REAL ESTATE

Nancy Gilbert-Rhodes, shown outside her apartment, lives at The Shores at Wesley Manor in Ocean City. The community was renovated in 2006 and includes two dining rooms, a bistro, a library, fitness programs, an exercise room, a store and a chapel. Because such complexes for seniors are relatively few in South Jersey, baby boomers here might stay in their homes longer, agents say.

If the baby boomers flood the real estate market beginning in 2015 and are unable to find a willing buyer, how would that affect the Jersey Shore housing market?

The prediction has been aired during the past two years in national media, including CNBC and NPR. But the fear of another market slump is far from the minds of real estate professionals in the region.

Baby boomers, those who were born between 1946 and 1964, have been investing increasingly in second homes or retirement properties at the shore.

While some fret over the “baby boomer sell-off” that might occur within the next decade, local real estate agents expect to see the opposite problem — of too few available senior housing facilities.

Micah Yerk, a sales associate with Homestead Real Estate in West Cape May, said the aging demographic in the country includes many people living longer. It’s practical to think there will be a shortage to meet their demand for housing, he said.

“Down here, we have few (senior housing) communities and no vacancies,” Yerk said.

Jessica Stewart, residential administrator at the Shores at Wesley Manor in Ocean City, said that though the facility is not filled to capacity, she is anticipating an influx of seniors in coming years.

Matthew Iannone, president of the Cape May County Association of Realtors and owner of the Freda Real Estate Agency in Sea Isle City, said from what he has seen in the area, baby boomers are the ones buying the most second homes at the Jersey Shore.

“It’s not something new. This has been happening for the past 10 years,” Iannone said. “They have more disposable income … and are looking for an enjoyable home or vacation home.”

They are achieving this by downsizing their primary homes — after their nests are empty — and looking to second homes along or near the water.

“This is the seashore market. Many who come here are not from the area. They are from the Delaware Valley or elsewhere,” Iannone said.

Cape May County has a higher population percentage of 65 or older — about 23 percent — than Atlantic, Ocean and Cumberland counties.

Iannone said the eldest boomers already are older than 65, but he sees no evidence of a flooded market yet.

“It remains to be seen,” he said.

“The market has been so slow lately that we haven’t really seen any trends,” said Rick Rixey, of Rixey Real Estate Agency in Cape May Court House.

Another factor is the affordability of staying in a nursing home.

Nancy Gilbert-Rhodes, 82, lives at Wesley Manor, where she said the cost of living is about the same or less than managing her own home.

“Of course, I would have more space, but I don’t need all that space,” Gilbert-Rhodes said. “My father’s big thing was that you should retire with 10 times your annual income.”

She added that “nowadays” retirees depend more on the government, making it harder for them to support themselves in retirement.

Contact Anjalee Khemlani:

609-272-7247

@AnjKhem on Twitter

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