By Ruben Gonzalez
Prudential California Realty (DBA)
Hollywood stars are not the only ones with homes in both California and New York. Farmers escape the Heartland for the sandy Floridian shores, too. Second home ownership has become an extremely popular trend in today’s real estate market. Why? Because demographics and technology are converging to create a historic opportunity for buyers and sellers. As Baby Boomers rush toward retirement, second homes suitable for play now and retirement later have enormous appeal.
Today, thanks to technology, second homes are becoming a place to work as well as play. Second homes may be located in resort areas. Others may be located near a second work environment for those who commute frequently between different business destinations. And the second home phenomenon stretches from Alaska to Florida, from Hawaii to Nova Scotia, and all points in-between.
How you use a second home is up to you, but if it’s something you’ve been considering, now is the time to get the information you need to make an informed decision. A qualified real estate professional can help guide you through financial considerations, assist you in finding the right community and even refer you to a resort property specialist for the destination of your dreams. Your real estate professional may be able to get you the information and advice you need to use the equity in your current home to finance the down payment on a second home, for example.
For many, a second home in a vacation or resort area can be an income property when not in use. Once again, a real estate professional will help you consider property management options that can be a crucial financial factor as well as important to peace-of-mind.
Married couples, generally over age 35, with or without children are almost twice as likely to own second homes as single persons. And the fastest growing segment of second home buyers are age 35 to 54, without children at home.
Some of the best locations are not more than two to three hours away from major metropolitan areas by car or plane. For example, Bostonians gravitate to Cape Cod. San Franciscans retreat to Lake Tahoe and Angelenos head for Palm Springs. Many people who live in the West also have second homes there. Yet, the biggest feeder market for second homes in the South are buyers from the Northeast.
What makes a second home location ideal? Natural beauty is great, but don’t forget about cultural and social resources, as well as first-rate golf, tennis and other popular sports facilities.
Second homes are a discretionary purchase, and everyone wants to feel secure in their environment. That’s why gated and guarded residential communities will continue to increase. And locations such as Sante Fe, New Mexico, and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which are removed from most urban problems, continue to be attractive.
Nevertheless, you will likely get more enjoyment out of a property you can get to quickly and can use frequently. Since you know this area, chances are you’ll make a better real estate investment closer to home. And be sure to look at each property with an eye toward tomorrow, because the vacation homes likely to appreciate the most are the ones that Boomers can play in today and retire in tomorrow.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to two or three communities that fit your price range and lifestyle, make comparisons of price and sales activity. Your real estate professional can help you determine which communities are most sales-worthy at present, and which are more likely to continue to be.
There are many factors involved in selecting the right community for you and your family. Discuss your options with your real estate professional. This will provide the information he or she needs to help you find property listings to tour. Remember, a targeted approach to house hunting is less time consuming, less expensive and more efficient.
New research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows vacation-home sales in the US rose 7.9% to 553,000 in 2009. Although well off the market peak of 1,067,000 sales in 2006, this represents the first time in three years the US vacation-home market has seen a lift.
Although the median sales price for vacation homes has increased to $169,000, up from $150,000 in 2008, this “may reflect increased sales in higher priced markets, particularly in areas of Florida and California where prices became highly attractive for buyers over the past year”, according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.
Ruben Gonzalez can be reached at (562) 507-0754 or E-mail.
Prudential (dba) is an independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity. (Note: Have the newspaper to insert the Equal Housing Opportunity logo here)