By Seth Tilton
For many potential homebuyers, it's hard not to fantasize about owning a dreamy summer home this time of year. With that in mind, let's look at five tips for agents selling vacation homes:
Leverage technology, but be realistic. For many potential buyers, the ideal summer getaway is at least a plane or half-day car ride away. And while technology has made the remote buying process easier, statistics still tell us that most people are not willing to buy sight-unseen. Encourage your clients to engage with you on apps like Marco Polo and FaceTime, not as a replacement for seeing things in person, but as a time, money and travel saver for tying up loose ends after they've seen (and liked) the property for themselves.
Know what rents and what doesn't. Sure, investing in a second home of any sort is a big investment, but for buyers willing to supplement their personal stays with short-term rentals, knowing what "sells" in the rental market is key for generating cash. Time and time again, the best investments are properties that are close to the beach, outfitted with pools or pool access and allow pets.
Get real about risk management. While your client may have spent a lifetime dreaming about escaping to a remote country cabin, mitigating risk—and the hassle of dealing with unforeseen issues from a distance—should be a legitimate consideration for vacation homebuyers. While it may not seem quite as sexy on the surface, properties in complexes and neighborhoods with solid reserved funds are more protected against issues than their remote counterparts.
Help your clients factor in insurance upfront. For buyers new to tropical and waterfront real estate investments, forgetting to factor in necessary insurance costs, from flooding to hurricanes, is not uncommon. Educating clients on not only what necessary regional insurance looks like, such as how beach houses above a certain elevation don't require flood insurance, but also how and where it's baked into other monthly fees, builds trust and transparency.
Weigh out the pros and cons of property management options. For buyers who do plan to rent their vacation homes, working with a property management company can be hugely helpful for both visibility (i.e., marketing your property to potential renters) and day-to-day management. While the idea of "giving away" 15-20 percent of your rental income to a management company can be hard to stomach, so can acting as a landlord from afar.