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Beach market is heating up like the weather

Find an agent and start your house hunt

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beach home, gay news, Washington Blade
Buyers in nearby coastal Delaware are looking for a wide array of homes, from rentals to downsized retirement properties.

Probably the No. 1 question I hear from clients, both brand new customers and clients who have bought and sold multiple beach properties (and there are quite a few!), is: “How’s the market?” I love answering this question because I really love talking about real estate. Also, responding to this question helps real estate agents like myself consider not only buyers’ interests and expectations, but how best to market our sellers’ homes. So, it’s win-win!

The answer to “how’s the market” really depends on what you’re looking for: People buy and sell beach real estate to retire, downsize, move into a bigger home, get closer to the water, buy a primary home, second home/beach house, or purely to invest for rental income. The answer to this question at any given time depends on your specific real estate goals.

Generally, the answer today is that the market is heating up like the weather. It may seem like beach Realtors make this claim like meteorologists to draw people to the beach (sunny all weekend), however homes that are priced well are in fact going quickly this spring, probably much like the D.C. market. As an example, in the past few weeks, we have had several properties go under contract within days of going on the market and have been involved in several multiple offer situations. In-town Lewes and Rehoboth Beach homes are in demand, as are pristine, move-in perfect homes. Spring and summer are great times to look since inventory tends to be highest this time of year.

My team tracks statistics annually on Lewes home and lot sales, including the average ‘days on market.’ In 2018, this number shrunk by 50 percent – from 160 days in 2017 to 81 days in 2018. That trend continues so far this year. Given the recent ‘days on market’ for well-priced, well-located homes, I would recommend contacting a local real estate agent as soon as you see something you like online.

Here are a few of the other great questions buyers ask:

“Do I need an agent if I’m looking at new construction?” I wish I would hear this question more often – because the answer is YES! And you have plenty of new communities to choose from if you are shopping for a brand new home. As a buyer, it costs you nothing to work with a Realtor but you get someone working for you – with your interests in mind – paid by the seller (or the builder, in the case of new construction). Many on-site sales representatives work exclusively for the builder, and are not required to be licensed Realtors. At least in our relatively small beach market, most agents have worked with these sales centers before and already have a rapport with these folks.  

“Should I call my own (out of town) bank or should I use a local lender?” Most real estate agents would prefer that you work with local lenders and other professionals that know the nuances of our coastal Delaware market. Of course, some lenders in D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc., may understand and have experience here, but if you have a relationship with someone you want to use for your Delaware home purchase, it is really important that he or she keeps close contact with your Delaware Realtor. Finding the home is often the ‘easy’ part. A lender who’s up to speed on things unique to our Delaware market (leased land, for example) will help you get to closing. Ask your agent for a few recommendations for mortgage lenders – they’ll be glad to help.

“Where do I start?” If you are starting to dip your toes in the waters of beach real estate, you will naturally begin with an online search. Last year, the Sussex County Association of Realtors switched to Bright MLS, which feeds to all of the local real estate company sites like ours (LeeAnnGroup.com), as well as to Zillow, realtor.com, etc., and casts a wide net of properties available in Delaware and into Maryland. Of course, searching online can give you a great overview of price ranges in different communities and towns, and virtual tours. By the time new buyers call or email us, they have often picked out a few specific homes to see. Technology is a great supplement to home buying, but we invite you to reach out to our local real estate agents. Especially in our fast-paced spring market, we know what is going under contract and we know about homes that are about to go on the market and can get you a first/early look.

Our team’s focus and specialty, like many of our local colleagues, is to keep the “real” in real estate – and nothing takes the place of an actual conversation to understand what you are looking for and how we can help you get that home at the beach.

Lee Ann Wilkinson is a Realtor and CEO of The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty, the top-selling real estate team in Delaware and #4 nationally for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Visit LeeAnnGroup.com, email [email protected], or call her at 302-645-6664 for information on living at the beach.

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Real Estate

Consider buying a beach house with a group of friends 

A lawyer can ensure everyone’s rights are protected

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Enjoy weekends at the beach? Why not invest with a group of friends?

A trend that we are seeing across the boards (get it…like boardwalk) as we head into summer, aside from the swimsuits getting smaller and smaller, is friends buying homes together. Buying a property with another individual is not only an option for those in a relationship, marriage, domestic partnership, business etc. but also friendships.

With the pandemic and the increase of people wanting to move out of their small spaces in the city and leave for the more bucolic settings, the trend has been to ask your roomie, kiki partner or other friend to go halfsies on your primary residence. Why pay rent when you can have an investment and build equity in your home, right? Well why not take that approach for a second home at the beach? You will likely have the beach house to entertain and have friends over for weekends or weeks during the summer so let’s get them on the hook for more than just a few bottles of vodka or boxed wine. Let’s get their names on that mortgage.

With the rising market prices your borrowing power is stronger as a collective. Think of your group that you head to the beach with. How many of those folks would love to have a space at the beach? Likely all of them. If you can only afford $200k but three of your best friends can also only afford $200k then collectively you can afford $800k. Using simple terms and numbers here, but I trust you are tracking. 

Now that you have found those select few that you implicitly, or mostly implicitly trust and are financially stable let’s now consider the actual items that matter in practice such as (1) how you will split up days, weeks etc., (2) how and who handles/coordinates repairs to the property, (3) what happens if you no longer enjoy this person or someone wants out of the house and they’re on the mortgage? This is where a lawyer comes into place and can advise on creating an operating agreement similar to what a business or corporation would have in place to ensure that all parties in the home are protected and each has their own rights as well as common rights for the home.

I know what you’re thinking, this sounds a little dicey, but I know if you’re reading this, that you have likely been in dicier situations, and for those who really want a beach house to enjoy but might not have the capital to do so, this is a great option. Instead of renting a beach house for the season and paying high season beaucoup bucks, why not get a few friends together to buy a beach house together?

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s international Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well-versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243, [email protected] or BurnsandNoble.com.

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Real Estate

How do Federal Reserve decisions impact mortgage rates?

Don’t panic, recent increases not as dire as some fear

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Will the increased rates mean fewer buyers? Not necessarily.

Recently, the real estate market has been incredibly active. In many neighborhoods, it seems that a for sale sign is scarcely placed in the front yard before multiple offers, even some above asking price, roll in. In many cases, this was made possible by relatively low mortgage rates, which enticed buyers to get into the market and make those offers. Recently, however, there have been concerns about the state of the economy and increased inflation – furthered by the recent news that the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates.

This increase has understandably left many potential homebuyers wondering – what does this mean for mortgage rates, and my ability to obtain the loan I need to purchase a home? It has also left sellers asking – will the increased rates mean fewer buyers? Will it be harder to sell? These are important questions to ask. While no one has a crystal ball, many remain hopeful that the real estate market will continue to thrive. Let’s take a closer look at why together.

The Federal Reserve – Why it Matters

The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States, and among its many functions, it essentially guides the national economy. Part of that mission is keeping inflation under control. Recently, in an attempt to slow ever-increasing inflation, the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates by half a percentage point. Short-term interest rates are essentially the interest rates that banks charge one another for short-term loans.

It’s been some time since the Federal Reserve has made a move of that nature – slightly more than 20 years in fact, with the last such increase occurring in 2000. The Fed also indicated that more adjustments may be planned before the end of the year. Certainly, this raises the question – what does this mean for mortgage rates?

Federal Interest Rates Vs. Mortgage Rates

It’s important to understand that the Federal Reserve does not actually set mortgage rates – there is in fact no such thing as a “federal mortgage rate.” Ultimately, the decisions of the Federal Reserve don’t directly impact mortgage rates in the same manner as with other products, like savings accounts or CDs, for example. Mortgage rates generally respond both to the actions of the Federal Reserve, as well as to the general movement of both the United States and global economies, so there are many factors to consider.

Nevertheless, those in the mortgage industry do closely monitor the actions of the Federal Reserve, and certainly, how much buyers pay for a home loan is influenced by those decisions. As a very rough rule of thumb, for every one point increase by the Fed, your buying power goes down by $100,000.

When the Federal Reserve makes it more expensive for banks to borrow by setting a higher federal funds rate, the banks typically pass on those higher costs to their customers. This ultimately means that interest rates on consumer borrowing, which includes mortgage rates, tend to go up.

Keeping it in Perspective

While any increase in mortgage rates may not be welcome news for buyers, it’s important to keep these increases in perspective. Historically, the current interest rate, which is around 5 to 6%, depending on whether you have a 15 or 30-year mortgage, is still very low and very favorable for buyers. At the end of the 1970s, for example, interest rates were hovering near 10%, only to ultimately reach an all-time high of about 16.5% in 1981 before eventually decreasing. Throughout the 1980s, however, mortgage interest rates remained near 10% – nearly twice what they are today.

Another potential silver lining is that increased rates may also mean increased inventory – which is certainly good news for buyers. While rates are still historically very low, the increase may nevertheless mean that there are more available homes to choose from, as the number of buyers in the market decreases overall. This could be a refreshing change of pace for those buyers who felt that they had minimal choices in a highly competitive market.

While this may not be the most welcome news for sellers, it’s not necessarily bad news either. As rates are still relatively low, there will still likely be plenty of potential buyers out there. When the present market is compared to the course of the real estate market over the last several decades, now is still an excellent time to sell.

At GayRealEstate.com, we are passionate about helping LGBTQ home buyers and sellers through every aspect of the real estate process – and that includes more than just buying and selling. It also includes addressing the important issues in the real estate market that matter to you the most. We believe in the importance of connecting LGBTQ buyers and sellers with talented and dedicated agents who can help. We also believe in ensuring that our clients feel informed, prepared, and knowledgeable about all aspects of the real estate process. You deserve nothing less. Whatever your real estate needs, we’re here to help.

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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Real Estate

Rain. On. Me? Flooding a common concern among buyers

Always ask your insurance agent if you have the coverage you need

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Worried about moisture intrusion? If you’re buying a home, you should be.

One of the many concerns buyers of homes and condos have are moisture intrusion and how well the building is prepared for floods, heavy rains, burst pipes and if they have installed sump pumps and other things to help with moisture intrusion.

To find out how to handle these situations I had a call with a local insurance agent and asked her to give me her advice about being able to make sure you are covered if there is any type of water event that costs you money as a home owner.

In a condo, you will have the master insurance policy that will help if something outside of the walls of your home causes a moisture intrusion. You will also have your own homeowner’s insurance. The agent that I spoke to said to always make sure you SPEAK to your insurance agent and ask specifically about what is covered and what is not. Just getting an internet quote is not the same. There are also third-party companies that can help cover conditions that are considered “exceptions” by the insurance company so you are going to want be educated on that.

There is a difference between being in a flood plain, having a pipe burst, water leaking in around windows, having water back up into a home and having a sump pump fail. There is also a difference in the types of coverage you can get for these situations.

They are all filed under different types of claims, and you will want your insurance agent to walk you through the various types of protections you can purchase and if you need additional protection from a third-party company. A recent inquiry by a client of mine resulted in him being told that his property was not in a flood zone so the basement (which is finished) would not be brought back to its current condition. Only drywall would be replaced.

Always ask your insurance agent if you have the coverage you need and please shop around. Water issues seem to happen more frequently, so you want to be prepared. I am always available to discuss homeownership and how to make that happen – feel free to reach out.

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with The Rutstein Group at Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or [email protected].

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