(Yes, You Can) The Real Estate Bargain Bonanza

In a market of already-low housing prices, some areas are still better bargains than others. Whether you’re a first-time buyer, stepping up, stepping out, or buying as an investment, these are the places you need to see.

Page 1: Singles and First-Time Buyers: Pike Creek
Page 2: Active Adults: Newark
Page 3: The $300,000 House
Page 4: Growing Families: Middletown
Page 5: The $425,000 House
Page 6: Stepping Up: West Dover
Page 7: The $500,000+ House
Page 8: Investment Buyers: New Castle
Page 9: Who’s Building for You?
Page 10: Who’s Building for You? Continues…
Page 11: How Much is Your Home Worth?


Kelly McCreary and her cat, Calvin, adore Pike Creek as well as their five-level townhouse. Photograph by John LewisSingles and First-Time Buyers: Pike Creek

Kelly McCreary might have scenic Carousel Park for jogging, but for blissful nighttime wandering, she prefers the empty links of Pike Creek Golf Club. (Don’t tell the greenskeeper.)

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McCreary’s unique five-level townhouse in Fairway Falls butts up against the course, and it’s just one of the many perks she’s discovered in Pike Creek. Full of parks and the golf course, the area might seem a better fit for retirement living, but with its central location, its affordable townhouse communities, and ample shops, restaurants and taverns, Pike Creek has become a magnet for singles.

“I like this area,” says McCreary, who teaches gymnastics in Wilmington and volunteers at Christiana Hospital. “There’s Carousel Park down the street so I can go running, there are a few other singles in the neighborhood, and everything’s close by.”

While a few singles, first-time homebuyers and lots of renters still crave the metropolitan vibe only Wilmington can offer, many more have found Pike Creek a healthier buying option.

“Pike Creek seems to be getting more and more votes from the late-20s, early-30s crowd than Trolley Square,” says Realtor Joan Goloskov of RE/MAX. “I think when push comes to shove, buyers want to buy in a quieter area with more resale value.”

Expect to spend about $239,000 for a three-bedroom, two and a half bathroom townhouse in Pike Creek communities like Weatherhill Farms, Plum Run, Mendenhall Village, Fairway Falls, Linden Knoll, Drummond Ridge or Limestone Hills West.

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Other Bargains Wilmington remains a viable option for singles, especially now that there’s more inventory available than ever. Current renters with good credit can buy wherever they want, says Mary Beth Adelman of RE/MAX. Trolley Square ($110,000 to $200,000), with its shopping and bars, is still big with young buyers, though many have migrated to Forty Acres, Goloskov says, where there is more open space and parks for pets, and residents have fewer hassles with parking and noise. First-timers and college grads can find great townhouses in Newark. Centrally located, low-maintenance neighborhoods such as Chimney Hill can be found in Felton, where fairly new homes range from $200,000 to $210,000, down from $250,000 to $260,000, says Alex Rivera of Keller Williams Realty Central in Dover. Village of Westover near Camden-Wyoming is attractive because of its location. Prices for three-bedroom homes range from $200,000 to $220,000. “First-time homebuyers are in a prime position right now,” Rivera says. Beautiful new townhouses in Millsboro and Milton are attractive for first-timers, says Realtor Jeffrey Fowler, and upscale communities like Paynters Mill in Milton are hot.

Page 2: Active Adults: Newark


Patricia and Larry Pritchard say Traditions at Christiana is ideal for them due to its proximity to the University of Delaware. Photograph by John LewisActive Adults: Newark

Larry and Patricia Pritchard used to own a second home in Rehoboth Beach. “But the kids grew up and there was no one to help maintain it,” says Larry Pritchard. “It got to be too much.”

So the Pritchards did what many of Delaware’s active adults are doing. They settled in Newark.  

The couple lives at Traditions at Christiana, a 55-plus community on Chapman Road, close to the University of Delaware. The Pritchards are a true Blue Hen family. They figure they’ll be attending their grandkids’ UD graduations for years to come.

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“I’m also a car nut,” Pritchard says, “So I head to Main Street for car shows, and I go with my wife to home shows at the Bob Carpenter Center.”

Today’s active adults, a group often referred to as empty nesters, aren’t playing bingo. “They’re looking for adventure and the chance to keep learning,” says Denise Ross, a Realtor at Emory Hill. “They go back to school, and many have second careers.”

Active adults are attracted to college town energy. UD’s theater and musical performances appeal to them, as do the prolific course offerings at its Academy of Lifelong Learning. Transportation and health care are concerns for this population. Newark boasts a trolley and bus service, and Christiana Hospital is four miles away.

“There is more of a cosmopolitan feel and a diverse group of people in Newark than in other parts of Delaware,” says Realtor Lyman Chen of RE/MAX. “There’s a real main street.”
Prices for other popular active adult communities in and near Newark run the gamut, Chen says. The Village of Fountain View on White Chapel Drive lists at $160,000 to $320,000. Village of Fox Meadow, between U.S. 40 and Old Baltimore Pike, retails from $250,000 to $340,000. Village of Long Creek on Paxson Lane prices at $350,000 to $385,000, and White Chapel Village off Marrows Road is a bargain at $115,000 to $195,000.

Expect to pay between $299,000 and $360,000 for single homes in traditional Newark neighborhoods. “Fairfield is very senior friendly,” says Buddy West, president of Emory Hill Residential Real Estate. “Many UD professors live there.” Single-family homes in Newark range from $275,000 to $400,000, depending on size and updates.

Homes in Traditions at Christiana start at $299,900, which is money well spent, Pritchard says. “We’re here to stay.”

Other Bargains “Delaware’s active adults are moving to communities dotted throughout its three counties, as well as to homes just over the line in Chester County and Delaware County, Pennsylvania,” says L. Stephen Cleary, a Realtor at Prudential Fox & Roach. “Some are searching for places with little or no maintenance, while others seek small ranch homes in neighborhoods close to where they’ve always lived.” That’s why North Wilmington neighborhoods like Foulk Woods, which features older but renovated ranches in the $250,000 to $350,000 range, are good picks. Townhouses in Springer Woods, a new active adult community in Brandywine Hundred, range from $335,000 to $475,000. Limestone Hills West, in Pike Creek Valley, offers townhouses priced from $250,000 to $290,000. “Active adults are also buying in Lewes,” says Chen. “Lewes is a bit more affordable than Rehoboth Beach or Bethany Beach, and it’s home to Beebe Medical Center.” At the Village of Five Points, a Lewes community of condos, townhouses, lofts and single-family dwellings, prices start at $300,000. Paynter’s Mill, a similarly priced village of townhouses in Milton, is popular, too, says Realtor Debbie Reed of The Debbie Reed Team in Rehoboth Beach. “Both Five Points and Paynter’s are tight-knit communities. Prices do go up as you add amenities, but these are great buys right now.”

Page 3: The $300,000 House


The $300,000 House

1820 Lincoln Street, Wilmington
STATS 2 bedrooms, 2 ½ bathrooms
FEATURES The renovated townhouse has an open floor plan, recessed lighting, ceramic tile, a 15-by-12-foot master bedroom and picturesque backyard. All the shopping and revelry of Trolley Square is within walking distance.
SOLD IN 62 days for $300,000

77 Wintergreen Circle, Magnolia
STATS 4 bedrooms, 2 ½ bathrooms
FEATURES The large fenced lot is surrounded by mature landscaping. Includes a screened porch, patio and a four-car garage. Master bedroom boasts cathedral ceilings and a bathroom with custom tile.
SOLD IN 109 days for $309,900

100 Beaufort Lane, Milford
STATS 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
FEATURES 3,442 square-feet of living space packed with upgrades, a full
basement, an oversized garage and a fenced-in backyard. That’s a heck of a lot of house.
SOLD IN 105 days for $310,000

Page 4: Growing Families: Middletown


This house in Parkside was built by Middletown-based Anderson Homes. Photograph by John Lewis. Models are Kathy Pomponi and Paul Akins of MMA Agency. Hair by Paul G. Van Liew and makeup by irene stuckey, both of PagaveGrowing Families: Middletown

Laura Betters is expecting her fifth child. She and her husband Dan, associate pastor at The Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church, are also adopting a baby from India. “We need lots of room,” she says.

The Betters moved from Odessa to Middletown last year, settling in the Estates at Back Creek, an Anderson Homes community named after the renowned golf course. The Betters’ Cheltenham-style home sits on a one-third acre lot. The family enjoys breakfast in the morning room, and the kids play in the spacious backyard. Mom and dad love the open floor plan, a relatively common feature in most new Middletown developments. Nine-foot ceilings and upgraded cabinets and countertops add to the luxurious experience.

Estates at Back Creek prices start at $469,900, so homeowners get a lot of house for their money. “The other perk is that we’re so close to U.S. 13 and I-95,” Betters says, “though with the addition of all the new stores in Middletown, we don’t have to travel as far to get the things we need.”

Middletown is the fastest growing area in southern New Castle County. Its real estate values are appreciating. Attribute that success to the superior Appoquinimink School District and subdivisions filled with spacious family homes.

“What we really love is the sense of community,” Betters says, a community that will be enhanced with the completion of Middletown Levels Road Park this year. The sprawling paradise offers a dog park, walking trail, 6-acre pond and picnic pavilions.

Middletown is the fastest growing area in southern New Castle County. Its real estate values are appreciating thanks to the success of the local school district and subdivisions filled with spacious family homes.

New retail consistently sprouts in the area, including a Kohl’s, Wal-Mart and several grocers. The cost of fuel is the one negative that has threatened an otherwise cheery picture. “Thankfully gas prices have gone down,” says Realtor L. Stephen Cleary of Prudential Fox & Roach, “so a lot of families are more optimistic about settling in Middletown.”

Other Bargains Growing families thrive in North Wilmington, largely because of the top-rated Brandywine School District. Its malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and proximity to I-95 help, too. Expect to pay between $200,000 and $375,000 for three- and four-bedroom homes in Fairfax, Blue Rock Manor, McDaniel Crest, Chalfonte, Brandywood, Oak Lane Manor and Foulk Woods. Young families are also buying townhouses in Bear, New Castle and Newark. Consider Smyrna, where classic neighborhoods such as Garrison Lake offer four-bedroom homes for about $285,000.

Page 5: The $425,000 House


The $425,000 House

6 Westmeadow Lane, Newark
STATS 4 bedrooms, 2 ½ bathrooms
FEATURES The family room of this two-story colonial features a cathedral ceiling and skylights. The huge yard and two-car garage are bonuses.
SOLD IN 49 days for $430,000

283 Orchard Grove Way, Camden
STATS 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
FEATURES Upgrades galore, including a brick-paved driveway and sidewalk, irrigation well and sprinkler system. Gourmet kitchen features cherry cabinets, glass fronts, granite countertops and a breakfast room that opens into a sunroom.
SOLD IN 38 days for $424,900

17018 Bristol Road, Lewes Beach
STATS  4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
FEATURES A whole lot of house (2,950 square-feet) also features an in-ground pool, a bonus room and an expansive sun room.
SOLD IN 225 days for $380,000

Page 6: Stepping Up: West Dover


For Charles and Deborah Davis, buying their third home, this one in Nottingham Meadows in Dover, was a charm. Photograph by John LewisStepping Up: West Dover

When Deborah and Charles Davis purchased their Village of Westover home in West Dover in 2006, it was their second time buying in the neighborhood. They hoped the single-family home in the new section of the development would be a better fit than their first property, a twin purchased in 1996.

The Davises, along with their 19-year-old granddaughter, didn’t find what they wanted in their second home. But their new three-bedroom, two-bathroom rancher in nearby Nottingham Meadows was customized to their tastes. To better suit Deborah’s arthritic hip, the home is a single level, rivaling the split-level design of both of the Davis’ previous properties. Its open floor plan, granite countertops, custom 42-inch cabinets, finished basement, back deck, pre-wired surround sound, deck speakers and wood floors were all designed to the family’s liking. The Davises purchased the home for $280,000, well down from the original $329,200 asking price.

One of Deborah’s favorite things about their upgrade to Nottingham Meadows is the homeowner’s association, which is responsible for the upkeep of the neighborhood. “You have to maintain your home for it to look good,” Deborah says, “and that’s what I’m about.”

It’s a tricky time for families ready to take the next step. Families recognize the depressed housing market presents good opportunities to buy, but they’re apprehensive about selling their existing homes, says Realtor Eddie Riggin. But taking a hit on a $180,000 townhouse and purchasing a devalued $400,000 house is a smart buy, he says.

Other Bargains In ever-expanding Smyrna, brand new three-bedroom family homes can be had starting in the upper $200,000s in neighborhoods such as Heritage Trace. Brandywine Hundred, with safe, mature neighborhoods such as Alapocas, Tavistock, Eden Ridge, Weldin Farms and many more priced between $300,000 and $450,000, is always a nice destination, Goloskov says. Nearby, Talleyville offers access to Concord Pike. Big neighborhoods like Fairfax, Deerhurst and Surrey Park sell for $250,000 to $350,000. Those seeking a step up from North Wilmington are beginning to flock to Montchanin, like the Malone family did. Mike Malone, his wife Katherine and their three kids bought a home off Buck Road for $625,000. The picturesque Brandywine Valley provided the family a beautiful neighborhood, a huge backyard, lots of storage space and parks. Homes in Jonathan’s Landing in Magnolia, custom built by Lacrosse Homes, range from $325,000 to $500,000, says Steve Buckles of RE/MAX in Milford. Rehoboth Beach attracts large families and ones that like to entertain, says Realtor Bryce Lingo. “People who move here move up in size when they actually downsize, even retired people,” he says. “Typically they can afford more house here because taxes are so low.” Families seeking exclusivity might look to Rehoboth Beach Yacht and Country Club, where a four-bedroom home can be had for $450,000. One with a water view might cost $2 million. Tremendous values on huge lots in Middletown-Townsend (to the tune of two acres and 4,000 square-feet) like Parkside can be had for $350,000 to $500,000, says Realtor Eddie Riggin of the Riggin Group, RE/MAX of Wilmington.

Page 7: The $500,000+ House


The $500,000+ house

914 Fairthorne Ave., Greenville
STATS 4 bedrooms, 3 ½ bathrooms
FEATURES Stylish and uniquely-designed, this home features expansive windows, a breakfast bar, and a main floor owner’s retreat with a large walk-out and full bathroom.
SOLD IN 49 days for $620,000

1133 Raven Circle, Wyoming
STATS 4 bedrooms, 3 ½ bathrooms
FEATURES Multiple stone fireplaces, skylights and a gourmet kitchen highlight this Wyoming home. Also: a whirlpool tub, game room, fitness room and even a koi pond.
SOLD IN 57 days for $555,000

37612 Pine Road, Selbyville
STATS  2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
FEATURES Waterfront custom home with tons of extras. Nicely landscaped, 25-foot dock, sunroom overlooking waterway, awesome garage with commercial floors and bar. Bonus room could be third bedroom or office. Two miles to the beach.
SOLD IN 339 days for $499,000

Page 8: Investment Buyers: New Castle


Investment Buyers: New Castle

Moses Nanga laughs. “For investments, it’s an exciting time,” he says. “Because of the decline in prices, you can find a lot of deals.”

Thanks to tighter guidelines from mortgage lenders and the collapse of subprime lending, the pool of so-called house flippers is shrinking, says RE/MAX foreclosures and investment properties guru Don Ash. But, thanks to the down housing market and a rise in foreclosures, savvy investors are snapping up devalued and bank-owned properties and renting them out.

Nanga rents the 12 properties he owns. He won’t purchase a house unless he can forecast a 12 percent to 15 percent return per year. Though he’s found deals in troubled areas like Edgemoor (where a townhouse can be had for $70,000), most of his properties are in New Castle.

There is a large decline in value in New Castle, especially just south of the city, where much new construction has unfolded, Ash says. Some homes have depreciated in value 20 percent to 25 percent, or down to $475,000 from $600,000. “These are those McMansions,” Ash says. “They were overvalued to begin with and the owners extended themselves.” Find those in new neighborhoods like Heron Circle and Northern View.

Some homes values dropped by 25 percent. “These are those McMansions. They were overvalued to begin with and the owners extended themselves.” —Don Ash

Other Bargains In Camden-Wyoming, neighborhoods such as Newells Creek and Lakeshore Village are growing in popularity as properties reclaimed by the banks. “They’re great deals, but they’re going to require more money down and more work,” says Realtor Alex Rivera. Find a house there in the mid-$200s. In New Castle County, look where property values are less than $250,000, ideal for aspiring landlords, says Realtor Joan Goloskov. Newark and Bear are always good bets for investors looking to rent their properties, says Michelle Hunt of Prudential Fox & Roach. Eagle Trace in Newark offers well-maintained townhouses for a hair over $200,000. Investment opportunities are rich at the beach, says Realtor Bryce Lingo, especially in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach in communities like One Virginia Avenue, Holland Glade or Sandpiper Village. Persimmon Park in Dover is filled with modular homes that are hot with renters and reward investors, says Candace Cottrell of RE/MAX in Smyrna.

Page 9: Who’s Building for You? | Each builder has a specialty. Seeking something in particular? Look to these visionaries first.


Anderson Homes Who’s Building For You?

Each builder has a specialty. Seeking something in particular? Look to these visionaries first.

Luxury Homes

If you appreciate custom design and high-end flourishes, Dewson Construction Company may have what you’re looking for. Rockford Grove is Dewson’s community of eight custom homes that sit on an eighth of an acre on lush property adjoining the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington. Two lots are still up for grabs. Dewson is anchored in Greenville, Centreville, Wilmington and Hockessin, but also builds sprawling, custom homes in Rehoboth Beach and Chesapeake City, including a gotta-see-to-believe 8,500-square-foot home on a double lot in Rehoboth. Amenities for most Dewson homes include geothermal heating and cooling systems, solar hot water systems, and design elements like floors made from repurposed wood, amazing brick entranceways, custom crown moldings and wainscoting, and oversized front doors of solid mahogany imported from Santa Fe and England.

Blenheim Homes Homes for Growing Families

Anderson Homes knows that potential buyers with growing families always consider location, lot size, style, floor plans and school districts. But people are now buying homes to live in for longer periods of time, so Anderson’s strategy is to incorporate features that grow with the family, all at a fair price. Amenities include sunrooms, morning rooms, large master bedroom suites and large secondary sun rooms. Anderson’s Summit Bridge Farms in Middletown features four- and five-bedroom designs on two-acre lots. Amenities include fireplaces, two-car garages and 9-foot ceilings. Its Willow Grove Mill community, also in Middletown, is the top-selling townhouse community in Delaware. Love golf? Anderson’s Estates at Saint Annes is a family paradise with a lake, jogging trails, clubhouse, pool and a championship golf course designed by 2003 U.S. Open Champion Jim Furyk. Your home comes with a club membership, access to the fitness center, a kids club and a movie theater.

Blenheim Homes has built many award-winning communities during its 25-plus years. Its Emerald Pointe in Dover offers 1,700-square-foot to 2,500-square-foot houses with vaulted ceilings, gas fireplaces, designer cabinets and double-bowl stainless steel sinks. Of its 107 lots, half have sold. Augustine Creek, north of Middletown, offers four-bedroom homes on half-acre lots, most on cul-de-sacs, and rolling terrain that backs to woods. If you’re a private type, Augustine borders open farmland, so there aren’t many neighbors, and more than half the neighborhood is preserved as open space. Stay tuned for The Village of Bayberry. Blenheim expects it to be a sustainable development near Boyd’s Corner. The community will include schools, shopping, walking trails and ponds.

Page 10: Who’s Building for You? | Each builder has a specialty. Seeking something in particular? Look to these visionaries first. Continues…


Active Adult Homes

Benchmark Builders is a leader in active adult communities, having pioneered the concept in 1992. A prime example is Milltown Village in Pike Creek. Surrounded by 50 acres of woods, Milltown Village offers detached and carriage twin homes ranging from 1,850 to 2,900 square feet, with great views. Amenities include cathedral ceilings, gas fireplaces and two-car garages. Benchmark’s newest, greenest active-adult community is The Village of Eastridge in Clayton. Detached homes ranging from 1,577 to 1,950 square feet are surrounded by 34 acres of open space, walking trails, and a clubhouse. Its Village of Long Creek is near shopping and restaurants in the popular Newark area.

Cool Condo Living

If you’re looking for an upscale waterfront townhouse or condo, Buccini/Pollin Group is your builder. Justison Landing and River Tower are two communities that offer amenities such as 42-inch kitchen cabinets, St. Cecelia granite, and views of the Christina and Delaware rivers. An upscale ShopRite, the Wilmington Train Station, restaurants and shops are within walking distance. River Tower, a modern building of 182 units—25 floors of flats (no stairs) and two penthouse floors—is about 60 percent sold. A first-floor concierge station assists owners 24-seven. Its rooftop pool and spa opens to a gym and banquet room. Justison Landing has 45 floor plans for its two- and three-story townhouses, flats and lofts. Sixty of its 120 units are sold. It boasts a beauty salon and restaurant on the ground level.

Family Homes Near the Beach

Looking for a custom ranch or two-story home close to the beach? Bestfield Homes’ Dream Maker Programs offer options: The programs can guarantee the price of a new home for a year; pay your mortgage for a year by depositing the first 12 months’ worth of your principal and interest into an escrow account, then cutting you a monthly check; or, if all else fails, Bestfield will buy your current home if you can’t sell it. Knollac Acres in Milford is about 18 minutes from the beach. The community offers semi-custom ranch and two-story homes that sit on three-quarter-acre lots.  

Silverstock BuildersResort Homes and Vacation Places

Schell Brothers builds high-end custom homes in Sussex County. Each meets Energy Star standards, with Energy Star appliances, high-performance windows and super-efficient HVAC systems. The Breakwater, a community of townhouses, single-family and twin homes in Lewes, has a leisure area with a lap pool, baby pool, hot tub, outdoor kitchen and playground. Under construction is The Vineyards at Nassau Valley, a 1,000-home condo complex with several floor plans and high-end accents like verandas and arched trellises. Paper renderings garnered 31 sales.

Think you can’t find brick chimneys and concrete crawl spaces in new homes near the ocean? Both are standard at Silver Woods, Silverstock Builders’ 350-home, 131-acre development in Ocean View. The community offers 10-foot ceilings, Brazilian teak hardwood floors and Black Galaxy granite countertops. Two ponds are stocked with Gambusia fish, which keep the mosquito population in check. The best perk? Homeowner fees are about $1,000 a year—not too shabby for folks who can bike to the beach. And Silver Woods boasts the first home in the nation to be designated a Gold Certified green home by the National Association of Homebuilders.

Page 11: How Much is Your Home Worth?


How Much is Your Home Worth?

This chart compares home sales from 2004 through 2008. Average price is indicated in thousands, rounded to the nearest thousandth. Range refers to the lowest and highest selling prices during the year indicated. Also included is the number of houses sold during the year. NA indicates that no homes were sold.
Figures were compiled by Steven Sachs and Brian Sachs of Steven Sachs Appraisal Access, 3654 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 477-9676.
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