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Inside Mortgage Finance
is a periodical that precisely lives up to its name: Dewey Beach residential real estate professionals can turn to it for the latest word on national trends inside the mortgage industry. Admittedly, this usually makes for pretty dull reading for outsiders (that is, everyone else); but one story in last week’s edition was interesting enough that it was picked up by the general business press.
The topic was jumbo loans. In Sussex County real estate circles, the issuing of jumbo loans is of particular interest because of their indicator status. Jumbos are the ones with mortgage amounts exceeding the limits for government-backed loans. They’re also known as ‘nonconforming’—and like all the other non-conformists in life, they don’t quite behave like everyone else. Dewey Beach jumbo loans tend to be slightly harder to qualify for than run-of-the-mill mortgages, and as a rule carry higher interest rates. If their share of the home loan market grows, it indicates that high-end home sales are improving.
And that’s what happened in the U.S. in 2014, according to IMF. "Jumbo Lending Stronger than Overall Market, Hits Highest Share in 10 Years" was the headline in a report that pegged fourth quarter jumbo loan volume at $67,000,000,000. That’s a lot of high-end real estate!
When The Wall Street Journal picked up the story, they pointed to a decrease in mortgage lending overall, but pointedly less so for jumbo loans. Bank of America reported a 3% growth in the number of first-time home buyers who took out jumbos in 2014—and applicants were a younger bunch, too: their average age decreased from 46 years to 44. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the largest jumbo provider, observed a similar trend: more first-timers taking out jumbo loans.
If this has local real estate watchers wondering whether the popularity of jumbo loans in Dewey Beach will follow the national trend (and if so, why), there was at least one straightforward explanation. HSH, the housing and mortgage data firm, reported that by the end of this January, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed jumbo mortgage "dropped below 4% and was at a historic low of 3.92%...." With rates like those, the WSJ wrote, "Low interest rates are spurring more older affluent Americans to consider a mortgage."
You don’t have to be in the jumbo market to seize the financial advantages this season's favorable real estate climate offers. Just call me!
Micro apartments, once considered a momentary fad, are become an increasingly popular choice for city residents across the nation. It's a trend that might signal the beginnings of a shift in Sussex County apartment living as well.
The tiny apartments known as “micro apartments” generally feature a small bedroom, private sitting area, bathroom...but not much more. In a typical floor plan, a living unit has 200 square feet or less -a far cry from American norms for the better part of a century. It is true, though, that there is nothing new about cramped apartments and shared living spaces. What sets today’s micro apartments apart is their success in combining comfort and livability with the affordability that is their main appeal. Design features such as folding bed alcoves, high ceilings and raised closets help to create an illusion of space when the actual living area is tinier than even the smallest traditional apartment.
Smaller apartments share micro apartments' standout characteristic: micro rental prices. It's an attracting that has always proved popular among younger Sussex County apartment dwellers with entry level jobs, service industry employees who want to live closer to work, older single adults, students, and retirees who want to shed their empty nests and settle in convenience-packed urban areas. With reduced square space, micro apartments are not only cheaper to buy or rent, but usually significantly easier to clean and maintain. Many of the new micro apartment units also feature nearly as much storage space as much larger apartments.
The newest wave of micro apartments does have their share of detractors. Some have expressed concern that encouraging landlords to increase their ability to collect rent from more tenants in a smaller space will likely invite rent increases for standard-sized apartments.
Urban living remains desirable for many—but affordability remains a limiting factor. Micro apartments raise a new possibility for providing a cost-effective option that wasn't on the horizon even a few years ago. Whether or not the “thinking smaller” approach of micro apartments affects local scene, keeping track of its popularity on the national front is a good idea for area real estate watchers. There's no denying it could point to a changing environment for our own Sussex County market for tenants, landlords and real estate investors.
If you have been surveying the current crop of investment properties, you don't have to be planning your own Sussex County micro apartments to make forward-thinking decisions. 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.