REALTORS® resource center

A curated repository of Delaware-specific information essential in providing top-notch service to your clients.


Quick Tips

Septic

Sewer

  • If assisting with the sale of a house (either the buyer or the seller side), the age of the sewer line may be of interest to your clients. Sewer line coverage can be included in insurance policies or via third-party companies, saving your clients a lot of money in the event the sewer line needs to be replaced.

Water

  • Who provides the water for the property? How do you transfer the water to the new owner?
  • Ask the Seller of the property who provides their water. If, for example, it’s City of Wilmington water, a photo of the water meter a few weeks before Settlement must be sent to the law firm handling Settlement so they can secure a final reading from the City. Similarly for sewer, insurance coverage is available for intake water lines on a property. Have your client consult with their home inspector, plumber, and/or insurance agent.

Utility Companies

  • If not provided in the Seller’s Disclosure, ask the listing agent for the name of the utility company(s). If representing a Seller, ask them who provides their electric, gas, oil, and/or propane. Some utilities, such as propane, are provided via a contract. Be sure to determine who owns the tanks for propane and oil and how ownership is transferred.
  • If the property is a Condominium or a Lot Lease, check which utilities are included AND which utilities are subject to a contract to which the new owner will be obligated.

Solar

  • Is the system on the property owned or leased? You’ll need proof of that. When listing, have your Seller furnish that information at the time they furnish you with the Seller’s Disclosure. If the system is leased, what are the criteria for the Buyer? If a credit check will be required from the Buyer, will the solar company accept a copy of their credit report from their lender? If the system is owned, have the Seller furnish documentation that evidences that.

Lenders

  • There are many programs available and they differ from one lender to another. If you are new in the business, ask in your own office who other REALTORS® are using successfully to fund purchases. Ask about county-specific and city-specific financing programs.

Donations of Furniture, etc.

  • If your Seller needs to declutter or donate, they can hire a service to sell contents, hire a service to haul away contents, or they can donate to Code Purple, Habitat for Humanity, Veterans Association, Purple Heart, Delaware Clothing Bank, etc.

Signage

  • In addition to following the DREC guidelines for what needs to be on your real estate signage (see Marketing/Sign Requirements) you need to follow the DelDOT guidelines as to where you can post a sign and when.

HOAs versus Civic Associations

  • If HOA is checked as “yes” on the Seller’s Disclosure, when it’s really a Civic Association, it can cause a problem with the lender; lenders require additional documentation from HOAs.

Solicitation

  • Be careful where you go door-to-door to solicit business. Neighborhoods that are posted as “no soliciting” have the right not only to ask you to leave but are also able to call the non-emergency police number about the solicitor. Be careful to also check the DO NOT CALL list prior to you and/or your assistant making any such calls to solicit. Solicitation is not limited to asking for business but includes calls to ask for opinions.

National Association

State REALTOR® Associations

Multiple Listing Service

State Real Estate Licensing Commissions

Delaware’s Local Associations

Real Estate Pre-Licensing Providers

Delaware’s Local Associations’ Continuing Education Classes

Marketing/Sign Requirements

Useful Links

State of Delaware

Delaware State Housing Authority

  • Delaware State Housing Authority
  • Tip: Check with your lenders about which programs are available. Check the DSHA website for which lenders have a relationship with which lenders. Not all lenders are registered with DSHA. If they are not, they cannot utilize DSHA funds and programs.

Delaware Department of Transportation

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

  • Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
  • DNREC Frequently Called Numbers:
    • Boat Registration: 302-739-9916
    • Recreational Licenses, Permits, Passes, and Stamps: 302-739-9918
    • Boater Education: 302-739-9086 or 302-739-9102
    • Hunter Education: 302-735-3600 (Ext. 1)
    • Nuisance Animals: 302-739-9912
    • Report Fishing Violations: 1-800-523-3336
    • Operation Game Theft: 1-800-292-3030
    • Residential Services Section Manager, Scott Eichholz: 302-739-9947
    • Water Supply/Private Water Wells, Alan Pongratz: 302-739-9947
    • Innovative and Alternative Systems, Jason Baumgartner: 302-739-9947
    • Wastewater Disposal/Septic Systems
      • Anthony Konrad: 302-739-9947
      • James Powell: 302-739-9947
    • Well Permits: 302-739-9944
  • DNREC Waste and Hazardous Substances
  • DNREC Division of Water
  • DNREC Residential Water

Delaware Public Schools

New Castle County

Kent County

Sussex County

Homeowners Associations (HOAs)

Information for Homeowners and Associations from Delaware Attorney General

Down Payment & Settlement Assistance Programs

Recording Tax Information

  • Town Transfer Tax
    • Click here to download the Transfer Tax information for Sussex County.
    • Click here to download the Transfer Tax information for New Castle County.

Notice to Prospective Buyers

The following outline is based on purchasing real estate in Delaware. Meant to be a guide, you can use it to help you get an overview of the process.

Pre-Approval
The Buyer meets with a loan officer (can be done over the phone) to determine what kind of loan they’ll qualify for, the maximum purchase price for which they can be approved, the closing costs, and how much money they’ll personally need to bring to the table. The loan officer will present various types of financing and will help the Buyer determine which one is best for them. Once the maximum loan amount is determined, the Buyer will decide a comfort level for the purchase price and will get a good faith estimate of closing costs and the monthly housing payment.

Locate a Property
Knowing how much of a house they can afford, and how much help they might need from a Seller or a loan program, the Buyer begins to search for a property. Most Buyers begin the process on their own but soon thereafter, get the help of a REALTOR®.

Make an Offer to Purchase
You’ve found the house you want. What’s next?

Agreement of Sale. Preprinted form that should be completed with the assistance of a REALTOR®. If you’re not working with a REALTOR®, then complete the Agreement with the assistance of a Real Estate Attorney.

Good Faith Deposit. The earnest money or Good-Faith deposit that accompanies the offer is generally 1% – 5% of the purchase price. The deposit can be higher to show the Seller that the Buyer is very serious in their intent, plus a higher deposit can send a stronger message to the Seller. The deposit may also be lower if the Buyer is using an assistance program and/or receiving a gift. The Buyer’s personal check is made payable to the listing broker (or to the closing attorney if purchasing a For Sale By Owner and no REALTOR® is involved in the transaction) who must deposit the check into an escrow account once the offer is accepted.

Contingencies. Contingencies are provisions in a contract, i.e., if “x” happens, I’ll do “y”. Each contingency is removed by an addendum as it is completed, except the mortgage contingency which is completed via Settlement.

Mortgage contingency. If the Buyer is going to obtain a loan to make the purchase, the terms of the loan must be specified in the offer. The Buyer must apply for a loan within a stated period of time, must be able to secure the loan, must get a mortgage commitment, and the house must meet the necessary requirements of the lending institution/product.

Inspections – The Buyer specifies which inspections they intend to perform to assure themselves of the condition of the property. These inspections include the Home Inspection, the Wood Destroying Insect Inspection, the Radon Inspection, and can also include inspections of a pool, a well, a septic system, radon in the water, stucco, and any additional inspections determined necessary either by the Buyer or by the Buyer’s inspectors. For example, a Home Inspection might lead to an inspection of the heating system, or a Wood Destroying Insect Inspection might lead to a structural inspection due to damage from insects.

Contingent on the sale of a property. If the Buyer needs to sell a property in order to purchase a property, expect the Seller to want a clause that gives the Seller the right to sell the property to someone else who doesn’t have that contingency after the Seller gives the Buyer a certain amount of time to remove the contingency.

Customary Provisions. Anything that the Buyer gets to take advantage of that the Seller has already paid for, e.g., fuel in a fuel tank, the Buyer will reimburse the Seller for at Settlement. The Seller agrees to convey a clean title to the property. The Seller agrees to convey the property in the same condition at Settlement as it was when the Buyer made the offer to purchase it.

The Offer is Presented… and once signed by all parties… becomes a Contract.
Once the Buyer and the Seller agree to all terms in the offer, it’s signed by all parties and becomes a Contract.
The Buyer completes the steps to purchase the property.

The Buyer makes formal application for the mortgage. The mortgage company will proceed with the loan approval and will order the appraisal.

The Buyer selects an attorney who will represent them and will conduct the Settlement.

The Buyer conducts inspections according to the terms in the contract.

The Buyer removes all contingencies possible by means of addendums.

The Buyer makes preparations for Settlement including having utilities, phone, cable services transferred into the Buyer’s name and obtaining Homeowner’s Insurance. The Buyer completes all to-do lists furnished by the mortgage company.

The Buyer conducts a pre-settlement walk through of the property.

Closing (Settlement)
The Buyer goes to Closing, taking with them their photo id and certified funds for the amount of money needed for closing costs, escrows, and pre-paids. The Listing Agent ensures that the Escrow deposit has been wired to the Settlement attorney OR brings a check for the Escrow to Settlement. Listing and Buying agents attend Settlement with their clients.

At the end of Closing, the Buyer owns the property.

Notice to Buyers

  1. Agency. Agency is the term that describes the relationship you have with a real estate broker or salesperson. Delaware law requires real estate salespersons and brokers to provide you with a Consumer Information Statement (CIS) for Consumers Seeking to Purchase or Sell Residential Property the first time they meet you for an appointment. This can be done electronically or in person, but you must read and complete the CIS before you list your home for sale or go with a salesperson or broker to view homes to buy. You are a customer when you first contact a broker or salesperson. Once you complete the CIS, you are then a client. (See CIS for more information.)
  2. Equal Housing Opportunity. Brokers and sales associates are required by law and/or the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics to treat all parties in a property transaction fairly with regard to race, color, national origin, religion, creed, sex, marital status, familial status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income and/or handicap/disability.
  3. A. Condition of Existing Property. You have a right to employ, at your expense, a home inspection company and/or a licensed contractor/professional to inspect the property and provide to you an analysis of the property as a condition of your offer to purchase. Brokers and sales associates will generally have no knowledge of the operating condition of the property and do not have the technical expertise to determine if the systems are in good operating order. Home warranty programs are also available to you at your expense, unless you have requested that the Seller pay for one under the terms of your offer. They vary in cost and in the components they cover and are limited in scope. They usually run for a year after the date of the Settlement.
  4. B. Warranty of New Construction. Your new home may include certain benefits itemized in various warranties or guarantees; e.g., air-conditioning system, range, dishwasher, refrigerator, water heater, and heating system. These warranties or guarantees are specifically provided by the various manufacturers of the component items. Your new home may also include an extended home warranty program. The builder can provide more information concerning any applicable warranties. If an extended warranty is included in your purchase, a specimen will be provide to you at the time of final settlement or upon request.
  5. Master Plans. You have the right, prior to the execution of an Agreement of Sale, to review the applicable Master Plan or Comprehensive Land-Use Plan for the county, township and/or appropriate city or town plans showing planned land uses, zoning, roads and highways, and locations and nature of current or proposed parks and other public facilities.
  6. Hazardous Materials. There are many hazardous materials which may affect properties which you may be shown or will inspect. Brokers and sales associates will generally have no knowledge of these hazardous materials and do not have the technical expertise to determine whether they are present. Hazardous substances in the home can include cleaning chemicals, paint, lawn and garden chemicals, and a variety of indoor air pollutants which can accumulate in improperly ventilated buildings. Hazardous substances outside the home include those found in contaminated groundwater, landfills and other disposal sites, and industrial air and water emissions. Some of the more common hazardous substances are asbestos, groundwater contamination, lead-based paint, urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) and
    radon gas. Generally, additional information pertaining to these hazardous substances is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or Department of Health.
  7. Financing. Mortgage rates and “points” vary with financial institutions and market conditions. You have the right to select the lender and the right to negotiate the terms and conditions of your loan. This may be subject to the seller’s approval and the lender’s requirements. After a seller has agreed to pay points designated in the contract, the buyer may not change the loan terms to the detriment of the seller.
  8. Legal Requirement. All contracts for real property are required to be in writing to be enforceable and to comply with the law. The Agreement of Sale will be a legally binding document. You have the right to review any contract form, and you have the right to have legal counsel review such forms and represent you pertaining to all legal documentation and interpretation.
  9. Escrow. All payments made on account of the purchase price shall be made directly to the listing broker who shall retain the same until completion or termination of the transaction. If the transaction is terminated, the listing broker will pay the sums to the party named by both the buyer and the seller upon receipt of a written release. If the buyer and the seller dispute who is to receive the funds, then the broker may either hold the sums until a court orders payment, or the listing broker may petition the court directly to determine the rightful owner of the sums. Buyer and Seller agree to hold harmless and indemnify the broker for all claims and costs associated with such claims in connection with the holding of the sums.
  10. Arbitration and Mediation. REALTORS® agree, as a condition of membership, to arbitrate contractual disputes and specific noncontractual disputes as provided for in Article 17 of the NAR Code of Ethics. Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts. It is a settlement technique in which a third party reviews the case and imposes a decision that is legally binding for both sides.

    Mediation involves the skillful intervention of a third-party professional to help resolve disputes that arise between two or more parties; all parties must agree to the solution. It is less expensive, timelier, confidential, more flexible, and it preserves the relationship. Click here to access additional information on Arbitration and Mediation provided via the Delaware Association of REALTORS® (DAR).

Comments on Resource Center

Fill out the form below to provide feedback on the information and links provided in this Resource Center.