Delaware Real Estate and Tax Refund Season Observations
This Tuesday’s tax filing deadline doesn’t pass without standing as the annual reminder to all of Delaware’s taxpayers that time seems to pass ever more quickly—as do the comings and goings of our earnings. The best estimate is that this year 70% of Americans will have overpaid by close to $3,000—making their tax refund checks the only smile-producing part of the annual ritual.
The Motley Fool financial site offered its insight into how most people plan to spend their refunds—but at least one real estate mogul counseled for a definite ultimate destination for those dollars. Delaware real estate could play an important role.
According to the Fool, 38% of respondents will use their refunds to pay off existing debts. Only 11% will direct the cash toward vacations; 5% will splurge on some kind of purchase; an equal number will put the cash toward a major purchase. The largest percentage— 41%— will sock their refund dollars into savings accounts. That’s where the real estate mogul agrees.
The gentleman in question is Sean Conlon, himself a multi-millionaire and host of his own TV show. This time of year, with income tax refund dollars rolling into more than 100 million households, he makes it a point to recall his own point of departure from day work as a janitor into being the owner of his own real estate mortgage company.
He saved. Stuffed every spare dollar into a shoebox until he’d scraped together enough to buy his first house. CNBC quoted Conlon’s dictum last week: “I’m a true believer that you should save every penny…until you buy your first house.” Delaware tax refund checks would more than qualify as major stepping stones toward what Conlon assesses as being “still the fastest path to wealth in this country.”
Another pointed tax refund observation came from a website called Financial Samurai. “Sam” points out that with tax refunds nearing the $3,000 mark, that amounts to nearly 6-7% of typical after-tax income: “a pretty meaningful number.” Since saving (that is, not spending!) $250 a month in that income bracket is difficult for most, the tax refund checks provide a one-shot opportunity to make saving a done deal. The same applies to those in higher brackets. In short, since out of sight is out of mind, Samurai recommends the best course of action for any tax refund check is “to make it disappear.” Into a savings account. Then there’s at least one other relevant tax consideration—one that fattens many a refund check: that whopping mortgage interest tax deduction!
- Written by Russell Stucki
Growing Confidence Affects Delaware Real Estate Scene
The attachment we build to the places where we live is an easy-to-understand human emotion. Almost everyone who has ever moved away from a family home has experienced a sense of loss that can be quite profound. But that’s only one of the emotional connections that come into play where real estate is involved.
Even though we tend to think of such important decisions as buying and selling Delaware real estate in more hard-headed terms, a host of complicated human factors can play an important role.
One of them is becoming more prominent—and is likely to grow more so as we advance into Delaware’s peak spring and summer real estate selling season. That is the hard-to-pin-down factor of general well-being: the nebulous—but real—sense of optimism or pessimism that is shared by the public at large.
It’s undeniable that when people feel good about the way things are going, they’re also more likely to feel confident in what the future will bring. Confidence breeds courage, security, self-assurance. When things seem to be going our way, we’re more likely to strike out in new directions.
The key word is “confident.” Social scientists do their best to get a handle on this murky shared human phenomenon by measuring “consumer confidence”—which seems to be an economic measure, but which has to be also aligned with the “right direction/wrong direction” polling that politicos track. In any event, when confidence rises, we’d expect that Delaware real estate prospects will improve along with it.
The idea that emotion is a measurable part of real estate is confirmed by the quasi-governmental statisticians at Fannie Mae, who have institutionalized the idea with their Home Purchase Sentiment Index. (If “sentiment” isn’t an emotional measurement, what is?). And it’s up—way up! In February, the share of Americans who think it’s a good time to buy a house rose 11% to 40%—its highest point ever. And this month, by the end of last week, Bloomberg was reporting “consumer confidence” at its highest since 2000. The University of Michigan agreed, placing their “Current Economic Conditions” component at its highest since the same year.
As one who deals in the Delaware real estate market every day, I can verify that when the general outlook turns positive, both buyers and sellers perk up—it’s palpable. It’s also true that the emotional component of real estate is a lot wider than consumer poll numbers measure. For example, there’s the feeling I get when I’m there to watch a client turn the front door key of their new Delaware home!
- Written by Russell Stucki
Mortgage Rates Fell. No, they Rose. No, they...
Keeping an eye on Delaware mortgage rates is a useful pastime for anyone who tracks local home sales because of the immediate effect they have on affordability. It can’t get much more immediate than the “projected monthly payment” numbers that calculators come up with alongside an online listing. Those instant calculations include tax and insurance estimates, but those change rarely. The mortgage rates, are always on the move.
Last Thursday, the Washington Post’s headline ran above a photo of Freddie Mac’s massive DC headquarters:
“Mortgage rates fall amid fears of rising inflation.”
That kind of news is always good for Delaware home buyers and sellers. Not the “rising inflation” part, of course—but the other part. Lower mortgage rates mean better bargains for buyers who become motivated to strike a deal sooner rather than later.
But then, Friday afternoon brought Bankrate’s headline:
“Mortgage rates increase for Friday.”
Anyone accustomed to following the mortgage interest rate gyrations wouldn’t have been surprised. It meant that the mortgage rate yo-yo was behaving pretty much as expected. Logic indicates that The Post’s inflation fears had probably not disappeared overnight, so their reasoning behind Thursday’s move had likely been overly presumptive. (When rates rise or fall, writers don’t like to admit there’s no story explaining why).
The reasons behind the up and down were probably elusive—something like the normal ebbs and flows of national and international capital flows. If anyone has ever been able to sort all that out, they’re keeping mum about it.
It does seem that Delaware mortgage rates are beginning to follow a more predictable pattern than has been true for a while. Despite daily ups and downs—which are usually pretty microscopic—the drift has been gradual but notable, and supports two reasonable generalizations:
- Delaware mortgage rates are drifting upward. A chart would show that, when you step back and ignore the day-to-day ups and downs, except for a divot in mid-December, the trend has been slightly skyward since the middle of November.
- Delaware mortgage rates are still a bargain by all historical measures.
What this means for prospective buyers as we enter the spring selling season is, in short, pretty good news. Buying now means locking in Delaware mortgage rates that are still historically affordable.
- Written by Russell Stucki
Selling Your South Bethany Home can Use Emotional Detachment
When you read up on the dos and don’ts for selling your home, there is one piece of advice that’s universal when it comes to negotiating a successful deal: don’t let emotions get in the way. It does seem peculiar that something that is so obvious about any negotiation would have to be stated at all—much less repeated so often. You have to conclude that it happens a lot.
It does, and there are deep-seated reasons. Although selling your South Bethany home is primarily a business venture, it’s one with some of the emotional overtones usually associated with creative endeavors. When an artist or sculptor, jewelry designer or photographer—any creative professional—decides to offer works for sale to the public, it’s nearly impossible for him or her to remain completely objective about how it is received. Or to avoid forming feelings about those who accept or reject the creation.
Selling your South Bethany home only seems to be all business. True, it’s a single-transaction enterprise. It begins with preparing the property, and concludes with negotiating to close the deal. Every step of the process may seem to be all business. But in reality, it’s almost unavoidable for emotional cross currents to seep in from the very first step.
Consider preparing the property. If there were such a thing as a perfect home, this would be a cut-and-dried affair: all it would involve would be to eliminate every flaw. But since perfection exists only in some alternate universe, deciding which of a home’s features need to be enhanced, replaced, or done away with altogether involves making subjective judgments. Some of these can require paying significant amounts of money; others, significant amounts of elbow grease.
When the work is done and the results are first put on display, it’s like Opening Night. It is only human to feel personally connected with how prospective buyers react. Not only is the ‘product’ that’s being evaluated one that reflects your tastes and efforts—it’s also where you live! Your home, for goodness’ sake! It deserves to be appreciated at the very least…
Especially when it comes to the negotiations phase of selling your South Bethany home, this is one business venture wherein it’s nearly impossible to avoid the personal element. Acknowledging it is simple. And knowledge is power—if you expect that you might experience an emotional reaction at some point, you’ll recognize it for what it is. If it’s an overreaction, you will be much more likely to be able to simply take a deep breath, put it into perspective—and come up with an appropriate response.
“A lot of times buyers and sellers will argue tooth and nail over things that aren’t really that important,” New York City closing attorney Sandor Krauss blogged recently; “and sometimes it blows deals.”
- Written by Russell Stucki