- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2003

The road from Washington to the Maryland and Delaware beaches once wound past pastoral views of farms and meadows. Today’s beach-bound travelers are more likely to pass another housing development.

While resort home and second home or pre-retirement property purchases are on the rise throughout the region, few areas can claim the development spurt under way along the Maryland and Delaware coasts.

Mountain resort areas, lakeside retreats and the beaches of Virginia and North Carolina are also seeing their share of the expanding real estate market, but not quite to the extent of the building boom happening north and east of Washington.

“One of the main reasons the Eastern Shore from Delaware through Maryland is seeing so much development is that there are so many metropolitan areas within driving distance of these resorts,” says Debbie Rosenstein, president of Rosenstein Research Associates.

“Not only are buyers pouring in from the Washington and Baltimore metro areas,” Miss Rosenstein says, “but they are also coming from New Jersey, Philadelphia, other parts of Pennsylvania and from Delaware. The Delaware resorts are close enough to Dover and Wilmington that some buyers there are commuting from their resort homes. The Virginia Beach area is not growing as quickly because of the distance from metropolitan areas, plus the predominance of military and government employees, which creates a different profile financially.”

Besides the prime location that draws people from so many metropolitan areas, demographics play a role in the drama of Eastern Shore development.

“The baby boomer generation and empty nesters are beginning to look at retirement homes and to look at second homes for their investment value,” Miss Rosenstein says.

“A lot of people disappointed in the stock market are looking into real estate as a safer investment, particularly the second-home market. They may be using the homes for weekend getaways now, and then will use the property as a retirement home in the future,” she says. “Alternatively, they might decide to sell the vacation home and use the proceeds from that sale and their primary home to purchase a larger or more upscale retirement home.”

Broker Hal Glick with Moore, Warfield and Glick in Ocean City agrees that demographics count for a lot of the resilience in the resort-home market.

“The war babies are inheriting trillions of dollars from their parents, and they are spending it, and spending a lot of it on vacation homes for themselves and their families,” Mr. Glick says. “On top of that, interest rates are so low that people can afford to buy these homes more easily. So builders are trying to position themselves with any piece of land they can find to build homes on.”

Miss Rosenstein says, “A wide variety of builders are developing homes in the Eastern Shore area, including builders from Washington, Baltimore, Pennsylvania and local builders, too. Some have snapped up small parcels of land and have built on them, but there are also some larger resort-style communities with higher prices being developed.

“As prices get higher, the absorption rate might begin to slow a little,” she says.

A major change in the past few years, though, is that development is increasing away from the water’s edge.

“It used to be that developers thought they had to be on the water in order to make any money, but that is not the case anymore,” Miss Rosenstein says. “The success of the Village at Bear Trap Dunes in Delaware, an upscale golf course development but not right on the water, proved that buyers are interested in just being on the road to the beach in a nice community.”

Mr. Glick says, “Smart development still needs a golf course, a pond, or a man-made lake so that the homes can have a view. Waterfront land is disappearing, so developers make their own waterfront and create a more desirable site. All the new developments have put in a lake or something because it’s important to have something built in which will keep buyers wanting to live in the community.”

Mr. Glick’s company currently represents two oceanside condominiums in Ocean City, which means that the homes have an ocean view or a bay view and residents do not have to cross the highway to get to the beach.

“The three-bedroom condos in the Astoria are priced from the $350,000s to the $490,000s, and from the $425,000s to $699,000 in the Avalon. The Avalon won’t be ready until spring 2004, but it’s almost sold out already,” Mr. Glick says.

“Last year, we sold oceanfront condominiums, which means they are looking right at the ocean, for $825,000 for three bedrooms, but none of them are available anymore,” he says. “I did hear one of the buyers of those homes had an offer for over $1 million for his place, so people can still make money on oceanfront places even if they spend a lot to get them.”

While wealthy buyers can find second homes they can afford with ease, buyers with more modest incomes can also find beach-area homes to be a good investment.

“Most of the homes along the way to the beach can now be rented to vacationers with ease,” Miss Rosenstein says. “So people with a more modest income can purchase a second home for retirement and be able to afford the payments because of the rental income the property generates.”

Among the new developments in Maryland and Delaware, a few homes are still for sale at the Village at Bear Trap Dunes, a neotraditional community three miles from Bethany Beach, which includes a 27-hole championship golf course along with other resort-style amenities that include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a fitness center, a clubhouse and tennis courts. A shuttle delivers residents to the beach with ease.

Villas and town homes here are priced from the mid-$200,000s to the low $300,000s, with single-family homes priced from the low $300,000s to the low $400,000s.

Carl Freeman Cos., developers of the Village at Bear Trap Dunes, has also begun planning for Bayside, a new community just west of Fenwick Island in Delaware. Bayside will offer a variety of home styles along 865 acres of bay shoreline, along with recreational amenities and retail conveniences.

Elegant single-family homes are now being built by Anderson Homes at Wolfe Point, a resort community minutes from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, a beach, and historic downtown Lewes, Del., which has boutiques, restaurants and art galleries. Fifteen minutes away are more restaurants, nightclubs and shops at Rehoboth Beach. Residents will enjoy two swimming pools and lighted tennis courts for on-site recreation. Wolfe Point’s two-story homes each will include garage parking for three cars, and will be base priced from the mid-$600,000s to the mid-$700,000s.

All three models at Wolfe Point feature high ceilings, crown and chair-rail moldings, hardwood flooring, ceramic tile flooring, a gas fireplace, a master bath with a tub on a platform and a separate shower, and a center-island kitchen with 42-inch cabinets. Front porches and bonus rooms can be added to the homes.

Anderson Homes is also building a town home community known as Fairfield at Long Neck, on a peninsula in Delaware within a short drive of Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, and Massey’s Landing, where families can enjoy a boating facility. Fairfield at Long Neck will feature 164 town homes, open space, a swimming pool and a clubhouse. Phase One is now open for sale, with base prices starting in the mid-$150,000s. As Fairfield is a condominium development, homeowners will be able to spend less time on home maintenance and more on recreation.

The three-bedroom, 2-bath town homes feature upgraded vinyl shake siding on the facades, beaded siding on the sides and rear, an entrance gate, professional landscaping, a sodded yard and a covered parking space. Inside, each town home will include 9-foot ceilings on the main level, 42-inch oak cabinets in the kitchen, and a master bath with a tub and separate shower.

On some units, buyers will be able to add sunrooms, screened porches, expanded luxury master baths, lofts with powder rooms, and roof-level decks to maximize beach living and sunset views.

Ryan Homes is building single-family homes and town homes in several communities close to the beaches of Delaware. At the Estates of Chapel Green, five miles from Rehoboth Beach, single-family homes are available on half-acre wooded lots base-priced from the $250,000s to the $280,000s. The community includes a swimming pool, tennis courts and a clubhouse.

At Stable Farm, less than two miles from the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, single-family homes are priced from the $280,000s.

Ryan Homes is also building single-family homes priced from the $270,000s to the $320,000s at Summerfield, where residents can enjoy a community pool and clubhouse along with a location within a few blocks of Bethany Beach.

At Henlopen Landing, Ryan Homes offers single-family homes priced from the $260,000s to the $290,000s. This development, four miles from Rehoboth Beach, includes community ponds and a fountain along with a swimming pool and bathhouse.

At Avon Park, Ryan Homes is building two-level villas with one-car garages, priced from the $230,000s to the $240,000s. Bethany Beach is three miles away, and residents can also enjoy a community pool and clubhouse.

At Bayshore, five miles from Rehoboth Beach, Ryan Homes is building town homes priced from the $190,000s and single-family homes priced from the low $200,000s to the $230,000s. Bayshore residents can enjoy a neighborhood pool and clubhouse along with a location near beaches, golf courses, restaurants and outlet shopping.

In the Ocean City area, Sunset Island, a private, 37-acre island located in the bay at 67th Street, has been developed as a new version of an old-fashioned beach town. The developers are the internationally acclaimed design firm of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, working with ADC Builders and Natelli Cos., known for upscale planned communities in the Washington area, including Avenel. The neotraditional street-scape in Sunset Island will include front porches, a limited number of community boat slips, rear alleys and rear garages.

Sunset Island will include a gated entrance, a fountain as the focal point of the community, a canal for strolling along, a clubhouse with swimming, tennis and workout classes on the private bayside beach, a marina, a market, walking trails and private beaches all along the shore. The residences at Sunset Island will include single-family homes, town homes and condominiums from Main Street Homes, NVHomes and Ryan Homes.

NVHomes’ Port Astor town homes will be priced from the mid-$500,000s, and the firm’s Cape Hatteras cottage-style single-family homes will be priced from the low $800,000s. Ryan Homes’ condominiums, priced from the $370,000s to the low $400,000s, will include three bedrooms, private balconies and covered parking. Ryan Homes’ town homes, each with a rear-entry two-car garage, will be priced from the $450,000s to $500,000 and include a great room, a library, three bedrooms and numerous optional decks and sun porches.

Centex Homes, developer of Glen Riddle, will be building single-family homes and, eventually, condominiums at this Ocean City, Md., golf-course community. The 972-acre site, a local landmark known for its equestrian heritage, will include 200 acres of preserved open space with planned walking trails.

Glen Riddle will feature two 18-hole golf courses, a 96-slip marina for property owners, two tennis courts and the Riddle Farm Golf Clubhouse. The community is water privileged, with acres of shoreline along the Turville and Herring creeks.

The private clubhouse, which overlooks a lake, will offer such amenities as a great room, a catering kitchen, a fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool, a whirlpool spa, a sauna, a sharing library, a business resource center, a sports lounge, a billiards room, a card room, and an arts-and-crafts studio. A lifestyle director will be on-site to help plan events and organize group activities.

Centex Homes’ initial phase at Glen Riddle will feature single-family homes on lots ranging from 7,500 square feet to 43,082 square feet. The homes will have from 2,600 to 4,700 finished square feet, with base prices from the $400,000s to more than $1 million. Some 650 single-family homes and condominiums are planned at Glen Riddle.

Developments closer to Washington along the Eastern Shore include Back Creek Landing, one mile from the historic town of St. Michaels. Developers Back Creek Landing LLC and Seawright Homes are building single-family homes on lots of a third-acre to half an acre in size in a 60-acre community surrounded by nature preserves and water. Walking trails, sitting areas and observation platforms will be part of the community, which will also feature a creek pier, pond docks and areas for kayak and canoe storage.

The homes will be base priced in the low $400,000s, and each of the 40 homes will include a brick foundation with a stone or brick facade, a covered front porch and a two-car garage. Inside, each home will have hardwood flooring in the foyer, ceramic tile flooring in the baths, recessed lighting and pre-wiring for ceiling fans.

Pocket doors are used wherever hinged doors would detract from the use of space, and built-ins throughout the house include display niches, entertainment centers and desks. Wood-burning fireplaces, high ceilings and transom windows over extra-tall windows are among the finishing touches to these homes, which also have master baths with whirlpool tubs and separate showers.

Pulte Homes and Del Webb, a national developer of active adult communities, are building Chesapeake, an active adult community in Easton, Md. Residents of the community will enjoy a clubhouse with a billiards room, a card room, a ballroom, and fitness and aerobics rooms, as well as an outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts.

Nearby are the Hog Neck Golf Course, the Easton Club Golf Club, Tilghman Island Marina and St. Michaels Marina. Several shopping centers are also nearby.

Pulte Homes will build 422 single-family homes with a choice of six models in the development, each with a two-car garage, a gas fireplace, Colonial-style trim around the windows and doors, 42-inch cabinets in the kitchen, and ceramic tile flooring in the master bath and the foyer. Buyers can customize their homes with patios, Florida rooms, kitchen upgrades and high-tech wiring. These two- or three-bedroom homes range in size from 1,696 to 2,380 finished square feet, with base prices from the $230,000s to the $290,000s.

Whether single-family homes, town homes or condominiums appeal as a second home, the road to the beach offers a variety of homes in each of these price ranges, with more to come in the future.

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