You’ve probably heard the wry old saying: “Nothing clears the mind like the prospect of being hanged at dawn.” For some homeowners, you could add an equally wry modern Delaware real estate version: “Nothing clears the mind like having a real estate appraiser drop by for a look-see.”

I’d like to counter that notion—there’s really not much to worry over when the Delaware real estate appraiser is scheduled to make an appearance. The stress level can be lowered by keeping a few simple ideas in mind:

  1. Appraisals aren’t showings. Sure, you want to have the house as spruced up and orderly as you would for any visitor. But your Delaware property doesn’t have to present the kind of perfection it will for an open house or prospective buyer showing. Experienced Delaware appraisers aren’t looking for a 100% clutter-free, immaculate show-stopper of a home: they will be concentrating on physical details like square footage and structural and mechanical features. They are more like backstage workers than audience members—but neatness can’t hurt!
  2. Paperwork is a plus. If they are available, dig out any floor plans or location plats you may have filed away. Also, the age of your home is one thing, but updated features can boost the end appraisal value. If you prepare a list of improvements and the years in which they were completed, it will make the appraiser’s job that much easier—and your Delaware home’s appraisal that much better.
  3. Curb appeal is the exception. Appraisals aren’t showings, but no one—even the professional who prepares your Delaware appraisal—is immune to the “first impression” effect. Condition is a factor in any appraisal, so it will be worthwhile to be sure the front lawn is mowed and plantings trimmed. If the front doorway is in need of a paint refresher, it will be effort worth making.
  4. Consideration helps. The appraiser’s job is part physical, so being considerate of that part of the appraisal process will be appreciated. Be sure that obstructions are cleared, that rooms are appropriately heated and cooled—and that Lassie and Garfield aren’t allowed to pester.
  5. New good news is good news. If there have been positive changes in the neighborhood, it can’t hurt to let the appraiser know about them. Delaware may be part of a rising market, but appraisers don’t speculate on future values. Supplying some positive neighborhood developments can be persuasive.  

There is another “nothing clears the mind” quote, too: Nothing clears the mind like buying property. That saying isn’t wry at all: it’s absolutely true! If you are setting out on your own Delaware house hunt, I hope you’ll give me a call to help focus your search. And if you’re readying to sell your own Delaware property (which puts you in the soon-to-be-visited-by-the-appraiser category) the same applies. Please don’t hesitate to 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

 While much attention is directed at the phalanx of youthful first-time homebuyers, the  Millennials and GenXers aren’t the only groups who are having a substantial influence on the direction of Delaware’s real estate market. Whether they are tagged “mature,” “aging,” or downright “elderly,” the over 55-crowd comprise an increasingly influential part of the marketplace. They are also facing some challenges when it comes to housing—and where there are challenges, people with solutions stand to profit.

Last month, Freddie Mac—the quasi-governmental entity that studies changing directions in the nation’s real estate market—published an eye-opening look at what’s been going on with our older homeowners. They conducted a survey that queried a representative sample of 4,886 homeowners aged 55 and older.

One finding that everyone in Delaware would probably expect was that the majority (about 2/3) of respondents hope to stay in their current homes. That proportion of the population hasn’t changed much over time. Another finding that no one in Delaware would be awfully surprised to hear was that a similar number—the same two-thirds—admitted that their present residences aren’t accessible to anyone with arthritis or limited mobility (not to mention the wheelchair-bound).

 In other words, the wish and the reality are, at least for the moment, not entirely in sync. The real estate solution boils down to the issue of retrofitting. Eighteen percent said they had never given retrofitting a thought, but most of the others who have considered it are weighing how they will finance what can cost thousands of dollars. A third said they will rely on savings to create a home where they will be able to “age in place;” 26% plan to use HELOCs or bank loans; and a smaller percentages will rely on cash-out refi's, reverse mortgages, or family loans.

            Freddie Mac didn’t provide a prescriptive commentary on the likely real estate repercussions of this aging in place phenomenon, but it seems as if  Delaware contractors and sub-contractors will find themselves with a developing remodel category as the ranks of Delaware’s retirement-aged continue to grow. As far as Delaware’s real estate market is concerned, homes that are easily retrofitted should attract more of the 55+ crowd—as will single-level and ranch-style residences. Styles like multi-story Victorians which are generally associated with Gramma and Grandpop…well, perhaps not so much.

            Aging in place is something to which even youthful homeowners should give some thought—particularly if the greater plan is to live and work in Delaware for the long haul. Whenever real estate plans are under consideration, I hope you’ll give me a call to discuss how I can help! 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

It turns out that the run of admirable national and Delaware home sales advances have been pulled off despite a couple of strong countercurrents. At least that’s the theme that emerges from last month’s Aspiring Home Buyers Profile report, which supplied one obvious and one not-so-obvious widespread beliefs among would-be future homeowners.

Delaware home buyers are always a mix of current homeowners (who will usually also be selling) and first-timers. Among the latter group, a major drag on their willingness and ability to invest in their own Delaware home is the student debt phenomenon. Enough has been written about that in recent years that it’s hardly a surprise: 39% of non-owners cited student loan payments as a primary reason they weren’t planning on being able to buy anytime soon.

Much less expected is the proportion of current non-owners whose reasons centered on a piece of widespread misinformation. Apparently, the same percentage—39%—were convinced that they need more than 20% of the price of a home to qualify for a loan. Another 26% believe a purchase is only possible when they can produce a down of 15%-20%—and a majority of the remainder (another 22%) think they need a down payment of at least 10% - 14%. 

The chief economist for the realtor.com website summed it up concisely. “Aspiring buyers think it takes twice as much to buy a home” as it actually does in most cases. Although the actual numbers for any Delaware home purchase always depend on the details of the particular situation, the actual national averages will come as a shock to most. According to the latest National Association of Realtors® survey, the average down payment on a purchase mortgage was only 11% in 2016. That’s the average—in many cases, it was much lower. On Friday, CNBC’s Diana Olick quoted Attom Data Solutions’ finding that “down payments are shrinking…to a 6% average.”

That’s a pretty wide gap between common belief and current reality—one with real world implications. After all, if you assume a down payment has to be twice the amount actually required, it probably means you won’t even bother thinking about buying a house until long after you might have been able to get started. That could mean thousands of rent dollars diverted from what could have been spent on retiring a home loan. Long term, the difference would be significant.

If you are considering becoming homeowner in Delaware or have been putting off even thinking about it because of what could be an incorrect assumption, I hope you’ll give me a call. There is never any obligation, of course—and the old saying is absolutely true in this case: it can’t hurt to ask! 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

One reason why Delaware real estate commentators like to offer quizzes is to make readers feel good about how much they know. Being that Delaware homeowners probably do more than an average amount of reading about Delaware real estate matters, you would expect that any real estate-themed quiz would succeed in creating that kind of warm, positive experience.

This is not that kind of quiz.

I put it together because it’s a quick way to present some of the more unlikely survey results. They are culled from recent National Association of Realtors® informational articles. The quiz may not foster warm feelings of knowledgeability, but to compensate, it’s shorter than most of those web quizzes (who has time to answer 25 questions?).

Ready? Set! GO!   

1)      Which of the following features is likely to slow a home’s sale:

A) Swimming Pool   B) Big backyard  C) Small backyard  D) All the above

E) None of the above

2)      Which of these is likely to help a home sell more quickly:

A) More than one story  B) Superlative renovations   C) Small backyard

D) Big backyard   E) None of the above

3)      Which of these is likely to be worthwhile for a new Delaware homeowner?

A) Extended appliance warranty   B) Gardener    C) Shopping for insurance

D) Improving the yard   E) None of the above

4)      Which of these trends are widely predicted for 2017?

A)  home prices will remain stable B) home sales will decline  C) average days on market will increase D) the Midwest will lead in home sales  E) none of the above  F) all of the above

5)      Which of these is recommended for first time home buyers?

A) Less closet space than you think you need B) More closet space than you think you need C) Dining room D) No dining room  E) Add a koi pond  E) None of the above

Answers: 1) D. Studies show small backyards can retard sales, as can swimming pools and overly large backyards, due to maintenance concerns.    2) E. More people don’t like the hassle of stair-climbing than appreciate the exercise; big, ambitious renovations seldom return the investment; big or small backyards: same as above.    3) C) Shopping around for the best insurance offer is always wise; but appliance warranties generally don’t return their cost; paying a gardener vs. doing yard work yourself is often a financial loser (I disagree with the NAR on this one—for many busy Delaware homeowners, pro gardeners are worth their weight in gold); big yard improvements should wait until you’ve experienced all four seasons    4)this was the easiest to guess: A) expect home prices to rise B) expect 1.9% more homes to be sold C) the pace of sales is expected to quicken D) West Coast should lead in home sales    5) A and D. The most common first-timers’ regrets are paying for too much spare closet space and seldom-used formal dining rooms. 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