April 3, 2020 at 5:19 pm EDT | by Lee Ann Wilkinson
Beach real estate in the time of coronavirus
Rehoboth Beach quarantine, gay news, Washington Blade
The beaches and boardwalk in Rehoboth remain closed. (Photo courtesy Lee Ann Wilkinson)

Spring at the beach is usually a time of invitations to visit and appointment-setting for local Realtors, of reaching out to potential full-time and second home buyers, and of welcoming you with community tours and beach home showings. Likewise, April is typically one of the busiest months for new listings. People who have been contemplating selling have been making preparations and finishing touches to put their homes on the market. Beach restaurants would typically be ramping up staffing this month, in anticipation of a busy spring of ‘opening weekends’ and of interviewing summer employees.

Of course, this spring, COVID-19 has been an equalizer. Delaware shares the same cautions and government-guided restrictions that D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and surrounding states are experiencing.

Delaware Gov. John Carney has led with this principle: “I don’t want Delaware to be the example of what not to do in response to this crisis. I understand that these restrictions will have real consequences for real people but the consequences of not imposing these restrictions are way too serious.” (Delaware News Journal 3/22/2020)

We would love nothing more than to welcome bustling spring crowds back to the beach. Yet, businesses in Coastal Delaware are united in principle to try to stem the coronavirus tide. The more each of us is on board with social distancing, the faster we will mitigate a farther-reaching health crisis, and the less strain we put on our local healthcare resources. Of course, the effects will be significant. So much of Coastal Delaware’s economy is in hospitality and restaurants, which have truly been devastated by closures and our new normal of take-out only, for those that could adapt. Still, our restaurant community is complying for the health of our community. All of us look forward to being able to support our restaurant industry friends as soon as it’s safe.

In the meantime, our typical Southern Delaware warm welcome is on pause — but I hope not for long. Beaches and the boardwalk are closed to all visitors. Sheltering in place is recommended, with trips limited to essential needs only — for groceries, essential jobs, and medical appointments and prescriptions. Any out-of-state visitors are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, the real estate industry has been fortunate to be able to adapt and provide largely, and surprisingly, uninterrupted service to our clients. Real estate transactions are still happening electronically, through e-signature programs like Docusign and our ability to scan and email documents. Our websites are open 24/7 and online searches can be supplemented with phone and email conversations until we can actually get together in person. While some in-person showings are still permitted, with permission from sellers, we have adapted with FaceTime showings. In general, while we are limiting direct social interaction, we have still written contracts and executed sales over the past few weeks.

Now is a great time to look online and plan for a beach visit this summer. If you already had plans this spring, this link to the Southern Delaware Tourism Office may be helpful to see if those events are canceled or rescheduled: visitsoutherndelaware.com/coronavirus-cancelled-events.

Wishing everyone a safe spring and return to the beach as soon as possible!

Lee Ann Wilkinson is CEO and a Realtor at The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty in Lewes, Del. The group is the #1 sales team in Delaware and #4 nationally for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Visit LeeAnnGroup.com for more information.

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