For those who may have been wondering how the final GOP Tax Bill could affect possible real estate investment plans and tax liability next year, the changes can be significant.

I know, I know. As soon as you saw “tax liability,” your eyes glossed over and your finger got ready to swipe right. But before you skip the following, I promise to keep it short, relevant, and potentially beneficial for investors and potential investors here in Rehoboth Beach, DE :

SIGNIFICANT fact #1:

You can now take 100% depreciation upfront for assets with useful lives of less than 20 years. For example, if you buy personal property (like carpet, new appliances, tools, equipment) or if you make land improvements (like landscaping, driveways, parking) you can probably immediately write off the entire cost of these assets. Under previous rules, the allowed depreciation was 50% in the year of purchase.

However, as www.BiggerPockets.com points out, “It is important to note that this is bonus depreciation. That means that when you sell the assets, you will pay depreciation recapture tax. Keep that in mind.”

SIGNIFICANT fact #2:

A new “freebie” deduction has been granted to sole proprietors, LLCs, and S corps generating qualified business income. According to www.Nolo.com, “Landlords are among the biggest winners under the new law. Virtually all landlords will save money--many, to quote our President, will save ‘bigly.’ Enjoy it while you can.

So basically, if your rental activity qualifies as a business for tax purposes (as most do, according to Nolo), you may be eligible to deduct an amount equal to 20% of your net rental income. This would be in addition to all your other rental or real estate investment-related deductions. If you qualify for this deduction, you’ll effectively be taxed on only 80% of your rental income. Thus, the effective rate for taxpayers in the top 37% tax bracket is 29.5%.

Not bad!

Now, as a licensed Rehoboth Beach, DE  real estate agent, my E&O insurance (and common sense!) dictate that I remind you that I am not a tax professional and do not dispense tax advice. All tax matters should be directed to your accountant – especially in light of all the recent tax code changes. However, my investor clients here in Rehoboth Beach, DE —as well as anyone considering purchasing their first real estate investment—would be well served by consulting their tax advisor regarding possible moves they might make in the second half of 2018. The results next April 15th could be significant. And as always, for any real estate purchase, investment or rental considerations – give me a call 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

 When the goals motivating the parties in a negotiation—including Delaware real estate negotiations—are understood by all concerned, the odds for success are greatly improved. In most cases where the negotiation is between a buyer and seller of Delaware real estate, the goals are straightforward enough that it doesn’t seem to require much attention. Yet with a negotiation as weighty as the buying and selling of a home, stripping down the motivations common to the various parties can be a clarifying exercise. Here is what you might call a negotiation matrix:

When a buyer puts together an offer, more often than not their mental decision-making process goes something like this:

—    — — — — — — — — BUYER — — — — — — — —

  I do not want to lose this house | want to pay as little as possible

—    — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — — —

The reason for the colliding arrows is that the two goals run the risk of conflicting with one another. If the buyer’s offer is too low, another buyer could come in to swoop up the property, and: game over. If the offer is higher than would turn out to be acceptable to the seller, the second goal will have been needlessly sacrificed.  

At the same time and on the other side, the seller is usually thinking:

—    — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — — —

I want to complete the sale | want to bank the full asking price (or higher!)

—    — — — — — — — — — SELLER— — — — — — — — — — —

It’s quite similar to the buyer’s mental process. Both are calculations of the risk vs. reward that making an offer and responding to an offer entails.

When a buyer makes a lowball offer, it signals to the seller that the “don’t want to lose this house” side is probably losing out to the “pay the least” side of the buyer’s calculation. If the seller is leaning toward the “complete the sale” side of his or her own calculation, the offer will either be accepted or countered with a significant discount. If the current inclination is more toward the “full price” side, the counter may contain just a minor discount.

This negotiation matrix is the barest of bare-bones reductions. In practice, it’s often a little more complicated. Offers often contain details about desired maintenance corrections or may be dependent upon outside factors (like selling their current home); counter-offers, likewise.

Where a possible negotiation can needlessly go off the rails is if either party becomes emotionally threatened by an offer or counter. And believe me, it can happen! What’s vitally important is that each side understands that the other’s goals are legitimate, even though at odds with their own. A lowball offer may be misguided, but it’s not evil. A refusal to counter at all is, likewise, a statement of a legitimate bargaining position. Either may be disappointing, but neither is necessarily evidence of bad faith.

It’s my job to help my buying and selling clients chart a course through the negotiation rapids while avoiding such emotional cross-currents. At best, they are a needless distraction; at worst, obstacles that can prevent a meeting of minds. Appreciating the legitimacy of everybody’s motivations before the actual numbers start to fly is a good way to prepare. And, as usual, calling me is another prudent idea! 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

If you see the letters “PST!” in connection with selling a house in Delaware, don’t think it’s someone whispering to get your attention (that would be spelled “psst!”).

The selling-a-house kind of “PST” isn’t something whispered by a black marketeer to keep an off-the-books deal under wraps. There’s no need to speak in hushed tones about PST in polite conversation. When speaking about selling your Delaware house, its meaning is right out there in the open. It may not be on the tip of every homeowner’s tongue as they prepare their home for sale, but its import is undeniable in formulating one of your listing’s most important ingredients: the asking price.

Before any Delaware house can be put on the market, zeroing in on the dollar amount the ultimate buyer will be willing to pay is always a kind of high-stakes guessing game. This mysterious buyer could be anyone. He or she could appear at any time. Even so, picking an asking price that attracts the greatest number of possible ultimate buyers isn’t pure guesswork, nor is it some number that’s plucked out of the air. And it definitely isn’t a large number that’s chosen “just to see what happens.”

The most reliable way to arrive at an effective asking price is to do some serious investigation into the current Delaware market by seeking what previous buyers have been willing to pay. That’s where PST! comes in.

This “PST” is an acronym for Proximity, Similarity, and Timeliness—the three main ingredients that measure the quality of Delaware “comps”—the comparable sales figures that buyers, their agents, lenders, and sellers rely upon to develop asking and offering prices.

P—proximity: how physically close was the sale? Next door is best; in the neighborhood also good; 50 miles away, pretty worthless.

S—similarity: how do the layout and features compare with your house? With a slight adjustment, a 4 bedroom 3 ½ bath comp is useful for your own 4 bedroom 3 bath property. For a 1 bedroom condo, not useful. It’s important to account for level of finish, too. If a neighbor’s home sold for X dollars including its brand new $80,000 kitchen remodel, a similar house that’s straight out of the 80s shouldn’t expect the same.

T—timeliness: how recent was the sale? A March sale would be terrific right now; January 2015, not so terrific.

Researching and analyzing a good sampling of comps accomplishes more than just establishing the asking price. Being able to furnish a solid selection of comps convinces buyers that you are selling your house for a reasonable price. And lenders can use them to verify a property’s collateral value in today’s Delaware marketplace.

When you are selling your Delaware house, a good first move is to partner with an experienced local real estate agent. When you give me the nod, from the outset, you will be the beneficiary of the most comprehensive PST research available. That’s a solid place to start! 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

You could say that selling a home—in Delaware or anywhere else in the nation—is in large part “a light show.” When you dissect marketing statistics that trace the path of the vast majority of buyers, it’s clear that the first sense that comes into play in the selling of a home is sight: either a first view of the online listing, a glimpse of a property with a “for sale” sign out front, or an image in an ad or printed handout. As the saying goes, “the eyes have it.”

Selling Delaware homes really begins with the photography. Professional photographers know that whenever they aim their cameras at something they intend to capture, as important as the actual object itself is the quality of the light that illuminates it. They talk about the “shape” of the light and whether it’s “hard” (meaning shadows are prominent) or “soft” (shadows innocuous). It’s why the pros will time a listing’s emblematic “curb appeal” shot for the sun to be in the most flattering position.  Inside, they may use as many as three or four hidden slave strobe lights to brighten larger rooms where the natural light is photographically uneven.

With few exceptions, light and bright is the rule of thumb for what succeeds best in selling a home. That guideline explains why most agree that the preferred wall colors are variations of “pale” this or “light” that. The perennial favorites are light beige, pale taupe, and pale gray-blue. The common denominator for room color recommendations is high to moderate reflectivity—in other words: light and bright! A recent published analysis of over 32,000 photos of sold homes seems to have been a largely unnecessary exercise: the leaders were (you guessed it) pale gray blue and light beige.

The same thinking leads to the good practice of preceding every showing and open house with a quick trip through the home, opening blinds and curtains and turning on lamps and overheads.

But there are exceptions, of course. Delaware homes with media rooms can often benefit from dimmed lighting that accentuates media screens. Likewise, a rich, darkly paneled study can do the same. Both make an interesting contrast with the rest of the home (and a dramatic break in the whole presentation). When showing a client’s property, some agents lead the guests on a predetermined route through the property. The idea is to manage the progression of impressions to achieve maximum impact.

When you begin to contemplate selling your own Delaware home, even if it’s not being planned for a while, I hope you will give me a call. I’ll come out so we can chat about some low-intensity preparations that will pave the way for a quick and easy eventual sale. There’s never any obligation—and there are often some early steps you can take that result in meaningful results! 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