March 20, 2021 at 8:52 am EDT | by Lee Ann Wilkinson
Delaware beach real estate market is hot
Rehoboth’s iconic boardwalk is open and locals are expecting a busy summer after lockdowns. (Blade file photo)

More than any other year in recent memory, all of us are looking forward to spring and the change of seasons, the promise of warmth, and eternal hope that this spring will be different from last year. While vaccinations are rolling out, beach businesses are cautiously optimistic that spring will usher in a safe and thriving summer season. 

If the real estate market is a key indicator, we do not need a crystal ball or Magic 8 Ball: “Signs point to YES.”

Perhaps initially unpredictably, the national real estate market overall has been highly dynamic since the onset of last spring’s COVID-19 quarantine. Here at the beach, we were initially unsure of how a largely second-home and retirement market might fare in a pandemic. To our relief, then surprise, then astonishment, the market not only accelerated, it has not slowed down. 

If the initially necessary work-from-home culture is a luxury you can continue, if you are in a position to retire, or if you are starting with a clean slate and want to make tax-free Delaware your home, you may be considering a move to the beach. And whether you are thinking of a full-time relocation or of an investment, any local Realtor is happy to speak with you.

Whether you are buying or selling, here are tips either to make the strongest offer or price your home competitively:

Housing inventory is historically low. The total number of single-family homes on the market county-wide at the end of February 2021 was 650, which is down 13% from the month prior.

Average sales price is up and ‘days on market’ is down. Last year, the average sale price countywide was $401,340; so far this year it is $495,247 (up 23%). In 2020, the average days on market was 87 and this year so far it is 58 (a 33% reduction).

Offers are highly competitive. Anecdotally, since the start of quarantine last year, we received multiple offers on about 30% of our listings – compared to about 2% in 2019. That trend continues to rise in 2021. Competitive listings (desirable properties in terms of condition, amenities, location, and price) are selling faster than local real estate agents can market and advertise them – from the moment they hit the MLS. This claim sounds like hyperbole or a sales tactic, but it is absolutely true. The beach real estate market is extremely competitive right now.

New construction is soaring. The inventory breakdown between resale homes and new construction is 50/50. Many brand new communities are springing up adjacent to Route 1 and just a few minutes’ drive in many cases to downtown Rehoboth Beach and historic Lewes, Bethany, Milton, and beyond. When houses do become available, there is a wide range in price, and all price points are selling – from the $200s to $1+million homes.

Preparation matters. While these current conditions sound discouraging for buyers, take heart! If you are looking to buy a home at the beach, the best strategy is to be prepared:

• Consider connecting with a local mortgage lender who can give you helpful guidance on local, Delaware-specific lending requirements and details, so you can be ready when you find ‘the one.’

• Connect with a local Delaware beach Realtor who can keep an eye out for the most current listings in your price and features parameters, and keep you updated.

• Make your best offer first. Especially if you end up in a multiple-offer situation, you want to have put your best foot forward from the start to make your offer stand out. And while often “best” means highest price, certain “clean” features in terms of contingencies and financing make a difference.

While real estate is heating up at the beach, re-ignited in part by our now-presidential Rehoboth Beach resident, you know weather is slower to catch up. Our best tip for your next visit is to dress in layers, pack a sweatshirt or sweater, and don’t forget your mask. Happy spring!

Lee Ann Wilkinson is a Realtor and CEO of The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty. Reach her via leeanngroup.com.

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