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Welcome Back Vacation Homes
by Phoebe Chongchua

Vacation home sales improved in 2012 by 10 percent and the outlook for second-home sales continues to look good because of favorable conditions, according to the National Association of Realtors.

"We had a strong stock market recovery, which helps more people in the prime ages for buying vacation homes. Attractively priced recreational property is also a big draw," said National Association of Realtors, Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun to

Discounted properties (mostly due to foreclosures) are causing investors to stay on the hunt for the best properties to buy for investments or second homes. When the real estate transaction is with an investor, it's typically an all-cash purchase. which causes other potential buyers (who have to rely on qualifying for loans) to be shut out. About 46 percent of vacation-home buyers and half of investment buyers paid all cash. Many of the homes purchased in 2012 as investments or vacation homes were distressed properties. If the homes needed to be financed the downpayment was usually very large.

What's the buyer profile? The median age is 45 and earned income was about $85,700. These buyers bought close to their primary home (approximately 21 miles) and about 35 percent of these buyers purchased more than one home. About 29 percent bought homes that were further away (100 miles).

Are these investors looking to flip? If so, it wouldn't be like it was in the recent bubble-boom of the housing market. Many of these properties need quite a bit of renovation. Investors are taking greater care to get the homes to an improved state before placing some of them back on the market to sell for a profit.

What are buyers looking for in a vacation home? It depends on what their future plans are, but generally they're looking for a retirement home, a family vacation spot, and/or a vacation home investment. With those things in mind, buyers are concerned with the properties' affordability, its ability to rent year-round, area rental rates, and the amount of rental properties in the area.

Making your home appealing to second-home buyers can help you target a specific group of buyers. If your home is located in a desirable vacation setting, you're well on your way to creating vacation-home-buyer appeal. While many second homes and investment properties purchased are distressed, not all are in poor condition.

If you have a home in good order and in a highly desirable vacation location, you're likely to have many second-home buyers interested. But what you do with the home will determine if they stay interested enough to make an offer.

Selling a vacation home is different from selling a primary residence for the reasons listed above. However, if you can highlight the things that matter to this group of buyers, you're likely to receive offers. Make sure you feature the rentability of your home. How does it compare to other homes in your area? Is there a surplus or barely enough rentals?

You also can showcase the surrounding area with a photo book or large digital picture frame that features all the great hot spots and vacation-type activities. Don't put all the personal family photos in this. It's not for a family keepsake. Instead make it a visual display of how awesome the town is for vacationing. This helps second-home buyers see all that the area has to offer. Try to find the unique vacation activities, not just the well-known places to visit. Capture sunrises or sunsets in the area and be sure to use high-quality resolution photos and videos to show off your vacation area.

Selling a vacation home is like trying to attract tourism to an area. Paint the best picture with photos, video and print brochures. Then make sure you spread the content with not only brochures at your Open House, but also digital picture frames, and online social media exposure. Remember, the house-buying process most often starts online.

©2013 Realty Times

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