DELRAY BEACH

Thoughtful Delray Beach Home Purchasers Check these Variables

Now that Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring, whether or not he proves to be right, the persistence of the Groundhog Day silliness does prove a point about seasonal weather: it matters. People have kept the tradition alive for centuries because the point at which our days turn from more- to less-dreary is keenly anticipated by just about everybody.  

It makes a point that future Delray Beach home purchasers sometimes overlook: how strongly seasonal changes may affect the properties they are evaluating. A house that shows beautifully on a sunny afternoon in springtime might be considerably less inviting when the weather turns stormy—particularly if there are hard-to-detect drainage issues.

It's one of a number of qualities first-time Delray Beach home purchasers may not think about, yet which they’ll be wise to keep in mind. These might best be called “variable” variables—transient qualities that impact a property’s livability. Notable among them:

Traffic. At ten o’clock in the morning, a house in town overlooking a fairly quiet corner can turn considerably less idyllic once the frenetic afternoon commute begins—and it could continue past sunset.

Light. A house with too little window coverage might not reveal that deficiency at high noon in July. But at this time of year, given the shortened duration of the daylight hours—depressing effects could be striking.

Noise. Sound pollution from a busy airport would be self-evident to any Delray Beach home purchaser—but the impact of a smaller nearby airfield might be less obvious. Especially if weekend flight patterns intensify overhead commotion, the result could be as unsettling...

What Timeless Adage Applies to Selling Delray Beach Homes?

Last Tuesday night, as rickety Father Time welcomed in the infant New Year, an old saying was resurrected (as it is most years): “Everything old is new again.” It’s usually heard in relation to the temporary nature of fashions—like the width of neckties or the lengths of skirts. That has little to do with buying and selling Delray Beach homes, other than reaffirming the value of deep walk-in closets. If they’re roomy enough, temporarily out-of-style finery can await their next at-bat.

The nature of buying and selling Delray Beach homes differs from clothing purchases so greatly that it seems outlandish to think you can draw any useful conclusions by comparing the two. The size of a homebuying transaction and the complexity of the procedures that must be followed certainly point in that direction. Even so, in the broader context, there is more than a kernel of wisdom in the old saying. The national experience from the past two decades bears this out.

In the Year 2000 and for the first years following, the housing market showed all the signs of normalcy: where home values grew, the rise was slow and steady. But then, for a number of reasons only mildly related to the intrinsic value of homes, there developed a virtual stampede to “buy in” to avoid missing out on the widespread boom in U.S. housing values. Lax home loan oversight was a major culprit. Then came the puncture of the bubble—and an equally overdone plummet in market values. By the beginning of the second decade, market forces finally stabilized, allowing a bounce back, then today’s resumption of slow and steady value growth.

This is not to suggest that we will soon see another bubble, stampede, and the like—on the contrary, it will almost certainly be a long time before living...

History of New Year’s Resolutions Hard to Find

Delray Beach New Year’s Eve partygoers will be taking part in one of the most ancient of human rites—one that dates back thousands of years. New Year’s resolutions probably started about the same time, but there aren’t any traces of them (not surprising, when you consider that all traces of most New Year’s resolutions disappear entirely before Groundhogs Day).

If one of your own resolutions is to become a more knowledgeable New Year’s Eve partygoer (or even just to be better prepared to break awkward silences), the following New Year’s historical facts could come in handy:

  • Ancient Babylonians hosted the first known New Year’s Eve parties (back around 2000 BC).
  • The Romans celebrated New Year’s Day on March 1.
  • Auld Lang Syne is Scottish for “times gone by.”
  • The Times Square ball drop features Waterford Crystal triangles that change every year (for 2020, the pattern is called “The Gift of Goodwill”).
  • The last place to celebrate the New Year is Baker Island (it’s in the South Pacific).

On the other hand, if you’re one of those Delray Beach New Year’s Eve partygoers whose New Year’s resolution is to be less of a know-it-all, keeping these New Year’s trivia to yourself could get you off to a better start.

In any case, on a much more serious note, this Wednesday marks the opening of a whole new decade—one that bears multiple signs of a decidedly prosperous future. If your year will include Delray Beach real estate dealings, I’ll be here to ensure they...

Why Delray Beach Holiday Travelers Set No Records

Delray Beach’s Sunday was officially called “Sofa Sunday”—possibly in recognition of its service as a welcome interlude between Black Friday sales, Small Business Saturday sales, and Cyber Monday sales. Football games on TV also drove many Thanksgiving celebrants to the sofas, where early pregame news flashes projected Sunday as “the busiest travel day” in history. By midday, it turned out that local viewers would have started to doubt those predictions.

The obstacle was the California storms that had been drenching the West Coast. By Sunday, they were well on their way East, shredding Midwest and East Coast airline travel schedules. For the majority of Delray Beach travelers who’d avoided the airports, holiday highway traffic at least gave them a shot at returning home on schedule.

The whole experience (including the blanket news coverage) did put travel convenience top-of-mind, even for Thanksgiving celebrants who remained homebound. When it comes to Delray Beach real estate, a property’s connection with transportation convenience is most often given minor prominence. For one reason, Delray Beach’s airport proximity is a given—there would be little sales advantage to noting it. On the other hand, some Delray Beach properties may shave travel minutes by ready access to major auto arteries—that can be an attractive convenience factor for breadwinners whose routine includes daily commutes.

Usually in urban contexts, mention is also cited for the impact that proximity to public transportation can have. A recent collaboration by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute and the American Public Transportation Association found a measurable sales price advantage for properties with good access to public transportation. In any case, this weekend, for Thanksgiving...

What Bathroom Preferences Differ by Age Group?

 Luxurious bathrooms are getting to be a staple in nearly all the new homes being built today. For future sellers whose older Delray Beach homes come up short in that department, an upgrade may be warranted—giving rise to a relevant question about which features are most likely to attract future homebuyers.

Earlier this month, The National Association of Home Builders issued a press release that addresses the issue. It summarized the findings compiled in their What Home Buyers Really Want publication—an exhaustive breakdown of the findings in the NAHB’s national survey of prospective buyers. The survey documents significant deviations in the features different American generations value—particularly when it comes to bathroom features.

It is fairly unanimous that all age groups would value having both a stall shower and a tub—but three-quarters of Millennials list a double vanity as their second most sought-after feature. Preceding generations (broken down into GenXers, Boomers, and Seniors) find that less compelling.

The greatest bathroom preference disparities between young and old appeared in four areas—

  • Dual toilets in the master bath
  • His and Her baths
  • Color vs. white toilet, tub, and sink
  • Whirlpool tub

—    with the youthful respondents showing markedly greater partiality for dual accommodations, splashes of color, and whirlpools.

As a practical matter, when sellers consider remodeling their existing bathrooms, space limitations render some upgrades impractical. But for Delray...

This Delray Beach Halloween, Real Estate Horror Stories Abound

Since Halloween comes around with ‘nary a difference from one year to the next, you’d think that editors eventually would be stumped to come up with a new topic for their writing staffs. This month, Delray Beach subscribers to the Wall Street Journal’s real estate pages were treated to a creative solution: The Journal simply dug up some scary stories about real estate.

The first was “Home Renovation Horror Stories,” a chilling retelling of just how wrong remodeling attempts can go. These spooky construction nightmares that happened in real life lived up to the premise, starting with readers’ complaints that, rather than the good old days when a kitchen renovation was a huge ordeal, today “just finding qualified workers to do the job is a huge ordeal.”

The various renovation horror tales included one contractor who tried to remove the cabinets he’d just installed when a progress payment was delayed (because the work was behind schedule) and crews who “showed up and immediately began to destroy our home” (because their skill sets had been “overstated”).

Just as spooky for Delray Beach families with dogs or cats was “Pets Can Take a Big Bite Out of Your Home’s Resale Value.”­ The headline may have been a little misleading since most of the horrifying details didn’t have much to do with selling a home. They dealt with pet hi-jinx whose consequences would surely be addressed before any marketing could begin. One example was the puppy who found a bottle of red food coloring, which he chewed and then…(well, some horror stories are scariest when details are left to the imagination).

Beyond the “stains, chips, rips, scratches, watermarks” and...

Holiday Decorating Timetable: Trustworthy or Dubious?

According to last week’s news release, if you already see your Delray Beach neighbors putting up their holiday decorations, they’re just going with the flow. At least that’s the conclusion you’d come to if you trust a newly cited consumer poll by minted.com, the online gift marketing site.

As widely reported by NBC and CBS affiliates, eight in ten Americans report that they begin decorating “before autumn leaves fall”—and six in ten “think holiday decorations in stores can be put up before the end of October.”

Now, since it’s widely agreed that most folks consider November 1st to be the earliest launch date for holiday ornamentation, it would be quite a surprise if Pre-Halloween holiday decorating is actually the norm in 60% of Delray Beach households. If true, you have to wonder if the witches and goblins now have to move over for Santas and reindeer (or menorahs and dreidels). It would make for some crowded displays.

The report notes that “about half of respondents say decorations around town” mark the beginning of the holiday season. That part does sound credible.

But as for the other findings, there are good reasons why Delray Beach householders may not really be in the minority if they decide to hold off for at least a couple more weeks before unpacking the Christmas or Hanukkah trimmings.

For one, it’s proving difficult to find published evidence of the survey results the TV shows are citing. For another, since minted.com is a purveyor of custom-printed holiday greeting cards, if their polling is limited to their customers (who probably order cards well in advance, since they have to hand-address all of them), any such survey wouldn’t...

Surprising Delray Beach Real Estate Lessons for GenX Generation

By now, just about everyone in Delray Beach looks back on the last decade’s housing bust with a lot less consternation than heretofore—time can do that (as well as the recovery of temporarily lost value). For some Delray Beach homeowners, the temporary nosedive in Delray Beach real estate values was little more than an uncomfortable learning experience. For others, it served as confirmation of the long-term store of value their Delray Beach real estate embodies. But for others, the dominant memory is of the severe dislocation it and the accompanying worldwide financial meltdown triggered. Members of the Gen X group (those born between 1965-1980) could have ample reason to identify with any of the above—but there’s reason to believe the first two claim more adherents.

The Pew Research Center has gone over the statistics and emerged with these factoids about the generations and how they have fared, post-recession. The first one may be the most surprising:

  • Gen X households are the only ones to recover the wealth lost in the Great Recession. This was as of July 2018, but is eyebrow-raising since the Gen Xers were, according to Pew, “particularly hard hit.” That makes sense since they were younger than the Boomers, so more likely to have entered the market when prices were at their peak. Their superior rebound is explained by the fact that wealth tends to rise most quickly at younger ages—so the rebound caught their earnings sweet spot.
  • Today, Typical Gen X homeowners have more home equity than before the housing collapse. Since Gen Xers are in the prime working-age range, they’ve displayed the most consistent “ability to rebuild wealth.” Compared with the Boomers, Silent Generation, and to a lesser extent, Millennials, they have attained the most robust household...

Which Delray Beach Homeowners Benefit from the Rate Cuts?

When interest rates were cut after the Fed’s July meeting, the press was quick to point out that not every homeowner would benefit from the move. As Bankrate.com noted in its lead article How the Fed’s Interest Rate Decisions Affect Mortgage Rates, “the majority of Americans won’t be affected.”

That’s true—for the moment. But for some Delray Beach homeowners, by last week, the immediate effects constituted good news. The Bankrate commentators touched on some of the traditional brain-teasing economics behind the effects (“there is an inverse relationship between bond prices and yields”)—but the practical repercussions were more straightforward. Mortgage lenders reacted with rate cuts, so:

  • Benefits flowed to the “winners of the rate cut”—some home loan borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs).
  • Also benefitting were those using home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).
  • Current fixed-rate mortgage holders may be able to cut their mortgage payments via refinancing.
  • Possible beneficiaries will be homebuyers whose budgets could now stretch to fit pricier homes.

The reason only some ARM holders will benefit immediately is because these loans usually adjust annually—and some don’t adjust for the first two, three, five (or even seven) years.

The Bankrate piece linked to another article, from way back on June 3rd. It described how “nearly 6 million people can now cut their mortgage payments with refinancing.” That was after May’s “sharp drop in rates” (which came as a surprise) was “nearing...