Right at the start of the year, Google announced a surprising move. It said it was purchasing a home appliance maker most of us had never even heard of…for $3.2 billion in cash! It was a gambit that every Sussex County homeowner should note, because it signals where some very smart money is headed: right where we live!

Remember, Google isn’t just famous for its search engine; it’s also frequently in the news for its forays into any number of futuristic enterprises (those mysterious barges, for instance). The appliance maker that now has Google’s billions in its pocket is called Nest Labs, Inc. Nest makes smart devices that reinvent the traditional ones every Sussex County homeowner has to deal with, like thermostats and smoke detectors. “Unloved but important devices” was how the press announcement put it.

The unique feature of Nest’s products is that they collect “user behavior” data (i.e., homeowner actions) in order to provide a more tailored response. Google CEO Larry Page explained, “They’re already delivering amazing products you can buy right now–thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe.”

  The move of Google into the realm of smarter homes is part of a broader trend. In the most recent American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey, there was a dramatic increase in the use of technology solutions in the home. The survey noted an increase in requests for entertainment, security and energy management systems. Energy management systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated as households are given the ability to manage their lighting and temperature over a wireless network. As electronic cars become more prevalent, electronic docking systems in the garage may also become commonplace.

How does this affect the average Sussex County homeowner? As the minimum price of these systems decline, automated homes will eventually become the norm. If today it costs around $2500 to automate your home, it’s all but inevitable that similar features will fall in price (and grow in sophistication). Then, when it comes to buying an Sussex County home or listing your own for sale, the amount of smart automation is bound to become a key selling point—trust Google!

The ability to operate and manage your house from a wireless devices such as your smartphone or laptop is already here…and Nest’s learning technology signals a future where our home and appliances are able to learn from our behavior and predict our needs. Keeping an eye on the future is a good idea for any Sussex County homeowner, especially when you’re thinking of replacing one of those “unloved but important” devices— and most especially when you’re contemplating listing your home anytime soon. If that’s in your future, why not give me a call? As Google is in the habit of demonstrating, it’s never too soon to prepare for the future!

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.

Virtual tours in Sussex County can be potent selling tool. To make the best use of those tools, it’s important to prepare your home with the special requirements of the medium in mind. How doing so differs from prepping for in-the-flesh showings is a subtle but real distinction. Some photographers use a couple of tricks:

Close One Eye

Virtual tours are assemblages of still or video shots —raw material that is all filtered through the single lens of a camera. When anyone walks through a home, they do so with both eyes open. They experience a three-dimensional impression of their surroundings.

What the “camera sees” is different — it’s why some people and places are said to be more “photogenic” than others. It’s also why you sometimes see a film director examining the next shot through a single-lens viewfinder — he’s viewing the set the way the camera will. The quickest way to start seeing what your virtual tour will convey is to simply close one eye. Strange but true, when you stand back and view each room that way, you get a two-dimensional (flat) version of what’s there.

Snap a Test Shot

After you have arranged a room to look pleasing in a one-eyed view, take an actual test shot, then view it critically. You will probably notice how the camera lens picks up and seems to magnify any flaws that were less apparent before. You’ll want to -  

  • remove excess furniture (and all clutter) to “open up” the space, expanding apparent size
  • scrub any surface or thing that appears less than Q-tip clean  
  • place tasteful accessory combinations (lamps, plants, books) of varying heights next to one another to add dimension 

The goal of virtual tours is to show a comprehensive view of the subject properties, inside and out — a view that will ignite the imaginations of potential buyers. The importance of Sussex County virtual tours can’t be overemphasized! The buyers (and they are out there!) will be busier than usual. 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.

A Sussex County short sale is a transaction in which the amount paid is not sufficient to cover the existing mortgage or property liens. Once the lender agrees to accept the lesser amount, the short sale succeeds, the lender calls it even with the seller, and all parties can move forward.

It’s a good thing to ‘unfreeze’ a property, yet short sales in Delaware can be tricky to close. In the worst-case scenario, a buyer and would-be short seller can be put on ice for a full year or more before the short sale succeeds. As is evident to anyone who has been through the process, a Sussex County real estate agent with short sale experience is essential for leading the way through the negotiations and closing.

In addition to working with a knowledgeable agent, it’s good to also approach a situation which might turn into a short sale by understanding the general precepts that influence those who will make the decisions. Usually, the mortgage-holding bank publishes how they wish to be contacted. Often, it’s through the “Loss Mitigation” Department (or a title to that effect). That language tells you all you have to know to explain why their attitude may be less than enthusiastic.

Like any commercial business, the bank’s decision-makers seek to minimize the time and man-hours needed to gain the best result. If you come to them with what is an obviously unreasonable offer, they are no more likely to react positively than any other seller. For this reason, researching the market value of nearby properties--enough so that it’s easy to show that your offer is based on a reasonable discount from those prices—is the best way to be taken seriously.

Although you shouldn’t be surprised if even a reasonable offer is turned down at first, don’t be afraid to counter with a second offer.

Depending on the circumstances, I sometimes advise my clients to decide on a viable time frame in which to either close the deal or move on. Not only will this prevent your wasting time, but it can motivate a loan officer to truncate what might otherwise become long-winded negotiations.

Short sales in Sussex County are still to be found for motivated and patient buyers. If you are looking to buy a home in the coming year, now is the right time to call me to start your search! 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.

This year, all signs point to Sussex County real estate market being a sizzling hot one. For anyone who will be selling a property soon, it’s time to take stock of the factors that will influence how attractive (and competitive) their offering will turn out to be,

Always near the top of the list is, of course, location: location as geography (how close it is to Sussex County’s key shopping, parks and recreation areas) and location as setting (how desirable is the surrounding neighborhood).

And when it comes to location, a stubborn fact of life is that selling a property in a rundown neighborhood can be a real challenge. Sometimes, neglectful neighbors can be the problem. According to the President of the Appraisal Institute, a property with an overgrown yard or peeling paint can readily reduce a neighbor’s sale price by 5%-10%. In run-down neighborhoods where foreclosures are common or crime levels are high, selling a local property for what would be an otherwise reasonable price can be all but impossible. Even so, there are some steps that can be taken.

Establish a preferred route…

Most marginal neighborhoods are a mix of unsightly and good areas. To insure that potential buyers are first aware of the positive elements in your neighborhood, be sure you and your agent are on the same page for providing the most attractive route to reach your property. Sooner or later any future buyer will certainly be exposed to the less desirable blocks—but that first impression should be the best it can be.

…avoid overspending on improvements…

When selling a property in a bad neighborhood, it’s always tempting to compensate by spending on renovations. But perspective should come into play: there is likely to be an upward limit that any house in a challenging neighborhood can sell for. By not overspending on improvements, wise sellers maximize their flexibility when it comes to negotiating price.

…even tidy up a neighboring property!

The thought of taking responsibility for a neighboring property is hardly appealing. It’s not your fault that they have let their yard become overgrown or allowed their front fence to be peeling paint. But if you judge that a relatively simple amount of effort will greatly improve a neighboring property’s appearance, consider telling the neighbor that you will be selling a property and wonder if you could give them a hand with their yard. If you are tactful enough, some neighbors will even volunteer to solve the problem themselves.

Selling a Sussex County property in a less-than-stellar neighborhood is undeniably a challenge. The key is to fix the things that you can while avoiding overspending on improvements. Often selling a property in a run-down neighborhood comes down to a question of price: determining that in advance can make the best outcome most likely.

Thinking of buying or selling soon?  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.