The small-town beach community has retained its hometown charm even though it has grown from a seasonal beach town into a year-round locale.
Read more about what to see and do in Rehoboth Beach right here.
We’ve all read a name of a place and wondered, what does that mean? Where does it come from? Sometimes it is a nod to the area’s history or founding father. Other times it may be a randomly chosen word. For Rehoboth it is a moniker that has led to a mindset for its residents. Rehoboth is a Hebrew word that means open space, and residents of Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach point this out, saying it is the definition of the community atmosphere. “Rehoboth welcomes all,” says Justin Healy, managing broker of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International. And Amy Warick, sales manager at The Debbie Reed Team Re/Max Realty Group, is quick to point out the correlation as well.
Both have been residents of the area for more than a decade and say the small-town beach community has retained its hometown charm even though it has grown from a seasonal beach town into a year-round locale.
Rehoboth Beach is a place everyone can enjoy. Kids can frolic in the waves either at the beach or at one of the two water parks then grab a treat at the downtown boardwalk, home to Dolle’s Salt Water Taffy and The Ice Cream Store. Adults can dine in fine-dining establishments or grab casual fare before heading to a bar for some imbibing and live music. And the whole family can take a bike ride on the Junction and Breakwater Trail that lies between Lewes and Rehoboth beaches on the western edge of Cape Henlopen State Park, charter a boat for fishing, take a lesson in kiteboarding or spend a day golfing at the many courses nearby.
The people are nice, and the pace is laid-back,” says Healy, a father of three young children, of the draw toward Rehoboth over the other beaches along the Delmarva Peninsula. “There is still a strong sense of community in the off-season but still thriving in the summertime, too.”
Healy also points out that “taxes are ridiculously low when compared to other areas; you could live in a house on the ocean.” The area also has great tax-free shopping, and Rehoboth is a smoke-free beach.
“The charm has retained,” explains Warick of what she feels Rehoboth has over the other surrounding beaches. “Streetscape, paver sidewalks, no overhead telephone poles—[Rehoboth] has a small-town feel [in the] center part of town, a bandstand and great walkability.”
45% single residents
Median Age: 59
Median Household Income: $63,333
62% college educated
Developments & Vacation Homes
Anyone can benefit from the beautiful atmosphere that is found at Rehoboth Beach. “Everybody is buying,” says Ocean Atlantic’s managing broker Justin Healy, adding that in his decade-plus of experience he has seen lots of backgrounds and people from all walks of life, “which makes it a fun spot.”
With its close proximity to D.C., Philadelphia and New York, Rehoboth brings in a lot of vacationers. Healy says on the beachfront there is a breakdown of about 70 percent vacation home-owners to 30 percent full-time residents, and as you move into town it becomes more of a 50/50 split. Of those who are moving in, a lot are baby boomers who are buying first as a vacation spot with the purpose of later making Rehoboth a permanent home.
Amy Warick at The Debbie Reed Team says she is seeing millennials and Gen-Xers starting to get in on the game as well.
There is a lot of new construction happening in the area, along with people purchasing older homes and then doing a tear-down and rebuild on the lot.
“The market has been very steady,” says Warick. “We’re seeing a lot of multiple-offer situations. The value [of homes] is creeping up, and inventory is low.”
When looking to buy, there are options inside the city limits, right along the beachfront and then just outside of downtown, where Healy says a lot of the new development is happening.
There is a mix of single-family home communities popping up and a new townhome community just on the other side of the bridge with homes that start in the upper $400,000s. There is even a new community in the works that is geared toward the 55-plus demographic, Warick says.
When buying in Rehoboth and moving forward with the property being a rental, Warick and Healy explain that within the city limits, homeowners need to acquire a rental license and pay a rental tax, and as of now there aren’t any restrictions on renting through places like VRBO or Airbnb. Warick adds that the city has become more stringent over the last couple of years when it comes to occupancy, but if a homeowner is trying to get a lot out of their rental, it is not hard to find year-round renters.
Real Estate Stats
Median Sale Price: $437,000
Median Listing Price: $480,000
Median Price per Square Foot: $230
Tips for Buying a Beach House
• Remember why you’re looking for a vacation home: to break away from daily life to a place where you can relax.
• You’re not going to be there all the time, so you need someone who can keep an eye on it for you. Use concierge services.
• Winterize it.
• A lot of people are now coming down and working for a couple days, so set up the home with Wi-Fi and an office to do the work/play thing.
• Know you are going to have guests and make the accommodations good for gathering, eating and spending time with them.
• Location is the most important thing. If it is a place you want to be, others will want to be there, too.
• Look beyond what is there. It may be tired-looking, but if you’re able to do minor work, you can get a lot of sweat equity out of it and get a lot more for your value.
• You want to look for a home or rental property that already is a rental so you can look at the history of how well it does for rentals. Plus, you can pick up the existing clients.
• If you have a great rental agent, they can help you.