Delaware housing market may be on a verge of a rebound

The housing market, both in Delaware and nationally has had its share of ups and downs, to say the least. But lately, there is a glimmer of a rebound that could turn the market into both a sellers and buyers market.

The mild weather this winter means good news for some Delaware realtors like Buddy West, who expects the spring market to bring in some impressive numbers in 2012.

“We’re blaming the weather. The weather has been so good that people are out there, people are getting their houses ready for spring. Buyers are out there, I’m working seven days a week,” said West.

According to West and colleague Gene Millman, dropping home prices is also making the market much more attractive these days, especially in New Castle County.

Gene Millman, a broker at Emory Hill Residential Real Estate added, “The median sales price as of the fourth quarter of 2011 was 184,000, so we have seen it definitely go down from a high, at one point, 265,000 in the hay day.”

However, homes still aren’t moving off the market as fast, as of the 4th quarter in 2011 homes were listed for an average of 125 days. A new norm, that’s growing worse in some areas.

“If you go into Middletown, 7 out of 10 listings are either a short sale or foreclosure, so there is still a lot of stuff to get through down there,” stated realtor, Jim Petit of Remax

Even with struggling Middletown, Eddie Riggin of the Riggin group at Remax says New Castle County doesn’t have nearly as many properties for sale as Kent County, which has about a 15-month supply of homes on the market.

“The challenge with Kent County is the population verses the supply of properties or demand, because of the amount of population verses the supply, with so much new construction,” said Riggin.

But things could be worse due to the shadow inventory, which is the supply of foreclosed houses held onto by banks.

“The problem is if they put them on the market it would really deplete the pricing more, more and more,” said appraiser Steve Sachs of Appraisal Access.

Meanwhile down in Sussex County, where realtor Jeff Fowler and his team sold almost $29-million last year, are open about the challenges faced today.

“I think the biggest challenge is dealing with mortgage companies.  The pendulum for so many years was swinging one direction and just about anybody could get a loan,” added Fowler.

Although mortgage companies are taking a closer look at people’s finances, realtors say the First State still has at least one thing going for people interested in becoming homeowners.  “We’re so strategically located in Delaware, so you’re always going to have buyers, you’re always going to have sellers.  We’re one of the few places in the United States of America where essentially you can get every where in two hours,” said West.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal