If you have ever gone on vacation to a resort property, the odds that you have dreamed about owning a vacation or second home are very high. The many options available to prospective buyers can be dizzying. Amenities such as championship golf courses, world-class skiing, and private airstrips are just a few of the options available these days in many resort communities.
Purchasing a resort property needs to also be about the right fit for your lifestyle, what you can afford, and what the resort affords you.
The Do’s of Shopping for a Vacation or Resort Home
- Do make a budget and consider your finances before shopping for property.
- Do interview potential real estate agents to assess their knowledge about second homes and vacations homes.
- Do visit the property more than once – visit at different seasons, winter/summer, daytime/nighttime.
- Do consider resale value, even if you don’t think you will ever sell.
The Don’ts of Buying a Vacation or Resort Home
- Don’t give in to your emotions before you are 100 percent certain this property will be the destination for your future vacations.
- Don’t drain your retirement accounts to purchase a second home or vacation home.
- Don’t hire your primary residence real estate agent if they don’t have any specific knowledge of vacation home sales in the area you are looking to purchase.
- Don’t buy a property on the first visit or while on vacation to the resort community. Make it a sound business decision, not one based on your emotions – see the first Don’t.
What is the Purpose of Your Vacation Home?
You will also need to consider the primary reason for buying a resort property. Will it be your primary residence, an investment, a weekend retreat, or maybe a retirement property? Make this one of the first questions you ask yourself, before looking at any property.
If the property will be for weekend use, it needs to be within a few hours’ driving distance. If it will be for retirement, then it needs to already be or be able to be made accessible, and be located near medical facilities. If the property will be for rental income, it needs to be near a popular ski resort, lake, or river.
Extra Costs to Factor In
Vacation or second homes have expenses that your primary residence may not have. Costs such as travel to get to the resort, maintenance, especially if it will be a rental property, vacation home insurance, and property taxes, all have to be factored into resort living.
Hire a Real Estate That Specializes in Vacation or Second Home Properties
A resort real estate agent should have the RSPS or Resort and Second Home Property Specialist Designation. This ensures they have been trained extensively in resort living, how to buy and sell second home properties, and the nuances involved in resort communities. For example in Mammoth Lakes, a qualified real estate agent can advise whether the property is allowed nightly rentals should you choose to rent the property when you are not there. They should also know the area very well that you are considering. If you determine that the real estate agent you are talking to about resort properties does not have this knowledge, immediately find someone who does, otherwise you could be steered into a bad real estate deal and no one wants that.
How are your personal finances?
If you are not paying cash for your vacation or second home property, most lenders will required buyers to put down between 20 and 25 percent on a second home. Use the online mortgage calculator on my website to get an estimate of how much you can afford, how much you will qualify for, and how much two mortgages will cost you if you currently hold a mortgage on your primary residence.
Sonja Bush is a Resort and Second Home Property Specialist and is ready to answer any questions you may have about resort living, the Mammoth Lakes area in general, or about the current real estate market in Mammoth.
Since most property buyers start their search on the internet, why not head over to Sonja’s property search page on her website to see what properties are currently available in the Mammoth Lakes area. Sonja can be reached by calling her at 661.979.9000, or emailing her at [email protected].
It can be a bit overwhelming when deciding to sell your property. The most important thing to remember is to be flexible, especially with sale terms. Purchase price, closing dates, move-in dates, storage, appliances, furniture and fees may all require a little negotiation. Whatever the terms, don’t let personal feelings stand in the way of a good deal.
Start with the basics. Curb appeal, cleanliness, overall good condition and updates are especially crucial. Any little flaw should be taken care of before the first buyer drives up.
- Attend open houses in your neighborhood to see what “sell-ready” really looks like. If you’re shy, ask your Real Estate Agent to walk you through a few sell-ready examples.
- Start with the exterior to ensure you’re making a good first impression. Clean up the front area including the yard, front door, porch and garage door. Change the lights on the front of the house, and if necessary, reset the walkway stone.
- Clean the interior beyond your standards. Even if they are impeccable, rent an industrial carpet cleaner or hire a professional cleaning service. Brighten the interior ambience with light fixture updates, as new lighting is one of the most inexpensive and noticeable improvements you can make prior to listing.
- Fix leaky faucets and make sure the water pressure is strong in both the kitchen and bathrooms.
- If necessary, a great way to improve the appearance of your home is to paint. Use only neutral colors that can easily lend themselves to different décor and styles of furniture.
Don’t reject low offers; negotiate
- Don’t dismiss lower-than-expected offers. Instead, consider buyer incentives that help you meet your asking price. Offer to pay the buyer’s closing costs, moving costs or loan origination fee. These can help the buyer with upfront costs. As well, you may consider offering a limited home warranty that covers HVAC systems and some appliances for a definitive period of time.
- Be careful of purchase offers that are contingent on the buyer selling their home first. Their home may be in a softer market than yours and you could be in for a long wait. Be sure that the purchase agreement includes a contingency-release clause. This way you’ll be able to sell if another buyer comes along.
- The purchase price is just part of the deal. Anything that makes your property stand apart from the competition will give it an edge in a buyer’s market.