By MADDY VITALE
As more and more people want to escape the big cities amid COVID-19, and many are working remotely, that dream home in Ocean City has become a tangible reality.
At least that is what the statistics — and the sellers and buyers — are saying.
Pete Madden, Goldcoast Sotheby’s International Realty broker-owner of the 34th Street office, put it this way: “At Goldcoast, we have been on fire since the pandemic.”
The typical housing stock in the resort is about 900 homes for sale at this time. Currently, there are approximately 389 residences on the market.
At its worst over a decade ago during the recession, there were 1,700 homes available. Years later, a better market, low interest rates and the array of activities for not only visitors, but year-round residents, highlight why buyers are flocking to the resort and housing stock is low. Another reason, especially for families, is the quality school system, Madden said.
In just days after being listed, houses are being sold.
Of course, there are the obvious reasons, “Low interest rates and the low inventory have made for a perfect storm,” Madden noted.
But another major reason, perhaps the biggest, is the coronavirus pandemic. “The pandemic has hurt other cities. If you want to work from home, where else would you want to be?” Madden said about the shore.
He gave an example of the booming market.
On Saturday, he explained that Goldcoast Sotheby’s International Realty had 13 showings for a home listed at $989,000 located in the upscale Gardens area at 11 Gardens Road.
There are plenty of reasons for the increase in sales, he said.
“Ocean City is a place to escape. People love Ocean City. It is a dry town and a family town,” he added. “You drive over the (Ninth Street) bridge and the weight is lifted off your shoulders.”
The top-notch education found at the pre-k through 12th grade school district is the “icing on the cake,” Madden said. “The schools are thriving. People are realizing that it is one of the top districts in the state.”
David Gayeski, an anesthesiologist, and his wife, Lauren, a photographer, didn’t move to Ocean City from a big city over the spring. They relocated, with their three sons, from their Egg Harbor Township home for the Ocean City school system, and the community.
“Our oldest son, Jackson,14, will be entering freshman year,” Lauren noted. “I wanted them to live the life on an island, where we could ride bikes, they could go on amusement rides and enjoy the beach and Boardwalk.”
Some people relocated to get out of the city. Others just wanted a better way of life.
For Graham Palusky, 32, who recently took up surfing, and his wife, Ashley, 29, the thought of being able to relocate to Ocean City at such a young age was surreal, they said.
But the commercial bankers, who worked in Philadelphia, said it was time to get out of the city. Their broker was Ron Gifford of REMAX.
They relocated to the Gardens section of the resort last month. The property they bought, at 26 Battersea Road, was on the market for just two days.
“We feel really fortunate to be here and I feel this is the coolest place to raise kids,” Graham noted. “The school district is exceptional, and it is a safe community.”
It also doesn’t hurt that the couple can go surfing, a passion Graham picked up not too long ago.
“We lived in the city for 10 years and enjoyed it,” Ashley said of Philadelphia. “COVID changed the dynamic and all the reasons why were in the city were taken away.”
Graham followed that thought up: “We don’t have to be in the city anymore. We work remotely. All of the appeal of the city — dining out, entertainment — was taken away.”
But even when – if – life goes back to normal, the Paluskys said that wouldn’t change their course now that they live in Ocean City.
“We perceived this as a window of opportunity to get out of the city. We have the freedom to surf and look into the future to see what else we have in store,” Ashley said.
Both the Gayeskis and Paluskys saw a bright side to the pandemic.
“This whole thing was the inspiration for us to move,” Graham Palusky emphasized. “We probably were years away from something like this. We have COVID to thank for this amazing place we live in now.”