Time to Buy?
Home prices are low and so are lending rates. If you’ve ever wanted a home at the beach…
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Since the early 2000s, home prices—fueled by shifty lenders, irresponsible borrowers, plummeting interest rates, etc.—rose. That swell became a bubble, and that bubble, as all bubbles are born to do, burst.
Yet within The Big Story are smaller ones. Consider, for instance, the story of the beaches.
During the mid-2000s, prices in Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and other coastal towns were just as inflated as those across the fruited plain—until the bottom fell out. In that sense, the beach was like every other real estate market in the United States. But there are other factors to indicate that a beach buy is a good investment—and that the time to buy is now.
“The decline is what it is: a decline,” says Laurie Bronstein, a real estate agent with Prudential Gallo since 2003. In the tavern of misfortune and struggle, Bronstein has been served the same bitter cocktail as almost every other Realtor she knows. Consider that a typical waterfront home in Broadkill Beach would have sold for an average of $480,000 in 2004-05. The same home would now fetch in the neighborhood of $370,000. That’s a decline of almost 25 percent.
“Some sellers are, of course, disappointed by this, but in a way it’s no different than the rest of the country,” says Bronstein.
“It’s completely different now compared to when I started,” says Sherri Martin of Jack Lingo Realtor. Martin has specialized in the Rehoboth area since 2002. “Back then, you couldn’t even keep up with the phone calls and the showings and the offers and the contracts. Not that it was easy, but you really didn’t have to work too hard for the sale.”
Now, says Martin, it’s a bona fide hustle. “Ninety five percent of my business right now comes from referrals or repeat business. And I’m lucky. A lot of agents just can’t seem to make it,” says Martin. “It’s a lot longer from the point of meeting to the point of sale, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that selling a home could take up to five years.”
Shaun Tull, also an agent with Jack Lingo Realty, echoes Bronstein’s assessment. “On average, I would say there’s been a decline in home values between 20 percent and 30 percent,” says Tull. “But I can tell you, I’m very glad to be selling real estate in Rehoboth Beach rather than a lot of other places. Relative to the rest of the country, we’ve been able to continue doing pretty well.”
Though no one would ever be so bold as to claim these waterfront regions of Sussex have been recession-proof, there is much to be said for the minor buffer the area has enjoyed during the market’s collapse in late 2008. First among those buffers is location.
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