Realtors and real estate companies — many of them hard hit by Hurricane Sandy themselves — are bolstering official relief efforts for storm victims with initiatives of their own.
In the U.S., more than 100 people have been confirmed dead in Sandy’s wake, and about 1 million people are still without power in Lower Manhattan, Staten Island and parts of New Jersey, Forbes reports.
On Sunday, New York City officials said as many as 40,000 people had been left homeless by the storm, the New York Times reported.
That number was a worst-case figure provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The actual number may be closer to 20,000, many of whom are public housing residents that the city must now struggle to shelter amid tight inventory made even tighter by the storm’s destruction.
Even as power is restored to some sections of Lower Manhattan, schools reopen and public transit recovers, a nor’easter expected to hit Wednesday threatens to make that damage worse and undo some of the repair work that has been done so far.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) yesterday approved roughly $158 million in assistance for families and individuals. More than 182,000 people in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have registered for assistance.
HUD is also offering foreclosure relief, mortgage insurance and other assistance in counties in those states the president has declared as major disaster areas.
The National Association of Realtors encouraged donations to its Realtor Relief Foundation, which provides housing-related assistance to Realtors and other victims of disaster.
"The foundation will work with state associations in affected areas to distribute funds as quickly as possible to those in need within the Realtor family and within the community at large," said NAR President Moe Veissi in a statement.
"Keep in mind that 100 percent of the money you give to the foundation directly benefits disaster victims; NAR covers all the administrative costs of the fund. Every penny you give goes to those in need."
Realtors have a vital role to play in rebuilding after Sandy, Inman News columnist David Fletcher noted last week.
"Your town is going to need your expertise like never before. And you will be the one your neighbors look to for news about your area," he said.
"Perhaps there has been no time in the history of your profession that your charitable assistance is needed at such a deep level to reassure, to encourage and to replace your neighbor’s pain with the hope and faith to believe that this too shall pass."
Realtor.com operator Move Inc. announced Friday that it will be doubling employee donations to Habitat for Humanity’s Hurricane Sandy relief fund. This means that for every, say, $50, Move will donate an additional $100 up to a maximum cap of $25,000, the company said. Move has just over 900 employees. The company’s CEO, Steve Berkowitz, is a native Long Islander.
FirstService Residential, which describes itself as the largest manager of residential properties in North America, announced today the creation of a $10 million hurricane recovery fund for its 200 New York City and New Jersey-area properties affected by Hurricane Sandy. The properties make up more than 30,000 units and house 80,000 people.
The storm’s aftermath is hitting many mortgage bankers and brokers hard in the Greater New York metro area, National Mortgage News reported.
"For the most part, brokers and lenders are at a standstill in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut metro area," Marc Savitt, president of the National Association of Independent Housing Professionals (NAIHP), told the publication.
Homes will have to be reinspected before mortgage loans can be sold into the secondary mortgage market, but damage will have to be repaired first. The resulting construction activity could provide a boost to that long-depressed industry.
Settlements scheduled before the storm may be delayed by weeks, Savitt said.
NAIHP has asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Nationwide Mortgage Licensing & Registry to grant an extension on the filing of mortgage call reports, which include details on lender finances and loan activity, for those in FEMA-designated disaster areas.
Hurricane Sandy may end up causing between $30 billion and $50 billion in economic losses, including about $20 billion in property damage, according to forecasting firm IHS Global Insight.
Forecasting firm Eqecat has also estimated between $30 billion and $50 billion in total costs, including property damage, lost business, and extra living expenses. Insurance companies will likely lose between $10 billion and $20 billion, the firm said.
If damages do hit $50 billion, Hurricane Sandy would be the second-most expensive storm since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which cost $128 billion in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars, the Huffington Post reported.
The day the storm hit, real estate data firm CoreLogic estimated that nearly 284,000 total residential properties valued at almost $88 billion were at risk.