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Delaware Home Appraisals Robot Leaves Room for Error

Jun 20, 2017

 In the Terminator movies, a robot from the future (Arnold Schwarzenegger) hunts down the human heroine in order to change the future by altering the past. Although that’s actually the present. It’s complicated.

Although generally considered science fiction, the same thing is happening right now in the realm of Delaware home appraisals! Now, before any Delaware readers panic, there’s no immediate danger to the community. The authorities have the situation well in hand; in fact, the robot in question has already been hauled into court. There’s certainly nothing that could affect any individual Delaware homeowner…that is, unless your own house is about to be entered into the Delaware listings.

First, about the robot: this is not the Terminator (Arnold) himself. In real life, if you saw him in the supermarket or walking down the street, there would be nothing to fear at all. In real life, he is an actor/Governor who is actually an American/Austrian who is a conservative/liberal and in no way the fictional robot character who was the antagonist/protagonist featured in the Terminator movies.

Neither is the robot that lurks in some online listings: the home appraisal robot. It, too, is nothing to fear, even though it has probably already visited your house without your knowledge. This robot comes from the Zillow website, and its name is “Zestimate.” It means no harm and is doing the best an automated home estimate robot could be expected to do. Any unintended consequences of what happens when it visits your house are, as the phrase indicates, unintentional.

About that court case: the online information company Zillow publishes a dollar figure that its robot calculates for most U.S. home addresses. It is featured as its “Zestimate” of a property’s market value. An Illinois realty lawyer has sued them because she claims that in her case that number is so low and off-kilter that it has materially hampered the sale of her condominium. State law has it that nobody can publish an appraisal without permission of the property’s owner. Zillow says that the $ number it calls its “Zestimate” is not an appraisal at all: instead, it’s an “estimated market value.” Who wins the court case is yet to be determined.

How this might affect your own Delaware home is because prospective buyers might visit Zillow to see what the robot thinks your own property is worth, and be slightly misled. Zillow admits that, compared with actual sale prices, their Zestimate number has a median error rate of 5% (not bad)—but that it’s only within twenty percent 89.7% of the time. A 20% error would be terribly misleading; especially when it happens more than one out of ten times.

The fact is, this robot doesn’t come from the future like the Terminator. Its numbers are based solely on publicly recorded information, which may be outdated, incorrect, or, most likely, unable to factor in anything other than basic square footage and general comps. What the Zestimate cannot account for are things like how upgraded, or outdated, or depressingly dark, or delightfully light, or traffic-noise heavy, or majestically awe-inspiring the subject property actually is in comparison to the comps used to calculate the Zestimate. When human beings aren’t involved at all, the subject property itself is not actually compared. I think there is room for this kind of automated approach. It can be fun and interesting to look around a neighborhood to see how various individual properties fare, even if the numbers aren’t to be taken too seriously.  As the name implies, it's really just an estimate. 

But when the time comes to actually sell your own Delaware home or to start looking in earnest for a house you will be calling home for many years, that’s no time to rely on anything less than comparables and guidance researched by a living, breathing real estate professional. In other words, when the information needs to be right—call me! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com

Delaware Mortgage Rates and Fed Agree to Disagree…Perhaps

Jun 20, 2017

 Last week, following the Fed’s hike in the rates they charge banks, you might expect a matching rise in mortgage rates for Delaware home buyers and refi applicants. If the experts are right, that’s far from a done deal.

The Washington Post headline said it all:

Mortgage rates move slightly higher but could be headed back down again.” 

Mortgage News Daily reported the same: a slight nudge upward, then back down:

By holding flat, rates remain very close to the best levels seen in more than 8 months.”

The consensus was all but unanimous, with even Freddie Mac predicting that “mortgage rates are likely to follow” Treasury yields—that is, downward.

When the Fed raises the rates banks must pay, it’s only logical to expect the move to echo through the money markets, finally reaching home loan lenders. After all, they must raise rates to maintain the same profit level. But following the Fed announcement, investors drove Treasury rates sharply lower. The reason for the market’s seemingly reverse reaction wasn’t due to the Fed’s move: rather, it was because of “a surprisingly weak” Consumer Price Index report (which the Fed had chosen to ignore). In other words, investors believed the CPI instead of the Fed.

The likely effect on Delaware home buyers and sellers remains very good news. With Delaware mortgage rates holding at the “best levels seen in more than 8 months,” more families’ budgets allow moves to bigger and better homes. And for those who read the Fed rate news and feared it might be too late to take advantage of historically low interest rates, the Mortgage News Daily offered a further prediction about mortgage rates that even “stand a shot at going lower this summer.”  

Delaware mortgage rates do rise and fall daily—and knowing for certain where they are headed is famously impossible. As Bloomberg.com noted by the end of the week, “it’s been an especially rough six months” for those charged with predicting trends. What needs no crystal ball to establish is that it now seems likely that this year’s spring-summer busy season will continue to produce real estate bargains that would have seemed almost inconceivable in earlier inflation-ridden decades.

With both sellers and buyers seeing Delaware mortgage rates that translate into more house for lower monthly payments, it remains prime time to check out the market—and to give me a call! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com

Delaware Rental Home for Sale and the Get Rich Slow Scheme!

Jun 20, 2017

 The term “get rich quick scheme” has been held in low regard since before Charlie Ponzi’s pyramid came crashing to earth in the 1920s. Probably that word “scheme” is a problem…sounds too shifty. And the whole idea of sudden riches sounds as reassuring as “something for nothing” or “free lunch.” 

Prudent Delaware residents tend to go a good deal more cautiously when they plan their investments. They usually aren’t even aiming to “get rich.” More like “get comfortable.” Instead of hoping to reap sudden wealth (living off all those tolls after buying the Brooklyn Bridge), they think in conservative terms like “passive income streams” and “lowered risk strategies.” Instead of responding to radio ads for the week’s fastest-growing franchise opportunity, they’re more likely to be scouring the listings for Delaware rental homes for sale.

A week or so ago, The Wall Street Journal published a real estate piece that focused on the building momentum behind this kind of investment strategy. The headline promised to point out ways “to get the best return on a rental property.” It included bullet-pointed tips like “Maintenance costs money” and “Invest for the long term.” The article described the growing number of investors concerned about stock market volatility: they are “choosing a different place to park their money.” The parking place in question? “Buying homes in moderately-priced markets…then renting them out.”

Instead of going high-ticket, one Ohio investor purchased a four-bedroom home for $175,000 in a town with “a strong job market.” After expenses, she nets $350 in positive monthly cash flow. Doing the math, that may be a modest amount, but it’s the cash net after paying for the home loan: she’s simultaneously acquiring the property. It’s a slow but steady strategy. Anyone who finds themselves regularly checking the listings for Delaware rental homes for sale are probably like-minded with investors the Journal describes: “investors who take comfort in the steady income stream.”

With “get rich quick” schemes held in such disrepute, you might conclude that a “get rich slow scheme” would be well-received. Perhaps—but it might be better if we switch out that “scheme” word for one that’s more substantial—like “plan” or “program.” In the meantime, if you are among those looking for this brand of steady-as-she-goes investment opportunity, you don’t need a formal designation to put it into action. For details on the current batch of Delaware rental homes for sale, just phone me at the office! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com.

 

Making the Most of Today’s Crop of Delaware Homes for Sale

Jun 20, 2017

Not everyone who is looking at the homes for sale in Delaware needs to come up with a winner right away. If their own house has just been listed, they may reasonably estimate that it will be some months before the moving vans need to be summoned. Or they may be contemplating a move only if they happen across just the right place at just the right price.

If you find yourself in a similar kind of low-pressure house hunting mode, some basic truths about homebuying still do apply. Remember that when you finally do find just the right home at just the right price, all of a sudden you could find yourself in competition with others who see the same thing: the house they’ve been looking for!

The takeaway is that, even if your interest in today’s Delaware homes for sale is strictly low-key, it’s prudent to prepare yourself as if yours is more of a front-burner quest. Although it could seem to be more trouble than it’s likely to be worth, most people in a similar “just looking” frame of mind won’t have gone to the trouble. In other words, when the Delaware house of your dreams suddenly does come on the market, guess who’s going to be the one to land it?

Here are three checklist items that will position you to make the most of any Delaware house hunt:

  • Budget seriously. Without doubt, the place to start is by doing some financial homework. If you don’t know what you can comfortably afford, you can’t know which of the homes for sale in Delaware should be competing for your attention.
  • Get real. Unless you plan to be a cash buyer, having a mortgage lender on your team is well worth the effort. Keep in mind that being “pre-qualified” isn’t the same thing as being “pre-approved”—the more rigorous (and real) process. It spells out the precise size of the home loan you can expect to receive. It’s no surprise that sellers tilt toward prospective buyers who have bothered to get real!
  • Widen the field. Once you have narrowed the field in terms of the price range you will be considering, you can improve the chances of finding a singularly appealing property by widening your search parameters. This can mean considering homes for sale in areas you hadn’t really paid attention to—or opening your imagination to include properties with features or architectural styles you hadn’t previously thought about. Especially in an active market with tight inventories, the open-minded approach is often the one that yields pay dirt.  

Today’s low home loan rates are allowing surprisingly affordable monthly payments—numbers which can transform even the least motivated prospects into active house hunters. To see what that means in terms of the actual current crop of Delaware homes for sale, give me a call!  Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com