The Best Time to Purchase a Home?
If You're Thinking of Buying a Second Home...The Answer is Now!

By Robert Whitley
P
artner, Currahee Partners, LLC

As the American population ages and becomes more affluent than ever in our history, more and more families that wanted to purchase a home as they were younger are realizing the American dream of buying a second home. Each day in the United States, about 10,000 people turn 50 years old... that's 39,000,000 over the next 10 years. Their children are probably out of college and out of the family home; their primary home has probably significantly appreciated; their mortgages are either paid off or very low compared to the existing value; and, they are probably earning more than they ever expected.

It is predicted that these Boomers will inherit over $40 billion over the next 35 years... the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world! As these Baby Boomers look ahead and see retirement age approaching, many begin to plan where and how they will retire and may look into the purchase of a home. Often, people think of buying a second home to use as a weekend getaway, a family vacation gathering place and a future retirement home.

It has been quite clearly established that most of those Boomers seeking to purchase a home of this type want to be within a four-hour drive from children and grandchildren and have access to golf, water, or mountains. Thanks to the Internet, a workplace that allows for telecommuting, and flex hours, more and more people are buying a second home that is just a little bit off the beaten path. Those that wish to purchase a home, possibly as a part of a private community with extra amenities, may be tempted to wait based on the current real estate market.

While prices are going down in some markets, they are certainly holding steady and are even rising in some master planned communities, especially in those that have a strong financial sponsorship and that offer extensive and well-planned amenities. The financial strength of a community's developer is critical when one is thinking of buying a second home in a community. Most large scale communities will see at least one, if not more, slow markets over the life of their development, so the developer must be strong enough to carry on until the market strengthens and more people are looking to purchase a home.

Low Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows (5.45% for a fixed rate 30-year mortgage at the writing of this article) and, although they may continue to move somewhat lower, experience tells us that timing the market for the purchase of a home is difficult and risky. It would be hard to argue that buying a second home with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage below 5.50% is not an attractive purchase.

Inventory

Since the housing slowdown began, most builders have drastically reduced the number of new homes they are starting and, even with fewer people looking to purchase a home overall, there have been more sales than starts over the last 14 months. This means that the supply of new homes, both primary and secondary homes, is dropping. Since it takes many months, and in some markets, years, to get a project planned and approved by the appropriate governmental agencies, it is likely that demand will exceed supply at some time in the relatively near future. At that time, prices will begin to increase, rapidly in some communities, because demand will exceed supply, especially in well located and amenitized communities, something someone buying a second home needs to take into consideration.

Unique Land

Second homes are often found in communities that have been developed in natural settings. This adds an extra urgency to those who wish to purchase a home. Each home in a community is likely to be situated on a homesite that has its own particular properties - a view of a lake or mountain, for example, or a spot next to a golf course. Each lot will be unique, so if someone thinking of buying a second home likes what is offered, he or she will need to buy it immediately rather than waiting, because when it is sold, it is gone.

Buying a Second Home in Georgia

The state of Georgia is attracting particular interest from those who wish to purchase a home. For those considering retirement, either in the near future or in a few years, buying a second home in Georgia makes sense. In fact, in 2007, AARP: The Magazine named Atlanta as one of the top places to live for seniors, and Money Magazine has also recognized the state of Georgia as a top place in which to purchase a home and retire.

Where previously retirees thought of Florida as the place to settle down, now Georgia is becoming the state in which to purchase a home and retire. Georgia offers a more temperate climate than Florida, less congestion, much lower taxes and much less costly insurance. For these reasons and more, there are many new second home and active adult communities popping up just outside of Atlanta that are currently priced competitively and that offer great amenities that appeal to Baby Boomers interested in buying a second home.

Plus, many communities in Georgia offer the best of two worlds - they are situated in a natural setting near lakes and mountains, but they are also a short drive to major cities, such as Atlanta, for cultural and educational activities. This makes the choice to purchase a home in a Georgia community an ideal solution for someone who wants a home that can be used both before and after retirement. Buying a second home can mean that the owner has a weekend retreat, an office to be used while telecommuting, or a full-time getaway.

Since Georgia is still somewhat up-and-coming for retirees and those buying a second home, however, it is the perfect time for someone interested in one of the communities to purchase a home. There are still many homes available in prime locations across the state, but these will surely be snapped up quickly in the near future. Rather than wait, it is advised that interested parties buy now.

Conclusion

While it can be true that waiting to purchase a home is the right strategy in some instances, it is not the case when one is buying a second home in a planned community. Unlike other types of property, these homes are not likely to drop in price. In addition, this kind of second home is often built on a unique lot of land, meaning that prospective buyers need to buy what they like when they see it. In the end, the best advice that can be given to someone looking into buying a second home is to act now and to start enjoying a dream home today.

About the Author

Bob Whitley is a partner with Currahee Partners, LLC, the developer of Currahee Club, a 1,215 acre, single-family gated mountain community in Toccoa, Georgia, offering Lake Hartwell lakefront property. Whitley draws on previous successes on notable properties such as Jack Nicklaus's home course, The Bear's Club in Palm Beach County, Florida; The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa in Jupiter, Florida; Colleton River Plantation near Hilton Head; and the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta. For more information about the Currahee Club development, please visit www.curraheeclub.com.

 

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