I often talk about the ‘sweet spot’ of the second home market. It had quietly edged up over the last couple of years, from about $250,000 to around $325,000, but has remained pretty consistent in what folks in the second home mid range were looking for — a house with 3 bedrooms and some privacy in a nice setting on 5 acres or so. It could be a smaller renovated farmhouse, a vacation chalet ‘contemporary’ or a house with lake rights at a lake like York or Devenoge. Even though I tend to be known for working with higher end buyers, my bread and butter has been the $300,000 sweet spot.
In the last month or two, the demand curve has shifted decidedly downward. Most second home buyers I’m talking with are looking closer to $200,000 than $300,000. The most common thing I hear from potential buyers (who are typically younger than what I’ve seen in the last couple of years) is, "Our budget is $200,000, but if we saw something we really loved we’d consider going a little higher." I"m just not seeing $300,000 mid range, non waterfront buyers right now.
Now, I haven’t worked a lot in the $200,000 range in a while. But I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the inventory in that range I’ve been showing lately. (A year ago, a lot of houses that should have been priced around $200,000 were priced closer to $300,000, and at $300K I thought they were overpriced dogs.) Some houses have come down in price, and some other new listings have been put on the market at very attractive prices. The $200,000 range is actually starting to be fun again!
But that’s also a function of the buyers in this range. Most seem to understand that there are trade-offs when they have a budget around $200,000. They’re willing to consider ranch houses if they have nice, quiet settings. They’re not looking for total seclusion, but something in a quiet location. If they want a classic old house with a lot of space, they may have to give some on location or setting. A number of folks I’ve been out with in the last few weeks have been delighted with what they saw that they can get for $200,000 here, even though they can’t get everything on their wish list.
And I’ve been delighted with some of the houses I’ve seen, too. (Click here to see 6 houses in the $200K range that I think are just great for the money. Note: link will expire on Nov. 30.) There’s a ranch house in Hankins (MLS 21110) that has been renovated in a really cool style, with this great modern open kitchen, for $229,000. A small vacation chalet style house with a fireplace on White Roe Lake Road, in a private wooded setting (MLS 21834) just came on the market at $229,000. And there’s this really cute farmhouse on Midway Road in White Sulphur Springs (MLS 17978) just reduced to $185,000. (You can see all of these in the link above.)
While these haven’t sold — yet — a lot of other houses in this range are in deals. I’ve called on half a dozen listings in the last couple of weeks in this price range, only to find out they have accepted offers on them or are going into contract.
There are a lot of houses right now lagging between $250,000 and $300,000 and not getting any action. But the action may be at a price point just below them. Its going to be interesting to see if some of them drop into the ‘buy zone’.