When you first go shopping for an Ocean View home, loan budgeting—figuring out how much a comfortable monthly mortgage payment would be—pretty much dictates the price range you will be considering. Some listings do the lion’s share of the home loan budgeting work for you through a ‘payment options’ box that provides a thumbnail mortgage payment calculation. You enter a percentage for the down payment, amount, and the type of loan—and at the speed of light it calculates an estimate for the monthly payment. Those that also include the latest property tax bill and an insurance estimate come up with a pretty definite picture of how affordable a given property will be.

An associated cost that home loan budgeting alone doesn’t address is the additional operating cost every homeowner runs into—the maintenance figure. Since those costs are dependent on the type and condition of the property, most experts just advise future homeowners to anticipate 1% of the purchase price per year…a transparently made up number. There are a couple of approaches that can improve on it.

The first way is to invest in a home warranty, which has a set cost. Home warranties are the forms of insurance that cover the repair or replacement of covered items. This can be a relatively economical way new Ocean View homeowners can buy some budgetary peace of mind while familiarizing themselves with the ins and outs of their new Ocean View home. But it’s also an occasion where it’s particularly important to read the fine print—the only way to be clear on what is covered, what is not, and what the deductibles are. It’s also important to get an idea of who the subcontractors will be.

The other way to get a bead on likely future maintenance outlays is to anticipate likely major replacement costs. Wood shake roofs, for instance, should last about 30 years, while fiber cement shingles last five years less (and rough weather conditions can lop years off those life expectancies). Wood floors last a century, as can marble and slate—while carpet usually needs to be replaced every eight to 10 years.

When it comes to included appliances, most Ocean View homeowners will agree that today’s models just don’t seem to last as long as they used to. It may be because electronics have added improved functionality…or it may be a result of flimsier manufacturing. At any rate, the National Association of Homebuilders’ research tells us that dryers (both gas and electric) have average life expectancies of 13 years—as do cooktops, electric ranges, and fridges. Washing machines last an average of 10 years; while microwave ovens last 9 years—as do dishwashers and compact refrigerators. Freezers last 11 years, garbage disposals, 12…but (uh-oh!) trash compactors average only 6. If the previous owner can furnish original warranties or purchase slips, it should be able to come up with a ballpark idea of when to expect replacement outlays.

Home loan budgeting will deliver the all-important mortgage payment amount, but it’s prudent to leave ample some budget for the other inevitable expenses. But first things first—and calling me is a good way to start. Finding a Ocean View home to fit all your requirements (including the budgetary ones) is, after all, job One!  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

You know what the “wow factor” is for any Ocean View home that’s for sale—it’s the extra something that’s highly desirable and unique to the property. It could be a three-story entry hall, or a game room that’s large enough for a pool table and a conversation pit. It might be a home theater with four stepped rows of velvet-upholstered movie house seats. It might be a bricked backyard barbecue arena, with a step-down standing pit which puts the Chef of the day at eye level with the seated guests.

And you also know what a Ocean View fixer-upper is. It’s any Ocean View property that is up for sale at a bargain price due to maintenance that is left for the new owner to worry about. A Ocean View fixer-upper is an opportunity for prospective buyers to become owners of homes that would otherwise be out of their price range. Fixer-uppers attract prospects who are ready to dig into projects that take varying degrees of elbow grease, imagination—and also some extra cash.

There’s an element of risk that’s usually attached to a fixer-upper, because any major maintenance or remodeling project can run into unknown snags. So fixer-upper buyers should also possess some degree of courage!

Sooooo, what in the world could the “fixer-upper wow factor” mean?

For one thing, any Ocean View home that’s listed for sale that has the ‘fixer-upper wow factor’ is a rare bird indeed. It is, as the title conveys, a residence in need of restoration—but which also has a design element (or elements) which are uniquely captivating. For prospective buyers who find those features intriguing, such a property can prove pretty irresistible. The price puts it within reach—and the design is better than anything they had been hoping to find!

In other words, a home that has the ‘fixer-upper wow factor’ is, potentially, a trap.

This is not to say that such a property cannot be a true bargain; lucky find; etc. Indeed, for the right buyer, it certainly can be. The caveat is that a fixer-upper with wow factor features can lure in prospects who aren’t really prepared for the ‘fixing up’ part. If they lack the extra funds it may take to bring the property back up to snuff—or lack the know-how, patience, or time such a project requires—they might be charmed into biting off more than they can chew. With indigestible results: a perpetually-unfinished property characterized more ‘yccch’ than ‘wow.’

Luckily, most prospective buyers who fall into this category get over the wow factor after a second or third visit—or after a discussion with their Realtor®—or after taking a look at the home inspector’s report. For those who are ready to dig into the fixer-upperness, they can end up with a wow of a home…at a wow of a price!

There aren’t a surplus of Ocean View fixer-uppers with wow on the market right now—but when you take today’s mortgage interest rates into account, there are plenty of wow-producing good bargains: call me! 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 an unplanned and unwelcome financial situation develops, a Ocean Viewmortgage-holder can find himself or herself in the onerous position of being unable to keep up with the monthly home loan payments. If the unhappy situation continues long enough, the likely result is a foreclosure or short sale. In addition to losing the property, the impact on personal credit then takes years to undo. That means it takes that much longer for a consumer to acquire a new home and start to build equity again.

Here as elsewhere, there were a raft of such Ocean Viewmortgage defaults following the global financial meltdown. Even those who had no trouble servicing their area mortgages could have suffered when they found that falling property values prevented them from refinancing—even when the purpose was to improve their property. Although those events happened years ago, it’s only now that their aftereffects are finally working their way out of the system.

A recent article in NMP—the national Mortgage Professional’s magazine—delved into the changing status of those who lost homes in the turndown. The details they researched are interesting in themselves—details that are bound to have an impact on Ocean Viewresidential sales.

First off is the fact that enough time has elapsed for those who weathered a short sale or foreclosure to begin to return to eligibility. They’re called “Boomerang Buyers”—and nationwide, there are estimated to be 7,300,000 of them! In 2016 alone, more than a million will become eligible to return to the home-buying market. According to NMP, “they’re returning to the market in droves.” The hardest-hit states were Nevada, Florida and Illinois—but there are plenty of Boomerang Buyers scattered across the rest of the nation.

The improving mortgage eligibility landscape extends beyond those who suffered the actual loss of their homes. To the more than 7 million “distressed” homeowners whose properties are still underwater (those who owe more than market value), the government’s HARP 2 program is one possible remedy. Its guidelines encourage lenders to relax the loan-to-value caps that had prevented refinancing for many of those homeowners. Reports are that it has already resulted in an increase in such refinances.

Other program combinations are helping loan originators and Realtors® get more bank-owned homes back into homeowners’ hands. These are properties that make up the ‘shadow inventory’ of unsold homes, many of which have fallen into disrepair. Because of that, they’ve been difficult to finance—and therefore difficult to sell. Through FHA 203K and Fannie Mae’s Homestyle® renovation mortgages, more ambitious prospective owners—including investors—are discovering they now have mortgage options that can put those fixer-uppers within reach.

For those who have previously found it problematic to secure a Ocean Viewmortgage with acceptable terms, it may be worth looking into today’s improved financing alternatives. Especially with mortgage interest rates at the levels we’re seeing this fall, what you find may be a pleasant surprise—one that puts you into the house of your dreams. Call me to discuss first steps!    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.

In Ocean View real estate, there are happy words (“sold!”) and there are troubling words (“default”). Because of the associations they conjure up, some phrases just automatically make us happier. Two of the leaders in the positive category are the magical words, ‘vacation home.’ All by themselves, they can trigger a smile. Why not? “Home” is comforting; “vacation” is fun. Put them together in “vacation home” and you’ve got a double positive. It’s a real estate equivalent of Jimmy Buffett’s Cheeseburger in Paradise.

As the economy recovers, some American families are doing more than just smiling at the idea. The Wall Street Journal says that vacation home sales jumped more than 50% in 2014—up from 717,000 the year before. Quicken Loans reports a jump “in both the number and dollar volume of second home mortgage applications.”

To a Ocean View homeowner with sufficient wherewithal, there are some practical, real life incentives for moving the idea from daydream to the ‘to do’ list. The primary motivation is what comes first to mind. Just as a vacation is a welcome respite from the day-to-day, a vacation home needs to qualify as a destination that is pleasurable in itself. Where that could be differs for everyone, but whether it be the beach, desert, mountain, lake, cultural metropolis or outdoor sporting mecca, any Ocean View homeowner’s vacation home should be a haven inherently suited to relieving the stress of the workaday world. Although it would seem to be properly classified as a pure luxury expense, vacation homes can be more financially sensible than that.

The Kiplinger web site has a number of observations for vacation home buyers. It finds that some mortgage interest rates on second homes have lowered to first-home rates. Another alternative is the “favorite source” for all-cash purchases: a home equity line of credit. According to Kiplinger, “Mortgage interest on a second home is deductible on as much a $1 million in principal for both homes combined.” If lenders calculate eligibility via the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, a borrower’s total debt payments should not exceed 36% of gross income…but if the second home is to be rented, that income can be part of the calculation.

Which brings up some other possibilities. A vacation home can not only cut down on vacation expenses (hotel and restaurant prices are rising, after all); if rented out some of the time, it can contribute offsets to its cost. To take advantage of IRS rules regarding personal versus rental classification, you should consult a tax expert. Since a quarter of vacation homes are rented out at least some of the year, it’s a tactic that deserves investigation.

Perhaps the advantage that’s talked about most for second home buyers is the contribution it can make toward retirement. If a retiree ultimately converts a vacation home to principal residence, profits from the former home can make a handsome contribution to the retirement nest egg. And if by retirement time that vacation home has been paid for in whole, it can make for an even more pleasing financial picture.

For an Ocean View resident with sufficient resources, purchasing a vacation home can be a practical as well as emotionally sustaining venture. If it sounds like an idea worth investigating further, talk it over with your financial advisor—and I’ll be standing by to help with any and all real estate considerations!   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