Listing Courtesy of RE/MAX ASSOCIATES
This March has been such a busy one on the Sussex County real estate calendar that I thought it would be a good idea to double-check everything just to be certain I wasn’t overlooking any important happenings.
It wasn’t just that the first day of spring on the 20th is the traditional start of what’s regularly the busiest time of year for Dewey Beach real estate activity. This is a reliable phenomenon, further reinforced by the 61 million results you get when you Google “Spring Real Estate Selling Season.” To be accurate, the National Association of Realtors® fudges a little by calling spring and summer the hottest seasons for real estate activity—but it turns out they are pointing to the fact that many sales initiated in spring close during the summer (which is when people prefer to move).
March also has a red-letter day on the 23rd, which is when Freddie Mac, the mortgage reinsurer, is set to kick off their ‘Home Possible’ program. It’s a lowering of their down payment requirements, so mortgage lenders will have more leeway with borrowers. That should provide a further boost for Sussex County real estate activity, which has been laboring for years under tough lending requirements that discouraged some otherwise well-qualified home buyers.
Then there was also St. Patrick’s Day (although that has a less-than-convincing effect on Sussex County real estate activity). There is March Madness, in which basketball plays havoc with more than just television schedules. You could say that it plays hob with appointment times for many Dewey Beach home showings, since the last five minutes of most of the games take at least half an hour.
Just in case the calendar has even more events that might affect Sussex County real estate, we thought we’d better check to be certain we haven’t overlooked any upcoming happenings.
We found out we can relax.
True, this March is Optimism Month, which is certainly thematically in tune with the positive spring real estate outlook (speaking of ‘in tune,’ March is also Music in Our Schools Month and Play the Recorder Month).
It’s International Ideas Month, which, for anyone who’s been following the headlines, is certainly arriving in the nick of time. For those who are, internationally speaking, prone to sticking to their old ideas, March is also International Listening Awareness Month. It’s Mirth Month as well as Humorists are Artists Month. It’s also Noodle Month (does this have a connection with Mirth Month?), Peanut Month, and National Nutrition Month.
In addition to minding nutrition, this is a month for safety: it’s National Collision Awareness Month, as well as National Cheerleading Safety Month. It turns out, there are another couple of dozen other Months that are taking place right now, but most have little to do with buying and selling homes.
What seems better connected to Sussex County real estate is the fact that this is also Umbrella Month, although it’s too early to know the precipitation total for the whole month. It hasn’t prevented many showings or open houses, for sure. In any case, if you are thinking of taking advantage of the Spring Selling Season, it’s also a terrific month to give me a call!
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!