and all of Fire Island bearing the brunt of the storm surge.

Here are some links for readers who would like to contribute to organizations assisting those in need after Sandy:

The Red Cross
Island Harvest (Long Island’s largest hunger relief organization)

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"Life On The Edge: How Long Can Fire Island Last?"

This was the title of the cover story by Elizabeth Hawes from the New York Times Magazine dated July 11, 1993.  I came across the article rummaging through some old files this weekend, it was written after a series of storms ravaged Fire Island in the early 1990s.  Here are some excerpts:

“Fire Island is a long, thin spit of sand that sits off Long Island like a sea wall, closing the southern shore off from the rambunctious Atlantic…From the air it looks frail and primitive-32 miles long and only a few thousand feet wide, with bridges at its outer limits but no roads in between…”

“Since the 1890s, New Yorkers have established 18 different communities here, each one measuring no more than two or three blocks from the ferry dock on the bay to the wide white beach on the ocean…Fire Islanders have built their camps on a battleground.  And once in a while the sea rises up to remind them where they are.”

“The history of Fire Island can be recounted in storms.  Even before there were 3,600 houses and 30,000 summer people, when there were only whalers…wreckers who lighted fires to lure ships off course…” (before taking all their worldly goods) and oystermen “…island time was kept by storms: the storm of 1690 that enlarged the Fire Island Inlet at the western end; the storms that wrecked the Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, in 1823, and the war transport ship Northern Pacific, in 1919; the storms that reopened the inlet at East Moriches in 1931.”

“Between 1635 and 1962, there were 231 storms of note, the local chroniclers say…” including the “…noreaster of 1962, when more than a hundred houses floated out to sea and 20-foot dunes disappeared…”

The author quotes a geologist who lectured a group of Fire Island property owners as saying that: “You have chosen to build your house on a battleground, and once in a while the sea rises up to remind you where you are”.  Ms. Hawes notes that “The worst ones may be yet to come.”

At this point, I have received a dozen re-inspection requests for recently appraised properties (refinance and purchase appraisals) where the loan closing has not yet occurred.  I’m not sure how the banks will deal with pending Fire Island loans: at this point, travel to Fire Island is forbidden.

If you would like to view photos of Sandy’s impact on Fire Island, the website has compiled quite a few from area photographers. 

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"Would You Buy on the Waterfront?"

The above is the title of a more recent New York Times article, written on Saturday by Michelle Higgins.  Ms. Higgins questioned New York City appraiser Jonathan Miller as to the impact of Sandy on the desirability and value of waterfront properties.  Mr. Miller notes that:
“…there may be a lag or delay in that market, but I am extremely skeptical that once this crisis is past there is going to be some sort of structural impact to values.”

He goes on to say that: “I’m always struck by how quickly we forget — the collective memory, whether it’s politics or real estate or anything else. When people are looking at property on the water with beautiful views, all that gets rationalized away.”

The article raises the impact of the 9/11 attacks on property values with Mr. Miller noting that “Lower Manhattan is one of the best-performing markets a decade later.”

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Recent Real Estate Reports (Compiled Before Sandy)

On October 31st, CoreLogic released their National Foreclosure Report which showed 57,000 completed foreclosures in September, down from their revised figure of 59,000 one month earlier and 83,000 in September 2011.  CoreLogic also reported that approximately 1.4 million homes nationally were in the foreclosure inventory, approximately 3.3% of all homes with a mortgage.  This is down from the 1.5 million homes (3.5% of all homes with mortgages) reported in September of 2011.  In the news release, CoreLogic’s president and CEO Anand Nallathambi noted:
“The continuing downward trend in foreclosures along with a gradual clearing of the shadow inventory are signs of stabilization and improvement in the housing market.  Increasingly improving market conditions and industry and government policy are allowing distressed homeowners to pursue refinancing, loan modifications or short sales rather than foreclosures.”

CoreLogic’s chief economist, Mark Fleming, reported that homes lost to foreclosure last month are down 50% from the peak month of September 2010.  CoreLogic reported that since the financial crisis in 2008, the total number of completed foreclosures had reached 3.9 million. CoreLogic also noted that prior to the decline in the real estate market, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month during the period from 2000 through 2006. 

Additional information from CoreLogic can be found by going to:

On October 30th, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index through August showed an increase of 0.9% from the prior index in both of their 10 and 20 City Composites along with increases in 19 of the 20 cities studied.

In the October 30th news release, David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices stated that:
“News on home prices confirms other good news about housing. Single family housing starts are 43% ahead of last year’s pace, existing and new home sales are also up, the inventory of homes for sale continues to drop and consumer mortgage default rates are reaching new lows. Further consumer confidence continues to rise. Even as we end the seasonally strong home buying period, the statistics are positive. For the fifth time in a row, both Composites had monthly gains.”

Breakdowns for each of the metropolitan areas studied can be viewed by going to: S&P Dow Jones Indices: Home Prices Continued to Rise in August 2012 According to the S&P Case Shiller Home Price Indices

On October 26th, Lender Processing Services released their LPS Home Price Index based on August 2012 transactions which showed an increase in prices of 0.2% from the previous month along with an increase of 2.6% from the same month one year earlier.  A link to this release which includes breakdowns by city and state is found here: LPS Home Price Index Report: August Transactions

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Rates & Dates (Also Compiled Pre-Sandy)

Mortgage interest rates changed slightly (both up and down), in the weekly reports issued by both Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

On November 1st, Freddie Mac reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages declined from the previous week’s rate of 3.41% to 3.39%. They also noted that last year at this time the 30-year rate was 4.00%. 

The MBA in its most recent Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey released October 31st for the week ending October 26th, reported that 30-year rates with conforming loan balances ($417,500 or less) increased to 3.65% from the previous week’s rate of 3.63%.  The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,500) also increased from 3.85% to 3.94% and the average rates for FHA backed mortgages remained unchanged at 3.41%. 

In their press release of October 31st, the MBA reported a decline of 4.8% in mortgage applications.  Refinance applications represented 80% of all applications, down from 81% the previous week. 

Additional information from Freddie Mac can be found by going to: Primary Mortgage Market Survey PMMS – Freddie Mac

Additional information from the Mortgage Bankers Association can be found by going to their site at: Research and Forecasts – Mortgage Bankers Association

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b) Jim Parsons
c) Ray Milland
d) Stanley Kramer
e) None of the above

2. Who said: "I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity."

a) John D. Rockefeller
b) John F. Kennedy
c) John Wayne
d) John Travolta
e) None of the above

3. Who said: “We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

a) Carl Sagan
b) Albert Einstein
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d) Isaac Asimov
e) None of the above

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We really hope you find our newsletter to be informative!  If you have any input on future topics for discussion, please email me your questions and I will do my best to address them in the next issue.  If you want to look back at past issues you can see our archive at


Bill Collins, Appraiser Help Inc.

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