Sellers market for homes sees barrage of buyers

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By EILEEN DALLABRIDA

In the midst of a protracted sellers’ market, real estate agent Renee Edge knew she had to act quickly when a home her clients might be interested in was listed for sale.

Even Edge, who is highly experienced in handling sales with multiple bidders, was surprised by the barrage of buyers. In the course of only a few hours, the listing agent received 30 calls requesting showings of the home. Three prospective buyers made bids, without ever setting foot in the house.

Edge, of Keller Williams in Lewes, points to brisk activity in October as being representative of the market this fall. It all boils down to supply and demand: too few available homes and too many people who want to buy them.

“Sussex County had only 116 new listings while 208 homes went under contract and 187 closed, so those numbers tell us it is still a sellers’ market with plenty of buyers out there,” she says. “Kent had 59 new listings with 81 under contract and 56 closed, which indicates it is still a sellers’ market in Kent, as well.”

Overall, homes and going under contract quickly, with sellers getting their asking prices. Homes listed from $200,000-$600,000 in Kent County are fetching an average of 99-101% of list price; average days on market is 15. In Sussex, it’s 99-100% of list price and 18 average days on market.

Total properties sold in New Castle County were up 8.5 percent in August 2021, compared to August 2020, according to statistics from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (BHHS) Fox & Roach. Kent County increased by 7.1 percent. The average sale price in Delaware’s two northernmost counties up sharply, increasing 18.6 percent, from $270,162 in August 2020 to $320,401 in August 2021. Home prices in New Castle County were up 13.9 percent; Kent County prices zoomed 24.1 percent.

Meanwhile, average days on market plunged 55.7 percent, from 35 days in August 2020 to 16 days in August 2021. Inventory fell, too, especially in Kent County, there were 12.4 percent fewer homes for sale.

Recently released September figures showed similar trends.

So what’s on the market? Here are a few random listings:
• In New Castle County, a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath single-family home in Wilmington’s Ninth Ward is listed at $375,000, up $25,000 from the original price of $350,000.
• In Kent County, the For Sale sign just went up on a four-bedroom, three-bath home in a quiet Dover neighborhood that sold for $269,900 in 2014. The current price: $400,000.
• In Sussex County, a 5,400-square-foot home in Milton on 1.95 manicured acres overlooking Red Mill Pond is listed at $1.5 million.

Kim Hamer of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International says the fall market is not as overheated as last summer’s fever pitch. But sellers remain firmly in the driver’s seat.

“There’s still not much inventory and good properties are getting over list price,” she says. “I had buyers who paid over the list price, waived all contingencies and let the sellers stay in the home for a few months to win the deal.”

That said, there is a limit to what buyers will pay. Homes that are significantly overpriced are sitting on the market, Hamer says.

In coastal Delaware, the hottest sector of the market is for homes priced at less than $500,000. Buyers are increasingly willing to compromise, considering townhomes instead of single-family residences, and forgoing such amenities as a garage and hardwood floors. Updated kitchens and baths are preferred but not essential. Buyers are willing to fix up those spaces later on.

“Buyers will pretty much take anything in the location they want, even though it does not meet any of the criteria they originally wanted,” Hamer says.

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