This season, success in selling a home in Sussex County will depend upon the same factors as always: location; quality; buyer appeal.

A home’s location—short of calling in the house movers—is pretty much what it is. The structural quality of workmanship and the level of maintenance that it’s received though the years can be gussied up where it shows (and should be!), but that, too, is largely a done deal.

Which leaves that other factor in selling a Delaware home—the little things that reach out to appeal to buyers. The difference between receiving a swift offer and not can hinge on what makes your home more desirable than others in its price range.

A good example is with closet space. Any property with a closet organization system will carry great appeal to a large number of prospective buyers. Likewise, advanced technological touches can stick in buyers’ memories at the end of a long day of house tours. They don’t even have to be expensive or whole-house systems: a simple programmable thermostat that can be accessed on a smart phone can be an interesting selling point that sticks in the memory. It’s the kind of touch that isn’t a great deal of trouble to install—but it can provide the edge that makes selling your home that much easier.

More extensive tech-savvy features, like tricked-out media rooms or home offices wired to the hilt, are also very hot right now (especially for today’s younger homebuyers) and can provide the edge you’re looking for—if.

What’s the “if”?

If when you are readying your home for showings and open houses, you-

  • prep to emphasize each of these special features (like leaving that system-organized closet door open with the light on);
  • you make sure your agent is in the loop, ready to showcase key elements; and
  • stage to bring out less visible features—whether it’s printing up a list of newly-refurbished utilities or setting out a wine bottle and glasses with a note to “be sure to check out the killer wine cellar downstairs”

It’s also possible that some appealing features are ones that you take for granted; you’ve simply gotten used to them, yet they ought to be emphasized. Often those are details that your agent will be helpful in pointing out. Whatever is unique and desirable will make selling your home that much easier.

If you will be selling your own Delaware home in this season, I hope you will give me a call. There’s never an obligation, but if you wish, we can go over your property to uncover the marketing options that will make it a stand-out: the one with the edge!

 A property search in Delaware just ain’t what it used to be.

Young adults grew up with computers, so to them the advent of the connected world—the Internet—brought fewer startling lifestyle changes than it did for their parents and grandparents. But for anyone who thought the emergence of the Web would be the most lifestyle-changing technical innovation to happen in our lifetimes: SURPRISE! Now the whole circus has gone mobile—migrated into phones and tablets and who-knows-what other kinds of devices—all bluetoothed and wirelessed everywhere!

The Wired World brought information into our offices and homes (to the dismay of encyclopedia and dictionary salesmen everywhere); now the Wireless World brings information to wherever we are at any moment (to the dismay of mapmakers and newspaper publishers everywhere).

Yikes! One of the most head-spinning results is the transformation of Delaware property searches. Astoundingly, the NAR tells us that 62% percent of those who buy homes today view them first online! No wonder—the Internet has sped up our already busy lives, so our overloaded schedules make it all but mandatory to look for properties online first—before creating the list of properties we want to view in person.

One of the things you’ll notice immediately when you begin an Delaware property search is the sheer number of results that can come up. That makes it all too easy to find yourself spending more search time than you’d like—sometimes even becoming overwhelmed. To make sure that doesn’t happen, there are a few shortcuts you can take to get the most out of every Delaware online property search.

Prioritize  

A good first step is offline: before you click anywhere, make a list of all of the things that are absolute “must-haves” for your Delaware home. This list will provide the basis for all your searches, and weed out time-wasters. Next, create a list of “nice to haves.” If your first list yields too many candidates, use this second one to narrow the field (if your in-person tours don’t pay off, you can always return to List One).

Narrow the Area

If you already know the general neighborhood you’d like to live in, use that to limit the search results. You don’t need to know the area intimately since many sites allow you to search by map or by radius from a specific location (like a school or workplace). 

Use Several Sites

There are literally hundreds of real estate search sites, so make it a point to look at those using SCAOR’s MLS (multiple listing service). They have the broadest assemblage of properties regardless of the listing agent. Online sites like Zillow.com and Trulia.com can also be useful in widening your Delaware property search, frequently including homes that are for sale by owner—often not listed by the MLS service (though if you want a buyer agent’s help, you should make sure the owner is willing to work with your agent).  

Ready to start your property search here in Delaware? Give me a call—I can send you new listings that meet your criteria the instant they come online!

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!

With spring in the air, you don’t have to have your Delaware beach home for sale to catch the spring cleaning bug. Whether or not you’ve been cooped up inside for a longer-than-usual siege of the wintertime blues, as soon as the weather turns the corner, there seems to be a natural urge to open the windows and start freshening your place up.

Spring also brings the traditional hot selling season, and if you’re among those getting ready to list your own home for sale to take advantage of it, you’ll want to add extra attention to the traditional cleanup. Home for sale or not, you can channel some of your annual sprucing-up energy with one of these light renovation ideas. Each can add new zest to your living areas without breaking the bank:

  • If you want to liven up your kitchen or bathroom but don’t want to shell out for the full cost of replacing the cabinets or doors, consider what simply changing the hardware would do. Take a trip to the hardware department, pick out a sample knob or pull, then test what the change would look like. Sometimes this simple transformation adds a surprising degree of sparkle!
  • If your lighting fixtures are looking a bit dated and dingy, one simple fix is to buy new lampshades. Replacing a whole lamp is expensive and often unnecessary—and new shades can make a much more resounding impact, anyway. If you are planning to put your home for sale on the Delaware beach market anytime soon, best opt for white or cream. Keeping the look bright yet neutral gives you a proven selling advantage.
  • In any room where years of wear and tear have created smudges that no amount of elbow grease can remove, think about painting with a change of color.  It may be a bit more ambitious and costly, but whether you hire pros or do it yourself, the result can make you feel like you’re in a whole new home. As with the lampshade selection, resist the temptation to get overly exuberant and creative: choose neutral color combinations. 
  • If new furniture is not yet called for (or beyond this year’s budget), consider calling in the pros for some upholstery cleaning; then adding new accent pillows.  If your existing pillows are in good shape, sometimes just a few new pillow covers can freshen up a room’s whole look. Designers sometimes recommend picking just one bright color and keeping with it throughout the house.

You don’t have to be planning to list your home for sale in Sussex County to make 2014’s spring cleaning efforts a self-satisfying success. And if you’re planning to list, I have a host of other preparation tips…and a marketing plan designed to bring top results!