For the first time, and in these unprecedented times, I sent Lewes property owners a “Summer” newsletter. I usually send Spring and Fall updates on our local real estate market to provide a picture of what’s currently listed, prices of homes recently sold, and share market values.
This year, Covid-19 sidetracked us; however, not for the reasons you might think. By the time I'd printed and mailed the newsletter, even in the span of a week, many of the homes for sale in Lewes were already under contract. It may seem counterintuitive, but beach real estate has been exceptionally busy the first half of the year, even - and perhaps especially - during and after months of quarantine.
The real estate questions that seem to be on everyone’s minds:
Is it a good time to buy and sell?
Has Covid-19 impacted property values?
I can share our experiences, which track with our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices colleagues nationally. Locally and across the country, market conditions - even with a pandemic - have created a climate of high buyer demand and low inventory. Historically low interest rates and stock market volatility are prompting more real estate investments, too.
By the numbers
Looking at real estate demand through June, it is actually (surprisingly) quite similar to last year's market during the same time period (down only 1%), and last year was our busiest ever! To offer perspective, in 2018 we were proud to earn spots on The Wall Street Journal and REAL Trends' "The Thousand" list for top real real estate teams in the country for sales volume and number of transactions - #69/250 and #158/250 respectively. The Thousand list for 2019 sales was published this June, and in those same categories, we are ranked #38/250 and #39/250. Honestly, we are amazed. (At our current pace, we are on track to make the list again for 2020, which speaks volumes about our local market!)
After initial quarantine, we lost about a month of our spring activity but recovered quickly. In terms of market values, average and median sales prices are up. Inventory, however, is staggeringly low. As of the end of June, there are 1,436 actively for sale single family homes in Sussex County, of which 42% are new construction - a 12% decrease from May's ending inventory. According to our BHHS Gallo Realty report, the average days on market from listing to contract this year is 100 days, which is very low. That figure for properly priced and marketed homes is considerably lower still. Some homes we have listed in the past few weeks have sold before the virtual ink is dry on the listing agreements, and we have received multiple offers on some, too! So far in 2020, we have sold 156+ homes and we are just halfway through the year.
At The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group, we are definitely seeing buyers across-the-board and in all price ranges this year. The majority of our clients are “traditional” Lewes buyers, people who want to retire here and buy second homes. But I am seeing people looking at making this move sooner than they thought they would due to Covid-19. The trend is to get out of the crowded metropolitan places where they live and come to the Delaware beach area because they perceive it as being safer and less crowded.
Perhaps the most important driver behind buyer and seller motivations though is a reassessment of what it means to 'stay home.' “Necessity is the mother of invention,” as Plato said. After a spring of companies requiring and enabling employees to work from home, people are rethinking their work situations.
Perhaps you share this view:
Why not work from home in Lewes and take a walk on the beach after work?
And people are reprioritizing. We are living through a reminder of the fragility of life and threats to our job security. If you have a choice in where you live, what would you choose? The answer to this question depends on who’s being asked, of course, which is the fundamental core of the real estate business. It's not "one size fits all" and a realtor can help guide the process. If you are considering selling, you have an unparalleled window in which people are staying home and shopping for new homes online. If you are the ones looking to move, you have these work/life balance questions to consider.
Whether you are selling, buying, or just want to gauge our real estate market situation, please know that we at The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group are here for you - in person, virtually on FaceTime and via email, and by phone - to help you make an informed decision.
Best wishes to all for staying safe and sound this summer!