Real estate offices have been gearing up for the imminent spring selling season, the time when Ocean View listings swell to meet the expected surge in buying activity. I sometimes put quotes around ‘selling season’ because so many factors go into home sales that it can be slightly misleading—we do sell homes all year long, after all!

But there is a lot of truth (and historical verification) to the idea that springtime brings a burst of new Ocean View listings and accompanying selling activity. There can be lots of reasons why that happens, but this past weekend, area homeowners who were reading The Wall Street Journal might have seen some extra reasons to hurry up and add their homes to the Ocean View listings.

Some of those reasons have to do with weather; some with the economy.

The front page of WSJ’s Weekend Edition headlined the first piece of long-awaited good news: “Job Rebound Eases Fears of Spring Stall.” It explained that Friday’s payroll numbers showed upticks despite the widespread harsh weather that should have knocked them down.

Most economists had been on the fence about whether the years-long weak economic recovery would continue. Even though the previous two months of slowing growth had been attributed to the ‘endless winter’ blanketing much of the nation, it wasn’t clear that underlying weakness wasn’t also present. But the sudden improvement in the job picture, even as the weather failed to lighten up, was an unexpected event—one that could “ease worries” about the likelihood of a fundamental slowdown. In fact, forecasters were beginning to project that the negative economic effects due to the unusual weather (estimated at a loss of 1%) may be more than restored when the sun returns. Spring conditions are now expected to add an additional 1.2% to second quarter growth.

Even a slight rise in the unemployment rate was greeted as hopeful news. What sounded like a negative turns out to be the opposite: more people were returning to the workforce, a sure sign that workers see jobs beginning to reappear. Jobs have always been tied to real estate listing and sales activity, so this year, the NAR’s website truism may be on the mark:

“Spring brings rain and flowers – and possibly extra green in the final sales price of your home.”

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.

Right now, mortgage rates in Ocean View (as in the rest of the nation) are higher than they’ve been for 15 months—a trend that’s likely to continue. We have to wonder about the impact higher Ocean View mortgage rates will have on Sussex County home sales in the coming year.

First, some perspective. If mortgage rates do increase in 2014, it’s no ‘done deal’ that home buyers will not be put off— nor that a wave of foreclosures will follow. By past standards, interest rates will still be low, even at the 5½% predicted by the N.A.R. Any hike in mortgage interest rates are coming off the historical 3.52% set in the spring of 2014. Consider: most of us were paying mortgage rates between 7 - 8% throughout the 1990’s! 5½% looks like a fire sale compared with those.

Factor Two: surprisingly, a projected rise in interest rates is not predicted to dampen the enthusiasm for acquiring property. The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that home sales will increase nationally by 10% in 2014. I have no doubt that some Sussex County first time homebuyers could be waylaid by rising interest rates—after all, a 1% increase in mortgage rates equates to approximately a 10% rise in monthly payments. But overall, buyers who can meet the current lending standards should still be able to afford to own. Given the cost of the renting alternative, they may decide they can’t afford to pass up the right house at the right price.

Additionally, there is a strong argument that the principal effect of rising interest rates is less likely to be on Ocean View home sales than on refis. The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that refinancing demand will drop by half in 2014 (when you chart that kind of number, it looks like a cliff!). Many homeowners will already have locked in last year’s interest, so they certainly won’t be interested.

Any drying up of the refinancing business may have yet another effect. There could be a follow-on effect as lenders start loosening their lending criteria to attract new business. First time buyers that have been locked out of the market until then may (we are now two after-effects later, so this has to be a ‘may’) find themselves suddenly eligible for a home loan.

Given the healthier economy and falling unemployment, the outlook for the Ocean View housing market in 2014 has reason to look positive. Thinking of selling your home, now’s the time to 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.

Conventional wisdom dictates that home sellers prefer cash offers. So what is a typical would-be buyer in Ocean View to do when the competition comes forward with an all-cash offer? Cash offers may come from any of a variety of deep-pocketed parties: institutional investors, foreign investors, wealthy families or individual investors.

Beyond doing basic due diligence — gathering as much Intel as you can about the property and the seller’s needs — if you’ve found the perfect home and are convinced it is the best property for your family, consider one or more of these tactics:

Bidding over asking — even by as little as 2% or 3% — can sometimes win the day, according to Noah Rosenblatt, founder of Urban Digs, a real estate analytics company. Cash buyers typically factor in opportunity costs, making it less likely that they will go beyond a certain price threshold. No one wants to pay more for a property than necessary, but going “over asking” may be the only way to secure an ideal property when cash offers are competing.

Removing any contingencies from your offer will help strengthen your position and may well convince a Ocean View seller that you are the party most likely to close successfully. The downside is that you will be assuming whatever risk had been the subject of the contingency in the first place. For example, if you were to submit an offer less any inspection contingencies, you might have to pay more than budgeted down the road if undiscovered repairs crop up.

The seller’s goal is maximize net return, so any term you add that puts more money in the seller’s pocket can sway the decision in your favor. Creative thinking pays. You might offer to pay the seller’s closing costs, cover your own Home Warranty policy, or any other add-on that has the desired effect.

While cash may be king in most cases, there are ways to compete with cash offers in Ocean View. If you are looking for an agent with constructive solutions to help you find and secure the right property, why not 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.