Spotting trends in cottage sales and rentals
March 22, 2010 by cloeffler
Looking for a fresh twist on the residential real estate story? There is always the second-home specialty as reported in this article.
We’re 10 weeks out from Memorial Day – summer’s unofficial start – so how about a look at the vacation home and cottage niche? You can take the consumer tack, illustrate how this market reflects your region’s economy – or both – for a readable and picturesque package.
For many cash-strapped homeowners, juggling two mortgages isn’t quite as easy as it seemed to be earlier this decade. Many cabins and cottages are on the block, but it’s clearly a buyer’s market, with inventory up and median prices dropping by around 25 percent. The National Association of Realtors reported a year ago that sales of second homes had dropped 30 percent from 2007 to 2008. An update to the trade group’s Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey is due out in a few weeks. Meanwhile, the association’s “field guide” to the second-home market includes past articles and other resources that will help you organize your feature.
Check up on the cottage and cabin scene in your region’s resort areas. Sources include sellers, real estate agents, county assessors. Are people in financial straits failing to pay property taxes on vacation homes? What’s the foreclosure situation? Talk to do-it-yourself sellers who are advertising in classifieds – what gimmicks are they using to sweeten the deal? Are rental rates dropping?
Look for unusual tactics – I recently noticed a half-page ad one homeowner placed in my local coupon-clipper publication; it touted a single lavish vacation property hundreds of miles away.
Cottages by their nature are heavily invested with nostalgia and emotion; keep an eye out for interesting human interest stories, such as multi-generation cabins being sold off or abandoned. Also check into the economic effect on area businesses; fewer weekenders translates to less trade at mom-and-pop establishments that depend on seasonal business. How hard has this vicious downward spiral hit your state’s recreational spots?
Some industry sources say cheap prices and plenty of inventory are attracting investment buyers who plan to flip or rent out vacation properties.
And others note that homeowners who normally keep the cottage in the family are instead leasing out their second homes in a bid to boost cash flow or at least make the property pay its own way.
HomeAway.com, which operates several vacation-rental Web sites, says some markets are showing double or more the number of listings compared to a year ago. They’re up 178 percent in Telluride, Colo., for example, and 206 percent in Sunset Beach, N. Carolina, according to Victor Wang of HomeAway’s media relations staff.
While HomeAway doesn’t disclose overall listing trends for competitive reasons, Wang said generally they will try to assist journalists with data for specific markets and regions. He also has data about investment properties and buyer surveys.
If you’re focusing on rentals, in addition to local listing services and classifieds, try Vacation Rentals by Owner – it boasts 130,000 listings and very easy-to-use interface with region-specific state maps, making it a great source of “real people” for your stories.
By Melissa Preddy on Mar 22, 2010