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, 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

 John Adams’ ferocious work ethic was legendary among the Founding Fathers, which makes it more than a little ironic that he could rightfully be called the foremost Party Planner of the Republic.

When Lewes, DE celebrates Independence Day on Saturday, we’ll be carrying out the original vision of Mr. Adams, who wrote to wife Abigail the prediction that “…it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival with Pomp and Parade, with Shews Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Adams was known as one of the more no-nonsense types among the Founders, so his success as an event planner for generations to come would not have been predicted.

Adams was less successful in foreseeing the date that would be feted. His letter to Abigail was written on July 3, one day after he tagged “the Second Day of July 1776” as “the most memorable Epocha in the History of America.

The designation of the 4th is due to that date appearing on the familiar parchment of the Declaration of Independence—the one where John Hancock’s signature is four times larger than anybody else’s. Hancock was the first to sign the document, so may be subject to the criticism that he was grabbing an undue amount of publicity for himself—but such grousing isn’t deserved. As president of the Second Continental Congress, he was first to sign. His bold, dramatic signature served to encourage everyone else to sign with courage (they were, in point of fact, signing their own death warrants had the revolution failed).  

This year’s Lewes, DE Independence Day falls on Saturday, but as a reenactment of that first celebration, you could suppose that a week from Wednesday would be more appropriate. The first Independence Day celebration actually took place in Philadelphia on July 8, when the Liberty Bell rang out to summon the people to the first public reading of the Declaration.

But despite the ambiguity about which July date would be the most accurate anniversary, it remains Adams’ original proposal for a “great Festival” that will again be renewed from Washington D.C. to Lewes, DE. This year we may not see the customary packed crowds gathered for concerts and fireworks, but the history being commemorated is sure to be addressed wherever public events are mounted.

Adams himself could always be depended upon to deliver inspiring speeches on national occasions. On July 4, 1826, the by-then infirm elderly ex-President was urged to compose a fitting toast for the great occasion of the 50th Independence Day. It turned out to be his last public utterance when he raised his glass to make a final toast to his Republic: “Independence forever!”

May your Lewes, DE celebrations be safe, sane—and a fitting observance of our nation’s 244th birthday!  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

 For Lewes, DE real estate buyers and sellers who occasionally track national trends and predictions, last week was a good one…to take the week off! In a week crammed with news that ranged from tragic (Minnesota) to triumphant (America’s superbly art-directed return to space), real estate received scant attention. It mattered little: with so many economic factors bouncing from all-time this to all-time that, expecting stable guidance would have been overly optimistic in any case. A snapshot:

On Friday, Senior Economist George Ratiu offered his analysis of the buying public’s mood, yielding the headline, “Economic Indicators Are Down, but Consumer Confidence is Up.” If that seems to lack consistency, it might be because the consumers aren’t watching economic indicators. Mr. Ratiu noted that the nation’s Gross Domestic Product showed a “deeper decline than originally measured,” and called the worker joblessness situation “painful.” Yet, “amid the uncertainty,” he pointed to a rising consumer confidence index due to the general public’s confidence in “a quick return to normalcy.” He ended the podcast, urging viewers to “stay tuned for next week’s update from the economic scene…”

Meantime,’s Chief Economist Danielle Hale was on the record with a revised 2020 housing market prediction update. It estimated that home sales this year would hit 4,500,000—which may sound like a lot, but is actually down 15%. But wait! She continued with “You may be surprised to see that we expect home prices to eke out a small gain.” The predicted uptick was modest—in the neighborhood of 1.1% through 2020.  

The predicted rise would be due to the limited number of homes being offered (“that helps to keep prices up”). But even high prices would reflect an improving deal for buyers due to the expected continuation of bargain-basement mortgage interest rates—which might even be expected “to trend lower.”

And about that 1.1% predicted price rise? Already by the end of the same update, that version of the future was already wavering. More inventory could become available, “so by the end of the year, prices could drift slightly lower.”

 Fortunately, Lewes, DE real estate buyers and sellers aren’t dependent upon consistency from the experts—they act according to their own imperatives. When personal circumstances dictate that it’s time to sell or time to buy, people look for a deal that makes the most sense. Helping clients find one that does exactly that is where I come in. Do 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

Suppose your Lewes, DE home is an oddball? It may be a terrific residence, but there’s no denying that it just doesn’t fit in very well with the feel of the neighborhood. In Lewes, DE, we have a reasonably eclectic mix of architectural styles, so it’s unusual to come across a house that stands apart as decidedly out of place.

If your own Lewes, DE home is one of those oddball properties, when it comes to selling it, that might not necessarily be such a bad thing. At least that’s the verdict reached by reporter Katy McLaughlin after she was assigned by the Wall Street Journal to investigate the fate of unique homes in today’s market. Are they harder or easier to sell? Do they bring premium prices—or discounts?

A less than stellar example is the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired mansion that awaits a buyer in the Savannah, Georgia neighborhood. Buyers in California or Arizona would probably leap on the 6,595 square-foot home, but in its current neighborhood, buyers are nearly unanimous in preferring “Gone With the Wind” style homes.

Builders are familiar with the social pressure that can result when they try to construct homes with a design too far afield from the neighborhood norm. One builder got pushback “even from friends” when he agreed to design a chateau-style home in his Santa Fe neighborhood.  

Despite such headwinds, it turns out that selling results can be mixed. It may take longer to sell an outlier, but the final selling prince can reward patience. By definition, such properties defy classification—but one way to predict their selling performance is to identify them by the adjectives used in their listings. These are some Zillow-tallied results:

“unusual” – 3 days longer on market than comparable properties

“unique” — 7.5 days longer   

“quirky” — 11 days faster!

“avant-garde”— 24 days longer

Interestingly, the homes described as “unique” brought a 1.6% price premium over the comps. Such a varied array of results go to show that whether you are selling your Lewes, DE home that’s a nice fit for the neighborhood, or a quirky standout that could draw tour buses, the marketing should be aimed at an accurate depiction (with the possible exception of ‘avant-garde’). Every property has a buyer or buyers who will appreciate it—the trick is attracting their attention. If it’s time to sell your own home, I hope you’ll give me a chance to demonstrate! 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