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Ocean City’s Primary Home Market is “Hot,” Berkshire Hathaway Executive Says

first_imgSteve Booth oversees nine Berkshire Hathaway and Fox & Roach offices from Brigantine to Stone Harbor, including five in Ocean City. By Donald WittkowskiFor home buyers at the Jersey Shore, now is a good time to jump into the market. Prices are attractive, inventory is up and mortgage rates are down.All of those factors mean that the primary home market in Ocean City is strong, said Steve Booth regional manager for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services and Fox & Roach Realtors.“Ocean City’s primary market is hot compared to the secondary market,” he said.Sales of vacation homes, though, have slowed down amid uncertainty about the financial markets, tax policy and the presidential election, Booth noted.“It’s not a real comfortable time to be going out on a limb on secondary homes,” he said. “Uncertainty is not good.”Home sales in Ocean City were growing briskly through the first quarter of 2016, but began to fall off once uncertainty took over in the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Booth explained.  For the year, sales are down about 6 percent compared to the same period in 2015, he said.Despite an overall decline so far this year, Booth stressed that the market remains reasonably robust, including sales and rentals.“It’s good,” Booth said. “If you’re looking at it year to year, there are always people who want to live at the shore.”Booth has a broad view of the marketplace from his position at Berkshire Hathaway and Fox & Roach. He oversees nine offices and 350 agents from Brigantine to Stone Harbor. Five of the offices are in Ocean City, where his company leads the market in sales. He noted Berkshire Hathaway and Fox & Roach are also No. 1 in sales in Brigantine and Margate.Booth, pictured at his office on 34th Street in Ocean City, noted that sales of primary homes have been strong.The seashore housing market continues to recover from the real estate bubble from 2005 to 2007, which foreshadowed the recession of 2008 and 2009. Booth pointed out that vacation homes can be particularly susceptible to economic downturns because they are considered “a desire, not a need.”“We got hit in the recession and got hit hard,” he said. “Historically, we’re a desire, not a need. So whenever people are starting to feel uncomfortable, we get hit first. But we come back.”Low mortgage rates and a good selection of homes are helping to drive sales. Rental properties continue to be a strong segment of the market, reflecting Ocean City’s drawing power as a vacation retreat for families in the Philadelphia area. Rentals were up in 2015 and continue to climb in 2016, roughly in the range of 3 percent to 5 percent, Booth said.“It’s a stable part of the lifestyle in the Philadelphia marketplace to come to the shore for a week during the year,” he said.Whether it’s Ocean City, Sea Isle City or other beach towns, shore vacations have become “a rite” for generations of families, Booth explained.“When you were a kid, you were coming to Ocean City. Now, your kids are grown up and they’re coming to Ocean City,” he said.Booth’s own family has longtime ties to Ocean City. His grandmother, Jean Campbell, opened the iconic Chatterbox restaurant at Ninth Street and Central Avenue in the 1930s and continued to own it until the 1960s. His late father, George Booth, was a postal clerk in town. His mother, Elizabeth, still lives in the Warwick Avenue home where he grew up.The 58-year-old Booth has been in the Ocean City real estate industry since 1984. He briefly worked at the Sharp Real Estate office on 55th Street , before switching to Hager Real Estate about a year later.Hager was founded by his relatives. Booth was interviewed for a job at Hager by his cousin, Richard Booth.“We shook hands and he told me that if it didn’t work out, it would be just like every other employer and employee,” Booth said. “That’s the way I wanted it.”last_img read more


Badger runners set for NCAAs

first_imgThe No. 4-ranked Wisconsin men’s cross country team will head to Terre Haute, Ind., today as they look to repeat the success they had last time in Indiana.Nine days removed from its Great Lakes Regional Championship, held in West Lafayette, Ind., UW is competing to bring home an NCAA championship to Madison. The Badgers will be led by seniors Matt Withrow, Stu Eagon and Christian Wagner, who are all participating in their fourth national championship race.Although Withrow and Eagon have been dealing with nagging injuries throughout the year, head coach Mick Byrne believes that they are closer to 100 percent than they have been all season.“Matt Withrow and Stu Eagon came through, are coming through pretty well,” Byrne said. “Matt survived Saturday, did pretty well. We slowed him down a little bit. Three-quarters of the way through the race, we told him to back off. And Stu did real well. So, with those two in much better shape than they were two or three weeks ago, it’s certainly going to help us.”Aiding the seniors in their attempt to bring home its second title is first team All-Big Ten runner Landon Peacock. Peacock, a sophomore, has put together a solid year, placing second at the Big Ten Championships and fourth in the Great Lakes Regional. Juniors Craig Miller and Ryan Gasper also figure to play big roles in the Badgers’ shot at the title.Other top-ranked teams — such as Oregon, Oklahoma State and Stanford — stand in the way of the Badgers winning the title.“There are obviously some big guns out there,” Byrne said. “Anytime you go to a national championship, there are a couple of favorites, and certainly Oklahoma State and Oregon are the big favorites. But behind all those guys, No. 3 and 4, we think that we’re in there with a shot.”Another factor that could play into the race is the weather. Coming from the colder Midwestern climate, the Badgers hope to have temperatures down in the 20s or 30s for today’s race. Wisconsin is used to running in colder temperatures, whereas the West Coast teams are not.“We’re looking for it to be pretty cool, and that’s the condition that our kids like,” Byrne said. “They feel comfortable running in anything around 30 degrees.”A championship would mean quite a bit not only for the seniors but also to Byrne, the Great Lakes Coach of the Year and first-year Badgers coach. After spending over two decades at Iona College, Byrne came to Wisconsin to replace former head coach Jerry Schumacher. There has been no drop off, as this year’s team won its 10th consecutive Big Ten title and seventh straight Great Lakes Regional title. Today, Byrne looks to keep one more streak alive as the Badgers look for their seventh straight top five at the NCAA Championships.“When we go to Terre Haute on Monday, the goal has been throughout the season to get back on the podium as one of the top four teams,” Byrne said. “It’s going to come down to who’s going to put it together on the date.”last_img read more