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By Ryan Mulligan – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal
Photo by Doug Hernandez

May 22, 2024

Editor’s note: Affluent homebuyers and ambitious builders are transforming Jersey
Shore towns. This is the third story in a three-part series examining housing markets in
different beach communities ahead of the summer season. Previous stories focused on
Seven Mile Island and Cape May.

A rising tide lifts all boats — and home prices along the Jersey Shore.
Atlantic County towns like Ventnor City or Brigantine are typically thought of as more
affordable options to their southern counterparts like Ocean City or Avalon, but as home
prices in Cape May County become unattainable for many, there’s more room for them to
rise to the north.

The median sale price in Atlantic County jumped 19% year over year in March to
$357,500, according to data from real estate company Redfin. In Brigantine, the median
price paid by homebuyers increased 13% to $600,000 and in Atlantic City it spiked 33%
to $222,500. Margate City is the priciest town in the county with a median sale price of
$860,000 as of March, a 2% bump over the year prior.

Angela Desch, the area leader for real estate team JerseyLiving and a former president of
the Atlantic City and County Board of Realtors, said the luxury market has been the
hottest sector of late, largely driven by new construction.

As of early May, the list price of the average new construction home in Margate City and
Ventnor was $2.38 million, according to South Jersey Shore MLS data, up 16% from $2.06
million in 2023. Of the 38 new construction homes on the market in Margate, just 10
were asking less than $2 million.

Desch said in years past the threshold for what was considered the luxury market in her
area would hover around the mid-$1 millions. Now, it’s closer to $3 million. Just like in
Shore towns to the south, she said those building new vacation homes in Atlantic County
are “looking to max out their lot size.”

“We’re seeing a caliber of price point that you haven’t quite seen as much of in the past,”
Desch said. “So that’s exciting. The builders are not clamoring. Everyone’s out looking
for a teardown or knocking on people’s doors constantly.”

Desch added that when there is something priced more reasonably, around $600,000 for
example, “it’s a bit of a frenzy.” Those listings are becoming scarce, though.
Desch notes that change is happening the quickest in Ventnor City, which has been
among the more affordable coastal towns in Atlantic and Cape May counties.
“It has been a pattern, but it’s gaining a little more momentum with the new
construction,” Desch said.

The average sale price of a Ventnor home so far this year was $734,631 as of May 8, a hike
of 23% from the $597,989 average posted during the same year-ago period, according to
South Jersey Shore MLS data.

New construction houses at higher price points can spark concerns among locals, Desch
admits, and there has been some “emotional” pushback when older homes are torn
down. Others “realize that change is inevitable” and that deeper pockets bring more
spending to local businesses, but the barrier to entry for those seeking Shore houses —
even in the more affordable Atlantic County towns — keeps rising.

“If you’re coming down and you want to raise a family like I did at the Shore, the price
point and what you can afford for a home that’s move-in condition is quite high, so that’s
a little bit of a concern,” Desch said.

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