Last year comprised a decision point for many a local investor who had been holding back from the Sussex County real estate market. There’d been a number of good reasons for them to hesitate.

First, there were memories of the pervasive price drops that followed the global financial meltdown. Not exactly what a prudent investor was looking for—even given the real estate’s traditionally invincible long-term record. Then there were fears that the economy’s slow reverse out of the Great Recession (a term that was in itself enough to freeze many a checkbook!) would hamper apartment and single family unit rental increases. A landlord could get squeezed by inflation…if there were any inflation…who could know for sure?

But as 2013 began, some positives that were at last beginning to provide a degree of optimism. Last year’s Sussex County real estate investment decision was looking a little less risky when the historically low mortgage loan rates were taken into account. They penciled out to what looked like a potentially rosy cash flow outlook. And even the more hesitant investors had been noticing for a while how institutions had been pouring their own cash into residential real estate—you had to wonder why so many of the larger investment concerns suddenly seemed to want to become local landlords…

Now we can look back at 2013 and realize what a fantastic year it was for a Sussex County real estate investment. First, there was the rise in real estate prices, which was nationwide. According to the S&P Case-Shiller Index, U.S. real estate prices increased 11.3%—the highest rate of increase in many years. By the end of the year, website Zillow was predicting that the rise would continue through 2014 at a steady (and less superheated) rate. That tempering was attributed to the gradual rise in still-low mortgage interest rates—and to the inevitable fact that the most extreme bargain properties had been snapped up.

 The latest news on multi-family dwellings shows that fears of inflation outpacing landlords’ ability to increase rents were exaggerated (to say the least). National research firm Reis has just reported that for the 12-month period ending in June, rents rose 3.4%—the 18th consecutive quarter of rent increases! “You have definitely seen the recovery now spread to all of the major markets around the country,” according to Reis economist Ryan Severino. Single-family home rentals are on the rise also. According to Zillow’s latest Year-over-Year Rent Index, “increase renter demand is driving rental appreciation” even though rent affordability continues to be low in terms of percentage of incomes.

What does this mean for today’s investor deciding whether to enter the Sussex County real estate market? That’s always a choice individuals make for themselves—although, as a not-entirely neutral observer I tend to side with landlords throughout the ages whose reliable backstop has always been the real estate “they aren’t making any more of.” One thing is for certain: checking out the values to be found in current Sussex County real estate offerings is the only sure way to gauge the opportunities that are out there. In other words, give me a call.

It’s only prudent!

This year, it looks as if the busy spring real estate season extends beyond the residential arena. Latest reports show commercial property sales on the rise throughout the nation—and in volumes that make it one of the main contributors to the overall economic upturn.

The most reliable data comes from the National Association of Realtors®, whose latest quarterly survey shows year-over-year sales increasing a full 11% (with prices rising 4%). It’s an encouraging backdrop for businesspeople and individual investors who are gauging the opportunities in today’s Delaware commercial property market. Despite the vagaries of the tax and political climate (it is an election year, after all), with rental rates increasing and leasing activity up across the nation, the market does invite a closer look by anyone considering a fresh entry into Delaware’s commercial property arena.

While working with a buyer’s agent to find and purchase a Delaware commercial property isn’t an absolute essential, it certainly can be more efficient to have professional assistance and guidance throughout the process. When you choose a Realtor who has specifically commercial experience in Delaware, you make the same kind of choice as when you seek expert help in any other area of your business or personal endeavors—an expert’s insight can be priceless!

 Whether you are buying or selling a commercial property, it’s also important to avoid fixating on short-term impacts. Today’s cash flow may be your leading financial factor, but balancing with the long-term impacts is a juggling act worth mastering. Buying or selling a commercial property has long term impacts that spread out well beyond this year’s bottom line. Don’t hesitate to discuss your current business model with your accountant or tax professional. They are sure to have concrete ideas about potential impacts that will be quite real five and ten years from now. The right commercial property in Delaware will be one that is able to accommodate your needs both now and into the future.

With the right agent and clear-cut financial goals, your search for an Delaware commercial property can result in the best financial move you make this year—or for many years to come.  If you’re weighing the value of purchasing a commercial property or placing your own for sale, call me to open the discussion about the opportunities in today’s market.

 Yahoo’s “Money” tab is a source Ocean View, DE readers can visit for non-technical reportage on the latest U.S. economic developments. Last week it led with a surprisingly upbeat look at residential real estate: “Homebuyers rush back in droves despite coronavirus pandemic.”

There was ample evidence to support the description—a rush from homebuyers attested to by a 44.3% jump in pending home sales. The leap from April to May set an all-time record. And for those still unconvinced, there was further verification via the sustained volume increase in home purchase mortgage applications. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications had been on the rise, year-over-year, throughout the previous four weeks.

Given the backdrop of uncertainty and anxiety caused by the pandemic, some observers were at a loss to explain such pronounced activity. Not so the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors®. The NAR’s Lawrence Yun emailed Yahoo a statement explaining the surge—the same phenomenon that has buttressed Ocean View, DE home sales a while: “Homebuyers are rushing into the market to take advantage of the low-interest rates.” A shot of consumer optimism was added with the “steadily reopening” of major sectors of the economy.

The “droves” of buyers were being hampered by one factor, though. Many found themselves confronted by the “the same headwind” that had existed before the pandemic: the scarcity of homes for sale. The pandemic hadn’t helped. Realtor.com’s latest survey showed total listings down by 29% year over year—a dip compared with 2019’s already scarce inventories.

For Ocean View, DE homeowners considering listing their own properties, last week’s Yahoo and other national reports were clearly encouraging. Reported just ahead of the weekend, Thursday’s surprisingly bullish economic news was similarly supportive. For a precise picture of this summer’s Ocean View, DE market activity for homes like yours, get in touch today! 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

Today's Lewes, DE house hunters are using the web more than ever—and more than ever, they're running into seemingly omnipresent "Zillow." It's unavoidable because Zillow ads are everywhere—often in the first and/or second position on the search engine results pages. With annual revenue topping $2 billion, the e-commerce mega-company can afford it.

From its national data processing centers, Zillow uses automated formulas to "mine" local multiple listing service entries for data, which it then displays in its own format, making it appear as if the properties are connected with Zillow.

Although it can be argued that for the most part, there's no harm in this form of robotic data repackaging, it can be a mildly annoying detour for house hunters who would prefer directly looking in on the listing agent's own presentation. That Realtor® has devoted much hands-on personal effort visiting the property, working with the seller, and creating an accurate and comprehensive description of it. Zillow, on the other hand, is a computer—and computers can't visit anything!

 For the most part, Zillow's approach may cause no harm, that's less true for one facet of its approach: the Zestimate®— Zillow's brand name for its automated estimate of a property's value. Although Zillow has admitted the shortcomings of publishing a dollar figure for properties without conducting basic research, "such as visiting the home," the Zestimate figure (along with an "estimated sales range") is often displayed under a "Home Value" tab.

It is a fact of human nature that the first price a person sees is a hard one to forget. For a house hunter who is exposed to a Zestimate figure that's unexpectedly (and perhaps, undeservedly) low, it's likely to become embedded as the top price the property deserves. For a seller who sees an overly generous figure attached to the family home, that too easily becomes the minimum it deserves. When a "value" is put on screen, it had better be a reasonable one—lest mayhem ensue.

Last month, thebalance.com analyzed the accuracy of several Zestimates and, to no one's surprise, found them wanting. Especially in older neighborhoods, "it won't be that close at all." One home was estimated to be worth $389,733, but sold at $349,000; another was valued at $983,097, yet sold for $1,085,000. For one high-end property, the actual cash closing price differed by more than a quarter-million dollars (the Zestimate was more than 20% too low).

Now and for the foreseeable future, there's no substitute for the many hands-on services buyers and sellers benefit from when they team with an experienced Lewes, DE Realtor like me. Explaining why errant automated estimates can safely be ignored is only one of them. 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