Those with long memories may recall that I wrote a July 27 article about Somers Point's efforts to attract buyers to the Atlantic County community across the Ninth Street Bridge from Ocean City.

I am not claiming credit for this, but coincidentally Somers Point's home sales topped 40 between June 1 and Aug. 31, an increase of 11 from the same period in 2014.

What's more, 6,400 people visited, the website set up for the campaign.

As most real estate agents will tell you, summer is not a big home-buying season. And Somers Point, of course, is actually a mainland community on Great Egg Harbor Bay - at the Shore, but not on the ocean.

A major focus of the marketing campaign has been to compare the affordability of permanent and vacation homes in Somers Point with what's for sale on the barrier islands.

So the apparent success Somers Point had in attracting so many buyers is all the more remarkable.

"The public responded with enthusiasm," said Jack Glasser, Somers Point's mayor.

I had carted the family down Black Horse Pike two days before the story was published to look at some of the properties for sale because prices in Somers Point seem to fit the retirement criteria of "house but no mortgage, somewhere near water" established in recent talks.

I'm still holding out for Maine, but you need to explore all the options, and Somers Point is just one.

As many my age acknowledge, the location issue tends to focus on how close one is to grandchildren, with a short drive or train trip preferable to flying great distances.

At July's end, there were 122 active listings in Somers Point, priced from $80,000 to $1.94 million. The median sale price was $209,450 (half sold for more, half for less).

Even after the summer's 40 sales, there were 106 active listings among single-family detached homes, and 44 condos, some overlooking the bay, said Judith Hanlin, an agent with Bay Harbor Realty.

The real estate downturn hit Somers Point pretty hard, and there is still a lot of foreclosure inventory that needs to be taken care of before prices there can begin climbing again.

Yet the houses we checked out in the couple hours we spent not locked in Ocean City traffic on a sunny Saturday afternoon, though older, seemed to be well cared for and reasonably priced.

Somers Point is a year-round town, with lots of retail and a small beach. It's close to the Garden State Parkway and a bike ride over the bridge to Ocean City and a $5 day pass for a much larger expanse of sand and lots of surf.

Although it is still too early to say whether Somers Point's campaign to attract home buyers will be an overwhelming success, from the results thus far it appears to be a step in the right direction.

And, after writing 158 Town by Town features in the last three years, I'll say there are a lot of hard-hit communities I have visited that could benefit from Somers Point's approach to recovery and renewed growth.

This is a grass-roots effort, with business, government, and residents sharing the responsibility because the benefits are clear: higher profits, more tax revenue for services, and renewed growth in home values.

One interesting facet of the campaign is that if you buy a house that is at least 20 years old and renovating it adds $25,000 to the assessed value, you get a five-year tax break on that added value.

The same will be true if you build a new house, but the valuation numbers will be much higher.

In other words, lower taxes on higher values.


215-854-2472 @alheavens