The unofficial start of summer will follow an unconventional set of rules this year at Delaware’s beaches. While our southern neighbors in Ocean City, Md., opened earlier this month, Delaware’s state and local leadership are applying a slower, phased-in approach to continue to stem the spread of coronavirus, assist our local healthcare facilities, and keep communities safe.
What does this mean for “The Nation’s Summer Capital?”
For real estate: We have been fortunate to continue much of our business online and with limited personal contact while following safety guidelines. Our physical offices continue to be closed to visitors and we have majorly scaled back staffing; most are working remotely. Technology has been essential, of course, enabling FaceTime showings and listings, and people continue to buy and sell houses.
Speaking anecdotally for my office, November and December of 2019 and the first few months of 2020 fueled a still-busy March. April was certainly different from Aprils past; however, low interest rates sparked buyers, and sellers who were planning on listing — in one of our typically busiest listing months — have started to move forward and take advantage of the captive online audience of buyers. Overall, prices have been stable, over a dozen of our listings went under contract last week, and the number of new listings is almost on track. Will the trend continue? It is difficult to know, however, we feel it will be a busy summer for Delaware beach real estate, albeit still within a ‘new normal’ of social distancing.
For the community as a whole:
Our beach communities are working hard to balance an economic need to reopen businesses, restaurants, and recreational areas while being dedicated to keeping employees, customers, and the community safe. It is a difficult balance, for sure, especially in an area that thrives on tourism, but we are dipping our toes in the water this weekend.
Here’s what you need to know if you are traveling from out of state:
First, as you likely experience in your own hometown, restrictions are subject to change by the day, depending on how well the public follows them, so if you are making a trip to the beach, please check the latest guidelines on the Governor’s website.
On May 26, Gov. Carney lifted the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors effective June 1.
Additionally, the ban on short-term rentals is lifted effective June 1.
As of Friday, May 22 at 5 p.m.: Lewes and Rehoboth’s beaches and boardwalk are open. People must wear face masks on the boardwalk and in restrooms, maintain a six-foot distance unless with immediate household members, and limit gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
State parks/beaches will reopen, but capacity may be limited. All campgrounds are still closed.
As of June 1: Delaware restaurants and retail shops are scheduled to open their indoor spaces at 30 percent of fire code capacity. Reservations will be required and no bar seating will be allowed. Many restaurants have already been offering take-out. They will be able to apply for expanded outdoor seating, which would open up more dining options throughout the summer.
Understandably, some of these guidelines are limiting factors in making travel plans. In the meantime, if you are looking for beach real estate or even a glimpse of the ocean, our local Realtors will be happy to send you a link or FaceTime. Stay safe and we look forward to welcoming you back to the beach soon.
Lee Ann Wilkinson is a Realtor and COO of The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group
of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, Del.