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Experts Startled by Early U.S. New House Sales Increase

Mar 27, 2017

Delaware house sales do usually respond in the seasonal pattern that is familiar in most other areas. Spring and summer lead the way for weather-related, financial, school scheduling and other family-related reasons. From now into well past July (and sometimes even August), house sales activity can be counted on to peak. Those are the normal expectations.

But when any segment of U.S. house sales numbers quadruple expectations even before spring bulbs see daylight, that’s worthy of special attention. That was the case last Thursday when the Commerce Department reported that in February, purchases of newly built homes rose by more than 6%. Since The Wall Street Journal’s panel of experts had forecast 1.4%, it drew headlines.

 In fact, this was the second month in a row for sharp rises in U.S. new home sales—and what could be a bright sign for Delaware’s own prospects as the spring selling season begins. Press reports were, to put it mildly, enthusiastic:

  • MartketWatch: “New-home sales roar to a 7-month high”
  • Reuters: “…strength in housing should underpin economic growth”
  • ABC News: “Americans…snapping up new homes at the fastest pace since July”
  • Bloomberg: “U.S. New-Home Sales Climbed to a Seven-Month High”
  • CNBC: “[Sales] were the highest since July of last year—and that was the best number since January of 2008”

Bloomberg’s Michelle Jamrisko deduced from the house sales rise that the impact from the recent rise in borrowing costs was, at most, “modest.” That sentiment was echoed by the Realtor, which quoted the National Association of Housing’s chief economist. “The uptick in mortgage interest rates,” he said, “is having a minimal effect.”

We’ll have to wait and see whether that is true vis-à-vis the impact of mortgage interest rates on Delaware’s own house sales. They might be either “modest” or “minimal”—or the prospect of continuing hikes might induce more Delaware prospects to get busy sooner rather than later. If “sooner” describes your own inclination, I hope you’ll decide to put thought into action by giving 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

Mirror Image of Home Pricing in Delaware

Mar 27, 2017

When it comes to the reality of pricing a home in Delaware, it’s natural that buyer’s and seller’s points of view reflect their different roles and objective. In a way, they are mirror images of each another.

From the seller’s point of view, pricing their Delaware home starts out from the reality check of the “comps”—the prices registered in recent comparable neighborhood sales. From there, the pricing decision revolves around the tradeoff between maximum asking price versus the desire for a speedy sale. Even if there is no time pressure at all, serious sellers will still set the asking price below a level that indicates disregard for current market realities. Rather than communicating “this place is worth more than what people are willing to pay,” overpricing only serves to needlessly put off buyers and their agents. If time pressure is an issue, experienced sellers will peg the asking price just enough below neighborhood comparables to make the value evident. Tagging “motivated buyer” on the listing can attract attention, but the right price cuts to the chase. That’s a tactic bound to draw timely offers—especially when a Delaware property is in A+ showing condition,

For most prospective Delaware buyers, it’s the mirror image. Rather than starting from the reality of neighborhood comps, the pricing of their future home begins as an abstraction: the “looking” range. The top of the range will be a figure that is derived from what is comfortably affordable rather than what that figure will command in the current market. Once the serious house hunt is underway and some area properties have been visited, that top-of-range number will almost always need some adjusting—usually (but not always) upward.

Thereafter, when some desirable Delaware properties have been located, pricing from the buyer’s perspective is apt to become largely an exercise in deconstruction. Even though a home is actually desirable, it’s hard to resist zeroing in on the property’s weak points, turning flaws into subtraction fodder for mental offer calculations.

In a successful transaction, the mirror images of buyers’ and sellers’ approaches to home pricing do ultimately wind up converging. That’s another area where having a knowledgeable Delaware Realtor® on your team is invaluable. When it comes to offers and counter-offers, whether you’re a buyer or seller, having your side of the negotiations handled by an experienced professional is a sure way to keep the other side tethered to reality. Arriving at a bottom line reflecting realistic and lasting Delaware real estate value is what most often winds up bringing both parties to a happy conclusion. The first step? You guessed it: call me! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com

Prudent Choices Underlie Delaware Rental Properties

Mar 27, 2017

Striving to become a prudent person is a laudable goal—one usually only achieved after impetuous youthful misadventures have taught the wisdom of prudence. Caution—particularly in financial matters—may seem to be synonymous with prudence—but they aren’t always the same thing. Especially when there are magicians at work.

An example of that can be found in the way most people think about Delaware rental properties. There’s no sleight-of-hand from the landlord’s point of view: few would argue with the proposition that rental properties are a prudent form of investment.

The now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t sorcery happens when the audience (in this case, renters) view the same proposition: buying a home instead of renting. From that perspective, the exact same prudent investment can seem to be transformed into a fearfully huge risk. Taking the plunge—buying a home—has become a dangerously formidable commitment. It would seem to be a more prudent course to put off that kind of years-long gamble. After all, who knows for sure what the future will bring? Signing on the dotted line for a 15- or 30-year Delaware home loan seems like a humongous step into the unknown.

This apparently prudent risk assessment is actually a conclusion that fails to see what’s happening behind the distracting illusion. At its root is a basic truth behind the rent or buy decision:

Unless you’re living with your parents, you’ll be paying off a mortgage—either way.

The choice comes down to paying for a landlord’s loan or paying for your own. If you take the mortgage yourself, you have to make the payments. If you rent from the landlord, you also have to make the payments—with the landlord acting as middleman.

As soon as you’ve peeked behind the curtain to acknowledge that fact, a couple of other notable backstage realities are likely to come into focus:

First, if you buy a home via a fixed-rate mortgage, you can plan on what your payments will cost—now and 15 or 30 years from now. It’s written in stone. On the other hand, if you rent, you won’t know what your rent payments will be a few years from now. The first choice is the one that creates predictability and stability: i.e., prudence.

Second, if you buy, eventually the loan payments will equal zero. If you rent—well, having seen behind the curtain, you know what happens eventually: i.e., more payments.

At least in the world of Delaware rental properties, there is a distinct difference between prudence and caution. In the rent-vs-buy calculus, it’s pretty clear which is which.

Once you have peeked behind the curtain, you may also conclude that it’s an even more prudent idea to become a landlord yourself. And right now, there are some excellent Delaware rental properties that could make that possible.

To investigate further, 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

Worst 9 Delaware Home Improvement Notions

Mar 27, 2017

When it’s one of those weekend days when the Delaware weather has refused to cooperate with outdoor plans, one way to fill the idle time is to go online in search of home improvement ideas. You may not follow through with any for your own Delaware home—but it’s amusing to review the almost unlimited number of clever and inventive notions people have put online.

When it comes to the kitchen, for instance, there are bounteous home improvement ideas. There’s the herb garden wall (in addition to a green thumb, a powerful sunlamp in the ceiling is required) or the pool table top that slips right over the center island. That one wouldn’t work if your kitchen’s island is plumbed: the water faucet would stick up and ruin everything.

But among the clever and innovative home improvement ideas you will also find some that are totally impractical—or just plain terrible. Here are nine of the silliest I’ve found—

  1. Hammock Over the Stairs. A space-saver, yes. An attractive idea? Just, no.
  2. See-through Bathtub. Glass walls for the tub = a housekeeping nightmare (among other drawbacks).
  3. Fire Pit Coffee Table. Again: just, no.
  4. Ping Pong Door. This one is complicated: the closed door has pins halfway up that allow it to tilt horizontally, whereupon the plastic net is slid into notches provided in the door frame…anyway, it’s a really small ping pong table.
  5. Cat Transit System. A CTS consists of 8” diameter tubes running throughout the house just below ceiling level. Exit openings are provided at various points. Added feline-pleasing features: windows cut into the tubes at various key viewpoints.
  6. A Wall That Plays Music When it Rains. This is an exterior wall idea. You install metal tubes, funnels, bamboo water chimes and tin pans to route rain water down the side of the wall as noisily as possible to splash and bang through twists and turns and waterfalls. This looks to produce the same quality of music a vacuum cleaner makes.
  7. Beach Sand Under Work Desk. Like an on-the-job vacation; facilitates barefoot computer working. But—alas—another housekeeping nightmare.
  8. Forest Chandelier. This one is a chandelier that looks like dozens of snakes coiled around one another: when lighted, it casts creepy shadows on ceiling and walls that “turn your room into a forest.” In a bedroom, certain to cause sleepless nights.
  9. Glass Floor Over an Open Shaft. This home improvement idea is available only to Delaware condo dwellers in buildings with abandoned elevator shafts. Since there aren’t any, we’ll never have to experience the horrendous effect (there’s actually a picture of this, in a bathroom, on a site called boredpanda).

Delaware home improvement ideas can be unique and fanciful—but are best left in the idea phase if they are so unique and fanciful they would drive away potential buyers. Even if you aren’t planning on selling your place any time soon, it’s prudent to keep that option open. And if you are making plans that are more immediate: give me a call in advance! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com