It's been a year since superstorm Sandy hit the shores of Long Island, but it hasn't become any easier to quantify the long-term impact it's had on the local housing market.
In the short term, of course, there was a dire need for housing for those impacted by the storm, and the rental market caught fire. But many displaced Long Islanders have since found viable alternatives. At the same time, housing prices and sales volume have been rising regularly in recent months so the Islandwide impact seems to be dissipating.
But a report released today by real estate analytics firm RealtyTrac tries to peg some weak spots in the local housing market to Sandy. It reported that foreclosures are up 33 percent year-over-year in New York City and Long Island through 2013's first nine months, even as nationwide activity has fallen for 36 consecutive months.
However, a mere rise in foreclosures is not necessarily the result of the disastrous storm. Newsday has been tracking this trend for some time, and has attributed it to a whole host of local factors -- most prominently how excruciatingly slow New York's foreclosure process is.
In reality, it's difficult to determine exactly how much -- if any -- of the growth in foreclosure activity has to do with the storm. In fact, the three metro areas in the country with the largest annual foreclosure gains in September were many hundreds of miles away from the heart of the storm, in Baltimore, Las Vegas and Raleigh, N.C.
Further muting the impact of the storm have been the steadily rising housing prices in New York and Long Island. Median prices tabulated by RealtyTrac actually rose more locally on an annual basis in September than they did nationally. Granted, the individual neighborhoods hit hardest by the storm are experiencing a reduction in home values, but it just isn't easy to find the widespread impact at which RealtyTrac hints.
Even RealtyTrac's note that the smallest growth in local housing prices came in areas hardest hit by Sandy (Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk Counties) may be purely coincidental. Perhaps it's merely a byproduct of the strength of housing markets in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.