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Sussex Countian
  • Sussex sees increase in home sales, decrease in home values

  • In hopes of buying a larger home for her family, Georgetown resident Stephanie Martin put her Laurel Street house on the market roughly four months ago. Since then, she's had just one potential buyer, which makes her a little nervous.
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    • Housing data – then and now
      Comparing the first quarter of 2005 with 2013

      Georgetown
      Number of homes sold: 25/30
      Number of days on the market: 81/119
      Median home sales price: $155,000/$150,048

      Millsboro...
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      Housing data – then and now
      Comparing the first quarter of 2005 with 2013

      Georgetown

      Number of homes sold: 25/30

      Number of days on the market: 81/119

      Median home sales price: $155,000/$150,048

      Millsboro

      Number of homes sold: 68/74

      Number of days on the market: 82/164

      Median home sales price: $178,560/$183,732

      Milton

      Number of homes sold: 57/40

      Number of days on the market: 168/161

      Median home sales price: $285,807/$235,470

      Source: Sussex County Association of Realtors
  • In hopes of buying a larger home for her family, Georgetown resident Stephanie Martin put her Laurel Street house on the market roughly four months ago. Since then, she's had just one potential buyer, which makes her a little nervous.
    "We're trying to at least sell it for what it's worth, and the market has dropped since [we bought the house] in 2006," Martin said. "We'll definitely have to take a loss, but we're trying to limit our loss."
    Luckily, for Martin and other homeowners in Sussex County, the first quarter of 2013 saw an uptick in home sales.
    According to Bob McVey, the 2013 president of the Sussex County Association of Realtors, as of March 31, there were 455 residential home sales in the county, which raked in $140,326,675 – a 4 percent increase over last year's first quarter. The average home sold in the county during the first quarter was priced at $308,410, which is a 10 percent increase over the same period in 2012.
    "We think the economy is doing better, and that is producing more folks to qualify, based on income and lending requirements, to get mortgages," McVey said.
    The average rate of home sales, McVey said, was 49.9 per week for the first quarter of 2013, and the supply of homes for sale was 89.3 per week. McVey said this is a 19 percent increase over last year's numbers.
    "We're gaining some inventory, but we're seeing a lot of homes move off the market," he said. "We're moving 50 homes a week, and that's significant."
    McVey said home sales are major revenue generators for municipalities, counties and states nationwide. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median home sale price across the U.S. is about $193,300, and a house that sells at that price generates about $64,750 for the local economy. McVey said those who benefit include realtors, home inspectors, attorneys, exterminators, and furniture stores, among others.
    "This money is injected into the local economy based on the things people need for their house," he said. "It goes to show you how important the real estate industry is to Sussex County."
    Bill Taylor, the broker and owner of Delmarva Real Estate in Georgetown, said his numbers so far this year appear to be higher than last year's, and he too contributed this improvement to a recovering economy that allows buyers to obtain mortgages.
    "I personally think things are looking up," Taylor said. "Last year, I doubled my sales from the year before, and it looks like I may do it again this year."
    Taylor has been selling real estate in Sussex County for nearly 23 years and said a majority of potential buyers are interested in beach properties. But he's also seeing more and more people buy inland, where prices tend to be much lower. For example, Taylor said he recently sold a home in Seaford for around $185,000, and a short time later, sold the same type of home on a smaller piece of land in Rehoboth Beach for about $389,000. Taylor added that he's currently helping a New Jersey couple that wanted to buy a home near the beach, but have discovered it will be much less expensive to buy inland.
    Page 2 of 2 - For some local municipalities, the increase in home sales is bitter sweet.
    According to Town Manager Gene Dvornick, Georgetown's real estate market peaked in 2005 and, through 2008, the number of homes sold decreased, while the number of days those homes stayed on the market increased.
    "What we're seeing now is, even though we have a significant increase in days on the market, we're starting to see an uptick in the units that are sold," Dvornick said. "That's a good sign from a recovery standpoint, but there is an impact to the town, because the median home sale price is not close to what it was in 2005."
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