Source: New York Times Online
Are you thinking that this might be the time to buy a second home, that weekend getaway that you’ve always wanted? Or, are you struggling financially and feeling pressure to sell your own weekend home? How can a buyer know that he or she is getting the best deal, that the property you buy now won’t be worth less in a few months? And, how can a seller know that selling now is a good idea? What if the market starts to recover in a few months?
Neither buyer nor seller (nor any real estate agent) can see the future, but anyone can see that, right now, many properties aren’t selling, at least not at the prices sellers want. There are, however, strategies for making the most of this market.
Diane Saatchi, a senior vice president with the Corcoran Group in the Hamptons, said her real estate market has certainly felt the impact of recent sharp drops in the stock market. “When this all began in mid-September, some buyers backed out of deals not yet signed up,” she wrote in an e-mail message. “Some sellers offered better terms to keep the deals on course. In some cases, this worked, in others not. Many would-be buyers moved to the sidelines and/or lowered their price points in looking.
“Some buyers have become more price-oriented. For example, there are buyers more concerned about size of discount than they are about location and amenities.”
Though the market for vacation homes is not immune from economic reality, it does not shadow the total real estate market. “While the overall housing market peaked in 2005, the market for vacation homes didn’t peak until 2006,” said Walter Molony, a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors in Washington. That doesn’t mean, though, that a recovery in the second-home market will lag behind the larger market. “A large number of our transactions are not subject to financing,” Ms. Saatchi said of second-home sales in the Hamptons, so a rebound could occur if consumer confidence rises ahead of a loosening of credit.
If you have a vacation home that you’re thinking of selling, this is almost certainly not the best time. “It depends on the seller’s needs,” Neil B. Garfinkel, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, said. “For example, if he needs to get out from under a mortgage, he may have to sell.”
The seller should be realistic about the market and realize that he is not going to get what he paid if he has owned the property only a short time. People who bought 5 or 10 years ago are more likely to see a profit, but nothing like what they would have realized a couple of years ago. A motivated seller can increase the odds in his favor by sprucing up the house to make it stand out among the many foreclosed houses, which are typically run-down, on the market.
“Those who want to or have to sell now are pricing ‘tight,’ ” Ms. Saatchi said, meaning about as low as the seller can go. “Listing brokers are advising sellers to discount from recent closed sales to set asking prices. With a large inventory, sellers are wise to price competitively to drive the most potential buyers to their properties. The adage ‘you can always come down’ does not work in this market as, if no one comes to look, there won’t even be those low offers.”
Some real estate agents have found that pricing below market can result in a higher selling price because the low asking price attracts more buyers.
Many would-be sellers are waiting for prices to rise a bit; in the meantime, they’re renting their properties, though the National Association of Realtors says that only about 15 percent of second-home owners traditionally rent out their houses.
If you’re looking for a vacation home, you’ll most likely find bargains, though some of the more desirable properties may have been taken off the market. You might pay particular attention to properties that have been on the market for more than three months, a sign that the seller may be willing to do what it takes to make a deal. When you do find what you want at a price you like, financing might be a problem.
“Days of financing 90 percent are long gone,” Mr. Garfinkel said. “You’ll need to put down at least 20 percent plus closing costs.”
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The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.
All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.