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Realtor Q&A: The Most Commuter-Friendly Town Isn’t Where You’d Think

A move to Delaware can be strategic for several reasons — lower property taxes and tax-free shopping come to mind — but you might be surprised to learn about its easy accessibility. A suburb of Wilmington, North Wilmington is in close proximity of I-95, the New Jersey Turnpike and the PA Turnpike, making it a commuter-friendly haven for professionals.

However, in addition to its prime location, North Wilmington is also near numerous cultural institutions, waterfront restaurants and several schools, which only further reiterates why it belongs on homebuyers’ radar.  For more information about the area, we probed two savvy Coldwell Banker Preferred affiliated sales associates who shared their best strategies for buyers and sellers.

How would you describe the area?

Linda Cole: To me, it’s central to everything. Everybody knows everybody. If you’re a native Wilmingtonian, you can’t go anywhere without running into someone you know.

Who is buying homes in North Wilmington? Are buyers relocating to the area?

Mike McKee: There is a good amount of relocation business, but then you have the people that grew up in the Philadelphia suburban area that may be moving to Delaware for the taxes. And then you have people that grew up in New Castle County and are making that move to the next home. And then you also have the people that had the family and are now downsizing. One of the best [phrases] I ever heard in real estate is that somebody always needs more space and somebody always needs less space.

Do most families work in the area or do they commute elsewhere? For commuters, is North Wilmington close to major roads?

Cole: That’s what’s so great about North Wilmington: it’s accessible to everywhere. There are people who work in Philadelphia and there are some people that commute to New York and Washington. It’s just very easy to get on I-95. It’s easy to get on the New Jersey Turnpike, the PA Turnpike off Route 1. You can get wherever you want to go from North Wilmington.

What’s your favorite North Wilmington hidden gem?

Cole: One of the areas in North Wilmington is Bellefonte, and there’s a street in Bellefonte called Brandywine Boulevard. Brandywine Boulevard has a lot of little antique shops, resale shops and places like that. In the summertime, they do like a First Friday when the weather is nice, and all of these shops will have a happy hour and they open up their doors.

What is the average price range for a home in the area?

McKee: The areas that are really moving are in the $250,000 to $400,000 price range. The great thing is when a house is priced at fair market value, 50 percent of the homes going to the settlement table are going under contract the first days of being on the market.

Why is it an exciting time for homebuyers?

McKee: Everybody used to say that you could summarize real estate in three words:  location, location, location. Now, we find it’s price, condition and location. The day of saying “I want,” or “I need,” or “I think my house is worth” is gone because with people having so much information, it gives the buyer a lot of power. Information is power. So with that being said, you can control the price.

What tips do you have for folks that might be selling a home in the area, whether they are upgrading or downsizing?

McKee: We find today that the person you associate yourself with is very important [because they need to] study and know the data of what’s going on in the area — particularly when selling. The selling process is a lot more stressful and difficult than the buying process. With the selling process, it’s very important to [consider who] you align yourself with because it’s [essential to position] the house properly in the beginning because the first 14 days are the most critical when selling a home. That’s when the most people are looking at it online and it’s fresh. The first showing of a property — with 90-plus percent of the buyers starting their search online — is literally online.

What cultural institutions exist in North Wilmington or nearby?

Cole: There’s the Brandywine River Museum, the Grand Opera House and the Delaware Museum of Natural History. And there’s also the Hagley Museum which has the history of the DuPont family and they’re who made Wilmington, and made it what it is. It’s the most incredible place. The history is phenomenal.

What’s one thing you wish home buyers knew about North Wilmington?

Cole: People don’t leave. You only leave if you have to or if there’s extenuating circumstances. It’s such a nice area and so convenient. There’s so much right there for you. The one thing I noticed with North Wilmington is that when you get into other areas in New Castle County, you might have to drive 15-20 minutes to get to I-95, but [that’s not the case with North Wilmington].

For more information about buying or selling a home in the communities of the Greater Philadelphia area and the Delaware Valley, including southern New Jersey and northern Delaware, visit Coldwell Banker Preferred online at www.ColdwellBankerHomes.com

This interview has been condensed and edited for length.