July at Fishhawk Lake 2008
It would seem that a general downturn in the market across the U.S. would effect us up here in our little out-of-the-way community, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I have two sales pending this month (February), both properties are on the lake and are vastly different in size, price and who the customer is. One is a log cabin, 816 sq. feet, listed at $220,000 and a cash buyer who will eventually move up here fulltime. The other is a For Sale By Owner, 2100 sq. ft., priced at $385,000, out-of-state buyers who will get a loan and it will be a vacation destination for them several times a year. The only thing the properties have in common is that they are both on the water.
I sold a property in December, a partially built new home for $98,000 and the adjoining lot on private contract.There were many inquiries in December and January, albeit, interest does wane with holidays and bad weather. The profile of the December buyer is matching what I’m often seeing up here in the last two years; parents in their 30’s-40’s with younger kids. I do certainly have boomers who are looking for a great 2nd home, or soon-to-be retirees that want to live up here fulltime. But, unlike what some people feel a “resort” or “vacation” area would bring as potential buyers, these have been younger families with expendable income, or terrific credit with a large down payment and the need to pay attention to the memory-making that they want to create with their kids before college or leaving home ensues.
Extended families come out and view properties, discuss options for going in together on purchasing a home so that everyone can enjoy it, but mostly I see single families and couples actually making purchases. I did have a cash buyer last year, a young 26-year-old, who bought a very secluded lot to eventually build on. It’s been somewhat of a buyer’s market, but there are those sellers who can only go so far in lowering their price and then they won’t budge because they don’t need to. Also, there are many vacant lots that sellers will carry private contracts on, depending upon the down payment and the terms. You can own a lot FOREVER without building if you wanted to and just use it for day trips, camping, whatever. The only caveat is that according to the by-laws of our Homeowner’s Association you can’t leave a motorhome, etc. on the property for more than 30 days per year.
Another glitch for some folks is that we don’t allow rentals up here. The good side to that is that there’s not alot of riff-raff and garbage left over after a weekend of crazies coming up to get wild and never return, creating havoc along the way. You can lease for at least a year at a time. I do have one Lease/Option that I’ve done in the last several years, but those are very far and few between.
One of the things I like to mention to buyers is that you can buy something that is more reasonably priced than what you ultimately want (or can afford right now) with the idea that you can “upgrade” eventually. For example, I have a couple who bought an A-frame off the lake 2+ years ago, that sits up high, backs up to state forest and with an all-year view of the lake for about $200,000. Last year, they fell in love with a listing I had on the lake and decided to “upgrade” and now have their A-frame on the market. What you want to do in a case like this, is think about resale capabilities if you do think that you might want to go more expensive down-the-road. Obviously, you don’t want to carry multiple mortgages for long periods of time.
I have had several cash buyers–a nice surprise in the last two years of real estate at Fishhawk Lake! They do wield their swords though, and expect that because CASH IS KING, that they will get something special for their money, like a really great price!!!
Gayle Rich-Boxman, Broker