Monday, March 3, 2008

Down the Shore with...Michelle Jeffers

Michelle Jeffers is one of those great connections I've made because of this blog. I took a mild swipe at the Sea Isle City Polar Bear Plunge, and Jeffers, a real estate agent in Sea Isle City, commented that I should check it out. Turns out she's a blogger, too, and runs the show at Sea Isle City Real Estate News. She's a life-long shore gal, too, and has lots of advice to offer about real estate, whether you're looking to rent a shore home, rent out a shore home, or even buy one.

1. What do you consider 'your' shore town and why?
Sea Isle, without a doubt. There's something magical about the town from the moment you reach the top of the bridge on JFK Boulevard and see the sunlight sparkling on the ocean. Beauty aside, the people who live, work, and visit Sea Isle make it special.

2. How did you end up in Sea Isle City?
My fiancé and I moved to south jersey to attend college. We're from Ocean County originally, and decided that we'd still like to live at the shore. We found a great place in Ocean City, and I started working at Sofroney Real Estate in Sea Isle. Now we live right offshore, and I get to experience that beautiful view on the bridge every day whether it's to go to the office or enjoy Sea Isle events.

3. What's it like living down the shore all year round?
That's a great question! Often times I'll hear from people that they'd love to live at the shore all year. My response is always, "Why not? You can!" Many people assume shore residents spend all fall and winter locked in our houses with nothing to do, nowhere to go. That's not true! There are a lot of activities all year, and while many shops and restaurants are closed or have limited hours, there's still plenty of things to enjoy.

The beach is beautiful whether it's covered in a sea of beach blankets in July or a blanket of snow in January. And really, that's the biggest draw for so many shore residents. I can't think of a more peaceful setting than next to the ocean. It's really an ideal situation.

4. What's your favorite Sea Isle City event?
The Polar Bear Plunge. This February over 1500 people paid money to jump in the freezing cold ocean while about 10,000 people watched. There's a costume contest and a throne made of ice for the Plunge Queen. The majority of the money raised goes to fund the free summer events like dance parties, movie nights, and concerts. The promenade is packed with more people than you'd ever see during the summer, it's awesome and a ton of fun.

5. How long have you been in real estate?
I joined Sofroney Real Estate in 2003, but prior to that I worked as a legal assistant to an attorney who handled Real Estate transactions and related cases.

6. What are some of the joys -- and headaches -- about dealing with so many rental properties?
Our rental inventory is huge! The hardest part is keeping property availability up to date. Property owners in Sea Isle have the option to list with as many real estate offices as they want, which allows us to have such a large rental selection, but it can sometimes lead to problems.

When a realtor books a rental, we contact the property owner and the other offices that list that property, but it does sometimes happen that a realtor won't be notified of a rental. It's always very disappointing to have to tell a family the home they fell in love with isn't available. We all try to avoid that, but it does sometimes happen, and it's difficult.

My work is helping people to make lasting memories, and there's no greater reward than that. It sounds a little cheesy, but it's an awesome feeling when a family finds a vacation home they love. The family is so excited when they finally find the perfect home it's infectious! That's the greatest joy, knowing that ten, twenty, fifty years from now one of my renters will look back and remember all the fun they had vacationing in Sea Isle.

7. Any tips on staying sane on Saturday changeover days? ;-)
Breath deep, enjoy the salt air, and just relax. The traffic won't last forever. Take the motto "Smile, You're in Sea Isle" to heart.

If you're renting with our office, use our express service! Knowing how hard it is to find parking near our office at 42nd Street and Landis Avenue we offer an express check-in and check-out service. We'll meet renters at their car and hand-deliver the keys so they don't have to find parking.

8. What would you say to someone who wants to buy a shore house but isn't sure what will happen to the prices?
People who are thinking of buying have a great opportunity. The home prices are drastically reduced, the mortgage rates are low, and inventory is high. It's impossible to say that prices are as low as they're going to go, that we've reached the bottom of the market, because you can't tell the bottom until after the fact, when the market's already on it's way back up. What I do know is that the prices will go up again, and we're starting to see more activity now. The outlook for 2008 is very strong because of those three factors: low prices, low mortgage rates, high inventory.

This isn't the market for "flippers" you're just not going to buy a property, do nothing but hold onto it for a few months, sell it quickly and make more money than what you paid for the home. Someone who buys now should be buying for the long term, looking to buy a place that they'll use or rent out for years to come. If you can do that, and you want to buy a shore home, then it's really a great time to get into the market.

9. What's one piece of advice you would give to someone about being a good renter?
Communication is key, as it is with any relationship. If a renter checks in and the home isn't properly cleaned, let us know right away. If an amenity or appliance is missing or not working, let us know right away. If you happen to accidentally break something, let us know right away.

I want to make sure you're happy; in a home that's in great condition with lots of amenities you can use and enjoy. I want to make sure that you receive all of your damage deposit back at the end of your stay. If I don't know of any problems or issues, I can't help you. Don't feel like it's a burden, that's my job, and I want to correct anything that you're unhappy about the moment you think that it might be an issue.

10. And what's your favorite time of year in Sea Isle City?
September is the best-kept secret in Sea Isle! The weather is nice, the water is warm and the town is less crowded. The shops and restaurants are still open, and every one is happy to be soaking up the last few weeks before the weather changes.

On September 13-14 there's Fall Family Festival. There's a large food court with local restaurants set up on JFK Boulevard between Landis Avenue and the promenade. On Saturday vendors set up on the promenade and sell all kinds of items, from handmade jewelry and artwork to purses and clothing to household and decorative items. There's also a dance contest! On Sunday the promenade is full of antique cars, with owners who are more than willing to tell you the history of the car. There's also a sand sculpting contest, along with a demonstration from an amazing sand sculptor, and free trolley rides pointing out some of the historical places of Sea Isle.

On the 19th and 20th the Irish Festival is held at La Costa, and on the 27th there's The Baby Boomer's Rock and Roll Revival with Jerry Blavat.

As if that wasn't enough, the rental prices are drastically reduced. A renter could find the same home for a week in September for less than half the price or even a third of the price of a week in July or August! Some properties even rent weekends beginning in September, if you can only find a few days to get away rather than a full week.

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1 comment:

Trish Ryan said...

How great to have an interview all about the beach and creating great memories this time of year. Thanks Jen and Michelle for the much-needed reminder that summer will come!