Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's a Good Time to Buy a Vacation Rental

Right now, the languishing housing market offers some lingering upsides for those who have a pot of investment dollars to burn.

Home prices are low, financing is cheap and inventories are bulging.
The planets have aligned over vacation rental acquisitions.
The road's been rocky for real estate in recent years, but that means it's a buyer's market and good time to grab a piece of the American Dream as a solid, long-term investment.
"Vacation homes are almost always a good investment," says vacation rental guru Christine Karpinski, director of Owner Community, the global leader in vacation rentals, hosting some 540,000 vacation rental listings.

"First, if you're looking for a good long-term investment, real estate tends to be a good bet. Second, vacation properties have the ability to pay for themselves, and owners often earn a profit in rental income. Third, the investment comes with the desirable perk of having a place at the beach or in the mountains to call your own," says Karpinski, a vacation rental owner herself and author of "How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment"(Kinney Pollack Press, $26.00).

Vacation rental space is the place more and more travelers opt for when they want a bargain getaway with accommodations that provide all the comforts of home.

According to Karpinski, here's why you want to move on that vacation rental now.

Prices are as low as they are going to go.

Property prices are as low as they've been in ten years. Procrastination won't keep them low. Analysts say the housing market is scraping bottom and poised to move up.
"I don't take the plunge now, I'll look back ten years from now and say, 'Why the heck didn't I buy back in 2010?'" says Karpinski

Interest rates are likewise as low as they are likely to go. had the interest rate for 30-year, conforming fixed rate mortgages at 4.23 percent on Oct. 25 and says rates on non-owner occupied properties is about a half a percentage point higher -- with a virtually mandated 20 to 30 percent down payment.

Markets are flush with inventory.

The slow economy and even slower housing market has left vacation markets brimming with buying opportunities, from sellers looking to move on or up, to foreclosures that warrant careful scrutiny.
"One caveat: Before you let yourself fall in love with a property, make sure it is legal to rent it out as a vacation home. Some areas and homeowners' associations do not allow short-term rentals," Karpinski warns.

Good help is easy to find.

The recession weeded out incompetent, fly-by-night real estate people who jumped on the booming market bandwagon. Those who survived have been around the block a few times and know the game.

Say Karpinski, "Real estate professionals still working today are the top in the business," says Karpinski.

Renting a vacation property is easier than ever.

Vacation rentals are more popular than ever, thanks to their home-away-from-home allure but also because the Internet has made them eminently more visible.

"More and more consumers are choosing to stay in cozy condos, cabins, and chalets instead of cramped, impersonal hotel rooms when they travel. And as market demand has surged, organizations like have sprung up to help connect vacation homeowners with these potential renters," Karpinski said.

The online vacation rental portals help owners market homes by posting photos, descriptions, testimonials and other marketing information to attract vacationers. also offers vacation rental owner support. It's Owner Community offers property owners expert information about proven best practices, setting up your business, upgrading amenities on a budget, handling complaints and cancellations and more.

After the Gulf oil disaster, set up the unique HomeAway Gulf Coast Response Center to fill a void left by major media and to help Gulf area vacation property owners through the lost income claims process, to provide insight from experts and to offer a forum for sharing concerns, stories and frustrations.

"Ten years ago vacation rental owners were on an island, but now it's easy to get the support you need," said Karpinski.

Buy now, beat the 2011 peak season rush.
The longer you wait to buy, the more likely mortgage rates and prices will rise and the good properties will be snatched up.

Buy now and you've got plenty of time to prepare yourself and your property for the peak rental season. Seasoned vacation property owners' rental fees generated during the twelve weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day pay their mortgages for an entire year. Most inquiries come in between January and March.

"By buying now, you will have a cushion of time to get the home ready for your guests, take great photos for your property listing, and start marketing it to potential renters," said Karpinski.


Phoenix Real Estate Market Report Summary

The comparisons of current active listings are based on the current inventory as of September 16, 2010. This data includes single family detached homes, patio homes, condos, and townhomes provided by the Arizona Multiple Listing Service. The monthly charts above are based on trailing twelve monthly averages from December 2009 to November 2010 which shows the total activity in the Phoenix Metropolitan real estate market over a twelve month period. The yearly charts above are based on a yearly average for 2005 to 2009 but a trailing twelve month average from December 2009 to November 2010 for the year 2010. Without the trailing twelve month average for the year 2010, the charts would be substantially skewed and would not portray an accurate view of the market on an annual basis.

Since the expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit on April 30, 2010, the real estate market has decreased in the average sold price and number of transactions. Since April 2010, the average sold price has decreased approximately -6.8% (down from last month), the average days on market have increased approximately +10.4% (down from last month) and the number of transaction has decreased approximately -27.0% (up from last month). Since the beginning of January 2010, the average sold price has decreased approximately -9.1%, the average day on market has increased approximately +17.8% and the number of transactions has increased approximately +16.2%, despite the decrease from the tax credits. Based on this information, it appears that demand in the market is weak since the expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit, which is expected when the government withdrawals stimulus from the market. Since we entered into the holiday season, the market has remained fairly stable after the readjustment in the market from the tax credits, as seen in the charts above.     

The number of Notice of Trustee Sales is currently on a steep decline which is typical since according to the historical charts for 2008 to 2009 the number of notices declined during the holiday seasons.. The number of notices is currently below the number for 2008 and 2009 but is unlikely to fall below the 2007 figures for at least another two years and it could continue its progression upward after the holiday season is over. The number of trustee’s deeds issued at the trustee auctions is also on a steep decline which means the competition for trustee properties has declined over the last two months. There is a large amount of properties sold at the court house steps but there is still a large amount of REO properties sold through the MLS. Although a large amount of foreclosures are being absorbed, the market will continue to see more and more foreclosures until the economy improves. According to the above market statistics, the demand for trustee sale foreclosures has declined but the demand for REO properties has stayed fairly consistent. It is impossible for real estate prices to go down much further since the market will eventually reach a level of equilibrium where demand will exceed supply and all buyers will rush into the market to take advantage of low prices before the prices start to increase.   A lot of investors and home buyer have already realized that now is the best time to buyer while prices are low. The year 2011 will be a better year for the real estate market as a whole.