Interest rates may have been rising, but they are still invitingly low. As a consequence, some Delaware homeowners are looking to refinance their mortgages to lock in interest rates while they can. A key element in both refinancing and home sales is, of course, the formal appraisal.

Most homeowners regard the appraisal process as a spectator activity: the appraiser comes, checks out the house, goes back to the office and writes up an appraisal. But, as with most of life’s endeavors, taking a proactive stance is more likely to garner the best results. When it comes to the appraisal, there are several factors that you do control.

First — before you even call in the appraiser — prep the house. Now is the time to address any flaws that could materially affect the valuation. Next, be sure to select an appraisal company with local ties. Appraisers who live and work outside the area are typically more likely to render a conservative valuation. Having less familiarity with the neighborhood breeds’ some caution. An appraiser from Long Neck will be aware of the local amenities and attractions which make a property more desirable.

If you have made significant improvements to the property, point them out to the appraiser. Organize evidence proving what you spent for each. If you can provide ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos, provide copies the appraiser can take with him. This is particularly important for improvements such as heating or cooling systems: they can add considerable value to an appraisal, but are difficult to see.

Don’t leave it up to your appraiser to find comparables for your property – you (or me, if I am your agent) can provide the ones that tell the story you want it told. Comps are particularly important if you can find properties that have sold without an agent — the appraiser may not have access to these. It’s not unknown for an appraiser to accidentally miss one or two that are similar to your property and well priced. Why leave it to chance?

For this and any other real estate questions, I’m always pleased to offer experienced guidance. 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.

It could be considered a magic trick that will have the audience gasping in disbelief: turning one of your child’s college expenses into (drum roll, please)…a profit!

Setting the stage for this trick will take some doing. Consider the magician to be the parent of a Long Neck high school age child. This should be someone who subscribes to the overall philosophy of regarding every potential catastrophe as nothing more than a well-disguised opportunity.

When this magician reads that college tuition and fees are now $22,000-$30,000 per year, and that the average cost of room and board in 2013-2014 will range from $9,500 at a 4-year public college to $10,830 at a private school, he doesn’t quake in terror. Instead, he thinks, “opportunity!

After all, this is someone who sees a lemon and thinks “lemonade,” so when he considers sending a son or daughter off to college, he thinks, “what a terrific real estate investment opportunity!”

Believe it or not, that’s what some parent-magicians have done—although, for sure, it’s a strategy that takes the right props: a combination of institution, neighborhood, child and available capital—plus the willingness to do the homework every good real estate investment takes. With all of them in place, it’s more than possible to actually incubate a long-term gain from an ever-more-expensive college foray.

Buying an investment property that will house your child plus a select crew of roommates can do more than ensure that they have a safe and comfortable place to concentrate on their studies. The calculation is almost as straightforward as any other rental opportunity: for kids who will live away from home, over a four year period, average accommodations will run between $36,000-$42,000. Aside from the offspring’s undying gratitude, that normally comes as a straight loss. If an off-campus residence is acquired as a real estate investment, that same outlay could (presto! chango!) turn into a substantial deposit on a rental property that the family owns.

You don’t have to be Harry Houdini to investigate the benefits any Long Neck real estate investment can bring—nor one that could magically appear if your high scholar is accepted to an out-of-town college.

The possibility of a real estate investment should always be a card up your sleeve when you think about building your retirement portfolio.  

Savvy shoppers; don’t sit on the sidelines, 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.