The upheaval in global financial markets over the past few years may have been unnerving for almost everyone, but among the hardest-hit group was first time home buyers, in Sussex County and across the country. Many had to deal with the stress caused by an uncertain economy, the fallout on business and job security, and, more directly, a pronounced increase in the difficulty of securing mortgages.

The good news for Delaware first time home buyers is how the national situation has stabilized. It’s confirmed by the increase in the number of people interested in buying a home for the first time—which has climbed out of the slump. The latest NAR (National Association of Realtors®) annual Profile—a yearly report describing home buyers and sellers—shows that new entrants into the residential market accounted for 39%, just 1% shy of the pre-crash mark.

 If you’re selling a Delaware home and have priced it attractively, it could pay to be mindful of this important segment of our market.

So just who are Delaware’s first time home buyers? That’s where the NAR report gives us some important clues. Three-quarters of first time buyers across the nation fall into the category of current tenants —those living in rented accommodations—with 18% still living with parents. As you’d expect, almost all (98%) of that segment hope to fund their purchase with a mortgage, with 81% preferring a fixed-rate loan. Some first time home buyers plan to use personal savings for the down payment, but many others plan to get help from family. (Sussex County home sellers take note: one possible incentive to make your listing stand out might be to include an offer to cover closing costs.)

Three-quarters of respondents were aged from 22-42. The single most common reason given for buying a home is to start a family (70%), and of those buying a home for the first time, 51% are married couples. With proportions like those, any home in a family-friendly area should benefit by pointing out attractions like local parks, playgrounds and superior schools.

Maybe the most interesting statistic in the report was that 28% of the first time home buyers were already making plans to move again within five years! It may follow that, at least in many cases, first time home buyers in Delaware may not want to deal with remodeling issues. Attracting them could be the final reason to bring your property into “move-in” condition.

Well thought-out marketing is the key to success with any listing, whether it’s catering to Delaware first time home buyers or to any other segment. If you are thinking of selling your own home, a call to me and a some preliminary groundwork on a marketing plan that will work for you is definitely in order!

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!