Economic instability seems to be the only thing that is permanent in the market which can instill fear among real estate investors around the globe. However, the fluctuating economic climate and the figures that are the main focus do not necessarily have to be a cause for concern when it comes to real estate investing. In fact, many real estate investors have managed to find the “light at the end of the tunnel” and make significant profits, even during a recession.
The same may thought to be true in real estate sales at this time of year as many of our local attorneys on the Outer Banks close for that week between Christmas and New Year’s day (making it very difficult to get a sale closed and recorded), but hold on just a jingle bell minute. I am here to tell you….you never know!
There are still properties going under contract and selling at this time of the year. There is no reason to think that just because winter is arriving this month that sales on the Outer Banks go into a deep freeze. In fact if the property is listed at the right price you just never know when it will sell so be ready!
Just this past week I had notice of a property going under contract in Corolla and the buyer wants to close on the transaction before Christmas. That is less than 3 weeks between contract and close! This is a very unusual circumstance as most properties take 45 or more days to close, but it does happen that we get serious buyers and short closing times at this time of the year.
But the story to beat all is several years ago I was in real estate sales and had the experience of a real estate lifetime.
I was in the office on Christmas Eve morning wrapping up some loose ends before heading out to visit family that evening. I had some shopping to do and was organizing myself to head to the mall and do just that. As you can imagine from the 1st paragraph in this article that indeed things were pretty slow around the office. I was there, one of our receptionists was there, and someone in the accounting department was working for a half day that day as the company owner was closing the office at noon on Christmas Eve. Well imagine my surprise when I was called to the lobby to meet a prospective buyer who walked in and wanted to see a real estate agent to show some real estate. On Christmas Eve!
That surprise turned to stunned silence when I met the man, exchanged pleasantries and he promptly announced he wanted to buy his wife a beach house for Christmas.
Three hours later we had an offer to purchase written, and by 6 PM that night I had a copy of a full price cash contract to sell a house to this gentleman which he photocopied and presumably put under his Christmas tree for the Christmas present of a lifetime for his wife (no she did not see the house before he contracted to buy it). Talk about a Christmas miracle! It was truly an unbelievable situation. To top it off the transaction closed without incident 2 weeks later.
Of course that doesn’t happen often (in fact I’ve never heard of it happening before or since), but it just goes to show you that as a seller you never know the motivation or timing of a buyer. As the great showman and World Wrestling Federation champion “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair said once “You don’t have to get ready – when you stay ready.”
The house you have purchased needs some work, but you have plans to make improvements and put it in a vacation rental company’s pool of properties (Outer Banks Blue we hope) to help with the bottom line on the investment.
Over the years I have encouraged vacation rental property owners to keep in mind how lucky they are to have a place to use themselves 9 months of the year to enjoy with their family, but the fact is you have opened up a business on the Outer Banks and you need to approach the ownership of your property in just that manner. What will help my property stand out and gain repeat clientele? What should I do with décor and equipping the house for my future guests? In short, what is your why? Why your property?!
I was reading an article recently in the Miami Herald where a designer gave some great advice when it comes to décor of your vacation rental property. “Consider a design that reflects the area where your vacation property is. Keep the décor universal and look at it as an investment. This is not a place for fine art, irreplaceable family items or things like bearskin rugs or antlers.”
Amen sister! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a property and seen family heirlooms, high end art, or furniture that the owner would be upset if someone spilled something on. As a property owner of a vacation rental you have to get used to the term “cost of doing business” when it comes to décor and guest experience.
Here are some other practical tips that I can pass along from 3 decades of managing properties on the OBX regarding equipping your property:
Rental Property Furnishings
You want furniture to be practical and durable (Cargo or This End Up furniture is neither). With that said you also should think of style. You want top dollar for your vacation rental, and just as I said you should not put items in that you get attached to, that doesn’t mean going the cheap route. Today’s guests know when you cut corners and put inferior items in place. Be sure you have enough seats for the amount of people your property sleeps, and don’t overcrowd rooms. There are lots of flooring options, but the latest durable and practical products do not involve carpet. Think LVT (Luxury vinyl tile that looks just like hardwood), tile or hardwoods. Costs have come down, and you don’t have to worry about a spilled glass of punch. Another thing to consider is “solution-dyed fabrics” popularly known as Sunbrealla fabrics. They hold up incredibly well inside and out.
Don’t Block The View
I can’t tell you how many times I go into a property and see potentially great views marred by either plastic vertical blinds (seemingly always with two or three slats missing) or ornate complex pull string/chain draperies on the sliding glass doors. Keep it simple, but practical here too. Large curtain rod with wooden loops holding fabric drapes are the way to go. No strings to get tangled, no plastic blinds to break and fall out, and no instructions needed.
The local health departments on the Outer Banks have a renewed emphasis on enforcing permitted sleeping capacity over the past couple of years (two people per bedroom unless your septic permit says otherwise). No double bunk beds is the rule if you have a septic tank. Don’t overload your house as it will directly impact the wear and tear on everything else.
There are lots more design and décor tips that we can share on this. Be on the lookout for our next article on what items bring the biggest return on your investment.
Until then….all the best from the beach!
Contributed by Tim Cafferty, President of Outer Banks Blue.
7 Reasons Why This Is The Best Real Estate Market In 5 Years
5 Reasons To Make Your Dream Come True
The current state of the economy has created the ideal climate in which to purchase a new home at the Outer Banks. In real estate, this is known as a buyer’s market. Here are five reasons to consider purchasing an Outer Banks home this year: