A Bird’s Eye View: Real Estate at the Beach

Guy Abernathey may not be a native Delawarean but he knows his stuff when it comes to the local real estate market. He has been a realtor in the area since 2015 and has sold real estate in New York City since 2000. He is associated locally with Long and Foster.  

Like many, his journey relocating to “beach country” was a progression. A native of North Dakota, Abernathey lived in the D.C. area for many years before moving to New York and had been vacationing in Rehoboth since 1992. He eventually sold his D.C. property, bought a Rehoboth ocean-block condo in 2004 and then moved permanently in 2016.  He has seen the local real estate market change rather dramatically and offers this observation for those in the market to buy.  

“I really look at this area having two markets,” he says. “The resale market and the new development market (new communities). New construction is soaring. The inventory breakdown between resale homes and new construction is 50/50. Twenty years ago, it was mainly resale with a relatively level playing field i.e.: not a buyer or seller’s market”.   

It’s hard not to notice the many new communities springing up adjacent to Coastal Highway that are changing the makeup and complexion of Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Dewey, Bethany, and even Milton. According to Abernathey, there is a wide range in prices and all price points are selling – from the $200s to $1+million homes. 

Some credit Hurricane Sandy for the surge in the local real estate market. According to media reports, “Sandy smashed through all 49 towns along New Jersey’s 127-mile coastline from Sea Bright to Cape May.” It was one of the costliest hurricanes in United States history topped only by Hurricane Katrina. 

Vacationers from New Jersey and New York, accustomed to the Jersey beaches, suddenly discovered Delaware.  

That discovery has helped Sussex County become Delaware’s largest-growing county per the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau. The county grew by 40,233 residents to 237,378, an increase of 20.4% over the 2010 count (2022 estimate of 248,733 is an increase of 25.7%). This huge growth created a booming housing industry.  “Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it; we have not kept up with the housing demand”, says Abernathey.  

Another New York “transplant”, Paula Castiglione has an historical perspective gleaned over her 14-year real estate career in the region. She moved to the Rehoboth/Lewes area in 2006 and has also experienced, first-hand, the dynamic and ever-changing marketplace. “When I was first licensed, the market was tanking because of the depression,” she says. “I worked for two successful local brokerages in Rehoboth, each shared a very different market segment.” In the beginning (with Coldwell Banker) my market was about $250K to $500K. by the time I retired that had changed to $500K to about $1.2M average (as a Lingo agent).  

She retired in 2020 and now lives in Sawgrass North. Hers was the first contract for new construction in the Schell Brothers development and has sold many of their homes. She retired a bit earlier than she had planned but Covid prompted her to move up her timeframe as she felt uncomfortable transporting clients in an enclosed car.  

Stay Tuned: Abernathey and Castiglione will share their perspectives on what to consider on how to buy or sell in Part Two.

By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Ophrah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.  


3 responses to “A Bird’s Eye View: Real Estate at the Beach

  1. I am in first stage of becoming accustomed to this lovely area from the urbanish North. My experience has been tarnished by a most unfortunate fire in my home. An electric faulty wiring. Part of the cons the chaotic, rush to build, over extended, housing market is suffering from. How quickly a wonderful plan for my “Chapter 3” future was turned upside down……still undetermined!

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