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

As summer approaches, Delaware homeowners may also recall the challenge of retaining a reasonably comfortable home environment during the inevitable spells of hot weather. Everyone has a different relationship to heat and its evil twin, humidity, which dictates how much attention and budget needs to be dedicated to house cooling.

One old-fashioned solution is out there that many Delawareites may not have considered.

For most heat-sensitive Delaware residents, house cooling is synonymous with some form of air conditioning—if not central, then some assemblage of window A/C units. Evaporative coolers have economic and environmental advantages, but are really most effective in dry conditions: in other words, when the air gets soupy, their effectiveness fades. These were the “swamp coolers” of yesteryear—and they do have plusses that keep them around today. They allow open windows, so unlike air conditioners, fresh air is part of the house cooling action. They also use relatively little energy.

Swamp coolers used to be more popular in pre-air conditioner days—but there’s another cooling solution that is sometimes overlooked today. It’s the “Whole House Fan” system.

The basic idea is to fight the buildup of heat inside the home by pulling air up and out of the structure, expelling heat and allowing cooler breezes to enter. The house cooling is forced by a powerful fan in the attic combined with appropriately installed ventilation ports. It’s the fan that was the culprit behind the unpopularity of yesteryear’s versions. They were called “attic fans,” and they earned an unfortunate reputation for being extremely noisy. Sounded like a helicopter was taking off on the roof. Not okay.

Today’s whole house fans are the exact opposite: engineering advances make them whisper quiet, yet powerful and effective. Because they are quiet, homeowners don’t mind leaving them on for extended periods, which maximizes their effectiveness in ridding homes of summer heat buildup. It is true that on really hot days—when the outside air, even in shaded areas, can become oppressive—air conditioning is simply more effective. But for Delaware residents who don’t mind an occasional heat spell, the savings in electricity consumption can make whole house fans a modern strategy worth considering.

Summer is also the second half of Delaware’s busiest home shopping season. Kids are out of school, and summer vacations give more families a chance to do some serious house hunting. If you have been considering a real estate move of your own, it’s not too late to join in: give me a call!  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 might have had a science teacher who explained to the class why perpetual motion machines aren’t possible. He would have had some common sense to back up his point  (everybody knows nothing lasts forever). But the actual scientific explanation had to do with physics and Newton’s Laws: in the end, perpetual motion just isn’t in the cards.

When it comes to real estate, however, for a lot of happy residents, their Delaware home equity comes awfully close to being a kind of perpetual income machine.

There may not be a Newton’s Law of Retirement Motion, but for anybody planning their long-term future security, there should be. It would be straightforward:

For every mortgage principal payment, there is an equal and opposite addition to your home equity.

This simple Law has a profound effect in the real world. The PEW Research Center tells us that the typical median family’s expenditure for housing = 23% of after-tax income. That figure is for households with two earners and two children. If retirement will mean a reduction in those two earners’ income (as is usually the case), unless they reduce the size or quality of their housing, the percentage of income it claims will have to rise further. Not a very desirable outcome.

But apparently the majority of Americans have already taken our fanciful Law of Retirement Motion into account. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, among American homeowners who are 65 and older, a whopping 65.3% have no mortgages payments to make. They own their residences free and clear. For them, the home equity effect is, as financial adviser Robert Christman describes, “…almost as if you had saved enough extra to provide a monthly income equal to your mortgage.” It’s like a Newton’s Law of Perpetual Income.

The practical effect of owning your Delaware home outright isn’t as fanciful as are the non-existent Newton’s Laws—it’s darned real! Which is one reason my job helping clients land the right home at the right price ends up being so satisfying.

Do give me a call! 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.