Home Away From Home

A resurgent economy has led to an uptick in second home purchases nationwide, and the Commonwealth is no exception.

Thinking about buying a place at the “rivah,” or how nice it would be to vacation in your own beach house instead of renting one for a couple of weeks every summer?

You’re not alone, it seems. A resurgent economy has led to an uptick in second home purchases nationwide, and the Commonwealth is no exception.

“Affluent households have benefited from market opportunities recently,” says Bill White, president of the Glen Allen-based Virginia Association of Realtors. “In Virginia’s resort and vacation destinations, second home acquisition has been boosted by the low cost of financing and a desirable inventory.”

With Virginia’s real estate market seeing double digit growth overall last year (11 percent) and the average conventional 30-year fixed rate mortgage at a low 3.71 percent (at press time), second home buyers have contributed to that increase not only as a result of the rebounding economy, but also because of aging baby boomers who are either planning for retirement or are already retired and seeking second homes.

Pat Barton, a Realtor with RE/MAX Allegiance in Sandbridge Beach reports that the second home market in the Virginia Beach area has grown steadily over the last few years. “For these properties, a typical buyer is approaching retirement and investing in a beach home with interest in near-term rental income and family use potential,” he says.

Virginia’s top second home markets continue to be spread between oceanfront communities like Sandbridge and Virginia Beach, along rivers that carve up the state’s Tidewater regions, and in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains.

Median home prices vary from $210,000 in Norfolk to $140,000 in Roanoke and $270,000 in Charlottesville.

If you’re among the growing number of those in the market to buy a second home, Virginia Realtors urge you to really get to know the area you are looking at by making several visits, preferably during different times of the year, including both peak and off-seasons.

Something else to consider is distance—real estate experts agree that if you have to drive more than two hours to get to your vacation home, you won’t go nearly as often. Plus, it’s important to be within an easy drive in order to stay on top of maintenance issues that may arise.

If purchasing a vacation home is the first step in realizing a retirement dream, make sure that emotional desires are balanced with sound investment consideration, caution Virginia Realtors, who assist second home buyers with due diligence before buying that great river or beach house they’ve always hoped for.

“There can be a feeling of urgency once a buyer makes a decision to purchase a second home, not only with excitement in the decision, but because prices are relatively accessible and mortgage rates are still very advantageous,” says White.

“You want to be confident that the home will not only suit your needs today, but in the future.” VaRealtor.com


This article originally appeared in our special property and home section for June 2016.

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