All Hail Prince and Princess Snowflake

From the Guardian:

Millennials on course to become ‘richest generation in history’

Millennials may have been portrayed as frivolous spenders squandering their income on overpriced coffees and online barre classes in the face of pitiful long-term finances – but they are on course to become the “richest generation in history”, a study has shown.

Those born between 1981 and 2000 are in line for a “seismic” windfall over the next 20 years, according to research by real estate agent Knight Frank, thanks to the property assets accumulated by the generations before them.

While the distribution of wealth may be shifting between world regions, an even bigger shift is happening between generations. The switch will see $90tn (£71tn) of assets move between generations in the US alone, “making affluent millennials the richest generation in history”, Knight Frank said in its 18th annual wealth report.

The research found that 75% of millennials expect their wealth to increase in 2024, against 53% in the baby boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964), 56% in gen X (1965 to 1980) and 69% in the younger gen Z.

While they wait for their inheritances, many millennials are still reeling from a series of economic shocks, with the 2008 crash followed by a series of financial headwinds brought about by the pandemic, Brexit and war in Ukraine.

As a result of rising rents, they have spent much of their income on housing costs and faced significant challenges to afford their own homes or build up a pension pot. The conditions have fuelled an image that millennials – shorn of the target of saving their income to acquire property – have frittered their money away on pricey pastimes and avocado on toast.

In reality, their future financial firepower is likely to be a divisive lottery, predominantly determined by inheritance from previous generations, including property.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, National Real Estate | 34 Comments

Taxes Up!

From News12:

Gov. Murphy seek $55.9B New Jersey budget, increasing education aid, boosting biz taxes to fund transit

Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday unveiled a $55.9 billion budget, up about 5% over his previous year’s proposal, calling for nearly $1 billion more in K-12 school funding as well as about $1 billion in new taxes on high-earning businesses to fund transit.

Murphy, a two-term Democrat, cast the budget as the fulfillment of campaign pledges to identify a recurring source of funding for New Jersey Transit and to fully finance a state formula for schools that’s never before been fully implemented.

“Our budget will ensure New Jersey retains its proud reputation as the best place anywhere to raise a family,” he said.

The governor’s seventh budget comes amid declining revenues in the current fiscal year, something Murphy attributes to a hangover from 2022. The budget proposes drawing down the state’s surplus of about $8 billion to more than $6 billion to help close the gap.

Murphy campaigned in 2017 on fully funding a school aid formula, which the state supreme court ratified in 2009 and that never was fully implemented. The proposal calls for increasing aid from nearly $10.8 billion to $11.7 billion, but Murphy also stressed the incremental increase of school funding since he took office. Aid had been largely flat at $8 billion annually throughout much of Republican Chris Christie’s two terms.

The budget also takes aim at another campaign promise Murphy had made: setting up a funding source for the state’s often beleaguered transit system. The system has regularly had to use capital funds just to keep up operations, limiting resources for system-wide improvements. To help close the gap Murphy is proposing a 2.5% tax on business profits of companies that netting more than $10 million annually.

The proposal comes after a temporary business tax increase ended at the end of last year. That surcharge affected some 3,100 businesses, according to the administration, while the new proposal would levy taxes from about 600 firms. Murphy said small and medium sized businesses would not be impacted.

Business leaders decried the increase, arguing the governor essentially went back on a commitment to keep the corporate tax rate down.

The state’s budget has grown significantly since Christie left office after signing a $34.7 billion spending plan. The state takes in income, sales and business taxes to fund a mix of programs and services, including state government itself but also education and health care funding.

Murphy is also proposing to continue a property tax relief plan first initiated in 2022 that doled out up to $1,500 in tax rebates to families that make up to $150,000, as well as aid for renters. As initially envisioned the program helped under a million households. The new budget would increase the benefit to 1.3 million households, Murphy said, though it’s not clear exactly how.

Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics, Property Taxes | 97 Comments

NYC may see it’s glory days again

Hat tip to 3b for the Fortune doom loop article:

The ‘prophet of urban doom’ says New York City is in major trouble, and it’s just the first inning of the ballgame: ‘The cycle is out of control’

As nicknames go, Columbia Business School professor Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh has a doozy. The gray lady herself, The New York Times, dubbed him the “prophet of urban doom” last year for his forecasts resulting from his years of research on the economic impact or remote work on real estate and public finance. 

Now, he tells Fortune, he sees an “event horizon” for a 1970s-style downward spiral known in the economics profession as a “doom loop.” And it’s just the first inning.

Everyone knows office buildings across the country have taken a beating from Covid and the rise of remote work. Perhaps only San Francisco is a better example than New York City, where the amount of offices collecting dust is at a record high: almost 20% are sitting empty, hemorrhaging money and shrinking the city’s tax base. 

More economists than Van Nieuwerburgh say that the effects could reach far beyond just the real estate sector: Without drastic changes, he says, NYC could be headed for a self-perpetuating “doom loop” that will affect everything from housing values to public services budgets to the crime rate. The most famous example is the 1970s, when “white flight” and a fiscal crisis sent New York into a slump that it didn’t kick for over a decade. 

It’s a simple equation, Van Nieuwerburgh said in an interview with Fortune, “Governments cutting spending means less money for transportation, less money for education, for sanitation, for all the things that make cities attractive.”

Van Nieuwerburgh, who joined Columbia in 2018, just a few years after winning an award for his research on shocks in the housing market affecting the macroeconomy, sees the “event horizon” for this doom loop coming soon. As federal grant money runs out and delayed tax effects kick in, he says New York is in the “first inning” of what could spiral into a legitimate urban crisis.

“Over the next three to five years, we’re really going to start seeing this. This cycle is out of control.”

The crux of the “doom loop” theory is that it’s self-perpetuating. If vacancies rise and property values fall, cities can’t collect as much in tax revenue and overexposed banks have to cut back on lending. That means less public spending on things like transit, sanitation and public safety, and less investment in small businesses. A dirtier, more dangerous and less accessible downtown is less likely to attract companies and remote workers, meaning vacancies will rise even more and property values will fall further. Wealthy residents could throw in the towel and move their families (and tax dollars) to low-tax states like Texas or Florida. And thus, the cycle repeats itself. 

“The money is now running out, or it has run out. This is the first year where we don’t see extra federal dollars anymore. That’s beginning to bite…[And] the vacancy rate is already at an all-time high,” said Van Nieuwerburgh. “That combination packs a pretty severe punch.”

Posted in Crisis, Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Bubble, NYC | 101 Comments

What if rates don’t come down?

From Newsweek:

Housing Market Update: Home Prices Reach Troubling Milestone

Insufficient supply of homes in the market is pushing up prices, Wells Fargo economists said, making it tougher for Americans to afford a home amid elevated mortgage rates.

The median sale price of an existing home rose by more than 5 percent in January, according to the National Association of Realtors, even as sales rebounded from their previous months’ doldrums to jump by more than 3 percent. But the housing market still faces a supply crunch. Properties available for sale at current prices equate to about three months of supply, lower than last month and even lower than in November.

The sale price for a home came in at a little over $379,000 on the back of limited supply in January, a record high.

“[It marked] the highest sales price ever for the month of January and the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year price gains,” Wells Fargo economists pointed out.

Nearly 90 percent of homes in America have rates below 6 percent, according to real estate platform Redfin, which means sellers are reluctant to relinquish the cheaper home loans and enter a market where a 30-year fixed rate for a home is above 7 percent.

“With homebuyers taking advantage of lower mortgage rates, low levels of inventory have kept upward pressure on prices,” according to Wells Fargo. “The combination of relatively higher mortgage rates and higher home prices will continue to make housing less affordable to many potential homebuyers.”

Experts expect the market to improve when the rates come down.

“We expect rates to resume their decline later in the year as the Federal Reserve’s rate cuts draw closer,” Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said on Thursday in a note shared with Newsweek. 

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Bubble, Mortgages, National Real Estate | 46 Comments

Eatontown = Hollywood?

From NJ.com:

Netflix plan to build massive N.J. studio gets key approval

Netflix’s plans to build a $903 million production studio complexat the former Fort Monmouth army base got a key approval from a local board Wednesday.

The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority board, the governing body that oversees the fort, unanimously approved an amendment to establish zoning for the massive project.

The vote allows the streaming service and entertainment company to move ahead with getting other local approvals to build the planned studio complex. It also allows affordable housing units currently located at the fort to be relocated to a different location on the site, a spokesperson for the board said Thursday.

On Wednesday, a source close to Netflix said the company is pleased with the decision and is looking forward to engaging with the community further throughout the process.

The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority board has 10 members, including a representative of the governor, the Monmouth County commissioner, the mayors of Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls and three state agency commissioners.

Netflix was the top bidder to acquire the 292-acre “mega parcel” in 2022. The property covers about a quarter of U.S. Army base that closed in 2011.

The sprawling Netflix complex would include 12 soundstages, totaling nearly 500,000 square feet, adjacent to Route 35 in Eatontown and Oceanport in Monmouth County, according to the San Francisco-based entertainment company.

This week’s zoning plan approval is one of the first steps in a complex process to get local officials to sign off on the project. The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority staff also need to review the site plans for the complex before the proposal goes to the planning boards in Eatontown and Oceanport, officials said.

Netflix is expected to contribute $848 million in capital investments to the studio project. In addition to the 12 soundstages, the complex is slated to include a hotel, a helicopter pad, office buildings and visitor attractions.

In December 2022, Gov. Phil Murphy gave his stamp of approval at a conference with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. Murphy said the production studios will help turn New Jersey into the “Hollywood of the East Coast.”

Posted in Economics, Employment, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate, Shore Real Estate | 43 Comments

Are we in the 80s again?

From Fortune:

Say goodbye to the peak of home price appreciation, Fortune 500 chief economist says—it’s behind us

Back to the ’80s

Fleming has spoken with Fortune on several occasions about the comparison of today’s housing market to that of the 1980s. Both periods featured high inflation, rising interest rates, and a boom of homebuyers coming of age, he argues. 

These three factors, Fleming wrote in an October 2023 report, could create a “housing recession” similar to that of the 1980s—a time period when home sales stay low in a frozen, unaffordable market. 

While Fleming has drawn several comparisons to the 1980s housing market, today’s market isn’t exactly the same, he says. 

“This time is different,” he says. “When the Fed started to reduce rates after tackling inflation in the early 1980s, house price appreciation declined nationally very modestly. Now, because supply has been so constrained, house price appreciation has been very strong and is expected to continue to remain positive as the Fed begins to lower rates.”

Also from Fortune:

It’s official: The housing market is turning millennials into their parents. A Fortune 500 economist says it’s a déjà vu market that is replaying the 1980s

It might be time for millennials to let go of the “okay, boomer” mentality considering they’re reliving their parents’ 1980s housing journey. 

Although current mortgage rates—which hit 8% this week—mimic the early 2000s, the overall housing market is actually more reminiscent of the 1980s, according to a new report by the chief economist for the Fortune 500 financial services company First American

“Today’s housing market isn’t anything like the housing market of the mid-2000s,” Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American wrote in a Tuesday report titled “1980s Déjà Vu for the Housing Market.” Of course, Fleming was dismissing the ghost of the housing crash of 2008 that precipitated the Great Financial Crisis, when subprime mortgages and other shoddy lending practices were common. Today is just fundamentally different, he wrote: “The housing market today is not overbuilt, nor is it driven by loose lending standards, sub-prime mortgages, or homeowners who are highly leveraged.”

“However,” he added, there is another precedent: ”the current housing market is similar to the market of the 1980s.” That could be a tough pill for millennials to swallow, considering they largely blame baby boomers for their inability to purchase a home in today’s market since they’re holding onto homes longer out of fear of high mortgage rates—and are swooping in with all-cash offers that can’t be matched by their younger counterparts. 

Fleming cited three key ways the economy and housing market of today seem to “rhyme” with that of the 1980s, noting that both periods featured high inflation, rising interest rates, and a boom of homebuyers coming of age. These three factors could create a similar “housing recession” to the one four decades ago, Fleming argues—one where home sales stay low in a frozen, unaffordable market, but home prices merely stagnate.

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” Fleming wrote in a Mark Twain–ish flourish.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 67 Comments

Demographics driving housing

From Newsweek:

How Millennials Are Shifting the Housing Market

For a large number of millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1996, the time to buy a home has never been quite right.

Older millennials were not yet 30 when the financial crisis of 2007-2008 upended the housing market and the US economy, causing the worst downturn in the country since the Great Recession. When younger millennials came of age to buy a home, the US housing market was booming, driven by high demand and low inventory, with prices reaching heights that made properties unaffordable to many.

Despite adverse economic conditions, and tired of waiting for the perfect moment, many got on the property ladder anyway—and their late arrival has shaken up the entire housing market, according to experts.

“Because of the high cost of living, millennials have had to delay marriage, they’ve had to delay having children. So what’s going on is that there’s been a delay in household formation, though right now the rate of household formation is double the rate of population growth,” Phil Powell, executive director of Indiana University’s Business Research Center, told Newsweek.

“What that means is that there is unprecedented demand for housing and that is why housing prices are going up,” he added. Millennials, said Powell, “are putting upward pressure on prices and it’s going to continue, it’s not a fad or some bubble in the housing market. This is real, it’s demographic.”

They’re also not the only generation keeping prices up.

Alejandra Grindal, chief economist at Ned Davis Research, told Newsweek that baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are also adding price pressure. “They are the second-largest age cohort in the U.S., and they’re also driving up demand, partly because they can afford to,” she said. Millennials, in 2020, overtook baby boomers to become the largest generation in the U.S.

“Compared to prior generations,” she added, “[Baby boomers] also plan on staying in their homes much longer. They don’t want to go to assisted living or nursing care. They want to live in their homes as long as possible. Plus a lot of them would like to own second homes.”

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 111 Comments

Dying? Already dead.

From Fast Company:

How the starter home became a dying American dream

When 26-year old Memphis resident DeMario Johnson returns to his home after working a long day servicing waterwells for the local utility in Raleigh, North Carolina, he doesn’t just see a two-bed, two-bath home—he sees a place that makes his family happy. His wife loves having bigger rooms, his daughter delights in a space all her own, his two-year-old son spends afternoons stretching out in the hallway, running back and forth, and he personally loves the large, low-slung front porch. 

But Johnson also sees security, something he and his family can depend on, no matter what. “When I’m paying my mortgage, I can see where my money is going,” he says. “When I’m renting, I feel like I’m pissing in the wind.”

For years, Johnson had tried to do what so many young adults are still struggling to accomplish  in today’s housing market: finally buy a place of their own. The idea implicit in the starter home is that it is a beginning: you acquire an affordable home with a handful of bedrooms, laying down roots as a way to build assets for your future home. The starter home is not perfect, or a final destination—but it was a step on the ladder towards a stereotypical American Dream.  

What was once a big, but manageable step, has for many become an impossible leap over an ever-widening chasm. The exact numbers vary depending on the market and the circumstances of a buyer or couple, but the math behind buying a starter, or entry-level, home today remains increasingly cruel. 

The U.S. is short roughly 1.5 million homes, per Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Homebuilders, a gap weighing heavily on the kind of lower-cost models favored by first-time buyers. The competition for a smaller starter home has become cutthroat: even 15 years ago, realtors had more than 2.2 million vacant housing units available to show buyers. Today, due to rampant underproduction of housing for decades, there’s just 732,000, or a third less options, all with 30 million more Americans looking for a place to call home. 

Underproduction has led one economist to call the starter home “an endangered species,” and others to consider current generations resigned toward renting for life. Rents have seen an astronomical rise in recent years, only outpaced by rising home costs, making it that much more challenging to save for a downpayment; the average mortgage now costs 52% more than rent, and a stunning 175% more in Seattle and Austin. 

Posted in Crisis, Demographics, Economics, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 93 Comments

Free and Clear

From NJ.com:

More than 1 in 3 N.J. homes now mortgage free in major home debt shift

More than one-third of homes in New Jersey are mortgage free, mirroring national trends and reaching new highs, federal data shows.

U.S. Census data from 2022 shows that 36.7% of homes in New Jersey are owned outright, with no mortgage or home equity loan. That’s up significantly from 2010, when 28.9% of homes were owned outright.

The same trend is playing out nationally. In 2010, 33.8% of homes were owned debt free nationwide. In 2022, that number surged to 39.3%.

The increase in mortgage-free homeownership is likely due to a mix of factors, said Robert Scott, a finance and real estate expert and professor at Monmouth University.

An aging ownership group could have simply reached the end of the traditional 30-year mortgate terms, Scott said. Or, owners near the end of their terms could have refinanced when rates were low, allowing them to pay off loans early.

Another likely factor is owners who sold their homes for huge profits, allowing them to buy their next home in cash, Scott said. Second homeowners buying vacation homes in cash also could contribute to the rise.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Mortgages, National Real Estate, New Jersey Real Estate | 37 Comments

Sold out, come back again later.

From NJ.com:

New listings of homes for sale plummeted 10% or more in these 7 N.J. counties. See latest prices.

More than half of New Jersey counties saw fewer homes hit the real estate market in January with seven counties showing declines of at least 10% compared to last year, the latest figures from Realtor.com showed.

The biggest year-over-year decline was in Morris County with a more than 21% decrease in newly listed homes for sale from January 2023, according to the data. The median price for the 254 new listings in Morris County was $691,225.

Statewide, a total of 6,088 homes were listed at a median price of $524,950. A total of 295,178 homes were listed nationwide at a median price of $409,500.

Posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, New Jersey Real Estate | 8 Comments

Florida’s new “property tax”

From the NY Post:

Florida home prices fall as surging insurance costs scare buyers

Home prices along Florida’s southwest coast have plummeted as excess inventory soars due to the ongoing insurance crisis that has gripped the Sunshine State.

Realtors said that the soaring cost of home insurance has scared off would-be snowbirds from buying properties in the popular corridor between Sarasota and Naples.

Potential buyers have been spooked by insurance premiums which have climbed precipitously since Hurricane Ian in 2022.

Since the storm, insurance rates rose by 42% last year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

While Floridians paid on average $6,000 for insurance last year, the average US homeowner paid $1,700, according to the insurance watchdog.

Marlissa Gervasoni, president of the Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association, told Bloomberg that in Fort Myers, “we’re seeing anywhere from a 50%-to-100% increase in spending [on insurance costs] depending on the age of the home.”

Gervasoni said that local residents are eager to sell due to the inability to afford homeowners insurance, but the pool of potential buyers has shrunk for the same reason.

Posted in Economics, National Real Estate, Unrest | 43 Comments

Oh boy, now they did it…

From Business Insider:

The myth of the housing bubble

Almost as soon as home prices began their unprecedented climb in 2020, doomsayers began warning of a looming crisis. The housing market, they claimed, was a bubble destined to burst.

A litany of supposed catalysts was going to send prices into a tailspin: the “Airbnbust,” the sudden surge in mortgage rates, a flood of grifters and hucksters looking to make a quick buck in real estate.Bubble watchers forecast chaos, then sat back and waited. And waited. And waited.

I’ve spent the past few years asking experts a simple question: Has the housing market reached bubble territory? The answer remains a resounding no. More than three years after prices started to soar, the only thing that’s gone bust is the gloomy predictions. Despite some cooling in a handful of overheated markets such as Charlotte, North Carolina, and Austin, the median home-sale price increased by a respectable 4% nationwide in 2023, Redfin reported. The price for a typical home has risen by more than 47% since late 2019, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, a closely watched measure of housing costs. 

But maybe I’ve been posing the wrong question all along. The B-word implies an impending pop, a point when the combination of greedy speculation, unscrupulous behavior, and soaring prices brings everything crashing down. Barring a large-scale economic disaster, there’s no pop in sight. 

The staggering jump in home prices is concerning, to be sure. But it’s a function of a severe lack of supply, not a byproduct of investors swarming the market or shady lenders artificially juicing demand. Those looking for parallels to 2008 are grasping at straws — homeowners are in far better financial shape than they were the last time prices cratered, and homebuilders, rather than flooding the market with new properties, aren’t keeping pace with the sheer volume of millennials suddenly consumed by dreams of backyards and picket fences.

So if you’ve been waiting — maybe even cheering — for prices to plummet: Don’t hold your breath. 

Posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 42 Comments

Mortgage see-saw takes it’s toll

From CNBC:

Mortgage rates surge higher again, causing homebuyers to pull back

After a brief reprieve in December and January, mortgage rates are moving higher again, and that is taking its toll on mortgage demand.

Total mortgage application volume fell 2.3% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($766,550 or less) increased to 6.87% last week from 6.80% the week before, with points rising to 0.65 from 0.59 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. That is the highest rate since early December 2023.

Applications to refinance a home loan, which are most sensitive to weekly rate changes, fell 2% for the week but were 12% higher than the same week one year ago. Rates are still about one-half a percentage point higher now than they were a year ago, but the recent drop in rates from a 20-year high last fall has brought more borrowers out looking for any savings they can get. The vast majority of current borrowers, however, have loans with rates far lower than those available today.

Applications for a mortgage to purchase a home dropped 3% for the week and were 12% lower than the same week a year ago.

“Purchase applications remained subdued as elevated rates continue to add to affordability challenges along with still-low existing housing inventory,” said Joel Kan, an MBA economist, in a release.

A recent report from Redfin showed an 8% drop in pending home sales over the last four weeks compared with the same period a year ago. These measure signed contracts on existing homes.

Posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, Mortgages, National Real Estate | 52 Comments

37 NJ towns you can’t afford

From the Star Ledger:

These 37 N.J. towns have home values of at least $1M. See latest statewide ranking.

New Jersey’s home prices continued to steadily increase through the end of last year with typical home values of at least $1 million in 37 towns across the state, according to the latest Zillow data.

The top five home values were once again reported two pairs of neighboring Jersey Shore towns – Deal and Allenhurst in Monmouth County and Avalon and Stone Harbor in Cape May County – along with Alpine in Bergen County.

Nearly every ZIP code included in Zillow’s data for December posted increases in home values, topped by a more than 20% surge in the Three Bridges section of Readington Township. Just seven towns reported declines and five of those were less than 1% drops in Jersey Shore towns, which can be swayed by seasonality.

Statewide, the typical home value was $495,287 as of December, placing the Garden State eighth in the nation for most expensive homes. Nationwide, the typical home value was $342,685 in December, according to the data.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 100 Comments

Flooding kicks off new wave of Blue Acres buyouts

From ABC News:

Flood-stricken New Jersey residents look into government-funded home buyout program

The flooding in parts of New Jersey over the past few months left mounts of headaches for residents.

Countless residents from those affected areas came out to meet with New Jersey State Department of Environmental Protection officials in Pompton Lakes Thursday night to learn about the Blue Acres Program.

The program is voluntary and it relocates flood-stricken residents who are considering government-funded buyouts of their homes.

It eligible, homeowners would be offered fair market value for their homes, using state and federal funds.

“I’ve been in this town 60 years,” said David Woll of Pompton Lakes. “So, I’ve been through enough floods.”

For 10-year-old Melina, who says she was trapped inside her Wayne home during the recent storms, it’s a tough decision.

“I like my school and I wanna stay in my school, but I don’t like the flooding,” she said.

Her family bought their Wayne home six years ago.

But the flooding problems have been worse than expected.

From CBS News:

Some New Jersey flood victims looking to be bought out by government

Flooding across New Jersey in recent months has many residents in those areas saying they’ve had enough.

Thursday afternoon, some flood victims met with New Jersey’s Blue Acres, a government buy-out program.

This is the second Blue Acres meeting this month at the library in Lodi, a borough that’s seen its share of flooding. The one-on-one meetings are closed to the media and flood victims from across the state can attend.

Some tell us while the program is voluntary, the buy-out offers are low and confusing.

“We had the sewage coming up through this pipe, which was insane,” Manville homeowner Brianna Lohr said.

Lohr has begun the buy-out process and says even though she’s being offered what she and her boyfriend paid at the time of flood, she doesn’t care.

“Sign me up. I will sign the line. If we could get out today, we absolutely would,” she said.

Other residents in flood-ravaged neighborhoods say they want the full market value of their homes.

“They are saying that it is market value at the time of the incident, which is not fair,” Milford resident Leeana Jones said.

Jones’ life was turned upside down after Hurricane Ida damaged her Milford home and sent water into the basement.

She says she can’t get more funding to raise her home like others and her credit’s shot after making repairs.

Shawn M. Latourette, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, oversees the federally funded Blue Acres program. He says the rules are mandated by Congress.

“That is tied to fair market value at the time of the event, and it is one of those issues of bureaucracy that is a bit ignorant of or not attuned to the realities, the facts on the ground,” he said.

Posted in Crisis, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics, Unrest | 77 Comments