In Sandy-hit New Jersey, a real estate comeback

Rafi Gardee is house shopping on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, which was affected by superstorm Sandy.
CBS News

(CBS News) LONG BEACH ISLAND, N.J. - Comeback is a word a lot of real estate agents are using on the Jersey Shore unexpectedly, but very happily. Even though towns on the mid-Atlantic coast have yet to clean up from superstorm Sandy, that's not slowing down a certain breed of homebuyer.

Rafi Gardee is house shopping on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Superstorm Sandy battered the slender barrier island so badly that it was closed off for two weeks. Nearly four months later, the southern end of the island is still suffering.

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But Gardee sees opportunity. "This area's always maintained its value," he said. "It's a great time to buy."

Home values are up in many areas hit by Sandy according to a recent survey. In New Jersey, it's up by almost 2 percent over pre-Sandy values -- higher, actually, than in areas not impacted by the storm.

Real estate firm Zillow conducted the study. "The lures of coastal living are actually more powerful than the periodic chance of having a natural disaster in your backyard," said chief economist Stan Humphries.

Gardee agrees. "My lender says, 'Rafi, buy extra insurance' because he thinks the climate is going to get worse over the next few years....I agree with that, yes."

Would he still buy a house in the area? "Absolutely," said Gardee.

Gardee's realtor, Nathan Colmer, said no property comes risk-free. "If you live in Kansas, there's going to be at some point a tornado. If you live in California, you're going to have an earthquake."

And storms will ravage beach areas. They come with the "location, location, location."