Housing News that Sussex County Homeowners Have Been Waiting For
For Sussex County homeowners, the news was a long time coming. The bounce back from last decade’s dizzying plummet in the nation’s residential housing values has been underway for quite a while now—but those values hadn’t quite returned to their former heights.
Until last month!
The Wall Street Journal was early to break the long-awaited headline, “Existing-Home Prices Hit Record: $236,400.” Using just-released June sales numbers, the Journal reported that the nation’s average housing prices now topped the previous high water mark set in 2006. It meant that a lot of paper losses have been obliterated—and the return of full nights’ sleep for many U.S. homeowners who have long been underwater.
Another aspect of June’s housing report card could also ease nerves on a wider scale. USA Today led with it: “Existing homes were sold at the fastest pace in eight years…” It quoted the NAR’s Lawrence Yun as pronouncing this year’s spring buying season “the strongest since the economic turndown.”
That’s where the current housing market profile seems to differ in kind from the previous peak of $230,400, registered in July 2006. That mark was reached after sales volume had started to fall. Prices then followed, starting with a slow decline that continued until the spring of 2008, when the slump became a nosedive—unleashing the subprime mortgage crisis. The “bubble” of unsupported high prices had burst.
There was more glad tidings in last week’s news, as well. U.S. home builder confidence levels hit its highest mark in “nearly a decade” (WSJ). A rise in demand for apartment housing caused a jump of 9.8% in housing starts.
But the biggest news was the existing-home price rise, reported as having “rocketed” 35% since 2011, “benefiting current homeowners by giving them an opportunity to trade up to better homes or sell and cash out.” That’s the kind of spur that can stimulate the entire housing market.
With one economist (Andrew Hunter of Capital Economics) quoted as saying “the housing recovery has shifted into a higher gear,” it wasn’t surprising that other analysts were in agreement. “Don’t Laugh” read one headline from international observer Quartz.com; “the U.S. housing market is the best story in the global economy right now.” Reuters agreed about the implications. Their headline: “Strong U.S. housing data boosts dollar.”
- Written by Russell Stucki
Strategic Planning Should be Part of Sussex County Home Remodeli
The number of households belonging to older adults is on the rise across the nation, and (let’s face it) the homes themselves aren’t getting any younger. So states the Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies' Housing Perspectives (JCHS), which recently published the projection that, if true, makes it likely that Sussex County home remodeling activity will spike in the coming years.
Abbe Will, research analyst for JCHS drew this conclusion:
"Since much of the housing stock is currently ill-equipped with even basic accessibility features, older homeowners aging in place will need to invest in retrofitting their homes in order to age comfortably and safely.” In other words, even for homes which remain in their owners’ hands, home remodeling activity could grow markedly.
Home remodeling is no minor industry. Home improvement expenditures by older homeowners already topped $90 billion in 2013—making it a significant economic contributor. Now the JCHS projects that it could surge by an extra $17 billion annually over the next three years. Welcome news indeed for the construction and design industries, who had been in the doldrums until recently.
But what does this mean for Sussex County homeowners who plan to sell in the near future? When considering a remodel, if you want your home to attract potential older buyers, consider the innovations modern designs have made for individuals in that demographic group. That will be the competition.
JCHS's analysis notes, "… not even a third of (existing) homes have what could be considered basic accessibility features, such as a no-step entry and bedroom and full bathroom on the entry level.” Both young and old can appreciate other features, as well. Wider hallways in a kitchen remodel is one example. Another is bathrooms showers with ‘edgeless’ design, which holds appeal both to Millennial buyers (for the sleek, modern look) and to seniors with limited movement. A bedroom on the main level that can readily be converted to a master if needed can be attractive to older homeowners—and also to anyone looking for a guest or au-pair suite. Investing wisely by thinking long-term when it comes to home remodeling plans is part of strategic home ownership. If you are considering selling your Sussex County home at some point, it doesn’t hurt to inform yourself about forward-looking trends.
- Written by Russell Stucki
A Non-Subjective Element for Choosing a Sussex County Home for S
If you are among this August's consumers who are actively shopping for a home for sale in Sussex County, you have probably already taken a look at the Sussex County listings and most likely jotted down some addresses you’d like to examine in detail. Then, if you find yourself in the happy situation of finding more than one Sussex County home for sale that passes your first in-person tour visit, the tough question arises about how to pick between two or more quality homes. Should you depend upon your emotional leanings—even if a few practical details seem to point you in the opposite direction? Or should you simply let price be the determining factor? Or is there some other criterion the most experienced house hunters rely on?
Of all the factors that could go into that decision, truthfully, pointing out which are the most important is always a subjective exercise (all except for one I’ll bring up last). Here are some of the most useful ones:
o Compare the neighborhoods, and take a close look the adjacent streets. Drive by the properties at different times of the day and at least once on a weekend. See how the neighbors keep their homes. Neglected lawns (or bars on too many windows) are not signs you may want to ignore—just as uniformly well-kept landscaping should count on the positive side.
o Next visit to the candidates, do a consciously thorough walk-over. Pace the perimeter of the home and lot. Look for fencing issues you might need to address, or even how intrusive neighbors’ windows might be. Check for signs of water pooling anywhere on the lot with an eye to whether drainage problems could become an issue when the rains come.
o If there is another home for sale on the street, drive the immediate area looking for more. If there is more than one home for sale, check the web to see if there are too many—or enough that it indicates that values are in flux. If it appears there are many—but no reason other than chance—it could be a good sign that your offer will be very welcome!
What is that less subjective factor (the one I said I’d bring up last)? It’s one that calls for becoming more skeptical than you really are: one that has you pretending to be a member of the public at large who doesn’t feel particularly drawn to either of the homes for sale you are comparing.
Put yourself into that mindset—then judge which of the homes will be easier to sell in a future where you have decided to move on. Deep-six your idiosyncratic leanings, and concentrate on elements that the majority of people would agree are those that add or subtract resale value. Experienced house hunters have bought and sold often enough that they are keenly aware of how much easier it is to sell a home that has universal appeal—even over one that’s more personally attractive. Keeping aware of the personal factors that may make you comfortable but which could adversely affect resaleability will help you determine a property’s future value to others (and, many would argue, that is the real value!)…
- Written by Russell Stucki
Sussex County Real Estate Agent: the Core of Your Strong Team
A few of Sussex County's professionals operate as one-person enterprises, but that’s unusual. Even a one-doctor medical practice has back-up staff. Most lawyers, even if they aren’t in a partnership arrangement, have at least one assistant or secretary to help. Small commercial businesses are called ‘mom and pop’ operations because…well, you get the picture. Almost any serious enterprise takes a team effort to get anywhere—especially in this day and age.
So it’s no surprise that when they set about buying an area home or selling their own, most Sussex County folks don’t take on the project all by themselves. Even though the average American family buys a new home every 7 to 10 years, constantly changing state and local regulations make keeping up with them a professional-level challenge. And even though the first part of the buying process—finding the most likely listed properties—can be started from your computer, as soon as the winnowing begins, the knowledge of a Sussex County real estate agent—someone who lives and breathes real estate—soon becomes crucial.
As we wade deeper into the 2016 election cycle, one of the themes that keeps coming up is “leadership”—the ability to recruit and direct expert help. When buying or selling an Sussex County home, it’s no different: you want the team you assemble to be as strong as possible. That will free you for your most important leadership role, the decision-making. The first order of business is to find an agent who will not only assist with all the real estate transactional details, but also help identify and recommend other reliable professionals you will need in successive steps of the process. Since finding that agent starts with you, here are some tips to help focus your selection:
· Everyone responds differently to differing personalities. What type of person do you click with? Do you envision a real estate agent who is a straight shooter—who will deliver realistic advice, a bubbly personality full of optimism—or perhaps a bit of both? Jot down the personality traits that you would like to see in your agent.
· Identify needs unique to your situation. If you’re house hunting on a tight budget and need a home fast, you want an agent experienced in finding affordable options. If you’re selling an expensive home in a much-sought-after neighborhood, you might want a Sussex County real estate agent who’s sold high-end properties in the neighborhood.
· Ask colleagues, neighbors, and friends for recommendations. Don’t collect referrals from just one source. Everyone in your neighborhood might use the same agent, but a colleague might have another recommendation. You want to shop around for an agent, so don’t rely on just one referral.
· Check credentials. A credentialed real estate agent is absolutely essential. Of course, nix any agent who isn’t licensed in our state.
· Interview your short list. When you meet with potential agents, ask for a list of recent sales completed near your price point. See if you are comfortable with how the agent prefers to communicate: phone, email, text, or a mix. Finally, request the contact information for a few recent clients to check references—and then check them!
- Written by Russell Stucki