Vacation homes are more likely to be sold directly from one owner to the next with no real estate agent involved.
The National Association of Realtors.
According to its 2010 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, vacation home buyers were nearly twice as likely as primary-home buyers to:
> talk with friends and relatives about buying
> contact a home seller directly
> rely on local media, such as newspapers, magazines and homeselling publications
It’s all part of the fun of househunting for a vacation home, which becomes a ritual for many couples who return year after year to the same regions to look for their dream getaway. Getting to know the area means getting to know full-time residents and other vacation home owners – and that means a good chance of hearing about a “by owner” house that has yet to hit the agent circuit.
One time-honored strategy is to rent vacation homes in the neighborhoods in which you are considering buying. Usually, it takes five to ten years to find the perfect vacation home, so that gives you several years of vacations spent with potential neighbors.
Hanging around the local grocery store, scoping out local vacation-home service providers, such as landscapers and handymen, and chatting up owners of local attractions – such as boat rental services – can arm you with information about what neighborhoods are considered up and coming and which are not as desirable. Get to be a regular, and you’ll win permission to ask about owners who might be willing to sell, if the price and timing were right.
7.9%: Rise in vacation home sales from 2008 to 2009
$87,500: Median income of vacation home buyers in 2009, down from $97,200 in 2008
$169,000: Median sale price of vacation properties in 2009 (up from $150,000 in 2008)
46: Typical age of vacation-home buyers
Source: National Association of Realtors 2010 NAR Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey
Even running to the farmer’s market can yield serendipitous discoveries. Vary your route and you may find byways – and houses for sale – that you would otherwise miss in your typical routine.
Owners of vacation properties know how visitors are most likely to get in and out of town, and that is where they will post ‘for sale’ signs. Especially if you have a favorite back road, be sure to take a spin down the most-beaten path to see what is being advertised.
Most vacation homes are single-family, but if you are aiming for a condominium, you have an added advantage: the homeowners’ association. Make an appointment with the property manager and outline your wish list. Many management associations handle multiple properties…and they have access to the private, owners-only bulletin boards for them all. Request that promising properties be forwarded to you when they are put up for sale by owner on the internal online bulletin boards. Check in periodically to remind the busy managers to keep an eye out for you. A small holiday gift will keep you top of mind.
And, of course, check ForSaleByOwner.com and Realtor.com for widest variety of properties currently available. New vacation home listings most often come on the market in March and April, because sellers believe that the new owners will want to spend the upcoming summer in their new home. Autumn is a strong second, though, and can be a good time to bargain with owners who don’t want to face six months of winter dreading the next spring selling season.
Local networking works.
A full 19% of 2009 vacation home buyers bought directly from friends, relatives or neighbors, according to the NAR’s study. Get plugged in to your new community even before you live there, and you’ll increase your chances of getting the inside track for a terrific vacation home.
ForSaleByOwner.com is the country’s largest website that helps homeowners and buyers complete home sales directly.