The College of Business at Florida Atlantic University has long offered a calculation that seeks to answer a question that’s key to both Lewes, DE renters and the real estate investors who are their present and future landlords: Does it make more financial sense to rent or to buy?

The BH&J Buy vs. Rent Index plots the answer based on current market conditions in 23 metro housing markets—as well as in the nationwide market as a whole. Because it requires projecting fickle future values, their methodology has to be pretty complicated—which is probably why more institutions don’t attempt to come up with a similar answer. The Index issues a single number between -1 (favoring ‘rent’) and +1 ( ‘buy’). The index number approximates a “horse race” comparison matching an individual’s financial position after having either bought or

rented (then reinvested all the monies that would have gone to homeownership).

After several years of favoring renting as “the better way to build wealth,” the latest readings indicate that the cost of owning is declining even as rents increase. According to Dr. Ken Johnson, the Index’s co-author, the latest run “clearly illustrates the benefit of near-record low mortgage rates and how they far outweigh the risk from inflating housing prices.” In other words, the takeaway matches most Lewes, DE observers’ common-sense conclusion that today’s very low monthly payments “are going a long way to promote wealth creation.”

That conclusion may have been undermined by the recent uptick in home loan interest rates—but last week, industry leader Mortgage News Daily found signs that the trend might be weakening. Its midweek commentary, “Mortgage Rate Outlook May Be Improving,” found evidence for “a supportive shift in the rate environment”—specifically, the 10-year Treasury yields that drive rates. While rates remained more or less steady, the improvement showed in a tilt toward lower upfront costs. And the truth remained that underlying rates were, after all, “still very low historically.”

I hope Lewes, DE renters will give me a call anytime to discuss ways they might take advantage of the current environment. The same goes for area homeowners ready to join this spring’s busy season! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com.

Today's house hunters have at their command a wealth of information by which to compare the homes currently available on the North Bethany, DE listings—numbers that enable the kind of apple-to-apple comparisons that bring a smile to the faces of hard-headed realists who value hard data. Right?

Sort of.

If you're one of those realist types who value the precision of hard numbers, last Thursday's Realtor® Magazine provided an article bound to provoke a spate of teeth-grinding. In fact, why don't you just skip reading any further—you'll probably be happier reading the morning's stock market quotes or last night's baseball statistics.

The article in question, "Handle Square Footage Issues," was actually aimed at us real estate professionals. It dealt with imprecision in what people might assume is one North Bethany, DE listing entry not subject to opinion: the home's square footage. It turns out that it depends on what's being measured. It can be what is defined as "official living space," or it could be "the total space" of the house. As a result, it can happen that a property's listed square footage can lead to questions and possible re-negotiations. Since the listed square footage number doesn't always match up to the appraisal's, it prompts RM's speculation, "what happens then?"

The answer to that varies, but the reasons why otherwise-diligently calculated figures can differ are many, resulting in a number you might call a bit 'squishy.' If, for instance, a previous owner has enclosed a patio or finished a garage without obtaining a proper permit, disparities can result. Too, anyone who has ever measured the square footage of an irregularly shaped area knows how challenging the calculation can be. Additionally, many lenders ask to see only "gross living area" used in the calculation they go with—that usually includes only areas that are heated or cooled, which may not have been the basis used elsewhere.

Since appraisers take their own measurements, discrepancies can crop up. Then, if the square footage number is lower than the one shown on the North Bethany, DE listing, "sellers could even find themselves back at the negotiating table with buyers."

It's an important part of my service to ensure that my clients, be they buyers or sellers, are properly represented throughout the process—and that occasional hiccups don't unnecessarily derail a transaction that's clearly in the interest of both parties.

Call me anytime!   Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com.

 Last week we learned that U.S. housing price increases continued their uninterrupted climb. But at the same time, accounts also included a few rays of sunshine for financially pressed homebuyers.

The nationwide appreciation in real estate values that's been gladdening Bethany Beach, DE sellers blipped upward again in February. According to Tuesday's CoreLogic press release, the 1.2% rise over January capped off a 12-month increase: an eye-popping 10.4%!

Figures like those may cheer Bethany Beach, DE home sellers—but, as CoreLogic's spokesman put it, it also "is sobering for prospective buyers." The spokesman's advice for ambitious home seekers was scarcely enlightening. Due to the price rises, they should "save more for a down payment, closing costs, and cash reserves." 

However, almost as a side note, there was mention of a projection that future Bethany Beach, DE homebuyers will hope proves to be accurate. For those daunted by that 12-month 10%+ average price rise, there might be "a possible slowing of price growth on the horizon." In fact, CoreLogic's projected increase was listed at a relatively tame 3.2% by February 2022—a far cry from what they characterized as the "overheated home prices" registered in the year just past.

Several factors might account for expecting the taming of Bethany Beach, DE home price increases. Throughout the nation, the shortage of homes being listed is expected to moderate as "severe supply constraints" loosen. If mortgage rates rise as expected, the affordability factor is expected to pare down the number of eligible buyers—a likely formula for dampening buyer competition and the bidding war phenomenon (last week, CNBC described it as "the norm").

Any slowdown in the rate of price gains could well spawn a multiplying effect. One understandable reason for the listing drought has been homeowners' concern about being able to find an affordable home. When Bethany Beach, DE homeowners become less intimidated by price escalation, many who had reluctantly refrained from listing may reverse course. Such an increase in listed properties should fire up seller competition—a factor that's been largely absent from U.S. real estate.

Bethany Beach, DE is not always in lockstep with broader national trends—which is where I come in. Give me a call for a readout on the latest state of our local market!  Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com.