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Delaware is the second smallest of the US states (just slightly larger than Rhode Island). With 1,982 square miles, it is less than 100 miles long from top to bottom and only about 30 miles wide. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in economic power.
More than 63% of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware. Known as a corporate haven for its business-friendly tax laws and asset protection for company owners, more than half of US publicly traded companies are incorporated in Delaware. For a small state, it packs a lot of economic punch.
Delaware occupies the major portion of the mid-Atlantic Delmarva Peninsula, which it shares with Maryland and Virginia. Shipyards and maritime industries are substantial factors in the state’s robust economy. Since nearly all of Delaware is part of the Atlantic coastal plain, the climate is moderate. Despite its modest size there is significant variation in average temperatures and amount of snowfall between the northern and southern portions of the state, with the south generally experiencing a milder climate and a longer growing season. Data analysis by Realm found that although most of the state is located at sea-level, only 4% of Delaware homes were located in a flood zone. (None were located within a designated wildfire perimeter.)
Billed as “The Nation’s Summer Capital,” Rehoboth Beach is one of a string of Delaware beach resorts that attract vacationers from the Washington, DC area. Known for its tourist-friendly boardwalk, clean beaches and family attractions, Rehoboth Beach is crowded from May through September. Crab cakes are a favorite treat at the shore, and crabbing is almost mandatory for visitors, even if that means just taking a photo of the horseshoe crabs that dot the local beaches. And take note of this tip: Delawareans enjoy natural cut French fries doused with vinegar. Using ketchup is a dead giveaway that you aren’t a local.
Originally the home of the Lenape tribe who lived along the coast, and the Nanticoke, who occupied the southern peninsula, the area was variously claimed by the Dutch, Swedish, and eventually the British. With a largely agricultural economy, landholders depended upon indentured servants and eventually slaves to work the land. Delaware was one of the original Thirteen Colonies to oppose British rule, and in December 1787 was the first to ratify the US Constitution. Hence, it’s nickname, The First State.
After the American Revolution, Delaware experienced a surge in population with both Methodists and Quakers establishing large communities. They began to urge freedom from slavery, and by the eve of the Civil War, almost 92% of Delaware’s black population was free. Although it was officially still a slave state, Delaware sided with the Union.
Peacetime industrialization brought prosperity to the region. The chemical company DuPont established headquarters in Wilmington, the state’s largest city, which enticed workers from nearby states to move to the area. As World War I got underway the population soared once again as DuPont ramped up gunpowder production. In fact, the company supplied 40% of all gunpowder used by the Allies. Postwar DuPont invested in bringing a General Motors assembly plant to the state, and it also invested heavily in the expansion of public schools. Delaware was one of the first states to call for integration in schools, and its efforts greatly influenced the US Supreme Court in its landmark segregation decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education.
Realm’s data analysis indicates that most homes in the Delaware housing market were built in 1950. Interestingly, the home architecture that was prevalent at that time continues to be popular today. Ranch-style homes, Colonial, and Craftsman cottages are widespread due to their suitability for the topography and climate. Both Ranch and Craftsman styles are designed for efficient living with all the rooms on one floor. Colonial style homes tend to group spaces — public spaces such as kitchens and living rooms are on the first floor, with private bedrooms and sitting rooms on upper floors.
Realm’s data analysis of the housing market also found common popular features in recent real estate listings. Wood floors, always a favorite with homeowners, was the most popular feature, with mentions in 4,585 listings. Outdoor living also seems important to Delaware homeowners, as decks (4,460 mentions) and patios (2,853 mentions) also made the top five most popular features. In older homes like these, well-maintained HVAC systems are highly desirable for potential homeowners. Luckily, HVAC work also broke into the top five, garnering 3,242 mentions in recent real estate listings. Of course, although these homes have withstood the test of time, it is always prudent to have a thorough home inspection performed prior to purchase. Older homes can hide a plethora of issues that threaten a home’s structural integrity, and the rule of thumb is better safe than sorry.
Is Delaware real estate a good investment?
As of June 2021, the median home value in Delaware was $345,000. Home values have increased by 19.4% over the previous year. Almost 59% of homes are selling above list price. The average time on the market before receiving an offer was around 65 days. Low home inventory and high buyer demand continue to drive this seller’s market. Although the cost of living in Delaware is a little above the national average, it is still affordable due to the business friendly climate and no-to-low tax rates.
What are the economic benefits of living in Delaware?
Delaware is often listed as one of the most (if not the most) tax-friendly states, particularly for retirees. Here’s why:
Is it cheap to live in Delaware?
Not necessarily. The cost of living in Delaware is 2% higher than the national average. The median home price in Delaware is $345,000 (as of June 2021), whereas the national average is $291,700. Some expenses cost significantly more, such as health care, which clocks in at 15.7% higher than average. Groceries and utilities are roughly 5% higher than the average. Only transportation costs are lower than the national average, coming in at 95.8%. Despite the higher cost of living expenses, the tax offsets may make Delaware more affordable than other areas with higher tax bases.
We currently cover most standalone, single-family homes