You Can Never Be Too Thin, Too Rich or Have Too Many Homes

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Think I’m joking, eh? Actually, this is probably the best time in the history of housing to buy a second home. The number of vacation home purchases rose slightly in 2009, and even then they were up one percent from 2008, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2010 Investment and Second Home Buyer’s Survey. And 2010 figures are expected to be even higher!

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you things are great. Compared to the good old days of 2005 and 2006, when the vacation home market was as steroidal as the residential market, numbers are down. But with record low interest rates, buyers who can afford it are finding some of the best deals ever in the second home market. And more will be coming down the road.

Second Shelters is a blog devoted to every nuance of the second home or vacation home lifestyle and market. Whether you are a serious buyer who wants the very best deal in the best location, or a dreamer who finds vacation House Porn even more stimulating than regular House Porn, you are going to LOVE what we are going to serve up daily.

Great second home deals:  where are the developers slashing and dashing prices, making deals you don’t want to miss out on? We’ve got our ear to the ground from the  rivers and private ski mountains of Spanish Peaks in Big Sky, Montana, right next to The Yellowstone Club, to the best fly-fishing in the world at Wilder On The Taylor near Crested Butte, Colo. The beach resorts and emerald green waters of Florida’s panhandle are really ready to cut deals, thanks to BP and the worst oil spill to ever hit the American Gulf coast. How’s the water? Just fine, clean, and the sands are as pristine as ever.  If you want an even better bargain, the Alabama Gulf coast is practically giving away beach front properties. Did you know they are developing a Seaside-clone community on the Texas Gulf coast called Cinnamon Shores?  Who’s moving to Santa Fe – tons of retirees.  Whose buying a ranch these days – no one: too much land to manage, taxes to pay. Instead, Texas who love those Longhorns are riding bareback on shared ownership ranches from the Hill Country to Waco. Where are all the Baby Boomers building? North Carolina coast, as NC has become a more than fiscal-friendly haven for pre-retirees. Everyone still loves Utah and Colorado, though some hot developments there are on ice. Sales have cooled a bit in Idaho, where there are a few too many militia types who don’t enjoy sharing their woods with newcomers. Pebble Beach is still one of the most beautiful places in the world to live IF you can afford to it.

Well, guess what. Second Shelters will not only tell you and take you to developed communities, we are going to poke around for some true real estate bargains in housing – single family and condos, even in Pebble Beach.

And we use the “F” word around our offices a whole lot: second home foreclosures are ripe and waiting for you to pick them up. Read everyday for our “F-Word alerts.”

You know how restaurant critics rate and review restaurants so you don’t have to waste your time and money on a bad meal? Second Shelter editors do the same with vacation properties. We go and check them out, kick the tires, see what kind of construction materials are used, and rate everything from the plumbing fixtures to the roof to the SEER rating. If it’s a condo, we tell you if it’s quiet or noisy.

We like it best when you can get quick lift. That’s why we tell you what areas the airlines are eying for new routes, giving you faster service to your destination community.

The community concierge — angel or beast?

How secure is your home when you leave it? Did you know that squatters are moving in to empty vacation homes while you are away?

We bring in experts who tell us what to look for when you buy — and how to navigate those tricky association rules and documents.

And what about those vacation clubs that charge you over $100K to join, promising you beautiful homes whenever you want to travel. Well, to tell you the truth, some are not doing so well these days, and some are hanging pretty well. We’ve got the scoop.

Oh but there is one little dirty secret we will tell you right from the start: we never talk about our unfortunate cousin, the Timeshare. Not here, not ever. Shared ownership, OK, as long as we check it all out.

Don’t think you can afford a second shelter? The typical vacation home buyer has a median age of 46 and a median household income of $87,200. Half of all vacation home buyers in 2009 purchased their second home in the South; the typical property was a median distance of 348 miles from their primary residence, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Why do people buy second (and third, and fourth) homes? Because hotel travel is not predictable.  And it’s expensive. And there can be – horrors – bedbugs. Most people who buy second homes know the greatest resource of all is time. A second home gives them a chance to spend more of that precious commodity with family and friends. They want a place of their very own to get away where they can sleep on a clean, familiar bed and wake up to a kitchen, not a restaurant, then pop right down to the beach. Or fishing river. Or mountain. Or horse.

“When I get to Johnson City, I know what I’m going there for and I de-stress en route, “ says Paul Sumerall of his home at The Preserve at Walnut Springs. “ And when I’m there I forget about the stresses and the deadlines and just focus on enjoying the outdoors and all the ranch has to offer that is fun.”

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. hosena says

    if condos are highlighted, how much $$$ does the association have in the reserves, any special assessments in the near past or coming up in the future would be helpful

    good luck with the new venture

  2. hosena says

    if condos are highlighted, how much $$$ does the association have in the reserves, any special assessments in the near past or coming up in the future would be helpful

    good luck with the new venture

  3. Candy Evans says

    Thanks. I plan many posts on this. The biggest problem when buying these properties is that the developers spend and spend to market the properties, then leave the homeowners with a lot of debt — in some cases, not all. I’m going to figure out how to target that and what to do. Full disclosure: we have a second property and the HOA dues were just lowered!!!

  4. Candy Evans says

    Thanks. I plan many posts on this. The biggest problem when buying these properties is that the developers spend and spend to market the properties, then leave the homeowners with a lot of debt — in some cases, not all. I’m going to figure out how to target that and what to do. Full disclosure: we have a second property and the HOA dues were just lowered!!!