Deciding to sell a second or summer home is a big decision for any homeowner and working with a seller who is going through this often demands more guidance and planning than with someone who is selling a regular home or primary residence.
Factors such as homeowners association restrictions; the distance between the client’s permanent residence and the vacation property they’re hoping to sell; competitive, seasonal supply/demand in the area; and the logistics of showing the home or making pre-sale updates or renovations between any renters coming in and out of the property, all make the preparation and listing process a complicated one.
There are a number of things that real estate professionals can do to help alleviate and streamline this process. The first is to meet with the seller to get a better feel for their expectations, desires and level of experience with selling second homes. If you have an extensive understanding of the vacation home market, share this with them so that they know they are working with someone who is reliable, knows the space and has previously worked with second home or summer home sellers.
Reassuring your sellers that you are well-versed in the area and know what to expect when it comes to the competitive landscape is crucial. First-time vacation home sellers will occasionally make the mistake of attempting to tackle the selling process by themselves, which causes them to lose time and miss out on the key elements of strategy and expertise that local real estate professionals can provide.
Secondly, encourage your sellers to be deliberate about the time of year when they list the home. For example, suggest they try listing in the winter as opposed to the summer, when most vacation spots are at their busiest. Listing in the summer, contrary to belief, is the most challenging time of year to put a vacation home on the market. The summer season is when most vacation destinations are swarmed with renters there to enjoy the beach or warm weather, which makes it nearly impossible to show a house during the week because they are always occupied.
Therefore, you have to show on a Saturday or Sunday, making your window to successfully finalize a sale very small. The odds of having a specific home unoccupied and available to show to interested buyers in the summer go down tremendously compared to other times of year. So, recommend that your client begin thinking about the process around the holidays, then, come January/February, put the home on the market with some excellent, high-quality photos, 3D digital tours, videos, whatever is needed in order to get the word out. This provides them with weeks of opportunity to get interest from buyers.
The use of high-quality photos or videos is another excellent selling point to consider. Utilizing real estate technology tools is becoming more and more beneficial in both quickly and effectively finalizing home sales. If interested buyers are located in another city or state, they may be reluctant to close the deal without physically laying eyes on the home. Traveling to tour a property can be time consuming and expensive, so consider using apps that enable you to connect with interested buyers face-to-face and share the physical space of the home they are interested in, all without having to be in the same room or even city.
Our brokerage uses Matterport technology, which offers both 3D and VR image capture tools, simulating the look and feel of being in an actual home, and which statistically lead to more interested buyers and a quicker sale. This is particularly useful for buyers who may be interested during the summer season, and is an excellent substitute when properties are frequently occupied by renters or vacationers.
It’s also important to advise your summer home sellers to highlight any stand-out features or amenities that come with their home. Factors such as a greater number of bedrooms or sleeping capacity, walking or biking distance to the town/city center, beautiful views from the property, if the home is on or faces water, and free home “extras” such as free access to kayaks or beach gear, are all proof points that increase buyer interest in a certain vacation home over others.
The four most popular draws that attract buyers are sleeping capacity, proximity to the beach, pool access and whether the property allows pets. Other luxury items that can help draw potential buyers or rental clients in are offerings such as water sport equipment, fishing poles, or providing a list of suggested vendors, shops, and restaurants in the area – anything to help future owners or renters have an easier, more relaxing experience is a big win.
In summary, the most important things to remember are to establish trust with your sellers, encourage strategic planning around the time of year to put a summer home on the market, and don’t be afraid to utilize newer technology to showcase the home and connect in a deeper and more contemporary way with interested buyers – you never know where the conversations could lead.
About the Writer: Seth Tilton is an NAR-certified Realtor with ERA Evergreen Real Estate in Hilton Head, S.C., a part of the national ERA Real Estate network. He has been in the real estate business for almost four years, and was recognized by ERA globally as one of the top 3 “Rookie Rock Stars” at their 2018 International Business Conference. He has extensive experience working with the South Carolina market, specifically with vacation home buyers and sellers, as well as with 3D real estate and event space photography technology. Previously, he worked as a sales and design consultant for a company that custom designs and refurbishes both indoor and outdoor pools.
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