Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Tammy Barry, the director of sales and marketing for Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort, for her tips on guiding clients in the purchase of a second home.
7. Don’t assume you can’t work with your client on the purchase of a weekend or vacation home simply because you are not local to the area where they want to buy. Chicago is in proximity to a number of popular weekend home destinations, from Starved Rock Country in Illinois to Harbor Country in Michigan and Door County in Wisconsin, which means you can easily familiarize yourself with local housing options, take a day trip with clients to tour listings and assist them through their purchase to earn that commission.
6. Likewise, remember that as a salesperson, growing your product and marketplace is a great way to grow your business – so even if you don’t live near a vacation area, often resort communities in these locations have referral and/or buyer agent coop arrangements and welcome the opportunity to partner with a prospective buyer’s hometown agent. Vacation homes are also always fun conversation topics at social gatherings, and what a great way to expand your business and reason to reach out to past clients when you can offer that service.
5. Ask your client how they want to spend their time at their second home, and make sure they are considering not just the home itself, but the amenities in the surrounding area. For example, Starved Rock Country is rich in outdoor recreational amenities such as boating, hiking, biking and fishing. Perhaps your client is a foodie who wants great dining options nearby, or wants to buy in an area with plenty of shopping or cultural offerings. If they haven’t done so already, your client should spend time in the area before buying to ensure it gives them the lifestyle they want. Some resort communities even offer the opportunity to rent a home for a weekend or short stay, so clients can “try before they buy.”
4. Second homes are places where people play and relax, so have your client think about how that translates into the features they will want. Do they need plenty of storage for bikes, golf clubs, water toys and boating equipment? Are outdoor spaces a priority? Will they want ample bedroom space so they can invite friends and family to spend time at their vacation home?
3. Talk with your client about how a second home location will work for them in terms of distance from their primary residence and ease of traveling there. Based on where they live full-time in Chicagoland, what traffic conditions are they likely to encounter traveling to their location of choice? Your client will get the most enjoyment out of a weekend getaway if they can get there frequently and easily.
2. Make sure your client is considering the maintenance needs of their second home. Do they enjoy handling lawn care and gardening themselves, or would they rather purchase in a maintenance-free community where those services are provided? Be sure to look into HOA fees and account for them in the overall cost of the home. If they choose to build a new-construction residence as their second home, are they selecting materials and finishes that will be durable and require minimal upkeep?
1. Encourage your client to talk to their financial advisor and explore the investment and rental opportunities that can make purchasing a weekend home both a financial and a lifestyle decision. Many resort communities (such as Heritage Harbor Ottawa) give owners the opportunity to make their residence available in a vacation rental pool managed by the developer, which is a turnkey solution for generating income from the home when it is not in use.
Tammy Barry is director of sales and marketing for Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort, a marina resort community in Ottawa, Ill., along the Illinois River in Starved Rock Country.