Superstorm Sandy Poised to Impact Sunbelt Housing Markets

November 20, 2012

As a hurricane approaches landfall, millions tune into television, Internet and radio, awaiting word from the meteorologist who stands ready to document the moment of impact. Unfortunately, that moment comes and goes, leaving unimaginable devastation behind. In the immediate aftermath, the world is fixated on the dramatic stories of rescue and recovery. The Red Cross and private charities step in to meet the basic needs of storm victims unable to provide for themselves. Now, three weeks later, many people in the northeast are realizing the impact of a storm like Sandy, may in fact last a lifetime.

Life will continue to change over the coming months. After waiting for insurance adjusters to inspect the damage, monetary relief will begin to flow. Although many will rebuild, creating thousands of new construction jobs, countless others will choose a different path. For those whose retirement plans have been on hold due to the economic downturn, Sandy may represent an opportunity to make their move. Although they were planning to move to a warmer climate, they were waiting to sell their home or feel more confident about the future. Now, the new reality of living in a construction zone and readily available insurance funds, may result in an increased snowbird migration to Florida, Arizona or the Carolinas.

For residential developers, the marketplace remains in transition. These new buyers will bring new priorities and expectations not yet identified. For example, will there be an increased focus on construction quality and building codes? Will waterfront property command the same premium pricing as it has in the past? Will there be a consumer demand for backup power supplies or generators as standard home features? The answers remain to be seen, but developers who are prepared to respond to these and other concerns will have an advantage against previously owned homes and other new home competitors.