Buying at the Shore
A new type of homeowner heads to the beach
By Terri Akman

Gone are the days when owners of Shore vacation homes were a graying bunch. Today, younger couples are plopping down hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep their Shore memories alive. They’re a new breed of Shore homeowner with less time and more money – but they’re still looking for that same summer experience.

The Jaffe family recently bought this vacation home in Margate

The Jaffe family recently bought this vacation home in Margate

“What could be nicer than being at the beach with your family?” says Lisa Jaffee. She and her husband just settled on a five-bedroom home in the half-million-dollar price bracket in Margate. “We’re hoping to make it a family place where we can all gather and have a good time.”

At 45, Jaffee represents the younger homeowner looking for a second home.

“There are a greater number of younger people in their 30s and 40s coming in to buy a second home at the Shore,” says Drew Fishman, past state president of the New Jersey Association of Realtors and a Realtor with Re/Max Atlantic. “And in many cases, they’re buying on a beach block or within a couple blocks of the beach.”

Lauren Fine bought her second home at the Shore three years ago when she was 42. Her home in Marven Gardens, a Margate neighborhood bordering Ventnor, cost close to $1 million. Like many young families, the Fines purchased their home as an investment, renting it out for a portion of the summer. “We rented it out last summer for a month,” she says. “It was a little strange, but we appreciated the income.”

“People close to retirement are looking to enjoy the home for themselves,” says Joe Wilhelm, a sales specialist for Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach, “but the younger generation seems to want it for an investment. They are busy with their own lives, so they might take a week or two themselves in the fall or spring, but they are looking at it primarily as an investment.

I had a couple – about 36 years old – who bought a $700,000 property and are renting it for about $40,000 per summer. It pays all of their mortgage.”

Because today’s young buyers are often parents of school-age children and typically in the prime of their careers, vacation time is limited. Often their busy lifestyle affects the home they purchase. “They want a property they can move into and use,” Wilhelm says.

Fine has already found it’s difficult to get to her Shore house. “My son plays ice hockey, and that’s every weekend,” she says. “As soon as that’s over, we’re there. I’m sure that’s why it wasn’t originally intended for young people to buy beach homes – because we can’t get there.”

But for some, today’s work environment offers them more time to spend at the Shore, thanks to telecommuting. Lisa Jaffee works as a business manager, and she’s already planning to work from her Margate home a few days each week this summer while her son goes to a local camp. “I have a laptop and work remotely all the time,” she says.

Spending more weeks at the Shore house will give Jaffee more time with her extended family, who she hopes will stay at the house as often as possible. “It’s a big enough house that will fit all of us,” says Jaffee, who has four children, ranging in age from seven to 24. “The 24-year-old is getting closer to having her own family at some point, so we’re hoping to make it a family place, where we can all gather and have a good time.”

Lauren Fine also plans to host extended family. “We have a 14-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, and we also wanted to have the home for our parents, my brother and my husband’s sister,” she says.

Newly built homes reflect this desire for multiple generations under one roof, says Mark Arbeit, co-owner of Mark Arbeit and Company realtors. “While Shore homes used to be small cottages, the growth and type of homes that are being built are more conducive for multi-generational families. You can’t build a home with only three bedrooms anymore.”

But many families who want to share a beach vacation with multiple generations  find their home simply doesn’t have enough room for everyone. “Now you’re seeing members of the same family buying on the same streets,” says Fishman. “It’s becoming a second-home community for the families to all get together.”

Often, Shore buyers – no matter the age – will purchase a home in a town they have frequented for years, even since childhood. “My husband grew up visiting Margate but when the economy took a turn for the worse, his family needed to sell their property,” says Jaffee, whose new home is three blocks from her husband’s childhood vacation home. “He talked about it so fondly. We wanted a place where we could walk to the beach and restaurants,” she says. “We wanted a place where we could escape.”

March 2014
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