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 LeeAnn@LeeAnnGroup.com, or call her at 302-645-6664 for information on living at the beach.