OCEAN CITY – The pending arrival of spring always brings a sense of optimism in the Ocean City area and resort business leaders are hoping the sudden change for the better will carry over to the still sluggish real estate market.
The current status of the real estate market was a topic of discussion for resort business leaders at last week’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting, and while no one was ready to declare the slump over, there was some reason for optimism.
Coastal Association of Realtors Vice President Ron Edelman presented an optimistic outlook to EDC members last Wednesday. While the overall impression presented by local, state and national media in recent months forecasts continued gloom and doom, a majority of those in the local marketplace believe a turnaround is imminent, according to Edelman.
“It’s a buyer’s market and it’s still pretty jittery, largely because the media is still predicting a bust,” he said. “On the flip side, our survey indicates 60 percent still feels the market will continue to appreciate.”
Edelman said the demographics point to a possible upswing for the real estate market with a large number of baby boomers turning 55 this year, an age considered to be prime for second-home and vacation home buyers.
“The largest number of people ever is turning 55 this year,” he said. “That’s a ton of people we’re going to see coming through the pipeline.”
Edelman then tempered his enthusiasm with a dose of reality. While several indicators point to a turnaround in the real estate market, real progress could be slow in coming, he said.
“We’re going to have a bumpy road in the first part of the year, but we’re seeing some positive things,” he said. “We should see movement in a positive direction soon.”
EDC Chairman Dr. Lenny Berger said many investors will likely turn back to real estate given the recent fluctuations in other investment opportunities, such as the stock market.
“With the volatility in the stock market, I think it’s going to drive money back into real estate,” said Berger. “It’s up to us to get the message out that this is a buyer’s market right now and it’s a great time to invest.”
Berger agreed the public perception that the market is soft is still accurate, but said there is no reason to believe it won’t turn around soon.
“There are always doomsayers, and we know the market has been sickly,” he said. “But the good news is, we have a lot of inventory ready to sell. With people coming back to Ocean City after a long winter, we should be in good shape going into a new season.”