In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, real estate offices on barrier islands served multiple roles. In addition to selling homes, they were forced to assess their own damages and field calls from worried owners of second homes and out-of-state property owners.
In many cases, agents themselves checked on their clients' properties to see if the electricity was still working or if the homes sustained any storm damage.
"I would tell them I'll run over and go look, and I checked it out for them … to make sure the electric was still on so the pipes didn't freeze," said Fred DiAntonio, broker/owner at Blue Ocean Realty in Wildwood. "It if wasn't on, I would let the water trickle so they wouldn't freeze."
Phone calls to the office were frequent, as property owners from New York, northern New Jersey and the Philadelphia area were anxious to know how their properties fared, he said.
At Ferguson Dechert Real Estate in Avalon, the days following the storm proved a successful use of the office's social media presence, said Allan "Dutch" Dechert, co-owner.
Its Facebook page helped keep clients updated on the storm as it moved through the island.
"I had someone who runs our Facebook page posting the whole time, and I had a son on the island posting pictures. We were giving them updates there," he said. "I did have to shut down the server, but I got that up on (last) Wednesday."
Dechert said the storm's aftermath has not affected listings.
"We haven't had people saying 'Drop my price.' We actually put a couple deals together during this past week or so under contract. We have done a lot of checking on owner properties," he said.
Meanwhile, damage from the storm has also generated another market for local real estate agents, as there is an abundance of people looking for short-term rentals, said Anthony D'Alicandro, president of the Atlantic City and County Board of Realtors.
"If there is a silver lining, it's that the time of year means the availability of winter rentals is pretty high," he said.
Mary Lou Ferry, owner of Farley & Ferry Realty in Ventnor, said the work involved with checking on properties has carried over into other areas.
"We were all mobile enough to be able to check the properties for most of our sellers, and now we're pretty much inundated trying to relocate families. A lot of families and individuals with flood damage have contacted the office to be relocated, and we're all busy trying to meet their criteria," she said.
"We're having some sellers approach us and are reducing their price points, but right now we are reaching out to all our landlords and our sellers to see if they will accommodate people for the winter," she said.
Meanwhile, some real estate offices on the barrier islands were not immune to the damages.
The first floor of Ferguson Dechert's two-story office in Avalon flooded with more than 2 feet of water, Dechert said.
That didn't stop the office from running. It opened a few days after the storm, although it is still replacing drywall and fixing other water damage.
"It definitely is more complicated. My sales people downstairs, their offices are a little disheveled and we're doubling up in offices," Dechert said. "You have to work together to get through stuff like this, but we're happy to say we're up and running."
DiAntonio and Ferry said they were both fortunate enough to have no damage to their offices from Hurricane Sandy. But there was still worry.
Blue Ocean Realty has a large LED digital sign outside. DiAntonio had it taken down during Hurricane Irene last August, but was unable to have it removed before Sandy made landfall.
"I thought I was definitely going to lose that, but ... everything worked," he said.
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