Planning for your Vacation Home

By: Greg Ellingson

The rush and panic of Christmas and the partying of the New Year is over and inevitably now our thoughts are turning to....spring cleaning? NAH!

Vacation homes, more like! YES! Most of us are stuck in the middle of winter and wondering if we will ever get to that vacation home we planned. Well, one thing is for sure, now and in the next little while; a newly published chart shows that there may be a few bargains to pick up in the vacation home realty market.

And some of these bargains may be in your perfect vacation home area! This recently-released chart predicts which areas will be holding steady in the next two years, and which may be going down before going up again.

Either of these scenarios may interest a vacation home investor. If you like the safe bet of a slow, steady market, then pick out of the top ten who have less than one percent chance of a decline in their realty markets. If you are still saving up, then keep an eye on the fallen markets, and also the falling markets that have an average 85% chance of dropping further in the next two years.

The figures were put together by PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., to assist their underwriters in making decisions regarding the insurance of house loans across America. Among slow steady markets that are predicted to hold their price is San Antonio, Fort Worth and Austin - all in Texas, and Charlotte in North Carolina.

Some markets are already acknowledged to have declined, for instance California and Florida. The markets that PMI thinks may show a further decline in real estate include Phoenix and Mesa, both in Arizona and listed as having an 83% chance of dropping; Fort Lauderdale in Florida is estimated by them to have a 78% chance of decline in realty.

So there we have the 'bargain dropping' areas and the 'steadily rising' areas taken care of. Now what type of property is your ideal? Well, you probably can't afford your ideal; let's get practical here!

If this is the first rung of the ladder for you and you are taking on a second home for the first time, then it will probably be a modest, older single family dwelling, or a condo.

If you have a dream town or area in mind, then your priority may be to buy anything, in any condition, in that place. This is a good idea, as anything you buy will move up or down with the local market ratings and as you become more affluent you can move upwards in housing status.

Condos are usually lower down the price scale, although brand new ones are fetching high prices. "How about buying an older condo and 'doing it up'?", you may ask. Well, be careful that the condo rules will let you do this; often, there is a clause in the management's rule book that insists on a licensed builder carrying out repairs.

This is a safety precaution, because fixing your plumbing incorrectly could interfere with the plumbing downstairs, so a condo manager has to consider the well-being of all residents and all common areas.

If you search for an older single family property, then you should know that certain improvements will add more to your property price than others. This has been well researched by real estate companies and builders.

For instance, if you renovate a kitchen, then 80% of the money you spent doing it will be reflected by an increase in your property value; the same goes with the bathroom. This means if you spend $10,000, remodeling your bathroom, you may increase the price of your property by $8,000. Keep the colors neutral, especially the appliances!

A deck can increase the property value by anywhere from 50%-100% of the renovating outlay. This is how people make money on older homes. Certain other improvements like vinyl clad windows increase the value, but they also have a big initial outlay. Well, turn up the central heating and start looking; good luck in your hunt for your own vacation home.

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