Janet Babin

Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News

Janet Babin appears in the following:

6 Months After Sandy: Real Estate Check-In

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

WNYC reporter Janet Babin talks about post-Sandy real estate trends, and how recovery efforts and preparation for other storms has shaped housing prices in the area.


Comments [4]

Sandy Damage Prompts Some to Walk Away Instead of Stay

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


In some places, Sandy’s wrath is a reason to walk away from their homes as opposed to staying on and fixing them up.




For many Sandy’s wrath is a memory that happened six months ago.

But some home buyers and sellers are just now feeling its power surge through the real estate market in coastal areas.


“Not one property has closed to date in Sea Bright since the storm,” said Donna Markowitz, broker-manager at Gloria Nilson and company real estate in Keyport, New Jersey.


In parts of New Jersey, coastal properties are selling for much less than they were worth before the storm. 


Many homes that were flooded will have to be raised up to new flood elevation standards set by FEMA.  And they’ll also incur increased costs for flood and homeowner’s insurance.  Those increased expenses, combined with the uncertainty of what new regulations will be, could be spooking buyers and coaxing sellers to drop their prices.


“There’s the uncertainty of the [FEMA flood] zones - we don’t have anything firm yet, we don’t have firm maps or elevations,” said Steve Acropolis, the Mayor of Brick Township, New Jersey.


The uncertainty is causing some to walk away. 


In the working class town of Keyport on the Raritan Bay, two Sandy-damaged homes on the market in Keyport are on the market for about $70,000.


“Before Sandy, they would have been, in this market,  like a $240 to 250,000 home,” said agent Markowitz.


It’s a similar situation in tony Mantaloking, father south, where only one home sold on the open market since the storm struck. 


“It was on the market for $5.5 million before the storm.  The house was destroyed [during Sandy] and sold for $2.7 million, about half the value after the storm,” said Peter Zanowic, with Gloria Nilson and Company real estate in Bay Head, NJ.




According to Zillow, the online real estate site, there’s not enough data yet to determine via sale listings, if there’s a high volume of short selling going on.


But Zillow economist Svenja Gudell says there is added pressure on owners of homes seriously damaged by Sandy, particularly in the Garden State.


She said that in New Jersey, 25 percent of homeowners with a mortgage were underwater before Sandy hit, meaning they owe more on their homes than their property is worth.


“You’re getting the double whammy if you will,” Gudell said of those homeowners. “Not only were you underwater before, but now you’re even worse off because your home has been damaged.”


And some of those financially ‘underwater’ are more likely to sell at distressed property price instead of trying to cobble together a way to pay for repairs on what is already, a losing investment for them.


“That makes it easier for people to say: ‘It’s going to take so long for me to reach positive equity again in my home, I’m going to walk away from my home now,’ ” Gudell said.


This homeowner fatigue is expected to shake out overtime, experts say. 

As powerful as Sandy’s storm surge was, it’s not likely to influence buyers of shore properties a few years from now, if tradition is any guide. 


“The older homes that were destroyed, there will be brand new homes in there.  So the houses will be worth more, the market will rebound, and people will want to live here and spend money for it,” said Zanowic.


But some fear the rebuilding will force working class families away from the beach.


“It’s going to change the character of some towns, and I worry about young people being able to afford being on the water,” added Steve Acropolis, Mayor of Brick.


But in some storm-ravaged areas, like Long Beach, and on Long’s Island’s North Shore too, sales this spring have been less affected by Sandy.


“Waterfront [property] is a limited commodity [here] and it still commands the high numbers,” said Risa Ziegler, a licensed broker with Douglas Elliman in Huntington, Long Island.


The North Shore still lacks inventory, and it’s a desirable area.


Long Island’s South Shore sustained much more Sandy damage, and initially, home prices of flooded properties fell sharply.


But now, in anticipation of summer, sales are trending upwards.


“When Sandy first hit, I thought my career was over, I didn’t know how I’d sell another house here,” said Long Beach real estate agent Joyce Coletti.


But over time some started buying damaged homes on the South shore, and prices began rising, even for homes that had been gutted after storm damage.  In Long Beach, nine homes burnt after a car blew up during Sandy.


“I had a bidding war on burnt homes, that were burnt to the ground,” and we sold them,” added Coletti.


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Sandy Damage Threatens Horseshoe Crabs and Migratory Shorebirds

Friday, April 19, 2013


The numbers of horseshoe crabs laying eggs this spring in New Jersey could be lower than normal, after Sandy destroyed more than 70-percent of the crab’s nesting grounds along the Delaware Bay.

Comments [4]

For One Beach Block, Rebuild on Hold

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


Fielder Avenue in Ortley Beach was one of the worst hit blocks at the shore. Sandy destroyed 10 homes, and badly damaged most others. WNYC has been visiting the block and collecting the stories of residents and their struggles to rebuild.


New Jersey More Prone to Flooding Post Sandy

Friday, March 29, 2013


Up and down the New Jersey coast, municipalities from Sea Bright to Ortley Beach are reporting increased incidences of flooding, even in places that don’t normally flood. But officials don’t agree on why it’s happening or how to stop it.

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New Jersey Residents Blame Increased Flooding On Superstorm Sandy

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Since Hurricane Sandy, local officials in many coastal towns in New Jersey are reporting increased flooding and higher flood waters. They say it is happening both during storms and even just on high tides. But no one's exactly sure why. Meanwhile, costs are piling up; officials say the increased flood events and higher flood waters have already damaged major roadways that cost millions of taxpayer dollars to repair since Sandy.


Noreaster Strikes Sandy Scarred Areas

Friday, March 08, 2013


Residents in many New Jersey coastal communities battered by Sandy watched with dread this week as wind swirled and flood waters spilled onto highways and door steps as the latest Nor'easter unfurled up the east coast.

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New Jersey Shore Prepares for Nor'easter

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


A potential Nor'easter has New Jersey towns from Long Beach Island to Seabright, preparing for possible beach erosion, rain, snow, high winds and moderate to severe flooding. Some mayors are calling for voluntary evacuations.

+ More: Track Water Levels with our Flood Gauge Map


NY Singles Out Unresponsive Insurers Post Sandy

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Thousands of Sandy victims have complained since soon after the storm struck that their insurance companies were failing to help them in a timely manner.  Now, New York State’s Department of Financial Services has vindicated those complaints – at least somewhat.


After Sandy: Midland Beach

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bob Dennis, parish manager for St. Margaret Mary Roman Catholic Church in Midland Beach talks about how the parish is recovering from Sandy and what the community needs to keep going. Also, Christine Mignone-Morena, owner of Bedazzle Dance Studio on Midland Ave., talks about reopening her business and how the students in her classes are responding to the damage in the community and Tracy Lotz, homeowners and member of the board of the Midland Beach Alliance, talks about her experience as a homeowner, and what new flood zone maps might mean for Midland Beach residents.

Also, Janet Babin, WNYC reporter, checks in from Freeport, New York on her road trip from Cape May to Montauk.

Comments [3]

#CoastCheck Update: Wednesday, January 30

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WNYC’s Janet Babin and Amy Pearl continue their post-Sandy #CoastCheck by talking with residents in Broad Channel, the sliver of Queens sandwiched between Howard Beach and the Rockaways. People there are still struggling to make their homes habitable.


#Coastcheck Update: Tuesday, January 29

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reporter Janet Babin made another stop along the Jersey Shore before heading to Staten Island Tuesday. She said Highlands, New Jersey still resembles a disaster area, but before the community can move forward, residents have to decide how to rebuild.


#CoastCheck: Making Money Off Sandy

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Janet Babin checks in from the next stop on her road trip from Cape May to Montauk. Also, WNYC's Robert Lewis discusses his reporting on what companies have gotten lucrative contracts post-Sandy -- and the economics of a disaster.

Comments [7]

Rebuild or Retreat from the Jersey Shore?

Monday, January 28, 2013


Three months after Sandy,  some New Jersey shore communities remain uninhabitable, without utilities and other amenities. There’s a rush to rebuild, but some geologists endorse what they call "strategic retreat" from the ocean front, especially on barrier islands.

Comments [18]

To Rebuild or Not to Rebuild After Sandy

Monday, January 28, 2013

Janet Babin, WNYC Reporter, discusses her story on the question of whether to rebuild after Sandy--and talks about her road trip along the coast from Cape May all the way to Montauk.

Comments [7]

Follow the #CoastCheck Roadtrip

Monday, January 28, 2013

As communities struggle with the question of whether to rebuild or retreat after Sandy, WNYC reporter Janet Babin and videographer Amy Pearl are touring coastal towns.

Comments [12]

What Kids Want from Obama's Next Four Years

Monday, January 21, 2013


Child advocates interviewed the nation’s children about what they want out of President Obama’s second term. The groups have compiled a video of the responses, and want President Obama to watch it.

Comments [2]

A Look at the Challenges of Rebuilding the Jersey Shore

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Seaside Heights became the second New Jersey town to award contracts to rebuild its boardwalk this week. WNYC examines the perils of rebuilding along the Jersey shore and some mitigation measures the state is looking at.

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Seaside Heights Rebuilds After Sandy

Monday, January 14, 2013


Even after Sandy destroyed the boardwalk and flooded dozens of local businesses, the borough of Seaside Heights, NJ is determined to open its summer season by May 10.

Comments [4]

EPA Proposes Gowanus Canal Cleanup Plan

Thursday, December 27, 2012


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its proposal to clean up the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.