Prices tick up, sales quicken as the coastal real estate market continues its four-year rebound

By Larry Nagengast | Photograph by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the October 2018 issue

feature-real-estateWith fewer homes on the market in the most desired locations, coastal Delaware real estate prices are continuing their upward surge in 2018. That tight inventory also means homes are selling faster, pushing buyers into making quick decisions when they see a place they want.

The market’s recovery, now in its fourth year, shows no sign of abating soon. Sales data for the first half of 2018 in the 11 coastal ZIP codes monitored by Delaware Beach Life closely parallel 2017’s statistics. (For a list of those ZIP codes, see the bottom of this page.) Total single-family sales dropped slightly, from 1,160 to 1,145, but the average selling price jumped 6 percent, to $503,904, piercing the half-million-dollar ceiling for the first time since 2008, the year of the infamous bursting of the housing bubble. Average “days on the market” — a measure of how long it took properties to sell — dropped significantly, from 128 to 103, showing that buyers moved more quickly.

Had it not been for bad weather — snow and northeasters in late winter and early spring, followed by a procession of rainy weekends — those numbers might have been even stronger, says ReMax Realtor Debbie Reed of the Rehoboth-based Debbie Reed Team.

While the data show significant differences in trends among ZIP codes — the average sale price was up 23 percent in Ocean View and down 16 percent in Fenwick Island, for example — the reasons for tight inventory and strong demand are clear, real estate and construction professionals say.

On the inventory side, although their numbers are dwindling, homeowners who bought high — in 2007-2008 or perhaps a little earlier — and found themselves underwater on their mortgage payments, might be holding on because they still can’t sell for as much as they paid, says Kent Hannaman, sales analyst for Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International Realty. Similarly, he says, many of those who purchased new homes during the recession, when there was less new construction, haven’t yet built up enough equity to consider moving into something bigger and better.

 

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