Home buyers face a tall task as Delaware Valley real estate prices soar

If there is one thing that has not suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's home sales.

From the city to the suburbs, prices are high and the choices are few.

In case you haven't noticed, local real estate is a hot commodity with fewer homes for sale and record-low interest rates prompting home prices to boom.

In Delaware County, the average home price went up 10% in 2020, and another 17% so far in 2021.

That's what realtors call a 'seller's market.'

"When you make an offer as a buyer, you are not trying to figure out how you can get a deal. You're trying to figure out how attractive can I make it to the seller that they pick mine, not the eight others," explained Vincent Prestileo, a realtor in Delaware County.

Just like everything else, COVID-19 has changed the real estate market, especially the kinds of houses people are buying.

"A home is not just an office and a house anymore. It's a theater, it's a spa, it's a restaurant, it's a getaway retreat," said Kevin Gillen, a senior researcher for Drexel's Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation.

Gillen says buyers are looking for more ways to stay at home regardless of the size or location of the home.

"If you've got an outdoor deck, or patio, an al fresco kitchen, a tennis court, or a swimming pool, that is adding as much value to a house price right now than the structure itself," Gillen said.

Look no further than Zillow listings to see some of the other top real estate trends – like four or more bedrooms to accommodate the in-laws, or a tricked-out home office for zoom calls.

Selling a house is the easy part. Buying is the challenge.

"Be prepared to compete, be prepared to be comfortable giving the seller what they want," Prestileo added.

These days many transactions in the Philadelphia area are going for over the list price.

"If your offer isn't over asking, if you're not covering the appraisal gap, if you are not waiving inspections you are very likely not getting the house," Prestileo said.

Selling your house at a premium means you'll also likely buy one at a premium. Experts say come ready to buy, but only if you're prepared to live there a while.

"Don’t get caught up on the hype make sure it makes sense for you today but it makes sense for you in 5 years," Prestileo added. "So it’s getting the information so that feel you are making the right decision for yourself."

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