SCAOR: Real estate remains strong through third quarter

The Sussex County Association of Realtors (SCAOR) released third quarter sales numbers last week that they said continue to show a strengthening real estate market in Delaware’s southernmost county. Often seen as an indicator of the overall economy, they said, the data is the latest in a series of strong reports issued by the county’s real estate trade association.

The positive housing trends in Sussex County continue to be fueled by larger than normal inventories, incredible buying opportunities and record low interest rates, according to SCAOR.

“As has been the case for the last several quarters, real estate in Sussex County continues to strengthen, even as the traditional summer season has come to a close,” said Trina Joyner, 2012 president of SCAOR. “One quarter, or even two, could have been viewed as a temporary uptick in real estate sales. But the numbers have been strong for several cycles now, so we are confident that the worst is over and that real estate here in Sussex has weathered the proverbial storm.”

Single-family home sales for the months of July, August and September rose more than 22 percent over the same quarter last year, with the average three-bedroom home in the county selling for a median price of $234,198.

Nearly 2,500 homes were sold in Sussex County through the end of September, selling at a faster clip, but not always for a higher price than the same period a year ago. While the final selling price for two- and three-bedroom homes decreased 2 percent each from a year ago, the price of four-bedroom homes rose significantly in price in 2012. The final selling price of an average four-bedroom residential home in southern Delaware rose 14 percent over the same period last year.

As the country prepares for the 2012 presidential election, while also continuing its recovery from a crippling recession, the latest real estate numbers from Sussex County are certainly encouraging, according to Joyner.

“It’s no accident that business is improving, tourism numbers are up and the overall economy in southern Delaware is showing renewed strength at the same time that real estate is showing a comeback that’s been years in the making,” said Joyner. “We know very well that a strong real estate market permeates the financial well-being of an entire area. That is certainly what’s happening here in Sussex County, and I’m sure it’s also happening in other parts of the country.”

As stated in a Time magazine article earlier this year, the housing industry is and will remain a large part of America’s yearly economic output, Joyner said. It’s a sector that employs millions of people across the country, with many of the created jobs being blue-collar positions that have become increasingly rare today.

In southern Delaware, the lower tax rates enjoyed by Sussex Countians for decades (including property taxes based on early 1970s assessments), the 26 miles of Atlantic coastline and a slower pace of life continue to draw those in the mid-Atlantic looking for new homes, she added. Partially driven by a robust second homeowner community, these benefits have helped keep southern Delaware’s real estate markets stronger than most others around the United States, according to Joyner.

“As long as we have something that appeals to the public, people will continue to want to move here,” said Joyner. “It’s up to us to maintain the quality of life that people expect when they make Sussex County their new home.”

More than $698 million in local real estate has been sold through the first three quarters of 2012 in Sussex County, in the single-family market segment alone. Additionally, more than $180 million has been generated in condominium and/or townhome sales, more than $12 million in mobile home sales and more than $68 million in sales of land. All three segments have also shown growth from the same period in 2011, Joyner noted.

To read more about issues related to Sussex County’s real estate industry, visit SCAOR’s Web site at