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Ashley Brosnahan

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The Dunes Pink Classic Golf Tournament

by Ashley Brosnahan

The Dunes Pink Classic Annual Golf Tournament

 When you are part of a community it’s important to pitch in and help when it’s within your power to do so.  At Long and Foster community service is not viewed as a chore but a privilege.  So on September 6, 2017, the women of the Ashley Brosnahan Team (Ashley Brosnahan and Heather Gates) did their part to contribute to a wonderful charity.  They participated in the Dunes Pink Classic Annual Golf Tournament.  The Women’s Golf Association of Bear Trap Dunes has sponsored this charity tournament for the past 11 years.  Since 2011, they have partnered with the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) so that all funds would be kept locally in Sussex County.

The Dunes Pink Classic is DBCC’s largest single volunteer fund-raising event. Since the inception of the partnership, the tournament has donated over $236,000 because of the generosity and support of businesses, individuals and volunteers.  ALL money donated by the sponsors goes directly to DBCC’s efforts in Sussex County.

 

In spite of the initial weather forecast, it was a sunny beginning.  All the women played their best.       

Bethany Beach Area Market 2017

by Ashley Brosnahan

It’s now 2017 and we are looking forward to great things to come.  As always we look at the New Year with much optimism.  In the past ten years the Real Estate Market here at the Delaware Beaches has had its ups and downs.  So what does the future hold?  So many things are changing in the world it’s hard to tell.  However the latest data seems to indicate that we are on an upward trend as far as median home pricing goes.  This is a welcome trend for everyone who invested during the height of the market as well as anyone who has invested in the Bethany Beach area in the last 5 years and anyone looking to invest now.

In analyzing our housing market we limited our search to the cities that make up the south eastern most area in Delaware.  Generally from the Indian River Inlet Bridge to the North, The Delaware/Maryland Border to the South, The Atlantic Ocean to the East and a few miles inland to the west.   These included the cities of Bethany Beach, Clarksville, Fenwick Island, Millville, Ocean View, Selbyville and South Bethany.  Basically what we like to call here the Quiet Resorts. 

Ten years ago we were looking at some of the highest median home prices ever.  We topped out in March of 2007 with the median home price of $482,794.00.  Then the housing bubble burst and we saw a steady decline for the next 5 years.  In January of 2012 we hit bottom.  The median price for homes fell to a 10 year low of $230,000.00.  That’s a 52% decline from the high! OUCH!  However since the bottom out in 2012 we have seen a trend of significant gains.  The latest data from December of 2016 shows us sitting at a median home sale price of $370,000.00.  That is a 37% increase in the 5 years since the bottom.  We are still not back to 2007 numbers.  We are down about 23% since the highest of the highs, but things are looking up.   

The five years since the bottom out things have slowly crept back up.  That’s a great sign as huge jumps in the Median price cannot be sustained.    It’s impossible to predict what the future will bring but it is a great thing to see that our local Bethany Beach area Real estate market is appreciating at a slow and steady rate. 

So what does the future hold for the Bethany Beach Real Estate market?  If I only had a crystal ball!  However looking at the data for housing inventory shows we are on quite a decline going into 2017.  Things remained steady for half of the year.  From January to June there was an average home inventory of around 950.   In June we peaked out at 1016 homes for sale.   Then after June we have seen a steady decline.  By the end of the year we have dipped down to only 771 homes available for sale.  That’s almost a 25% decline in inventory in the last 6 months.

This is an interesting trend especially if you look at inventory over the last 10 years.  Generally speaking the Bethany Beach area housing market has trended around 1000 homes available for sale.  We hit a peak in 2007 with 1318 homes available in inventory and by the end of 2016 we are at 771.  In the past ten years we have never had this few homes available in any one month!

Another interesting trend to look at is the last quarter of 2016.  In the last few months the amount of new inventory to the market has made a significant decline.  As the amount of inventory has shrunk the average days to sell has also seen a large decline as well.  What does this all mean?  Well we are facing shrinking inventory as homes sell, a decline in new inventory to the market, and a decline in the days on the market.   The shrinking inventory is creating a supply shortage and a decline in days on the market is indicative of increased demand.  If all other things remain constant the laws of supply and demand will show that this scenario will lead to an increase in Median Home prices. 

So for 2017 are you a seller?  You are definitely in a good position as inventories are low, prices are on the rise, and the days on the market are on a decline.  If you have been considering selling your Bethany Beach home give us a call and we can explain, in detail, our unique ways of marketing your home to take advantage of today’s market trends.

In 2017 are you a buyer?  Things are looking good for you too.  Although you aren’t getting homes at the prices of January 2012 you are still getting into an appreciating market with values below the 10 year high in 2007.  In addition to buying into an appreciating market interest rates are still at historically lows.  If you have been on the fence about buying your Bethany Beach home give us a call and let us help you find your dream home.  We will help you navigate your way from viewing to closing.  We are here to help!  Thanks for the read and have a healthy and prosperous new year!

 

Winter Storms

by Ashley Brosnahan

 

Well it's been a fairly mild winter temperature wise so far.  The beaches however have really taken a beating the past six months.  Starting back in October we had a Nor'easter that chewed up the manmade beaches and dunes, but created some incredible sandbars.  Then the storm a couple of weeks ago "Jonas" took another swing at the sand from the beaches and dunes in Bethany Beach.  This time of the year that is typical though.  While winter storm Jonas was a well publicized event the storm back in October and the one occuring today didn't really recieve a lot of media attention.  Today the ocean is again whipped up into a frothy beast.  I find it funny how the media can ignore some weather events and overdramatize others.  The flooding and beach eriosion that is going on today is pretty bad.  

As most people who buy homes here are not familair with coastal storm events I often get asked what to expect.  Since I have lived here my entire life there are not many storms that surprise me.  I know that the tide will come up, I know that Pennsylvania Ave in front of the Bethany Beach post office will be under water, and I know not to try and drive down Fred Hudson Road.  Generally these winter storms come up the coast from the Gulf of Mexico, head out to sea somewhere around Cape Hatteras and pass off our coast creating huge waves and hard onshore winds.  The duration and velocity of the wind can vary but the longer the duration the higher the tides will be.  Most of the property damage around our little beach towns is limited to shingles being blown off and some minor flooding in the low lying areas.  The building codes here have really helped to protect a lot of the homes in our area.  Generally speaking most of the homes that are on the Ocean Front and waterfront are built to be situated well above the highest of the high tides.  Occassionally we get a storm that tracks an odd direction and isolated areas get a little wetter than others.  

There are some things that you can do to minimize your exposure to the highest of the high tides and strong winds.  Most of the things are common sense, but as most people are not from the area they are not aware of a lot of things that affect our area.  So here are some tips for keeping dry during the winter storms.

 

  • While most building codes restrict building below the flood plane often times people are tempted to put living area on the ground floor.  Basically anything that is built below the flood plane is uninsurable.  So its a good idea to not put anything down there that you are not willing to lose.
  • As most homes that are in the flood plane are built on pilings the area underneath the homes usually becomes storage areas.  As most people tend to have a lot of toys at the beach it is a good idea to build some racks to store the toys.  Bikes, beach chairs, umbrellas, and such will fare better in an elevated position than if they are left sitting at ground level.
  • Make sure that anything mechanical is located above the flood elevation.  Most insurance companies require this but sometimes people end up putting things like an extra refrigerator or freezer in the ground level.  I've even seen washer and dryers located down there as well that are used for beach towels and such.  A small platform that eleveates these even a foot will go a long way in making sure that the next season these appliances are not ruined.
  • There are some homeowners that keep a car in the garage for beach use.  If you know a storm is comming it's a good idea to get it to high ground.  It would be a bummer to come down to the beach and the Jeep is ruined.
  • Speaking of cars do not drive them through flood waters.  The water depths can be deciving and you can find yourself in trouble quickly.  Also our flood waters are Salt Water.  Even if you make it through the water the salt can damage your vehicle.  If you absolutely have to pass through some water take your car to the car wash and get the undercarriage sprayed with fresh water.  The damage caused by the salt will creep up on you and have unexpected consequences.  
  • Make sure you do a sweep of your property before you leave.  Store furniture and umbrellas for the season.  Make sure that the trash cans are secured.  High winds can blow deck furniture around and smash it into a sliding glass door.  There are always trash cans floating down the roads and blowing around during winter storms.  So if you don't want to buy a new set of trash cans every season make sure they are secure.  
  • After the storm is over take have someone take a look at your home.  Shingles may have blown off, siding may be damaged, or gutters may be gone.  It's always better to find this out sooner than later.
  • Keep a passive eye on the weather.  It's not always the media hyped storms that tend to do damage.  Today is the perfect example.  No one is really talking about any storm but we have extremely high tides and some pretty heavy winds.  It's coming from a storm that is pretty far off of our coast.  Although it was sunny this morning the ocean was churned up!  There are some weather apps that will send you an alert when we get a coastal flood warning.  My favorite is accuweather.com 
Don't get me wrong owning a home on the water is an awesome thing.  Don't let the few times that the weather gets ugly discourage you from buying your dream home.  The beautiful sunny days and cool ocean breezes far outweigh any ugliness that mother nature may toss at you.  See you at the Beach!
Ashley

Tips for Owning a Vacation Rental Home

by Ashley Brosnahan

So you’ve been vacationing here in Bethany Beach for years and are tired of renting.  You feel comfortable about your finances and are looking to invest here at the Beach.  If you are like me you have spent countless hours weighing the pros and cons of finally owning a beach home. It is a huge decision that you have contemplated for years and now is the time to make the plunge.  One of the things that has triggered your acceptance and willingness to move forward is looking back at all the money that you have personally spent on renting out someone else’s home.  It is factored into your decision that you would like to in addition have your own getaway, you will make your home available to rent to others.  If you are in that position here are some helpful tips on making it a dream not a nightmare.

As you have undoubtedly noticed the rental business here at the beach is all about location and amenities.  Homes here at the beach that tend to have high occupancy rates generally have all the greatest amenities and are within walking distance to the beach.  If it is not in your budget to purchase a home within walking distance of the ocean it is important to find communities that have great amenities such as pool, clubhouse, tennis, and a beach shuttle.  Once you have pinpointed your home location there are several things that you make sure that you have and offer to keep your home at maximum occupancy.  There are some simple necessities as well as some small added perks that will ensure that guest will compliment your home and recommend to their friends and family.  A large portion of your rentals will come from repeat customers and referrals.  So making sure that your guest are happy and comfortable will pay off in the end.

  • Cable TV in a main living area and all the bedrooms.  You do not have to have the ultimate cable package with all the premium channels just basic cable will do.  It should be in all the bedrooms since most families on vacation need a break from everyone else sometimes.  A quick retreat to the bedroom for some veg time in front of the tube may be just what someone needs to relax.  There should be at least one TV that has a DVD player.  It’s a nice amenity that nowadays is a small investment.  You may also want to consider adding an x box or gaming system as well.  A small investment in a gaming system advertised on your vacation home site may just be the factor that separates your home from the neighbors’ rental. 
  • A few beach chairs for guest use.  They do not have to be teak chairs with the newest sumbrella cushions.  The collapsible ones with that can easily be toted to the beach are a nice amenity that people will remember. 
  •  Internet access with Wi-Fi.  In today’s day and age this is a must have.  If your guest can’t easily connect and share photos of their vacation they will not come back.  A reliable internet service that allows guest to check email, update Facebook, and browse for area attractions will be invaluable. 
  • A good website with great photos.  As with any marketing it is important to be able to see what the house and neighborhood has to offer.  If you are serious about renting the home it is always best to hire someone to professionally take the photos.  If you ask your Realtor they more than likely know of a good photographer who can get the job done with quality work and relatively inexpensively.
  • A barbecue grill.  As long as the community allows them I would say this is a must have.  There is nothing like being able to grill outside during a nice summer evening. 
  • A few bikes for guest to use.  At the end of the season most of the bike rental places sell off their older models and you can get a pretty good deal on a beach cruiser.  This is not a must have but it is a cheap investment that will set your place apart from the other homes in the area. 
  • A good reliable cleaning service.  During the changeover day you must have the house cleaned thoroughly.  If you plan on managing the property yourself make sure that you find a cleaner that does an incredible job.  There’s nothing worse than guest showing up on their first day of vacation and walking into a home that is not thoroughly cleaned. 
  • Have a welcome basket for all guest.  It doesn’t have to be something elaborate but something that brightens up guest arrival.  One thing that you can put in the basket is a few drink cozies that have the house name and website on it.  It’s something that the guest can take with them and remember the house by.   There are websites out there that make these things for relatively cheap and it is marketing money well spent.
  • Make up a guest info book.  Most all restaurants will have a take away menu.  Make up a binder and stick as many restaurant menus in there as possible.  Also make up a list of local grocery stores, liquor stores, dry cleaners, shops, amusement parks, and whatever else you can think of to make their stay more enjoyable.  It’s also good to include a set of house rules and community regulations.  These should include things like whether a badge or id is required for community amenity use, gate codes, trash pick-up days, and anything that pertains to the house and community. Be as detailed as possible with this.  Make sure that there is an emergency contact number in there.  If something breaks you want to respond quickly.
  • Have a guest memory book.  It’s a nice thing to have for guest to write down a personal note about their stay.  A lot of people will find it interesting to see what previous guest have found and done while on vacation in your home. 
  • Invest in durable furniture.  Most people want to go on vacation and stay in a place that is at least as nice as their primary home.  Thrift shop couches from the 1980’s just are not going to cut it.  You will be competing with other well maintained homes.  Buying cheap rickety chairs and tables will only ensure that you will be purchasing them year after year. 

 

Last but not least make sure that you block out the time that you want to spend at your home.  It is great when you have a home that is consistently occupied.  However if you can never come down and enjoy your home what is the point?  Having a home at the Beach is one of the greatest things.  For most it is a place that helps to reenergize and build family memories.  You will want to come down and enjoy it as much as your guest do!  When you are ready to buy a beach home give me a call!  Have a great day.

 

Delaware Beach Living

by Ashley Brosnahan

So it’s a Wednesday in the middle of December and you are sitting at your desk daydreaming about the beach and it occurs to you “What do people who live at the beach do in the winter?”  Do the beach towns roll up the boardwalk and barricade the dune crossovers? Is the beach even open in the winter?  Are there places to go out to eat in the winter?  Should drop a hint to my husband that I would like to check out the beach in the winter?  So many questions hit your mind.   As a lifelong resident of the Delaware Beach I can tell you I live here and love it!  As a majority of the population usually spends a few weeks vacationing at the beach most don’t have a clue of what it’s actually like to live here in a resort town.   So let me give you a little insight as to what full time life is like here.

  1. I can take a stroll on the beach anytime I want.  Say you’re having one of those days.  You know the one where everything is going haywire in your life.  Let me tell you that you can take 15 mins out of your day and walk up to the oceans edge and everything seems to pull back into place.  I don’t know what it is whether it be the smell of the briny air, the look of the ocean either fierce or calm, the sand, the dunes it just changes your whole attitude.  The best thing is that the Beach is always open.  There are no gates or attendants telling you sorry we are closed!  Just drive up park the car and revive your state of mind.
  2. The restaurants are open in the winter. Your favorite Bistro, the little pizza shop, the sushi place, the coffee shop on the boards are all open.  In fact winter time is a great time to visit the beach and hit up all your favorite haunts.  Summertime every place is flooded with people and 2 hour waits are the norm.  Wintertime not so much!  You can actually walk right in to most places and get seated right away.  The wait staff is eager to give excellent service.  Almost every restaurant runs some sort of special during the week so prices are affordable.  I rarely go into the town of Bethany Beach during the peak months, but during the winter time I will visit all of the great restaurants in town.
  3. The stores are open.  There are few seasonal stores any more.  The days are gone when the merchants boarded up for the winter.  You can still go by Bethany Surf Shop and grab a bar of wax, swing by the toy store on the boards and get the kiddos something, pop in the book store and grab the latest and greatest novel or stop by the bike shop to get the cruiser tuned up for summer time.  If you really are in a shopping frenzy then cruise on up to Rehoboth Beach and hit the outlets for all the famous brand clothes and accessories. 
  4. Entertainment is plentiful.  While most restaurants are competing for business they tend to get some really great entertainers.  Just the other night I had dinner at Mio Frattellos and was able to sit back and enjoy the great crooning of Brian Clark.  There are nights in some restaurants that feature music, comedy, drama etc.  The Dickens Parlour Theater is open year round and features nationally acclaimed magicians.  There are a couple of theater troupes in the area that produce some really fine plays.  There is an abundance of music and film festivals here throughout the year.  If you are bored in the evenings there is always some sort of entertainment that will keep you amused.
  5. The outdoors are calling.  Whether it be a bike ride on the boards or a nature hike through the fresh pond trails there is always something to get you out and about.  If keeping fit is your lifestyle an early morning jog on the beach is a stimulating workout.  There are numerous state parks tucked away around the county that offer hiking and biking trails as well as picnic pavilions and gathering areas.  If you are a bird watcher the Atlantic flyway is right overhead.  The Beach is just a place that lends itself to outdoor living. 
  6. Fishing is incredible year round.  I’ve always enjoyed being on the water.  I actually can’t imagine living anywhere else.  It’s one of those things that most don’t understand until they move to the beach.  In the spring and summer months you can hop on the boat and catch some flounder and blues.  If you’re more adventurous you can charter a deep see fishing boat and go chase marlins and tunas.  The fall and winter are great times to slide out in the afternoon and go looking for some strippers.  There’s nothing like pulling up to a massive pod of bunker being attacked at all angles by strippers, and whales from below and the gannets from above.  Our area is truly a sportsman’s paradise.
  7. The Golf courses are open.  If you’re a golfing freak there are more than enough courses in the area to keep you occupied.  Luckily the weather here in the mid-Atlantic region is mild enough that the golf courses stay open year round.  There are courses here that fit every and all styles of play.  If you are up for a quick nine or want to do a marathon 72 hole weekend there is something that will keep you engaged in the game.  In the winter time remember to dress warmly as a lot of the courses feature open water holes on the bays and can get pretty nippy with a brisk North Westerly wind.
  8. Coastal storms are awesome! While the weather channel and the major media outlets forecast doom, gloom and destruction there is nothing like witnessing a coastal storm in person.  It is something you have to see in person.  When you top the dune during a fierce Northeasterly blow the true power of Mother Nature smacks you in the face.  It is exhilarating to see the ocean churned up into a boiling cauldron.  You can stand at the crest of the dune and actually lean into the wind and it will keep you standing up.  Just looking out to sea I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a merchant marine who is ferrying goods on the ocean during one of these events.  After the storms it is literally a treasure hunt walking down the beach.  Whether you are discovering fully intact conch shells or pieces of gold coins from old shipwrecks it is always a pleasure to stroll down the beach as the ocean subsides to its idyllic state. 
  9. It is a slower pace of life.  One of the hardest things that people who move here have is getting used to the pace of life at the Beach.  Nobody is in a rush to do anything. You just have to get used to it because you aren’t going to change the habits of the locals.  When the fish are biting or it’s some sort of hunting season you might as well figure on a job to take twice as long as someone tells you.  It is an adjustment but you will earn to plan accordingly.
  10. Once you move to the Beach you won’t ever want to leave the coast again.  There is something about living here that connects you to the water.  I don’t know exactly what it is but I just can’t ever imagine living anyplace that is more than a hop skip and jump from the water.  I know friends who were drawn away in a career path that took them to the concrete jungle only to return to the coast.  There must be something in the air that makes you want to never leave.   If you could bottle up the fresh salty air and sell it you would be a billionaire! 

I could go on and on about life here at the beach.  This is really just a small insight to what it’s like to live where most people vacation.  It truly is a wonderful place to live and raise a family.  I enjoy living here so much and love to share my experiences.  If you have any questions about life here give me a call.  I would love to chat with you about it.  When you’re ready to make the plunge and move to the beach I will be here to assist you in any way possible.  Have a fabulous day!

Delaware Property Taxes

by Ashley Brosnahan

There are so many reasons to move to the Delaware Beaches that I could spend hours going on and on how wonderful it is here.  The beaches, the bays, the healthy lifestyle, and on and on.  However did you ever consider the extremely low property taxes?  Probably one of the greatest things about our wonderful state is that we enjoy extremely low property taxes.  In fact they are among the lowest in the country!  So how low are the Delaware property taxes?  Let us take a look.

A recent study done by tax-rates.org compared the property tax rates of all 50 states and the District of Colombia.  Out of the 50 States and the District Delaware ranked 48 out of 51.  WOW!  Only Alabama, Hawaii and Louisiana had a lower property tax rate.  According to the study a property tax is defined as a municipal tax levied by counties, cities or various tax districts on homes, businesses and land.  Since tax rates vary widely from county to county tax-rate.org used aggregate data to compare median property tax in dollars, median property tax as percentage of home value, and several other benchmarks. Their findings and rankings really make Delaware an attractive place to buy or invest in Real Estate. 

So how does Delaware compare to our neighboring states?  Let’s take a look.  Since Delaware is situated in the DelMarVa peninsula let’s first take a look at the three states that comprise DelMarVa.  Starting with Delaware the comparison data shows that Delawarians pay a median property tax of about 0.43% of assessed fair market value.  A number in and of itself seems irrelevant until you start to look at our neighbors ranks.  As most of Delaware is flanked by the State of Maryland we will look at that first.  According to tax-rate.org’s data Marylanders pay twice as much as Delawarians.  Their median property tax ends up being 0.87% of assessed fair market value.  At that rate it ranks Maryland at #25 on the list. 

Next up is Virginia.  While we do not share any borders with Virginia it still occupies the DelMarVa Peninsula.  Also we have a lot of summer time visitors that make the annual pilgrimage to our beaches and enjoy what we have to offer.  In looking at the property taxes in Virginia they are not quite double like Maryland but they are considerably higher.  Their rate ends up being about 0.74% of assessed fair market value.  This lands them with a ranking among the states at #34.  In addition to Real Estate property tax Virginia also has a personal property tax.  It ranks as the #1 state in the Nation for vehicle tax!  Looking at this from a dollars and cents comparison the average Delaware home will pay $917.00 in property tax and $0.00 in vehicle tax.  The average Virginia home will pay $1,369.00 in property tax and $962.00 in vehicle tax for a total of $2,331.00 in property taxes.  If we look at Maryland a homeowner will pay $1,889.00 in property taxes and $0.00 in vehicle taxes.*    So comparatively looking at the DelMarVa Peninsula Delaware definitely shines in the property tax arena.

Looking to our Northern border we have Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  The State of Pennsylvania moves up the charts in property tax.  Coming in at #13 in the nation, at a rate of 1.35% of assessed fair market value, Pennsylvania’s property tax is more than three times the rate of Delaware.  Pennsylvania shares Delaware and Maryland’s 0% tax rate on personal property so that becomes a non-issue when speaking of property taxes.  Now looking at Delaware’s other neighbor to the North and East we find the State with the #1 highest property tax rate in the U.S.A.  With a tax rate of 1.89% of assessed fair market value New Jersey property tax is almost 4 ½ times higher than a comparable home in Delaware! Luckily for residents of the State of New Jersey they do not have a personal property tax. 

So what does this all mean?  Well the obvious is that if you move from an adjacent state to the Delaware Beaches you will have lower property taxes. So how much lower?  Let’s use their numbers and make a comparison.  For arguments sake let’s assume that you are living in a $500,000.00 3 bedroom 2 bath home in your home state and you are looking at a comparable $500,000.00 3 bedroom 2 bath home in the Delaware Beaches area.  For our argument we will assume that you are moving to Delaware and not purchasing a second home here.

State

Home Value

Property Tax

Personal Property Tax

Total Property Tax

Delaware Tax Savings

Delaware

$500,000.00

$2,150.00

$0.00

$2,150.00

$0.00

Maryland

$500,000.00

$4,350.00

$0.00

$4,350.00

$2,200.00

Virginia

$500,000.00

$3,700.00

$962.00

$4,662.00

$2,512.00

Pennsylvania

$500,000.00

$6,750.00

$0.00

$6,750.00

$4,600.00

New Jersey

$500,000.00

$9,450.00

$0.00

$9,450.00

$7,300.00

 

Wow that’s a crazy amount of savings especially if you are moving from New Jersey!  Today I saw gas was $1.99/gallon at the Royal Farms in Ocean View.  If your car takes 20 gallons of gas to fill up and you moved here from Maryland you could fill your car up 55 times!  If you moved here from New Jersey you could fill the same car up with gas 183 times!  WOW!  It’s a great time to buy at the Delaware Beaches so give me a call.  Have a great holiday season.

 

*https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-property-taxes/11585/

Are You Ready For An Ocean Front Home?

by Ashley Brosnahan

Are you ready for an Ocean Front Home?

We all love to look at the wonderful homes that dot the Delaware Coast line.  They range from modern marvels of exquisite architecture to bungalows of a bygone era.  Each one has a story and character that goes with them.  Now if you are fortunate enough in life to be able to afford one of these Ocean Front beauties you may ask what does it take to keep up with one?  Purchase price aside it takes a lot to keep these homes in tip top shape. 

The Atlantic seaboard has some real harsh weather.  Whether it be hurricanes in the summer or Nor’easters in the winter these beachfront marvels take a beating.  Before you take the multi-million dollar plunge on an oceanfront legacy home you should be aware that these homes will require consistent maintenance even when the weather is calm and serene.  That cool sea breeze in the summertime afternoon is soothing and refreshing to the senses.  However it also carries with it a constant barrage of salt and sand.  I was recently sitting on an Ocean Front deck with a homeowner and remarked how calm and refreshing it was in the cool late summer evening breeze.  Their response was somewhat amusing but brutally true.  “As we sit here enjoying this, something in this house is breaking down.”

At first I laughed but then though about how true the statement was.  For most people who have summertime retreats here at the Delaware Coast the dream is of a beautiful calming retreat.  A place for gathering family and friends to escape the constant go go of the world that got them here.  The reality is that in order to have the calm peaceful retreat you still must work hard to keep everything in tip top shape.  No one wants to come down to the beach and be on a constant maintenance mission.  Unfortunately for some this is reality.  However if you take a few common sense tips you will be able to have that retreat. 

As most beach homes are second or third homes a lot of ordinary maintenance items get deferred or overlooked.  Once they leave for the season very little thought is placed on the home.  Simple things that can and do break down in a primary home are usually taken care of quickly.  A second home at the beach may have things like old HVAC equipment or shingles that get blown off during a storm.  If these items are tended to like in a primary home the likelihood of severe damage or down time remain limited.  Here are some good ideas that will keep you enjoying your home for years to come.

  1. Get a service contract from one of the local Heating and Air contractors.  There is nothing worse than showing up at your Ocean Front retreat on the Fourth of July and having the Air Conditioner take a dump.  Make sure that they do a semiannual check on the systems.  Have them change the filters and check to make sure everything is balanced right.  A good thing to have in the maintenance contract is that emergency service is guaranteed and at preset rates.  A lot of headaches can be avoided by maintaining equipment properly and at regularly scheduled intervals.  The salt air at the beach can become very corrosive to the outside units so they do not tend to last as long as units that are installed in a less harsh environment.  A laboring unit is not running as efficiently as new equipment, and will likely fail at the least opportune moment.
  2. Establish a relationship with a good property manager.  One that checks on things while you are not there, is able to accept deliveries, and meet with contractors.  It is always a pain to wait for the cable company to show up between the hours of 8-4 on a Wednesday in the middle of the winter.  Also most of the property managers have good working relationships with tradesmen if an issue crops up while you are trying to enjoy your down time.  No one wants to call 5 different plumbers to fix a clogged drain and then wait for days on end for them to show up.  Have a meeting with them at the beginning and end of the season to discuss any issues that you may think need attention.  A good plan of action is to discuss major jobs like painting the house or retiling a bathroom in the fall.  That way things can be arranged in a timely fashion.  A lot of times if you plan on things like this in the fall you can get better pricing.  Most of the contractors here at the beach get into time crunches the closer we get to the season.  The spring time is just a mad house here at the beach with local contractors scrambling to get things done prior to the start of the summer season. 
  3. Take a good look at the home while you are relaxing on the deck.  The salt air and windblown sand will take the paint off quicker than you think.  Establish a good painting routine on the exterior.     Letting things get down to bare wood can become a costly project.  If you have a good maintenance program in effect you can keep up with the elements that are constantly attacking the home.  Most of the HOA’s do not allow exterior painting in the summer months.  So being on top of things can help you to avoid having to sit through the summer staring at sand blasted wood. 
  4. Have a hurricane plan.  If we have a major weather event approaching be sure to have a plan to protect the home.  The last thing you want to be doing is putting away deck furniture in 50 knot winds.  Things like securing the furniture, hanging plants and trash cans should be thought of well in advance of an impending storm.  Make sure that you have made arrangements with a local contractor or property manager to have this done prior to the arrival of the storm.  A lot of homes already have plywood precut and ready to board up windows and doors.  If your home has this make sure you have prior arrangements for people to do this.  You don’t want to be the guy walking down the block asking the contractor next door to do your house next.  Chances are they already have several homes already in queue and may not be able to get your home done.  Be prepared to leave and have a plan to leave if it looks like things are going to get ugly. 
  5. Take a good look around before you leave for the season.  Make up a good list of things that you notice need attention and arrange early for those things to be attended to.  Light fixtures both interior and exterior will get tarnished with the salt air.  If they look worn they aren’t going to look any better when you arrive next season.  Heating and air vents will sweat and become rusty.  Exterior doors and windows if not lubricated on a consistent basis will begin to fail in short order.  Appliances will also have a diminished life span if you are one that keeps your windows and doors open in the summer time.  Place a thermometer in the refrigerator and take note of diminished cooling temps.  Anything mechanical in a beachfront home will not have as long of a life span as one in your primary home.  Keep in mind that a fix of a major appliance may be a little bit more entailed than replacing one at your primary home.  Replacing a Sub-Zero refrigerator on the 3rd floor kitchen may require hiring a crane to hoist the old refrigerator out and the new one in place.  Being proactive in this will save you the headache of having to go to the HOA and requesting permission to bring a crane in during the summer months. 
  6. Invest in a good quality security home monitoring system.  The technology in this field has come a long way and is an invaluable tool.  All sorts of home automation, monitoring and surveillance can be at your fingertips.  Any number of things can happen while you are away.  While break ins here at the beach are rare they do happen.  The most crucial part of one of these systems is a temperature monitor.  It can alert you to any number of things that could possibly cause catastrophic damage.  It is a good thing to have to know if there is a power outage and all the heating systems shut down.  If you have monitoring system you will be alerted immediately and you can make arrangements for someone to stop by and check on the home.  This fall we had an unusual weather pattern.  We had about a three week period where the wind was blowing off the ocean and no rain.  It was causing large build ups of salt on the isolators on the large power lines on route one.  The local power companies had to hire the local fire departments to come and hose off the power lines.  This was causing power outages up and down the coastal areas.  It would be nice to have the peace of mind to know that your home is without power for an extended period of time someone can stop by and check on things.  There are any number of environmental factors could also be alerted to.  Something unexpected like a sea gull crashing through a window could cause major damage if no one was down.  Can you imagine an injured gull inside your home squawking and hundreds of others coming inside to investigate? What a mess.  Another added luxury to home security systems is the ability to remotely control systems in your home.  Imagine you find yourself with a long weekend off in the dead of winter.  You could raise the temperature in the home, ignite a gas fireplace, turn lights on in the home, and raise the temperature of the oceanfront hot tub.  By the time you get the home you could just walk into a warm home and enjoy the solitude that a winter night at the beach brings.
  7. Make sure that you know that anything on the ground level of the home can be destroyed in a flooding event.  FEMA regulations require anything below the flood elevation of a home in a flood zone be of adequate construction.  This generally includes break away walls and flood vents.  If you have storage areas or even some living space in the ground level know that the buildings construction is generally built to allow flood waters to freely pass through. Even though they may look and feel sound they are designed with the idea that when a tidal event comes everything is going to get wet.  A lot of beach toys and accessories are typically stored on the ground level for convenience.  Bikes, grills, beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and innumerable such things are typically found down there.  These items are subject to getting wet.  It’s a good idea to try and not store any dry goods that you will be using down there.  Things like linens, spare clothes, extra beds or cots should be stored somewhere above the flood elevation.  It’s probably not a good idea to leave your Maserati down there if you are not going to be there as well. 
  8. Hire a local landscaping contractor and listen to their suggestions.  Unless your idea of enjoyment is hanging out in the garden and pulling weeds it is best left to the professionals to maintain the exterior grounds.  Just about all of the local landscaping contractors in the area have been planting plants and know what does and doesn’t grow here on the ocean front. Trust in their judgement to make the grounds beautiful.  You may have a favorite tree, shrub or flower that you like to see, but not all plants can survive the environment.  Their knowledge of local plants that thrive in the salty humid environment will go a long way in making your grounds beautiful. Also make sure that you communicate with them for yearly contracts.  This ensures that irrigation systems are maintained, yearly plantings are scheduled, and plantings are pruned on a regular basis.  A yearly contract with a professional local landscaping contract also ensures you that come spring time your home will be well attended to and not thrown into the mix during crunch time. 
  9. Know your HOA covenants front to back and upside down.  These govern everything from the size and style of your trash can to the color you paint your house.  Some HOA’s only allow natural products to be used on the exterior of the home.  Meaning that when it comes time to replace your siding or roof you may only be able to replace with natural cedar.  Some have restrictions on colors of the exterior.  You don’t want to be the one forced to repaint your home because you decided to paint the exterior in a colorful Bahamian scheme.  Almost all HOA’s have an architectural review committee and it’s better to submit your plans to them prior to making a drastic change to the exterior.  As well most communities restrict any renovation or construction during the summer months.  Plan on major renovations in the off season and make sure that you allow yourself ample time for completion of the renovations.  A few things that needs to be factored into this time period is architectural review, state and local governmental permitting approval.  Planning, permitting, and approvals of a major renovation can sometimes take months to achieve.  You will save yourself a tremendous amount of unwanted worry and headache if you know what these rules are and are prepared for the time it takes to get approvals.   
  10. Last but not least plan on a budget for yearly upkeep.  All of the items listed above will cost something to achieve.  Buying an Ocean Front home and expecting a get it and forget it approach will result in costly deferred maintenance.  You want to come down and enjoy the home that you worked so hard to achieve.  Forgetting about it at the end of the season with the expectation that it is spectacular when you return for next season will only leave you disappointed and working on the home when you should be enjoying it.  It’s not unrealistic to spend anywhere from 1 ½ % to 4 % of the purchase price of the home per year to maintain it. For an Ocean Front home, that cost into the millions, this number can be significant. However, knowing this going into the purchase will pay long term dividends in the enjoyment of the home.   

 

Owning an Ocean Front home has so many benefits that far surpass owning something inland.  The fresh sea breezes, a wonderful place for kids to grow up, watching the sunrise daily over the Atlantic, and a healthy lifestyle that includes swimming in the waves, jogging on the beach or just a leisurely shelling expedition are at your doorstep.  These homes are truly where memories are made.     If you are ready to make the plunge and invest in a home that will be creating memories for generations to come give me a call.  I’d love to take you on a tour of these Ocean Front gems! 

Pirates, Lighthouses, and Land Deals

by Ashley Brosnahan

 

The Fenwick shoals off the coast of Fenwick Island has helped define the little beach town in the south eastern most corner of the state of Delaware.  If it wasn’t for this natural underwater feature Fenwick Island may not have become the great little coastal Delaware town that it is today.  Situated about 5 miles east of the town of Fenwick Island the Fenwick shoals has claimed quite a few ships.  In order to warn Mariners from the perilous hazard to navigation, the Fenwick Lighthouse was completed in 1859.  Prior to its erection the barrier island was just sand dunes and salt marshes.  The town is steeped in U.S. History dating back to land disputes between William Penn and Lord Baltimore. 

The history of the land mass that is now Fenwick Island dates back to 1681.  During this period in history King Charles of England granted William Penn 29,000,000 acres of land.  This tract of land is basically now the state of Pennsylvania and Delaware.  Immediately upon the granting of this land a huge discrepancy arose between William Penn and Lord Baltimore.  Lord Baltimore was the owner of the Maryland territory.  As Penn had acquired, through the land grant, much of the State of Delaware an argument ensued over the borders of the property.  This controversy raged through four generations and was not finally settled until 1768.  By 1750 all the land disputes had been settled with the exception of the Southernmost east-west boarder.  During that year the two agreed to have surveyors stake out the border between the two properties.     The first survey stake was driven at a point 139 perches from the Atlantic Ocean in between four mulberry trees. This is the exact location of the Fenwick lighthouse today.  Since a permanent marker could not be set at a point on the beach the survey team continued 6 miles westward and set another marker.  At this point in time the survey team abandoned the project because the weather was too bad, their cabin had burned down and they were suffering from exposure.  In April of 1751 the Commissioners reconvened at the original start point.  It was agreed upon that this would be the beginning point and the previous work was approved.  On April 26th 1751 a granite monument was placed at this point with the Calverts arms on the South side and William Penn’s arms on the North side.  Other stones were then set along the east west line in 5 mile intervals to become the southern border of the State of Delaware. 

Soon after the establishment of this line Lord Baltimore died.  This delayed the process of establishing the North South border of Maryland and Delaware for about 10 years.  In 1760 the descendants of Penn and Lord Baltimore hired another survey crew to establish the 81 mile border to the top arc of the State of Delaware.  The surveyors did such a poor job establishing this line that the families agreed to hire the esteemed Engineering Firm of Mason and Dixon to complete the job.  In 1763 Mason and Dixon arrived in southern Delaware and accepted the East-West line as the correct and true border and then deemed it Trans Penisular Line. Mason and Dixon then plotted out the rest of the North-South line to the arc of Delaware.  This 223 mile long survey is now know in history as the famous Mason Dixon Line. 

  

 

While all of this information is fascinating U.S. history the land deals that Lord Baltimore was making while all of this discrepancy was going on are even more intriguing. During the early 18th century Fenwick Island was more of an Island than it is today.  As a barrier island several inlets that no longer exist had been cut through to the Assawoman bay.  This area generally from Northern Ocean City to an inlet just North of the Delaware Maryland board was known as Fishing Harbor.  The inlets have since been silted in by storms.  A bold seafaring man named William Fassett was forced overboard by pirates, off the Atlantic coast and swam up to the beach in Fishing Harbor.  Legend has it that Fassett was so thankful that he had made it to shore that he would one day own the stretch of Atlantic coast known now as Fenwick Island. 

 

Even though William Penn and Lord Baltimore were having the land dispute about the southern portions of the Delaware coast Lord Baltimore had laid claim to the coast from the Maryland Delaware border to Cape Henlopen.  In today’s real estate world this is known as the Baltimore Hundred.  Lord Baltimore being the land dealer that he was granted to William Stevens in 1681 “All that tract or parcel of land called Fishing Harbor lying on the seaboard side, an island to the northeast of the mouth of the St. Martins River, and little to the eastward of a narrow passage of marshes between the heads of two inlets of water."  A few years after acquiring the Fishing Harbor property Stevens died.  His estate then sold the land in 1692 to Thomas Fenwick.  The property was sold for 30£ Sterling.  In today’s terms this would be about $1,700.00.  Quite a good deal eh?   The area was then renamed Fenwick Island.  Thomas Fenwick was a refined gentleman and had little or no interest in the barren Barrier Island.  He spent very little time visiting his property and never established a home there.  Fenwick died in 1708 and the property passed on to his Daughter Mary. 



It was about this time in history that Fassett was forced overboard by pirates and swam to Fenwick Island.  Little is known about the time period that Fassett spent on the island, but through some circumstances he came to know Mary Fenwick.  Fassett and Fenwick were married and Fassett fulfilled his dream to own the slice of the Delaware Coast.  William and Mary spent their married life living on and off the Island but it never grew into a bustling coastal settlement.  During this time period the island was primarily a fishing camp.  As the years passed the area started a slow growth. 

The nation was growing and as such the fastest form of transportation was the Atlantic Ocean.  Merchant ships that were transiting to the ports of Lewes, Wilmington and Philadelphia would be approaching from the South.  This southerly approach would lead them close to the Coast of Fenwick Island and the treacherous Fenwick Shoal.  The natural sand shoal which rises from depths of 60’ of water to 16’ of water caused many groundings and quite a few sinking of Merchant ships.  In order to warn mariners, the U.S. Congress authorized the construction of the Fenwick Island lighthouse in 1856.  The lighthouse position would be the location of the granite monument positioned by Lord Baltimore and William Penn.  The area for the lighthouse was positioned in 1857 and the foundation was set.  It took 2 more years for the light house to be constructed.  On August 1, 1859 the lighthouse was completed and lit.  The total cost for construction of the lighthouse was $23,748.96.  The lighthouse stands a third of a mile inland it is 83’ tall, it’s 15,000 candlepower light flashes white every 3 seconds and is visible up to 15 miles out to sea. 

This was the beginning of the growth of Fenwick Island.  After the lighthouse was complete two residences were built next to the beacon.  The residences housed the lighthouse tenders.  Shortly thereafter a lifesaving station was constructed just to the north of the light house.  These first few families were the very first permanent residence of the island.  In order to supply the families and the few other permanent residence that were beginning to inhabit the island a small bridge was constructed across the Fenwick ditch in 1880.  The strong currents through the narrow cut led to the bridges demise and in 1892 a wooden pile draw bridge was constructed.  Now with a reliable connection to the main land a few cabins were built in the sand dunes for family retreats.  These early cabins had no indoor plumbing, electricity and were lit by kerosene lights.  It was primitive living at best, but the pristine beaches and excellent fishing kept people there.  Since it was such a primitive area the main artery to the mainland had to be well maintained.  All supplies from kerosene to ice had to pass over the Fenwick ditch bridge.  The pile drawbridge was replaced again in 1934.

 

Around this time Fenwick Island had grown to a sizeable Coastal Beach town.  There were many cottages dotting the landscape and they were beginning to spread further into the state of Delaware’s property.  In 1941 the state of Delaware notified all of the cabin owners that they would need to purchase the land they were on.  The 1942 the state began selling ocean front lots for $200 and street side lots for $100.  All of the cabin owners bought their land and had their slice of the Delaware resort. It was shortly after this that WW II ended and the beach town began to blossom.  The ocean side streets were filing up with year round and summertime residents.  The growth was substantial and the year round residents were fearful that the town may grow too big and lose some of the small town charm.  Ocean City to the south was well on its way to a large beach town.  So in order to maintain the small town feel the Town of Fenwick incorporated in 1953.  The town shortly thereafter annexed the portion west of route one.  There is still a small portion of the town that remains unincorporated.  The section that runs east of route one from Atlantic Street to the Delaware Maryland border remains unincorporated.  The residents that lived in this section of town voted not to become part of the town.  They found the intentions of the town to be too restrictive of their lifestyle. 

The Town of Fenwick Island has come a long way since the William Fassett laid his tracks in the sand.  Today the town has many wonderful shops, entertainment and eateries.   Of course the main attraction has always been the water.  Whether it be fishing and waterskiing in the back bays or soaking up the rays on the Atlantic coastline everyone who lives and vacations here knows the feeling that William Fassett had when he first arrived.  They all want to own a piece of Fenwick Island! 

 

It's getting Fishy!

by Ashley Brosnahan

Its summertime and for a lot of us here at the beach that means fishing!  There are all kinds of fish in the sea and just about as many ways to catch them.  You can fish from a pier, the shore, the surf, a boat or whatever gets you close to the fish.  As fishermen and women get to catching inevitably you will begin to compare fish.  Who caught the big one?  The human competitive spirit takes over.  So in turn our summer season here at the Delmarva beaches turns into fishing tournament season.  There are world famous tournaments heled right here at our local docks.  Boats travel all up and down our coast to stop and fish for a few days in search of the big payday. 

This past weekend we saw the OC Tuna Tournament.  With over a half a million dollars up for grabs the Tuna tournament had a huge draw this year.  The big winner was the Sea Slammer.  Their 182# Big Eye tuna brought them a whopping $284,776.00.  Missing the big paycheck by a single pound the Osprey’s 181# Big Eye tuna brought them in a $45,909.00 paycheck.  The OC tuna tournament has several catagories that you can win in.  The next biggest payday goes to the stringer weight.  This is where  you combine the weight of your 5 heaviest fish per day.  The two day total will give you the heaviest stringer.  This year the Espadon brought back to the dock 398#’s worth of tuna over their two days of fishing.  This brought the crew of the Espadon a huge $193,606.00 paycheck.  Here are the complete results for the 2015 OC Tuna tournament:

SINGLE LARGEST TUNA

1ST - SEA SLAMMER ROB WAGNER (182 #S) $284,776.00
2ND - OSPREY TYLER NICHOLS (181 #S) $45,909.00
3RD - BLUE RUNNER RYAN YOST (157 #S) $26,872.00

HEAVIEST STRINGER

1ST - ESPADON CREW (398 #S) $193,606.00
2ND - THAT'S RIGHT CREW (191 #S) $45,909.00
3RD - FOOLISH PLEASURES CREW (182 #S) $26,872.00

DOLPHIN

1ST - BLUE RUNNER FRED IPPOLITO (42 #S) $16,620.00
2ND - M KELIJEAN E FRED CRICKENBERGER (22 #S) $1,000.00
3RD - DITCH DIGGER II JONATHAN FERM (21 #S) $500.00

TOP JUNIOR ANGLER

1ST - MYRA HT HUGH THOMAS CROPPER (43 #S) $1,000.000
2ND - BINNACLE ALEX GRAPES (41 #S) $500.00

TOP LADY ANGLER

1ST - THAT'S RIGHT MICHELE LAMBIE (150 #) $1,500.00
2ND - DA SEA VALERIE DUNN (63 #S) PRIZES
3RD - MYRA HT JL CROPPER (44 #S) PRIZES

40' & UNDER - SINGLE LARGEST TUNA

1ST - SUGARHOLE GEORGE HALL, III (133 #S) $4,050.00

40' & UNDER - HEAVIEST STRINGER

1ST - FOOLISH PLEASURES CREW (182 #S) $4,050.00

The next tournament up on the roster is the HUK Big Fish Classic.  This tournament is in it’s second year running.  It is a very unique tournament format as it allows the boats to fish a continuous 32 hour time period over the 3 day tournament.  So basically you can fish Friday into Saturday or Saturday into Sunday.  The tournament scales open up at 4:00 p.m. each day at the Talbot Street pier.  The basic format to win is Biggest fish on the dock wins! Last year the Reel Intents was the big winner.  Their 243.5# Big Eye tuna helped them walk away with a nice $35,772.00 paycheck.  So if you aren’t doing anything next weekend head on down to the Talbot Street pier in Ocean city to watch some Reel Big Fish get weighed in.

Ocean City has long been known as the White Marlin Capital of the world.  As such why wouldn’t they play host to the world’s largest billfishing tournament.  The White Marlin Open is in its 42 year running. With over $2,000,000 in prize money up for grabs you can bet that boats from far and wide will be traveling to our Delmarva shores to try and get a piece of the pie.  While all the boats and parties that they bring are scattered around the local marinas, the big show is at 16th street in Ocean City.  Nestled back in the harbor island community is the big weigh scale for the tournament.  Every year during the first week in August this sleepy community turns into the big party that is the White Marlin Open.  If you head on down early you might get a front row seat to watch the big ones get weighed in.  The scales open up Monday through Friday at 4:00 so head on down for a chance to see a million dollar fish weighed in.  Last year the big 78# white marlin brought the Dream Time a $1,290,411.00 paycheck.

Next up on the area fishing tournament schedule is the 21st annual Ladies only Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open Tournament.   This ladies only tournament is a charity billfishing event that benefits breast cancer research.  This tournament was started by Capt. Steve Harman as a way for local waitresses and bartenders to have an affordable and fun competition while raising money for a very important cause. The tournament continues to grow with over 100 boats entering. Participation is not limited only to anglers as there are silent auctions, 50/50 tickets, T-shirts for sale, and other fun events helping to raise money for breast cancer research. In the past 3 years alone, the Poor Girls Open has raised over $100,000 that was donated to the American Cancer Society.  It is held every year at the Bahia Marina.  This year’s tournament runs from August 13th to the 15th. Weigh ins start at 4:00 so head on down grab a T-shirt, buy some auction items and watch the ladies bring in their catches.

The next tournament on the schedule is the Mid-Atlantic 500.  The Mid-Atlantic is a dual port tournament.  This tournament splits their tournament venues between the Canyon Club in Cape May New Jersey and Sunset Marina in Ocean City.  The Mid-Atlantic is another big money Billfish tournament that generally targets the White Marlin.  Every year there is a big rivalry between the two venues. In fact there is an added entry level that paid out over $250,000 to the winners in each port.  There are multiple jackpots and ways to win in this tournament, but the big white marlin always is the target.  Last years payouts for the Mid-Atlantic 500 was over $2,000,000.00.   This years tournament starts on the 17th of August and runs through Friday the 21st.  Scales open at 5:00 so come on down to Sunset Marina in West Ocean City to check out on of the biggest Marlin tournaments in the country. 

 

The WW2 Towers

by Ashley Brosnahan

The WW 2 towers

 

 

Did you ever wonder what these were?  These monolithinc concrete towers that dot the Delaware coastline seem to intrigue visitors.  Why are they here?  What purpose do they serve? Were they built by aliens?  For years they have greeted beach goers.  However when they were built they served a very important part of our nations history.  So what are they?

During World War 2 these fire control towers were built to spot and triangulate enemy Naval activity.  Eleven of these towers were built between 1939 and 1942.  Rising some 80' above sea level these towers were manned by the U.S. army with 8 men each.  The job of these 8 men were to scan the horizon for German U-boats.  If two of these towers spotted a U-boat then a position could be triangulated and fired upon.  During the war the entrance to the Delaware bay was an important entrance to the ports and oil refineries in Delaware and Pennsylvania.  It was essential that commercial shipping in this area was protected.  

Hidden in the giant dunes in Cape Henlopen state park is Fort Miles.  Fort Miles held the massive 16" guns that protected the entrance to the bay.  These massive guns could hurl a shell up to 25 miles out to sea.  In addition to the big 16" guns were four 12" guns, four 6" guns and Eight 8" guns that were mounted on rail cars.  The big 16" guns are still pointed out to sea and visible to visitors to the area at Fort Miles.  Tower 7 is open to the public at Fort Miles.  You can actually go up and see what the Soldiers saw so long ago.  

So how real was the threat?  German U-boats did sink a number of U.S. ships off our coast and survivors of the attacks would wash up on the U.S. coastline.  In fact at the end of the war in 1945 a German U-boat surrendered to Fort Miles Just off the Delware coast.  These towers are a unique reminder to a time in our history.  Hopefully they will stand for a long time.

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Contact Information

Photo of Ashley Brosnahan Beach Team Real Estate
Ashley Brosnahan Beach Team
Long & Foster Realtors
33298 S. Coastal Highway
Bethany Beach DE 19930
Ashley: (302) 841-4200
Heather: (302) 858-7805 Neil: (302) 462-6196