Find Your Perfect Vacation Home!
If you’re lucky enough to be able to purchase a second home, the generally depressed second home real estate market and historically low interest rates beckon. According to the National Association of Realtors, Investment and Vacation Homes have excellent opportunities for great values throughout the region. With investment portfolios not performing as well as in years past many buyers are paying cash for second homes to secure a portion of their retirement nest egg in vacation homes.
For vacation-home buyers, New England has many choices, whether you want a mountain retreat with acres of land or a turnkey condominium in a seaside resort with a golf course and room service. Thanks to the current real estate slowdown, the market is flush with inventory, and the selection of homes is more plentiful and varied than it has been in several years. For buyers, it is a good time to shop.
If you don’t have a sizable amount to put down, there are also options available in the present market with sellers who is willing to carry part of your mortgage for vacation homes. In addition there is a glut in the market of older or retired owners who may for income of monthly payments for five to ten years. You can buy a second home this way with a lower down payment, and the qualifying standards won’t be as stringent as the bank’s. Here are a few reviews of various regions with properties for sale in each region. They key to finding your perfect vacation home is to visit numerous areas and stay a few days to get a feel for the community and the region.
In Newport, Rhode Island a modest wharf-area condo might now go for as low as the upper $300,000. A water view unit may go for more but Newport is a small community with easy access to most amenities just a short walk or bike ride. It was early in the 19th century that America’s wealthy families took notice of the littlest state and its 400 miles of scenic coastline. In 1839, the first of Newport’s famous “cottages” was built on what was then a country road. By the 1890s, railroad, silver and coal tycoons had turned Bellevue Avenue into a mansion row. For a second home that requires no renovations, buyers may consider Carnegie Abbey, a development six miles north of Newport in Portsmouth, R.I. It offers a Scottish-links-style championship golf course, equestrian facilities, yachting, tennis, fishing and cultural events at the Carnegie Abbey Club. Under construction are condos in a high-rise tower. Ellen Plunkett, a sales consultant for Carnegie Abbey, said prices start at $1.4 million for clubhouse condos, $2.2 million for single-family homes and $995,000 for condos in the tower, with the penthouse expected to list for $7.5 million.
Across the two-mile-long Newport Bridge is Jamestown, a 9.5-square-mile island that has maintained its rural sensibility despite its recent popularity as a market for summer homes. “You can get a lot more land in Jamestown,” said Joan McCauley of Island Realty. People are attracted by the natural beauty of the island’s rolling hills, rocky coastline and views of Narragansett Bay, but also by the low-key lifestyle. There are a few restaurants and shops in the village by the harbor, but it is a world away from the busy pace of Newport.
Westerly / Watch Hill
In the late 1800s, the wealthy also flocked to Watch Hill, a peninsula on Block Island Sound at the Connecticut border. In addition to the industrialists from Cincinnati, Philadelphia and St. Louis who built many of the village’s signature Victorian houses, tourists came to stay in the seven opulent hotels that stood along the shore.
Tiverton / Little Compton
Close to the Massachusetts border in southeastern Rhode Island, the towns of Tiverton and Little Compton are popular summer retreats with both Rhode Islanders and residents from the Boston area who find the hour-long drive less frenetic than the traffic-snarled trip to Cape Cod. Tiverton Four Corners has become a shopping destination with a cluster of small boutiques drawing customers across the state line. Little Compton is a small town with rural charm.
Cape Cod & The Island’s
On Cape Cod, vacation home prices are down about 20 percent over the last 10-year period. Mid- Cape seems to be the best bargain with plenty of condos available at reasonable price points. Even prices in Provincetown, with its easy access by fast ferry to Boston and its cosmopolitan feel, may surprise you with numerous properties priced in the low $300’s
In the mid-1800s, the western Massachusetts towns of Lenox and Stockbridge drew their share of industrialists and railroad barons who discovered that the Berkshire hills were a most pleasant place to spend a summer.
Today, summer remains the high season, but second-home owners find the cultural and outdoor attractions, including several downhill ski areas, enough to keep them visiting year-round. Many second-home owners were stretching their weekends into three and four days and that more of them were making a permanent move to the area. The Internet savvy can run their businesses from here and enjoy all that this area has to offer.
VERMONT & NEW HAMPSHIRE
Stowe / Woodstock
While it lays a justifiable claim to year-round resort status, this is an area built on snow. “Stowe is known as the ski capital of the East,” said Jo Sabel Courtney, a public relations manager for the Stowe Area Association, a tourist information center. “People have been com-ing here to ski from all over the world for 50 years.” The growth of ski touring owes much to Johannes von Trapp, who in 1968 opened his Nordic Ski Center at the Trapp Family Lodge, a Stowe landmark, which at the time had just 27 guest rooms. Operating out of a small shed and lending out wooden skis, Mr. von Trapp was the first to offer Americans cross-country trails, instruction and equipment in one location. Today, a modern lodge has replaced the old shed, and the trails that Mr. von Trapp marked with the lids from tin cans have been expanded into 90 miles of groomed and backcountry terrain.
Woodstock, Vt. is a sophisticated mix of high-end restaurants and shops, notably antique emporiums, and a New England village ambience. The Woodstock Inn, founded by Laurence S. Rockefeller, is the gold standard for country inns. It offers four-star dining, a fitness center with a pool, and year-round tennis and golf. Just outside Woodstock is the village of Quechee, best known for Quechee Gorge — sometimes called Vermont’s little Grand Canyon — Quechee State Park, and the Simon Pearce store and restaurant at the Old Mill, where visitors can watch glass-blowers and potters at work, shop for Simon Pearce glass and pottery, and dine over-looking the falls on the Ottauquechee River. Quechee Lakes Development is a 5,200-acre project that began in 1970. There is a mix of single-family houses and town house condominiums. New homes or lots and building packages start at $480,000 and can rise to over $1 million.
The South Coast Maine statewide prices for all homes have declined almost 16 per-cent over the last 5 years. In New Hampshire, the drop was about 22 percent, with Belknap County – which encompasses Lakes Region cities and towns like Laconia, Gilford, and Belmont – declining by 27 percent since the market boom in 2005. Maine has two distinct vacation personalities: coastal and inland. People who head Down East, as the coast is called, have 3,500 miles of shoreline to consider. Those heading inland have 6,000 lakes and ponds and 17 million acres of forest at their disposal. But an even more fascinating fact for urban commuters to ponder during rush hour is that, with a population of about 1.3 million, there are just 41.3 people per Maine square mile.
Still, it seems more crowded than that on a summer Sunday in Kennebunkport, Ogunquit or York. These resort towns are less than two hours from Boston and offer a combination of beach, boating, shopping, dining and culture in a ruggedly beautiful setting. A few miles up the coast is Kennebunkport, an upscale seaside village and the summer home of George H. W. and Barbara Bush. Here, amid the charming shopping district full of boutiques and art galleries and sandy beaches stretching between rocky outcrops, are the Cottages at Cabot Cove Bethel/Sunday River Bethel is at the base of Paradise Hill, and the locals like to say the town is truly “just this side of paradise.” One thing is certain: it could not be more different from the gentrified summer scene along the Maine coast. Fishing guides warn that anglers should let someone know their itinerary, “as cell phone reception is not available.”
Bethel and the surrounding area have been popular summer vacation spots since the 1880s, mostly attracting city dwellers looking for fresh mountain air and outdoorsmen interested in hiking, hunting and fishing. In 1958, a group of local ski enthusiasts founded the Sunday River Ski Resort at Barker Mountain, a move that would lead to the area becoming a busier winter destination than summer retreat. Sunday River is now a sizable ski operation with eight peaks, 128 trails, 18 lifts and snowmaking on 92 percent of the 663 skiable acres.