This past year has been historically dismal for the real estate industry, but within the rough patch there are some rare investment gems. The sagging sector has driven home prices downward and has been fueled by tight credit and an unprecedented volume of foreclosures in all categories of property. But that also means that shopping for a home in places where they have been typically overpriced and the inventories are usually skimpy has suddenly become much more satisfying and profitable. The flip side of all the bad news, in other words, is that some of the most desirable and popular vacation and retirement destinations in the USA are now temporarily available at fire sale prices.
Some prefer a hideaway in the mountains while others want to vacation with their toes in the sand of a tropical beach. Corporate buyers may be looking for a golf course community condo to use for business retreats, while individuals may like an urban loft or studio to use during weekends on the town in the big city. Whatever the preferences may be – and whether the property will serve as a business retreat condo with a convenient tax deduction or a permanent primary residence for an active Baby Boomer retirement – listings are everywhere in all price ranges. The inventory choices are ample and the menu of architectural styles and amenities is vast because of the prolonged real estate recession.
Here is a sample of what can be found right now across the USA:
For those wanting something especially exotic, Hawaii’s Big Island and Kauai single-family home sales have plunged at least 40 percent since this time last year. The median sales price of homes on the Big Island (the largest island in the USA) is now around $280,000—down from $350,000 in November of 2007. According to the Hawaii Information Service, condo prices are even more enticing, having fallen from over $460,000 to only about $225,000—meaning they are now priced so low that it amounts to “two for the price of one.”
Meanwhile, Kauai’s luxurious single-family homes actually went up in price over the past year, despite slower sales volume, which underscores the inherent value and popularity of Hawaiian real estate investments. But interestingly enough, condominiums on Kauai can still be bought at nearly a 50 percent discount. They showed recent medium sales prices of just over $400,000 compared to prices of more than $775,000 just 12 months ago.
On the other end of the map is the Sunshine State, where sales of homes in Palm Beach County rose more than 35 percent within the past few months as buyers snapped up bargains. But the median price of Palm Beach properties is down nearly 25 percent compared to figures from October 2007, and the average price hovers around $265,000. Condos in Palm Beach can be purchased for less than $140,000, but the inventory won’t last forever. The number of condos listed for sale in Palm Beach County has already dropped nearly 15 percent since late 2007.
For those interested in bargain priced properties in higher elevations, there are wonderful upscale homes available in America’s exclusive ski resort locations – at least for the time being. The news magazine The Week runs a regular real estate feature article, and in the December 12th issue it featured fabulous homes and lodges in Telluride. Most of them price out between five and ten million dollars, but a Sotheby’s International Realty listing just five minutes from the center of town is listed for only $450,000. The home includes a spacious deck with magnificent mountain views and the asking price is so cheap compared to usual Telluride offerings that many shoppers may mistake it for a typographical error.
But special opportunities like this are not expected to last, and before the snow melts next spring—and the credit markets thaw out once and for all—many real estate experts expect them to be snatched up by lucky buyers with a knack for “bottom fishing.” Mortgage rates are also a relative bargain and can compound the long-term appreciation of the investment—which adds to the incentive to buy now. Major lenders are offering 30-year fixed rate mortgages at around five and a half percent interest.
Those who dream of getting away for the holidays might want to consider putting a second home on their wish list or making a New Year’s resolution to buy vacation property while extraordinary pricing opportunities last. Similarly, those looking to retire to a dream home in a dreamy location can capitalize on the oversold buyer’s market and get more bang for the buck. From the shoreline of Padre Island in Texas to the Hamptons of New York, there are deeply discounted homes on the market, and sellers are ready to do whatever it takes to facilitate and finalize transactions.
To find real estate brokers across America who are personally and professionally committed to exceptional service to the GLBT community, check out www.GayRealEstate.com and www.GayMortgageLoans.com. Or call their toll free phone number 1-888-420-MOVE (6683).