Congrats! Your offer has been accepted and you are officially in escrow. Now what?  Usually the first order of business is to arrange your Sussex County home inspection. When you were house hunting, you were weighing so many factors it was next to impossible to thoroughly examination of every nook and corner of every one of the serious contenders…in fact, it wasn’t necessary. But now that you’re moving forward to a purchase, you want to do more than kick the tires. It’s time to get under the hood!

Here is a taste of just some of the areas you and your inspector will be examining during your Sussex County home inspection:

Plumbing

You will be taking a close look at the tiles around the handles on the bath tub or shower. If they are a different color, it could indicate a plumbing problem. A look under the kitchen sink for stains beneath the pipes can also indicate leaks—something you’ll want to know more about from the seller.

Mold

HGTV’s home inspector Rick Yerger lists water as enemy #1. "Of the many homes I have inspected," he says, "water damage to the structure has been the most damaging and costly, causing foundation problems, rot and the dreaded mold."  He recommends close examination of exterior grade for sloping (or draining) back toward the home; stucco issues where they’re applicable, and roofing materials.

Inspect the Yard

If there is a yard on the property, take the time to do a thorough walkover. Look at the condition of the shrubs, grass and flowers. Check the irrigation, the lighting. You should also look closely at the fencing and gating: they can be expensive to repair.

Electricity

Exposed wires can result in a house fire or other devastating damage. Open splice wire (where wire is conjoined using only electrical tape and/or wire connectors) is a common do-it-yourself mistake often seen in attics, garages, and crawlspaces. Any issues found with the wiring should be corrected ASAP.

These are only a few of the many areas your Sussex County home inspection will cover, so when you are scheduling the day, don’t make other appointments that might rush the process. Of course you hope that everything will be found to be flawless, and if only minor problems are uncovered, the seller may simply volunteer to correct them. But if the home inspection reveals that a significant amount of work will have to be done to bring it up to an acceptable standard, you and your agent will probably be submitting additional terms reflecting the requirements. As always, if you’re looking for that agent—the one you will want by your side throughout the entire home-buying process—I hope you’ll give me the call!

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!