Apr 21, 2014
Delaware first-time home buyers in 2014 are faced with a question that hasn’t changed for generations: is it more practical to buy right now, or to continue to rent?
Over the past few years, buying has been the easy choice. Nationally, in 2013 it cost 35% less to own a home than to rent according to that year’s study by real estate website Trulia. That despite rising house prices and mortgage rates. But that was last year, and the experts have been pretty unanimous in predicting that interest rates will continue to rise—ending up somewhere near 5.5% by 2014’s end (per the National Association of REALTORS®).
In the face of higher interest rates and house price tags, will 2014 be the year when renting becomes more affordable than buying?
While first-time home buyers in Delaware are faced with increasing house prices and mortgage rates, renters also find another national trend: higher rents. Rents have been on the rise for the past few years, with continued increases expected throughout 2014. According to Axiometrics, the folks with the latest data, apartment rents are on course to rise by 3.04% in 2014. Research firm Reis puts the expected rise at 3.15%— and both say the causes are the potent combination of tight supply and rising demand. Whenever the economy improves, each incremental gain puts even more pressure on rents—which acts as an offset to any financial benefits of renting versus owning.
Where does that leave our typical Delaware first-time home buyers? Most recently, national averages show it is still about 21% cheaper to own rather than rent. According to the Trulia study, by fall of last year, the earliest tipping point at which it would have become more expensive to own rather than rent would have been expected to occur if interest rates hit 5.2%—but only in San Jose, California—and only if rents had remained fixed (which didn’t happen, even in San Jose). Nationally, out here in the real world, Tulia admitted “mortgage rates will not tip the housing market in favor of renting over buying until rates hit 10.5%...”
Delaware first-time home buyers can be a bit more confident as they take in one more piece of information from the real world of April 2014 (no matter what the experts predicted): over the past few weeks, national mortgage interest rates have been edging down instead of rising! That may well change direction again (probably will), but for now at least, I have to say that it’s a pretty clear call in the spring of 2014: time to get pre-qualified!
That’s the first-time home buyers’ Step One…it also happens to be an ideal time to give me a call!
Apr 10, 2014
Right at the start of the year, Google announced a surprising move. It said it was purchasing a home appliance maker most of us had never even heard of…for $3.2 billion in cash! It was a gambit that every Sussex County homeowner should note, because it signals where some very smart money is headed: right where we live!
Remember, Google isn’t just famous for its search engine; it’s also frequently in the news for its forays into any number of futuristic enterprises (those mysterious barges, for instance). The appliance maker that now has Google’s billions in its pocket is called Nest Labs, Inc. Nest makes smart devices that reinvent the traditional ones every Sussex County homeowner has to deal with, like thermostats and smoke detectors. “Unloved but important devices” was how the press announcement put it.
The unique feature of Nest’s products is that they collect “user behavior” data (i.e., homeowner actions) in order to provide a more tailored response. Google CEO Larry Page explained, “They’re already delivering amazing products you can buy right now–thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe.”
The move of Google into the realm of smarter homes is part of a broader trend. In the most recent American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey, there was a dramatic increase in the use of technology solutions in the home. The survey noted an increase in requests for entertainment, security and energy management systems. Energy management systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated as households are given the ability to manage their lighting and temperature over a wireless network. As electronic cars become more prevalent, electronic docking systems in the garage may also become commonplace.
How does this affect the average Sussex County homeowner? As the minimum price of these systems decline, automated homes will eventually become the norm. If today it costs around $2500 to automate your home, it’s all but inevitable that similar features will fall in price (and grow in sophistication). Then, when it comes to buying an Sussex County home or listing your own for sale, the amount of smart automation is bound to become a key selling point—trust Google!
The ability to operate and manage your house from a wireless devices such as your smartphone or laptop is already here…and Nest’s learning technology signals a future where our home and appliances are able to learn from our behavior and predict our needs. Keeping an eye on the future is a good idea for any Sussex County homeowner, especially when you’re thinking of replacing one of those “unloved but important” devices— and most especially when you’re contemplating listing your home anytime soon. If that’s in your future, why not give me a call? As Google is in the habit of demonstrating, it’s never too soon to prepare for the future!
Call/text 302-228-7871 or email me, Russell Stucki, REALTOR® of Beach Real Estate Market to provide detailed information on Delaware homes for sale, investment and commercial properties, luxury and waterfront homes, condos/townhomes, new construction, lots and land, farms and equestrian properties located in but not limited to Bethany, Bethel, Bridgeville, Dagsboro, Delmar, Ellendale, Fenwick Island, Frankford, Georgetown, Greenwood, Harbeson, Laurel, Lewes, Lincoln, Milford, Millsboro, Millville, Milton, Ocean View, Rehoboth Beach, Seaford, Selbyville, Delaware.
Apr 7, 2014
A major home-selling decision arrives right at the start: setting your home’s price. It’s a step that can be decisive for good or for ill.
But what is the “right” price? We know what it probably isn’t—it’s not the first number that pops into your head, nor is it likely to be The-Price-of-Your-Next-House-Plus-the Cost-of-a-Family-Vacation-in-Tahiti-Plus-the-New-Sportscar-You’ve-Always-Wanted-to-Own. It’s also not a price that will ‘test the market’ (to make sure there hasn’t been an upward spike in demand since the last comparable neighborhood home sold).
Setting a home’s price in the right ballpark can be easier than many people assume. You can get there by a number of different routes, most of them tied to recent neighborhood history:
Setting a home’s price doesn’t take place in a vacuum: first come the buyers you need to attract. If your property is priced significantly above the market, your ‘market test’ will tell you that only uninformed prospects—or no prospects—are interested in pursuing your offer. An out-of-whack asking price can also be taken as evidence that the seller (you) aren’t really interested in making a deal happen, which will make professionals less likely to present it to qualified buyers.
AIDING THE COMPETITION
By setting your home’s price significantly above the competition, you do everyone else in the neighborhood a terrific marketing favor. Even prospective buyers who appreciate your home’s innate qualities may be unable to resist what suddenly looks like a real bargain-basement buy just down the street!
APPRAISAL REALITY CHECK
Even if you do interest a willing buyer, unless he or she belongs to Warren Buffett’s country club, a likely next step will involve a mortgage lender’s appraisal. Setting a home’s price above any neighborhood comparable can mean an appraisal that comes in below the agreed-upon purchase price. Even if that doesn’t kill the sale through a loan denial, the buyer is likely to be penalized through a higher down payment or interest rate— either of which can play taps for your sale.
IT’S ONLY MONEY
Another (and perhaps the most persuasive) reason to right-price your home is monetary. History shows that overpricing generally yields proceeds that are significantly below those set more aggressively right from the start. It’s human nature: successive price reductions look like desperation—which invites low-ball offers.
If you are actively debating how to make the best of this spring’s Delawareselling season, give me a call. Together we can map out a strategy that works!
Apr 2, 2014
Charlie Chaplin always managed to mix a good measure of insight in with the silent movie knee-slappers. It was “The Little Clown” who once said, “The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury.” One way or another, we Americans have come up with a singularly surefire way to overcome that problem: we just constantly redefine what comprises “luxury”!
Real estate website Trulia proves the point. Each year they count how frequently certain phrases appear in luxury listings—here in Delaware Beachas well as across the nation. From year to year, their findings provide an interesting measure of what’s hot and what’s not in luxury listings.
Buyers Want A Room With A View (and A Marble Bath!)
The words that most commonly appear in luxury listings are marble bath, roof deck and oversize windows. Luxury listings were 78% more likely to contain marble bath than was true the previous year. And windows seemed a focal point in the latest luxury listings: three of the top seven phrases dealt with them in one way or another. Oversized windows were 56% more likely to appear this year, floor to ceiling windows were up 39%, and ceiling windows appeared 37% more frequently.
There seemed a general drift toward defining luxury characteristics as that which can be seen from outside the home as much as what is found inside. Delaware Beachsellers might note that, along with great windows, roof decks and terraces were other popular draws in the luxury listings.
Luxury Cooking Facilities No Longer As Hot
At the same time, cooking and kitchen amenities seemed to have faded in importance. BBQ was the amenity that dropped the most—declining by 16%. Other big losers were stainless appliances, custom cabinets, gourmet kitchen and breakfast areas.
Yesterday’s Luxury: Today’s Necessity?
A word of caution about all this: when we are deciding the important phrasing for our own Delaware Beachluxury listings, it’s worth considering that what was yesterday’s “luxury” can quickly become today’s necessity. Just as we wouldn’t think of heated indoor plumbing or refrigerator as a high end amenities, at some point they were. Amenities that were once emphasized may no longer be given prominence because buyers have simply come to take it for granted that they will be included…if they were headlined, the listing might look…well, average. As our conception of luxury redefines itself, we should expect their listing phrases will change, too.
Whether you agree with Charlie Chaplin or not, luxury in housing is apparently here to stay. If you are interested in exploring—or adding to—the luxury listings in Delaware Beach, don’t you be silent—give me a call today!