Madoff effect not clear in suburbs

By John Celock | January 09, 2009 12:41PM

Suburban real estate agents in New York and New Jersey are taking a wait-and-see approach on whether Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion financial fraud will cause an increase in real estate listings from victims looking to unload their homes.

“There are a lot of people in Rockland who could be involved [as victims in the alleged Madoff scandal],” said Frank Mancione, an associate broker and manager of Prudential Rand Realty’s office in Nyack. “I think we [could] see some more listings.”

Madoff has ties to suburban Long Island, having lived in Roslyn in Nassau County during the 1970s, and owning a home in Montauk on the East End of Long Island.

While Rockland County’s most expensive homes along the Nyack waterfront have been selling steadily to buyers seeking long-term investment potential, an increase in high six-figure and low seven-figure suburban homes from Madoff victims will likely raise inventory, brokers said.

Brokers will get a better handle on the ripple effect in the next several weeks, Mancione speculated, as more victims figure out their finances and listings pick up after the holiday-related slowdown.

The hardest hit neighborhoods, Mancione suspects, will be upper-middle-class ones in New City, Suffern and Montebello. The new class of sellers, he added, would look to do a quick deal and use the proceeds to buy a cheaper home in the county.

Realtors in some of New Jersey’s wealthiest suburbs said that while the scandal has rippled through Main Street, hitting pension funds and individual investors, they did not know how much Madoff’s alleged Ponzi scheme would actually affect real estate listings.

Carolann Clynes, an agent with Burgdorff Realtors in Summit, said she and others are monitoring the situation in Summit, Short Hills and Millburn with the expectation that an onslaught of listings from Madoff victims will come online within the next two months.

Becky Boomsma, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Franklin Lakes, NJ, said that a lot of her new listings are from people looking to downsize.

“Whether it is specifically tied to Madoff, I am not sure,” she said, “but the Madoff scandal has affected our economy and that’s what’s driving people’s thoughts.”