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Beach Haven West, N.J. - The full consequences of Hurricane Sandy will be played out in a thousand personal decisions, and for families like the Wosceks, owners of a tiny yellow bungalow on a lagoon, that meant one thing:
For Sale. As Is. (Wrecked by Sandy.)
And just like that, things will never be as they were for the Wosceks, undisturbed through 39 years, six boats, 40 weekends a year in Beach Haven West, kids crabbing off the dock.
"Ugh, you have no idea," said Steven Woscek, 61, of Phillipsburg, N.J., whose getaway house now commands a Sandy-deflated asking price of $174,900. His late mother bought the house in 1974.
"I'm not happy about having to sell this thing," said Woscek, a retired telephone lineman. "I can't take that money out of the IRA to put into this house. I don't work anymore. Anyone my age is just thinking the same way. You just bail out."
Regretfully relinquished Sandy-damaged homes - some, like Woscek's, with floors still coated with mud from the storm - can be seen by the scores in places like Beach Haven West, where blocks of tiny, shore-themed homes on a maze of lagoons just over the bridge from Long Beach Island have been in families for generations, often with no mortgage or insurance.
It can also be seen at the other end of the economic spectrum, as in the case of 7 Point Drive, the summer home of Ronald and Louise Tuchman of River Vale, N.J., since 1985. The house, like others at the precarious southern tip of Longport, N.J., sustained significant wind, wave and water damage.
It is now on the market - "as is" - for $4.29 million.
"As is" on Point Drive, where six more houses are being rebuilt and four dumpsters line the street, means front windows broken, decking destroyed, first floors down to the studs, and clapboards shredded. But what a view. (Comparable undamaged houses in Longport are listed at $6 million.)
Louise Tuchman said it made sense to let buyers come in and put their own stamp on the rebuilding. With her children and grandchildren grown, the time to sell seemed right. "We've had over a quarter of a century of living in that house," she said. "We've had some wonderful memories. I think that's a good choice for us, and a prospective buyer. We're not kids anymore."
The Tuchmans, who bought the land for $400,000, are the exception. For the most part, says Jerome DiPentino of Premier Properties in Longport, rebuilding is an easy option for the "well-insured (and) well-heeled."
"Generally, beachfront people are fixing and moving forward," he said. "Some of the smaller homes on the bayside of Margate and Longport are choosing to sell. Most of the value is in the ground, so it pays for them to just sell. There is not what I would call a mass exit."
Curtis Lee, a real estate broker with Prudential Zack Shore Properties in Manahawkin, N.J., says asking prices dropped from $230,000 to $250,000 pre-Sandy to $150,000 to $175,000 in Beach Haven West, a community of 4,000 waterfront houses, which had already seen a push of buyers tearing down the 1960s-era bungalows for bigger houses. Since the storm, 44 have sold; 163 are for sale.
"A lot of people, they've held these properties for years," he said. "It's the uncertainty. They're worried about what their taxes will be, what their flood insurance will be. This has been a blue-collar, middle-income community. You're going to see, in the next couple of years, all these houses will be rebuilt and replaced, and values are going to go up."