Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Secret to a Vacation Home

Buried under an avalanche of housing market doom and gloom is a little piece of information that might make you smile knowingly or shock and surprise you-- Vacation property has never been more popular. It's true. Seriously, it is.

In 1995, the American Resort Development Association, a Washington D.C.-based trade group associated with resort travel and real estate, reported that thirty-five percent of American households felt they would probablybuy recreation property within the next ten years. That figure was up from twenty-six percent only two years earlier in 1993, and it has continued to rise recently.

All of us desires an escape. A place to get away from ever-increasing hectic and hurried modern lives. We all dream of a place, no matter how small and modest, where we can just disappear to on weekends, or several times a year to relax, recharge, reconnect with ourselves and each other, gain some perspective, or just plain regroup and plan. Catch a breather. The key here is that this is OUR place, not someone else's place. Not a place we rent, but a place that's all our own. Our stuff is there, and it stays there. Our stuff is there when we come back; and like an old friend we've not seen in a while, our place and our stuff is familiar, yet somehow we see it through different eyes. Our vacation place is just enough unfamiliar to be totally refreshing-- a little surprise in a way.

Because there's something about a second home that works a change on us when we are there. In different surroundings than our usual habitat and habit, we are try new things, we're quite different people as we break free from the constraints of our daily routine and move in different patterns at different times, and we explore. Turning off the daily demands of business and everyday homelife, we enjoy the feel of a different breeze, we appreciate the different scents on the air, the different sounds or complete quiet and peacefulness-- and we become different, too. We forget all responsibilities and deadlines and places to be and just be. We sit in the shade. We rock contentedly in the rocker on the porch or deck and listen to the crickets at night. We look up into a night sky so filled with stars that it could break our hearts with the weight of all that beauty. No city lights. We sleep well. We wake refreshed and looking forward to the day. Will it bring a new adventure? Will we try a new sport? Find our way around the surrounding environs, stop at yard sales, have morning coffee in a new place with the locals? Make sun tea that'll taste better for being made on our back deck in the fresh air? Rise at dawn to catch a glimpse of the deer? Or will we just stretch out and read that novel?


And while many Americans have the joy of discovering that owning a second home vastly improves their quality of life, and also their perception of the quality of life itself, they also find that they've improved their investment portfolio, too.
Mountains, lakes, streams, golf courses, ski areas, wildnerness and wildlife are very limited resources, and getting more so each day. A well-situated resort vacation home here in the White Mountains of Arizona is almost certain to be of great value no matter what the housing market looks like. Then, too, potential rental income can make your investment even more beneficial by paying for itself while you are back at home in your primary home.

There probably are investments that will offer more for you financially. But the lifestyle "equity"-- those memories and experiences you share with your loved ones at your vacation retreat are worth more than money can buy. With only a small monetary downpayment, you create years of family holidays, special family celebrations, weddings, friends and good times, and then, when you eventually sell, you pocket your financial profit. Truly a win-win proposition. Or, if love of your special retreat continues on down the years, it becomes a valuable heirloom, one that you pass on down to the younger members of the family and for future generations to enjoy. THAT's making a family history that everyone will remember and talk about fondly. Real meaning.

And so, a vacation home should be purchased for recreation and personal enjoyment first, and as an investment vehicle second. Make your vacation home purchase based on pure emotionality! And, maybe you'll later join the many folks who are buying a vacation home now for the purposes of retiring to it later. That's exactly what's happening in the White Mountains of Arizona. And, it's telescoping the availability of prime vacation properties significantly. There are young retirees, telecommuters, and workers who work via the Internet coming to live in our resort communities; even some who are willing to commute during the week. This phenomenon reduces the number of existing resort properties that will come on the market. And as you might guess, the nation's largest single cohort, the "Boomers" are leading the race to improve their quality of life. They make up the primary buyers of vacation property, and there are lots of them, and many of them do have the wherewithall to live the dream. There are 80.5 million "Boomers", and this will create a rough and tumble mad scramble for resort vacation properties such as we have in the White Mountains.

Here in the White Mountains of Arizona, we have a very finite amount of land, squeezed as we are between Government lands and Tribal lands, just a thin strip winding through the mountains and the Rim. It may be just the perfect time for you to make your move and stake out your "little piece of Heaven" before the rush that will surely come.

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