May 5 2016 21711 1

May 5 2016 21711 1

After a long period of volatility in Delaware’s real estate market – a housing boom followed by a devastating bust – real estate agents, home builders and consumers here are faced with a new reality: A normal market.

Buoyed by retirees moving in from border states with higher property taxes and second-home buyers, home sales have shown steady, if not spectacular growth.

For four straight years in Kent and Sussex counties, and for three years in New Castle County, the median home sales price has risen gradually, data from the Delaware Realtors Association show. That's a far cry from the five half of the last decade when home prices doubled, even tripled in some cases.

Whitepapers that used to describe the housing market as "volatile" now call it "balanced." The number of people who want to buy a home isn't too far out of whack with the homes they have the opportunity to buy.

"Clearly, before the crash, it was unbalanced on the side of demand," said George Sharpley, an economist with the Delaware Department of Labor. In other words, there were more interested buyers than there were available homes, so prices rose.

All of this is relief to people who watched home values soar then crash in the housing-driven bubble of the late 2000s. A key factor is the moderation of the new-home construction market, which is humming along but nowhere near as brisk as it was a decade ago.

"From an overall housing market perspective, much faster growth (in new construction) would put Delaware – I don’t want to say in danger of overbuilding, but it looks to me that continuing at this pace would not be a bad thing," said Kurt Rankin, an economist at The PNC Financial Services Group. "New construction is back to where we would expect it to be."

Who picks Delaware as the place they want to build a house and start a new life? Jim Ludwig and his wife, J.J., did, once Ludwig retired from a career selling BMWs and decided to leave New Jersey.

Ask Ludwig how he made the call to move to Delaware and he describes a process of kicking the tires of various states, studying taxes, likely homeowners association fees, insurance requirements and other factors.

"I wasn't collecting Social Security yet. It was all about the budget," Ludwig said. "I couldn’t stay in Jersey. I have a pension now and it’s much lower than my salary. I’m lucky to have a pension, of course." Article from

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Dated: May 6th 2016
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