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Hurricane Sandy & FEMA

TRENTON —Hurricane Sandy victims who don’t rebuild their homes to meet federal requirements should relinquish their financial aid, according to a poll released today.

The PublicMind Poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University also found that among the 702 registered voters surveyed, nearly two-thirds want property owners to be required to rebuild in a way that protects their homes against “significant weather events.” Fewer than one-third say the property owners should be permitted to rebuild any way they want.

Among the respondents, 58 percent said those whose homes were destroyed by Sandy should forfeit their aid if they don’t rebuild to the recommendations of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Thirty-three percent said they shouldn’t give up the money and another 8 percent were unsure.

“This is a touchy subject,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind. “on the one hand, there are the rights of property owners who wish to maintain their freedom to rebuild in the manner they both choose and can afford, while one must also consider the public’s right to make sure money isn’t spent on those who fail to take adequate precautions against the darker side of Mother Nature.”

Sixty-four percent of the respondents said they weren’t personally affected by the hurricane, while 15 percent said they’re still struggling to recover from the October storm. Slightly more (21 percent) said they are now completely recovered.

Grading the performance of the federal government in getting aid to New Jersey, 51 percent said they’re not satisfied with the pace while 30 percent said they are satisfied.

The survey was conducted from March 4 through March 10 and had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

“Taken as a whole, these numbers suggest that Garden Staters are looking for everyone to act responsibly in the aftermath of Sandy,” Jenkins said. “Property owners should rebuild with adequate protections in place and the federal government should do more to help the hardest hit.”

Original Article:

Housing Market Comeback

The housing market’s comeback appears to be building.

Sales of new single-family homes surged in January to a level last seen 4-1/2 years ago, while a separate report showed home prices in December notched their biggest gain since 2006.

After years of holding the economy back in the wake of the mortgage meltdown, housing has been rebounding, bolstered by super-low interest rates, attractive prices and a better job market.

“There is a strong case that there will be a sustainable recovery in housing,” Sean Incremona, an economist at 4CAST, told the Daily News.

Still, he cautioned that it may be a bumpy ride higher with the economy only making measured progress and Americans’ incomes barely growing.

Purchases of new homes jumped 16% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 437,000 units, the Commerce Department said. The gain was the largest on a percentage basis since April 1993. Over the year that ended in January, sales were up 29%.

The report also showed the number of new homes on the market last month was the smallest since 2005, potentially encouraging more construction.

A tight supply of homes is helping squeeze prices higher. Home values in 20 metro areas climbed 6.8% in December from the same month a year earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller property value index. In November, prices were up 5.4%.

New York, though, was December’s sole weak spot. Prices in the area, which includes parts of Westchester and Connecticut, were down 0.5% from December 2011.

Values in the region have fallen for 28 straight months on a year-over-year basis, a trend David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committees at S&P Dow Jones Indices, puts down to job cuts in the financial sector.

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