Recently I’ve been fielding at least a half a dozen inquiries a week for vacation properties usable for motorized recreation, either larger acreage properties suitable for ATVing and snowmobiling or lakefront properties on motorboat lakes for motorboating and jet skiing, or preferably a large acreage property on a motorboat lake where you can do it all.
I’ve been selling real estate in Sullivan County for 14 years, and have witnessed a number of trends in terms of what’s in or out of fashion. During the economic boom, motorboating was popular, and then when the recession hit, demand for motorboat lake properties hit the skids. For the past few years, non-motorboat lakes have been more popular, particularly with 30-somethings looking for a quiet, idyllic retreat. Last year, demand for motorboat lakefront started picking up again big time.
But what I’m hearing along with a request for motorboat lakefront is also a desire for a property where ATVing and snowmobiling is also possible. That’s tough, because it’s almost impossible to find lakefront property on motorboat lakes with enough suitable acreage for off-roading. Related to this is a surge in requests for non-lakefront properties (but maybe with a swimming pond) with good acreage for off-roading. In the past, an inquiry about houses with 20 or more acres good for off-roading was usually related to hunting, but the guys who are calling lately (and they’re almost all men) aren’t hunters. They’re just looking for a place to play in the dirt and mud, and not necessarily shoot guns.
In New York state, ATVing and off-road motorcycling is largely banned on state and public land, so off-roaders either need to own their own playground, or find private land to ride. Joining a local hunting club is one option, because most have lots of acreage with trails. But if you’re not a hunter, the hunting clubs may be hesitant to take in a new member who doesn’t hunt as well. A second option is to buy a house in a vacation community with a large swath of shared acreage for owners to use. In Sullivan County, there are three that permit ATVing and snowmobiling on the community land — Wolf Lake, Merriewold and Black Forest Colony. Wolf and Merriewold also have lakes, but they’re non-motorboat lakes, so you don’t get motorboating and jet skiing in the package. (Yankee Lake, Lake Muskoday and Wanaksink Lake, all non-motor lakes, also have some community acreage, but much less than the other 3.) Unfortunately there isn’t a lake community on a motorboat lake with shared community acreage for off-roading.
This is an interesting phenomenon, where there’s discernible buyer demand but no product to meet it. I think this is a good example of developers not thinking outside of the box, and sticking to lakes and golf. There are lifestyle trends in the vacation home market that aren’t being rolled into new second home community concepts. It’s like second home developers are stuck in a “Florida” model — gate it and give ’em golf. Off-roading is only one trend I see, and it would be great to have a product with a shared off road trail system. The other trend is the whole locavore fresh-food-and-farming movement that’s just ripe (pardon the pun) for a community built around some type of shared farm where someone else takes care of the heavy lifting, and the weekenders can just walk over and pick their herbs and vegetables.