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I’m an average guy with a modest income, modest home and modest mortgage at a decent rate. Casual observation of for sale signs around the neighborhood reveals that they’re staying up longer than usual, which should mean that prices are falling. Even if they’re not (and they aren’t), lending rates are dropping. Should I refinance? Look for a new place? Maybe try to find a little chunk of the beach to call my very own?

I ask an expert. “It’s worth looking into,” says Steven Fasick of Wilmington Mortgage. “It’s a wonderful time to buy.”

Steven should know. In markets where housing prices have dropped up to 40 percent, like Florida, he’s watched people walk away from their properties, leaving lenders holding the bag and ruining their credit ratings. Delaware, thank goodness, has suffered only a minor devaluation, and it shouldn’t last long. Generally, people here aren’t selling because they’re in financial distress, Steven says. They’re selling because they must, due to job transfers and other circumstances.

So why aren’t properties moving? “So many people are reading that things are so bad in the housing market, it’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Steven says. “People want to buy, but they’re afraid they won’t be able to sell [their current homes].”

The good news: People are starting to look again. If you’re not one of them, maybe you should be. Whether you are a first-time buyer, someone who wants to step up to a bigger place, an investment buyer or an empty nester looking to downsize, now is the time to make your move. Once the current stock of housing diminishes—and it will as interest rates continue to decline—prices will start to rise again.

So herein, Delaware Today’s annual Real Estate Guide, starting on page 62. This year’s version covers the exciting boom in condo building and the condo life, examines what makes our most charming neighborhoods so quaint, explains why Middletown continues its rapid growth and introduces you to several other small towns that are likely to become the next Middletown. (There are more than you might suppose.)

We think you’ll find it a big help. I, for one, will start my search right here.

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