Today’s Internet-savvy home seller knows that before potential Delmar buyers even make their way to a home’s online listing they may already have been exposed to the property’s pictures posted elsewhere. Since first impressions can be decisive, it’s all the more reason to heed something that advertising professionals have always known: the viewer’s eye is automatically drawn directly to any visible flaws.

That’s why, if you want to entice more buyers by posting the most attractive teaser pics of your Delmar home, you need to think in staging terms. Professional staging is the most foolproof way to create flawless images, of course — but there are also some easy and inexpensive approaches to creating eye-pleasing images of your home.

Get your Stuff Out

The first rule of staging a home in Delmar is to make it as inviting as possible — and nobody feels at home when they are surrounded by a stranger’s stuff. Remove the blankets piled on the couch, and take down the Spiderman posters from Junior’s room. When a viewer’s eye goes to a personality-defining detail, it usually shapes the whole impression. Making your home a blank canvas will allow prospective buyers to picture their own belongings fitting nicely in place.

Call the Professional Cleaners

You need to get every inch of the home as clean as possible for it to be inviting (and worth the asking price). This means cleaning things you probably haven't even considered before, like the garage door and the sliding window tracks. Hiring a professional crew for even just a day can do wonders to create a ‘like new’ aura.

Adjust Lighting 

One of the things that make staged homes look so warm and welcoming is great lighting. A lot of us have gradually adopted minimal lighting at home — something that can be reversed with a few extra lamps and higher-wattage bulbs. Staging is just one element that goes into a successful Delmar home sale. Contact me today to talk about all the other pieces!

One of the advantages of reaching retirement age is that your needs can be much clearer to gauge than they were in the past. When it comes to planning for buying a home in Delmar, for instance, you no longer have to worry about many of the contingencies that created vast unknowns earlier on.

When we were at the starting line in careers and family life, we couldn’t know exactly where our career would send us, so the level of certainty we had when we bought our first house was sketchy at best. Likewise, the shape of our family, needs of our children (and even those of our parents) loomed as giant question marks. We might have had definite ideas about what we wanted the future to bring, but sooner or later, most of us learned that what happens is up for grabs. In the words of the immortal philosopher John Lennon,

Life is what happens to you

While you’re busy makin’ other plans…

But as more life experience builds, the better we get at predicting what the future holds. But that’s a skill that is only useful if we take what we now know and apply it. As retirement nears, here are four areas where most of us should be better able to make much better informed decisions when it comes to buying a home in Delmar:

1. Choose an Appropriate Size

Many couples seek large houses early in life because they expect to have children. Once the next generation has vacated the premises, though, staying in a home that’s larger than necessary means blown money—not to mention wasted time spent cleaning unused rooms. Retirees may be slow to recognize their new downsizing option: buying a home that better correlates with current needs. They may even want to consider a condo or apartment if minimal upkeep will free up income to direct toward more enjoyable activities.

2. Consider a Single-Level Home

Most people experience mobility issues as they age. Some solve the problem by installing expensive devices in their homes, even though they could deal more directly with those problems by moving to a home configured to present fewer challenges. For some people, moving to a simplified home lets them live independently for many additional years--for example, a single-level home without a front porch eliminates stairs entirely.

3. Find a Convenient Location

At some point, retirees may reluctantly decide that they don’t feel safe driving their cars. If anyone experiences warning signs of unsafe driving, it’s prudent to give up the keys before an accident forces the issue. This causes fewer problems when a retiree has chosen a convenient location. It could mean living close to stores, public transportation—or near relatives who can help with everyday tasks.

4. Stay under Budget

Retirees need to take seriously realistic budget expectations, since it’s usually true that they will have less money coming in than heretofore. An inelastic income may take some getting used to—but knowing what’s coming will make intelligent planning possible.

When it comes to locating and buying a Delmar home that fits your specifications, I hope you will give me a call to discuss the current crop of appropriate available properties!

When the number of foreclosures decreases, it’s not without impact for Delmar homeowners and investors. In any given month, Delmar foreclosures may not always mimic the national averages, but over the long run, they do tend to be pretty close. And the national trend is clear: first quarter foreclosure activity decreased to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2007 (‘activity’ includes default notices, scheduled auctions and outright bank repossessions).

Recent figures from RealtyTrac, the leading source of housing data, put U.S. foreclosures at their lowest levels in seven years. The 42-month national decrease had been momentarily interrupted by a 4% rise in March, but even with that momentary hiccup, foreclosure rates were still 23% below 2013 levels. RealtyTrac calculates that there were just over 30,000 bank repossessions in the U.S. in April—a slight uptick from the previous month, but still a full 14% lower than a year ago.

  • One Reason Why

Rising prices mean that more people have positive equity in their homes. In the second quarter of 2013, 2.5 million of the homeowners who’d been underwater found themselves back in positive territory. As property prices continue to rise in 2014, more homeowners are moving out of the negative equity trap.

  • Many Foreclosed-On Homeowners Still in Their Homes

Although the 2007 downturn led to a surge foreclosures, many homeowners have stayed in their properties. It’s estimated that currently half of all bank-owned properties are occupied by either the original owner or the tenant.

  • More Work for Investors

A significant proportion of Delmar buyers in the post-2007 market were investors bold enough to capitalize on bargain prices for properties. When national and Delmar foreclosures decline, it indicates that fewer distressed properties will come up for sale. That means more competition for them, and fewer acceptances for lowball offers. Ultimately, it signals a shift toward more owner-occupiers.

  • Drop Isn’t Everywhere

While the national charts show a steady decrease in the number of foreclosures, the trend is not universal. And there’s another reason investors can still find some opportunities. The number of scheduled foreclosure auctions in the judicial process hit the highest level in three years in 2013. This suggests that, while fewer homes are falling into foreclosure, more of those in the works are getting close to reaching the end of the line. It’s a painful process, but when the smoke clears, will serve to help rebalance the real estate market.

 The drop in foreclosures is a good indicator of the health of the current market. Rising property prices and an improving economy mean that fewer homes are ending up in the hands of the banks—news that all homeowners should be happy to hear. For an update on the foreclosure activity in your Delmar neighborhood, contact me today for a detailed property pricing report. 

It’s another aftereffect of the rise in housing prices: piggyback loans in Delmar are making a comeback. According to a recent American Bankers Associations Report, the number of piggyback loans originated across the nation more than doubled within the past year.  

A piggyback loan involves taking out two mortgages simultaneously, with a home equity loan (aka “second mortgage”) ‘piggybacking’ on a first mortgage. In Delmar home purchases, piggyback loans typically come into play when the buyer is unable to provide a full 20% deposit. Normally this would necessitate the buyer having to take out private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can be pricey. By going with the piggyback loan alternative, the Loan to Value (LTV) ratio can be reduced to less than 80%, the threshold below which PMI requirements vanish.

A standard piggy back loan is structured as a “80-10-10”—meaning that 80% of the purchase price comes from the first mortgage, the next 10% from the second loan, and the final 10%, the deposit.

One major downside to piggybacking is cost. The interest rates charged on piggyback loans are significantly higher than those for first mortgages, so it may prove less expensive to pay for PMI for a short period of time. This is more likely in a rising market, since the Loan to Value can shrink below 80% before long. Another problem can crop up when it comes time to refinance. In order to refinance, the second mortgage lender has to agree to remain in a subordinate position. This agreement (known as re-subordination) may, in some cases, be hard to reach.  Lastly, homeowners with a piggyback loan are unlikely to be able to take out a third loan should they want to access their home equity. Nowadays, thirds are rarely granted.

Between 2000 and 2006, it made a lot of sense to take out a piggyback loan. The interest on piggyback loans was tax-deductible, while mortgage insurance premiums were not. When property prices were rising as sharply as they were between 2000 and 2006, lenders also considered piggyback loans a good bet because the growth provided ample equity ‘cushion.’ But when real estate prices dropped in 2007, piggyback loans fell out of favor. By 2010, the percentage of piggyback loans fell to just 1.7%.

Today, with house prices on the rise, lenders are again growing more comfortable granting Delmar piggyback loans—but with a bit more caution. Lenders usually ask for a FICO score of at least 700 and a debt-to-income ratio that’s below 43%. Increasingly, they want to see that a borrower has cash reserves in case of unforeseen circumstances.

If you are considering a piggyback loan in Delmar this month, you will want to run the numbers to see if it’s the solution that makes the most sense. In some circumstances, it can be the best way to get into a home you can afford even though you can’t furnish a full 20% deposit. Call me today to discuss how today’s market meshes with your needs!

Call/text 302-228-7871 or email me, Russell Stucki, REALTOR® of Beach Real Estate Market to provide detailed information on Delaware homes for sale, investment and commercial properties, luxury and  waterfront homes, condos/townhomes, new construction, lots and land, farms and equestrian properties located in but not limited to Bethany, Bethel, Bridgeville, Dagsboro, Delmar, Ellendale, Fenwick Island, Frankford, Georgetown, Greenwood, Harbeson, Laurel, Lewes, Lincoln, Milford, Millsboro, Millville, Milton, Ocean View, Rehoboth Beach, Seaford, Selbyville, Delaware.