As this season’s controversies swirl through Washington, one of them seems likely to wind up being at the top of the heap: federal income taxes. Whether or not they will be simplified (hopefully) or lowered (ummm—probably?) will be sorted out in due time, but one detail is a lead pipe cinch: when the dust clears, the real estate tax advantage will remain.

If any politician is thinking about eliminating the real estate tax advantage, he or she is wisely being very quiet about it. For good reason: that’s an idea that would probably lead to a quick retirement from public life courtesy of many displeased voters. Certainly, that’s likely to be the case as far as Delaware homeowners and home buyers are concerned.

I don’t provide financial or tax advice, but some of the long-standing real estate tax advantages are well-known and detailed on Uncle Sam’s public sites. The headline tax benefits of homeownership explains their widespread support—among them:

  • The mortgage interest deduction (up to $1 million) on first mortgages is one that speaks for itself—and speaks loudly. Per software provider CCH, depending on their adjusted gross incomes, in 2013 average taxpayers wrote off anywhere from $7,780 to $17,060.
  • Over and above the first mortgage interest payments, an additional deduction for interest on home equity loans of up to $100,000 can apply.
  • Additionally, real estate taxes can be deducted in the year they are paid—as can mortgage origination fees.
  • When qualifying Delaware residences are sold, profits of up to $250, 000 (twice that for married joint filers) may be excluded from the seller’s federal capital gains tax.
  • For investment properties operated as rentals, there are other qualified expenses that can be tax deductible: your tax advisor will detail the rules.

Finance blogger Bob Christman’s recent “Real Estate Markets on the Mend article centered on the  real estate tax advantage being key to why “more Americans may be in a position to buy or sell properties in 2017.” He listed more reasons, but for Delaware taxpayers, the tax ramifications can be persuasive—and another good reason to give me a call to explore today’s market! 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

For more than a year, it’s been the happy trend across the nation for the average DOM (days on market) for residential properties to have been declining. It’s a “speed of sale” measure—one that most Delaware home sellers hope will reflect that it won’t be long before they are handing the keys to happy new owners.

There are some ruling considerations that go into establishing a winning Delaware asking price. One is psychological: thinking of a buyer’s frame of mind, most people don’t want to be the only ones who are interested in a house. When a slightly lower-than-comparable asking price is part of the marketing message, it draws a crowd. Another consideration is the search bracket. Knowing how buyers tend to bracket price range parameters for similar Delaware homes is something I can help with. If comparable homes have been selling in a range that tops out at $400,000, asking $410,000 (so you can discount it in later negotiations) is a mistake: your property won’t even appear on search results you’re aiming for. 

It is said that pricing is an ongoing discussion—something that holds true if the activity level is less than expected. In every dissertation, oration, article, comment, FAQ, and essay about successful house sales, the dictum is the same: if the place doesn’t sell, first check the asking price.

Sometimes that truism can seem indisputable. If the property in question has been listed at an asking price that’s higher than comparable Delaware houses—other homes that have sold—unless outside factors have slowed all area sales, the asking price is probably the stumbling block. A homeowner can quite reasonably object that their property has unusual qualities that make direct comparisons with other Delaware homes inexact, but that logic may not be powerful enough to counter the market figures that buyers can see (remember that they don’t want to be the only ones who are interested). Sometimes even for a home that shows spectacularly, lowering the asking price can be the simplest and quickest route to a “sold” sign on the front lawn.

In the case of those Delaware homes where Delaware asking price conformity isn’t the issue—as when there simply are no other properties that are at all similar—if lowering the asking price is not indicated, it will simply become a waiting game: waiting for the buyer who appreciates the special character of the property. The good news is that there IS a buyer out there for every property; the bad news is that unique properties attract unique buyers—as in, there are fewer of them. But there is some second good news: when they do show up, they are apt to fall in love with the place!

Pricing is part math and part skill, and since the market is constantly changing, it’s a skill that rewards experience tempered by consistent monitoring. I monitor Delaware real estate full time so I can provide the most timely assistance and advice in all phases of selling and buying. I hope you’ll 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

There’s a reason that Georgetown home loan providers sometimes choose to lead their ads with a ‘lock’ provision. They know that potential clients likely to be enticed by low Georgetown mortgage rate numbers are fairly sophisticated—they know that today’s mortgage rate is not necessarily tomorrow’s. By the time a home loan is finalized, the headlined number could be less favorable; hence, the ‘lock’ guarantees.

For quite a while—years, actually— Georgetown mortgage rates have behaved themselves pretty much the way we’d like. There may have been occasional minor upticks, but seldom any that would cause serious consternation. The interest rate hikes which some experts had predicted for 2014 and 2015 never seemed to materialize: every notch up was followed by notches back down. Mortgage rate volatility disappeared as a topic of interest from real estate and financial pages. What discussion there was tended to be predictable: rates would certainly have to rise, sooner or later—but later was (yawn) a lot more likely. It was pretty much All Quiet on the Mortgage Front…zzzzzzzzzz….

Until last week, which provided a definite wakeup call. It was a textbook example of how mercurial mortgage rates can turn—and how right those were who have been championing financing and/or refinancing while rates are in the historically low range.

The week started out quietly enough. In the previous week, before the Federal Reserve’s 2-day meeting, consumer mortgage rates were, per themortgagereport website, “scraping new lows, bestowing refinance opportunities on homeowners and boosting the purchasing power for buyers” across the nation. As usual, the Fed get-together provided hints that the Fed Funds rate would certainly have to rise, sooner or later…and although sooner did seem to be jostling later for consideration. It had been a possibility for so long, the usual carefully-worded announcement failed to raise undue concern. Yawns had to be stifled.

Until Friday, when the Non-Farm Payroll report hit the snoozing nation like a tornado in January. It crushed the forecasts. It was stellar. This was as unexpected as, per FuturesMag writer Matt Weller, it was “essentially perfect.”  The world’s largest economy had created a “stunning” 271,000 jobs. What was not to like?

For those who were banking on mortgage interest rates remaining frozen in the cellar, there was a lot not to like. The strong news made the Fed much more likely to finally raise the Fed Funds rate next month! Web headlines were screaming within minutes: “Bad Day for Mortgage Rates; Non-Farm Payrolls Soar” and “Non-farm payroll paves the way for a Fed rate hike in December.The Washington Post even came up with “This settles it: The Fed is going to raise interest rates in December.” That may be far from certain, but quoted home loan rates did begin to rise in anticipation. By the close of business on Friday, the Mortgage News Daily observed rates that were the highest since July.

What does this mean for Georgetown mortgage interest rates? If the now wide-awake experts are credible, it looks as if taking advantage of still-low rates is likely to prove advantageous. There are never any guarantees, but for anyone intending a move that involves a home loan, it might not be a bad idea to give me a call—sooner rather than later! 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

Whenever the words “reverse mortgage” are uttered, any Georgetown TV viewer immediately makes the connection with one of several celebrity spokesmen who blanket the airwaves with commercials touting the concept. If you listen carefully, those reverse mortgage ads do actually describe the product with legal accuracy. If you have the standard degree of sales resistence most of us have developed after years of exposure to Madison Avenue pitches, you probably guess that instead of relying solely upon the celebrity spokesman’s trustworthiness, you’d better investigate further before running out and applying. Most people do.

So it was surprising when the government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found it necessary to issue a special advisory on the subject. Potential Georgetown reverse mortgage applicants—that is, Georgetown homeowners who meet the minimum age requirement of 62 ½—were warned “not to be deceived” by the “late night TV ads that seem too good to be true.” Without quibbling with the CFPB about when those commercials appear (you can see them almost any time after about 3 p.m.), it is easy to see how they might create broadly mistaken impressions on at least two counts. And it’s too bad, because although a reverse mortgage can be a useful instrument, it really can have nightmarish consequences for someone who doesn’t fully understand the concept and its ramifications.

The warnings were the result of the consumer watchdog organization’s focus group study that showed many viewers coming away with misimpressions following screenings of the ads. Many did not understand that a reverse mortgage is a loan. Others got the impression that a reverse mortgage is a government benefit—and worse, some thought it guaranteed that consumers could stay in their homes for the rest of their lives.

The fact is, these loans are simply a specialized way seniors can tap into their home’s equity: the value that has built up over the years. It’s true that they are designed so that the homeowners do not have to repay the loan until he or she passes away, sells or moves out—but it’s no guarantee that other factors (like taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and maintenance expenses) might not still cause a default should the borrower run out of money.

There are other fine print details that are not mentioned in most of the ads…and they’re every bit as important as the terms of any loan. Among those that are barely touched upon are the fact that there are costs and interest provisions attached to reverse mortgages—and the CFPB finds them to be relatively expensive.

Most Georgetown homeowners are probably skeptical enough of any “too good to be true” pitch to automatically take a harder look—especially when it involves their Georgetown home’s equity. If you have questions about financial matters having to do with that equity, your best bet is to discuss the details with a trusted financial advisor or a federally-approved housing counselor. And for any other questions about Georgetown real estate, you needn’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.