The importance of hiring a reliable home inspection is one of the bedrock principles every home buyer reads and hears about from all quarters. Any Realtor® worthy of the name will be able to recommend a Frankford home inspector with the kind of strong credentials that establish the validity of his or her report—it’s part of the full service a real estate professional brings to the process of buying a home.

The object of the inspection is, of course, to prevent the unexpected: repair bills that might otherwise go undetected until after the purchase. A good inspector finds problems before you close on a property. Although a home inspector’s fee may require an investment of a few hundred dollars, it’s certainly better than spending tens of thousands down the road.

A thorough inspection and the report that follows are what you are looking for—what earns a new home buyer peace of mind. And choosing the right candidate isn’t difficult, as long as you are willing to follow a few common sense procedures. For instance, the written inspection report is an important part of the process, yet some inspectors wind up sending only a checklist. The best ones accompany that with their more detailed written observations. Before you commit, ask the candidate if you can see a sample of the kind of report that will be prepared.

It’s a very good idea for you to be present when the inspection is made—it’s a one-time chance to see for yourself some of the workings of the property from a professional’s point of view. A good inspector may suggest it…and certainly will not object when you invite yourself to the party. If he or she objects, my advice is to find someone else.

As with any other expert, check the candidate’s reputation online. The Better Business Bureau website, Angie’s List, Yelp, and all the other websites that post continuing reviews of professional service providers can supply good feedback. But again, be thorough: watch out for ‘paid’ ratings; check more than one source; and if a complaint is registered, be sure to bring it up when interviewing an otherwise-qualified candidate.

Home inspectors who are strongly tied to the Frankford business community, or who are involved in national-level home inspector organizations, have their reputations on the line with every inspection. These inspectors may provide higher quality service than others, and although choosing a leading Frankford home inspector may wind up costing a few dollars more, when you’re about to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a home, paying a bit extra is usually money well spent.

Whenever my clients ask for advice in choosing a home inspector in Frankford, I supply a choice of several, along with what I have heard from other clients who have used them recently. It’s part of the service I’m pleased to offer—and another good reason to give me a call!

This year has already given an encouraging start for Frankford homeowners who consider national price movements as the best pointers for what we can expect for local real estate. Already in February, median house prices were up 7.6% nationally year over year (that according to the US National Housing Trend Report). It followed a similar 8.3% increase in January. The question many Frankford homeowners have is whether this upward movement can be sustained throughout the year.

Two Years of Historically High Growth

If we look at the historical record, values normally rise somewhere in the area of 3% to 5% annually. But over the last couple of years, gains have been considerably higher. As measured by the Case-Schiller Index, property prices in the 20 largest U.S. cities have increased 21% since they bottomed out. Even considering the depth from which they started, that is still remarkable.

Factors Likely To Influence Home Prices

Among factors which could influence performance in the year ahead, one of the most prominent is the continuing historically low interest rates. According to the leading financial website Bankrate, as of this writing, the average no-point, 30-year fixed mortgage was edging downward again to 4.32%. That may be up from a year ago, but, by way of contrast, the long-term average for a 30-year mortgage is estimated to be 8.56%!

Even considering Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s stated intention to continue the Fed’s expansive monetary policy, most observers consider it all but inevitable that as the economy improves, quantitative easing will be cut back…pressuring interest rates to rise (and last month the Federal Reserve made a $10 billion cut in its economic stimulus program).

Two other factors likely to weigh heavily on future price moves are foreclosures and negative equity. As real estate prices increase, the number of Frankford homeowners whose homes register negative equity will steadily decrease. An improving economy will also mean that foreclosure rates continue to decline.

Predictions for the Year Ahead

According to Zillow’s national Home Value Forecast, homeowners can expect residential real estate prices to rise 4.8% across the nation through the end of the year. Economists also expects that inventory—the number of homes offered for sale—will increase as more sellers are encouraged by higher prices and new home construction ramps up.

All in all, it’s easy to see why overall expectations are for this to be a solid year for residential home price increases—even taking into account expectations for rises in interest rates and housing inventory. Exactly when is, of course, something that’s impossible to predict.  While this year isn’t expected to duplicate the spectacular gains of the past two years, all indications are that it will wind up being another good year for homeowners in Frankford. 

In case the forecasts have you wondering what your home is now worth, why not contact me today to discuss your own home’s prospects in this month’s active market?

Real estate agents in Frankford are true veterans when it comes to every aspect of what needs to take place for a home to be sold. We know in advance what all the pieces of the puzzle are, and what needs to be done for them to fit together properly. We’ve also seen why some homes stay on the market for too long, while others get snatched up right away. And the best part is—we want our clients to know all those same things!

Every rule may be made to be broken, but here are three generalities that just about every Frankford real estate agent will probably agree are worth knowing:

1. Where speed is important, price your house just under the market. As real estate values strengthen, sellers are growing more confident about the value of their offerings—even as prospective buyers continue to believe it’s a bargain-hunter’s market. That’s a terrific opportunity for sellers who realize that by simply setting their asking price just below what an optimistic, “let’s just see what happens” price, they can peg their offering to attract the serious buyers ASAP. It’s axiomatic: the longer a house is on the market, the less likely it is to close at its asking price. The best strategy, always: sell as quickly as possible.

2. A buyer needs to walk into your house and find that it looks great. It may seem like a trivial detail to you, but real estate agents in Frankford know that even incidental atmospherics—little things that you’d think a buyer would know they can easily rectify—can instantaneously repel buyers. So make your home smell great! Establish a clean, fresh scent and be diligent in renewing it for every showing (after making sure any clutter is tucked away!)

3. Your Frankford real estate agent will help speed the process of selling your home, but there are some parts of the timeline that can’t be rushed. Know in advance: the process takes time. It takes time to get your home in shape, make the necessary repairs, list it on the market, negotiate an offer, then proceed through all the paperwork, observing successive deadlines set to allow proper execution. Here’s another area where your real estate agent will be a great resource for dependably establishing exactly what to expect—and when to expect it.

If you will be seeking the right Frankford real estate agent to make this season your own hot selling season, I’m standing by to make it happen. Call me!

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.

This year presented us with major changes to mortgage lending rules. These new guidelines aim to curb some of the excesses that occurred during the sub-prime years—hopefully resulting in a lower risk of default and foreclosure by borrowers and a healthier real estate climate for everyone.

QM: “Qualified Mortgage”

This all came about as one offshoot of the Dodd-Frank legislation that went into effect in 2014. It creates a new category, “Qualified Mortgage.” Lending institutions are required to document each loan they deem to be a QM; when they do, they benefit by being able to sell them to Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac, and are protected from legal action in the event of a future default.

The reason that these changes won’t keep most borrowers from getting a Frankford loan is that loans that don’t qualify (“Non-QM” loans) will still be offered by some banks—they’ll simply keep them on their own books.

Ability-to-Repay Rule

The bedrock requirement for a QM is an evaluation of the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio. That’s the projection of debts divided by income on a month-to-month basis — especially important when getting a Frankford loan with a variable interest rate. If it seems to you that this calculation makes common sense for any loan—I’m in your camp! The reason a bank might choose to issue a loan that does not meet the letter of this requirement could be their analysis that the percentages dictated by the rules are too strict for a particular borrower.

Risky Business

A Qualified Mortgage can’t have any of the risky factors that were hallmarks of the mortgage meltdown. Included are “no” or “low-doc” loans; loans with terms longer than 30 years, interest-only loans, and those with minimum payments that don’t keep pace with interest rates, causing the loan balance to increase.

So: what’s the bottom line for buyer’s intent on getting a loan in Frankford this year?

The good news: most loans will go through as before (estimates are about 95% of them). But more paperwork and longer processing times are likely, and since fees and charges for a QM cannot exceed 3% of the mortgage, getting a smaller loan might become more difficult if banks determine they can’t make a profit.

In any case, coming prepared is still the best insurance that your loan goes through as smoothly as possible. If you’re looking to buy a home in Frankford this season, I’ll help make sure your preparation is first-rate! 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.