Beach Repair Update

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Philadelphia District has announced the schedule for the much-needed repair of our beach. The work on our beach is slated to begin May 15, 2018 and is scheduled to be completed within 28 days.

This project, which costs $19,284,320, also includes dune and beach repair to South Bethany and Fenwick Island and will restore 1,437,000 cubic yards of sand to our beaches.

The work on this project will begin in Bethany Beach, move to South Bethany and then to Fenwick Island. Work is scheduled to be completed in Fenwick Island by mid to late July.

The work for the project involves dredging sand from approved offshore borrow areas. The sand is pumped through a series of pipes onto the beaches.  The sand is then graded into a dune and berm template designed to reduce potential storm damages to infrastructure, businesses and homes.

Pipe and other construction equipment will be moved to our beach and staging areas in mid April. Continue reading

Town of Bethany Beach – Flood Protection Information

TOWN OF BETHANY BEACH

FLOOD PROTECTION INFORMATION

Many areas in the Town of Bethany Beach are low lying and/or are located in Special Hazard Flood areas (SHFA) and are prone to flooding during storms and heavy rains.  Most areas lying north or Garfield Parkway (Route 26) and east of Route 1 are in coastal AE and AO zones. Properties fronting on the ocean may be in a Coastal V and/or AO zones.  Areas west of Route 1, specifically in Bethany West and Turtle Walk have recently been added to the SHFA and are in an AE zone.   If you are in a SHFA, you should know about services available to you and how to protect yourself and your property from flooding.

FLOOD SERVICES

The Town of Bethany Beach offers the following services:

  1. Flood Maps and information have been provided to the South Coastal Library and are available for review.
  1. The Building Department, located on the first floor of Town Hall also has current Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and can assist with determining a site’s FIRM zone and the base flood elevation or depth.  The Building Inspector can be reached at 302-539-8780.
  1. Handouts from FEMA concerning questions about the National Flood Insurance Program are available from the Building Department.
  1. Completed elevation certificates for buildings in Special Hazard Flood areas constructed in the floodplain since 1992 are on file in the Building Department.
  1. The Town of Bethany Beach uses the CodeRED Emergency Notification System which includes the feature CodeRED Weather Warning.  The CodeRED Weather Warning will automatically call citizens when severe weather (tornado, flash flood, and severe thunderstorm) warnings are issued by the National Weather Service for your address.  The CodeRED Weather Warning System calls only when warnings are issued and only if your address is in the path of the storm.  Bethany Beach residents can also sign up for CodeRED Weather Warning while signing up for CodeRED. Citizens can sign up on the Town’s web site.
  1. If requested, the Building Inspector and/or the Director of the Public Works Department will visit a property to review its flood problems and explain ways to prevent flood damage.  The Building Inspector can be reached at 302-539-8780.  Public Works can be reached at 302-539-1339.

FLOOD INSURANCE

The Town of Bethany Beach participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and flood insurance is available at a reduced rate to all homeowners in the Bethany Beach area.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a 10 percent rate reduction on the cost of flood insurance for all properties in Special hazard Flood areas in the town.  The Town of Bethany Beach received the NFIP rate reduction for implementing measures aimed at reducing property damage caused by flooding and increasing public awareness of flood risk.

Bethany Beach received a Class 8 rating on the NFIP’s Community Rating System. The Community Rating System is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes community floodplain management activities that exceed minimum program requirements.  Contact the Town Building Department for additional information.

FLOODPLAIN DEVELOPEMENT / PERMITS REQUIRE 

In order to prevent flood damage, all development in the floodplain is required to meet current National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards for flood proofing and all new work is required to first obtain a building permit from the Town.  Those properties located ocean front may also be required to submit plans and an application to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Controls (DNREC) for review and approval.  Building permit applications can be found on the Town’s website.

SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT/DAMAGE REQUIREMENTS

Existing buildings with proposed “substantial improvements” or repair of “substantial damage” are also required to be brought into compliance with NFIP requirements for new construction.

Substantial improvement is defined as any combination of reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a structure taking place during the ten-year period immediately preceding the date the permit application is

submitted, the cumulative cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the reasonably estimated market value of the structure before the improvement or repair is started.  This term includes structures which have incurred “Substantial Damage”, regardless of the actual repair work performed.  The term does not, however, include any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations of state and local health, sanity or safety code specifications which have been identified prior to the application for a development permit by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions.

Substantial damage is defined as damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damage condition would equal or exceed 50%of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.

FOR YOUR REFERENCE

Town of Bethany Beach website – www.townofbethanybeach.com

The Town code is available from this site and Chapter 453. Flood Damage Prevention contains definitions and information related to construction in flood prone areas

NFIP insurance information –www.floodsmart.gov

You are able to search for an insurance agent, learn about risk and see what flood damage really costs

FEMA – www.fema.gov

This is FEMA’s website used to get the most recent Flood Insurance Rate Map and Flood Insurance Study information throughout the nation.  Available non-regulatory Flood Risk Products can also be downloaded from here.

Ready.gov – www.ready.gov/

The online tool created to assist everyone in creating a ready kit for evacuation from home or work.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control – www.dnrec.delaware.gov

 

The Wild Ride

A View from the Beach

ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
February 20, 2018 –

 

Several weeks ago, we spoke about the negative effects of economic growth. The two factors we cited were higher interest rates and higher oil prices. Now we are starting to see the markets react to this new reality. Many are blaming rising interest rates for causing what we can now call a stock market correction. A correction which we have not seen for some time. Why would higher rates cause stocks to falter? Abnormally low rates have propped up the markets for years. Why keep your money in the bank earning 1.0% interest when you can earn 10% or more in the stock market? That is an over-simplification, but certainly higher rates are taking some of this extra stimulus out of the equation.

Not that rising rates are the only explanation with regard to the trepidation in stocks. As we also explained several weeks ago, the tax plan was great news for stocks because it immediately made companies more profitable by lowering their tax rates significantly. Stocks have been rallying for nine years, comprising the second longest bull market in history, but the rally intensified in anticipation of the tax plan. We surmised that all the good tax news was already built into stocks, but the rally continued anyway — until rates started rising.

The question now is whether this is just a healthy and long-overdue correction which may reverse quickly, or is it the beginning of the end for the bull run? As always, we will stay away from predictions. Rates could ease back down or stabilize — and the market could climb back. Right now, the economy is healthy and rates have not risen far enough to cause the economy to pause. Actually, if the growth eased a bit, this could cause the Federal Reserve Board to be less concerned with inflationary pressures and perhaps permit them to take their foot off the pedal. For now, we have a pretty wild ride going on.

 WEEKLY INTEREST RATE OVERVIEW

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Unique Ways Real Estate Agents Can Create a “Brand”

A View from the Beach

Branding is the name of the game in this era of social media, email and online marketing – and let’s face it, you have a business to build.

There are so many different ways to brand yourself, but you many want to consider doing something different from what all the other agents are doing.

 

So, I have a few suggestions for you:

  • Bring donuts, bagels, sandwiches to local police and firefighters on a quarterly basis. Include your business cards and a sign “compliments of….”
  • Hang out at a local coffee shop with a sign on the back of your laptop that says “Ask Me Anything About Real Estate”.
  • Change your phone message on your voice mail every 3 months and try to make it more humorous.
  • Sponsor a cause that matters to you. Make it part of your brand for the entire year, and convey to your clients and on social media why you are passionate about the cause.
  • Join a club or organization. Invite me to join with you. Join a committee with the goal of becoming chairperson of that committee.
  • Connect more offline than online with calls, snail mail newsletters, postcards.
  • Ask for testimonials and post them everywhere (FB, Active Rain, website, your listing booklet).
  • Sponsor a family-friendly movie night. Invite past clients, loan officers, title reps. Provide popcorn and health snacks.
  • Record a 2-minute videos about real estate. Why getting pre-approved is critical when buying a home. Why you need a home inspection. About title insurance. The closing process. Home owners insurance. Certified funds at closing.
  • Instead of celebrating traditional holidays, send out on less recognized days. Valentine’s Day. National Donut Day.
  • Create a list of “fun facts” that most people don’t know about you. You speak fluent Spanish. You are a cancer survivor. You love oysters. This will help you connect with people who can relate to you and make you more “human” in their eyes.

Please let me know if you’d like to meet to talk about some of these strategies – and maybe we can do some joint marketing together.

13 Ways to Get Offers Accepted in a Tight Real Estate Market

A View from the Beach

I know from experience as a mortgage lender that low inventory and multiple offers creates stress, not only for buyers who are pre-approved and whose offers are outbid by others, but for real estate agents too.

So I found a list of tips compiled by real estate agents throughout the US that may help increase your chances of helping your clients get their offer accepted.

  1. Brush up on your negotiating skills.
  2. Be proactive and encourage your buyers not to wait until the weekend to view new listings.
  3. Get a strong pre-approval letter from me, your mortgage loan officer.
  4. Talk to the listing agent to find out what’s important to the seller (i.e., quick closing, extended move out date).
  5. Based on other offers in that particular neighborhood, determine how much over the listing price the buyer should offer.
  6. Minimize contingencies.
  7. Make sure that when presenting the offer, you have all the correct forms, including disclosures and counter-offer forms.
  8. Ask the buyer to write a letter to the seller stating what they like about the home and why they want to buy it.
  9. Include photos of the buyers (and maybe their children) so the seller visually sees them.
  10. Call the listing agent and let them know an offer is on its way.
  11. A large earnest money deposit conveys that the buyer is committed to buying the home.
  12. Ask for a quick response time to show the urgency of making a decision before any other offers arrive.
  13. The less complicated the offer, the more willing the seller will be to accept it.

One last thought. Try to find out as much as you can about the seller and the property. You’ll find a ton of information online just by entering their name and property address.

Oh, and be sure to contact me so I can help you with our 15 Day Closing Guarantee through our 321 Go Program – see below for details.

Are You Truly The Expert In Your Local Real Estate Market?

I recently read an article from a nationally recognized real estate agent where she posed a series of questions to ask yourself to see if you are truly the “expert” in the local real estate market.

Most of the information can be found within your MLS system. She checks it daily and has even listed it as a “task” in her calendar. And while she is at it, she checks expired and withdrawn listings.

So, here are the questions. By knowing the answers, you will be able to laser-focus your marketing.

  1. How many total properties are in your market area?
  2. What’s the average price?
  3. What’s the average days on the market?
  4. What’s the median price?
  5. How many properties were sold last month? Last 6 months? Last 12 months?
  6. How many properties are currently under contract?
  7. How many of those properties were either short sales or foreclosures?
  8. What is the percentage of listed to sold price ratio?
  9. Are values increasing or declining?
  10. Is inventory increasing or declining?
  11. What agent/real estate company has the most listings?
  12. What types of mortgage programs are most prevalent (FHA, VA, USDA, Conventional, Cash)?

This one daily exercise will help keep you up to date. Spot trends. Immediately share with home buyers. And by knowing the answers to these questions, you will become the go-to expert in your corner of the real estate world.

Double Feature

A View from the Beach

ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
January 30, 2018 –

 

As we have mentioned previously, it has already been a busy year with major storms, wildfires that turned into mudslides, a new tax plan and the in-fighting in Washington seemingly getting worse. And that is just the first month of the year. We end the first month and start the second month with another busy week, at least on the economic front. This week we have the first meeting of the year for the Federal Reserve Board and also the first reading on jobs which contains 2018 data.

Thus far this year it seems that the economy continues to move forward, even without the anticipated effects of the tax plan. Of course, the anticipation itself has fueled much optimism which can be seen in record stock market closes. The performance of the economy is all about optimism. Since the Fed just raised their benchmark rates in mid-December, most analysts are not expecting another increase so soon. However, even if they do not raise short-term rates at this meeting, they will be discussing how much and how quickly they will be raising rates this year.

How much and how fast will depend upon the strength of the economy. And major evidence of this strength will be released a few days after they meet in the form of the January employment report. December’s job gains were a bit under forecast, and thus we will be looking at not only January’s numbers, but revisions to the previous months’ data. A really strong report could move the Fed to raise rates at their next meeting in March. Even if they do not, one thing is certain — unless something happens to derail the economy, their only move is up this year.

 WEEKLY INTEREST RATE OVERVIEW

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