Setting the right sales price

When home and cabin owners make the decision to sell, the first thing they want to know, of course, is what the correct sales price for their property should be. Working every day with the market, I watch what’s happening with sales prices and I keep up with the trends of what’s happening. Right now, we are in a sellers’ market due to the low number of properties for sale, so the demand for homes and cabins is continually driving up the sales price.

Before most clients contact me, however, they’ve already turned to the internet for their research into setting the correct sales price. Real estate marketing websites use computer generated figures based on a total sum of properties without any input from a human. So they don’t take into account all the little things that appraisers are going to care about when they come out to see if the lender should finance the purchase. As a result, the internet estimates are generally incorrect. Sometimes, they are too high. Other times they are too low. For cabins, this number is derived by including all the very expensive log cabin construction in our county – lumping every kind of construction together. To the computer there is only one category and it is called “residential,” whether it is overnight rental cabins or true residential like your house. Clients who list with me will ask if the estimated sales price will hurt the sale of the home if it doesn’t match what we have priced it at based on market comparisons that are more “apples to apples.”

Well, here’s the good news, sellers: the online sales price estimate isn’t going to hurt us.

As a matter of fact, we’re going to use it as a marketing tool! We have estimates like this all the time and we make them work in our favor – even though you and I know that the estimate is not accurate (and actually buyers and buyers agents do as well).

In the Great Smoky Mountains Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, there is no division for the type of properties we have in Sevier County. If it has bedrooms, it’s a residence – even if it is a 12-bedroom log lodge bringing in an income of $300,000 a year.

The sold numbers that throw this off are our new construction log home cabins which run $170-$280 a square foot. (True residential properties are still running right at $100 a square foot to build.) When the computer picks up these log cabin numbers it just creates estimates that are well, not accurate. It doesn’t fit the programming pattern, so it messes it up. Some computer programs also don’t seem to be able to keep up with the pace of the market, which can be a problem for someone who is selling their house based on today’s sales prices and not on a price from 90 to 120 days ago.

Until we’re all replaced by computers, sellers and buyers still need people who can look at all of the data and not just one piece of it to help determine the correct sales price for a listing on the market.

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Eight bedroom rental is “Cabin of the Month”

eight bedroom rentalOur cabin feature this month is an eight bedroom rental property located in Wears Valley.

You’ll be “Steppin’ on the Clouds” in this gorgeous eight bedroom rental cabin in Wears Valley. This is a fantastic income-building investment, on track to pass $170,000 in gross rental income this year!

With its absolutely magnificent panoramic 180-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains, you and your guests will love relaxing in front of one of the best views of the National Park any rental cabin here has to offer. Enjoy the cabin’s large fire pit or hot tub, or make your way over to the nearby resort at “The Preserve” to go swimming in the pool. Best of all, this cabin is just minutes from the National Park!

You’ll find plenty of activities inside this eight bedroom rental as well, ranging from the cabin’s fully outfitted gaming room with air hockey, foosball, and a pool table (not to mention an arcade game system). The cabin also houses a fantastic huge theater room. The cabin’s design includes handsome tongue-and-groove, gleaming large wood beams, walls of glass, and a stone fireplace centerpiece. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing vacation getaway, and can sleep up to 28 guests.

To learn more about this eight bedroom rental cabin, click here.

If you’d like to schedule a visit to see this eight bedroom rental cabin, contact me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

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Private log cabin can be your dream home

If you’re looking for a private log cabin to live in, you won’t want to miss seeing our featured “Home of the Month.”

This beautiful, private log cabin home built in 2000 has everything that you need to relax in total peace and quiet. This four bedroom, six bathroom home measured at more than 6,000 square feet offers plenty of space for the whole family. From soaring cathedral ceilings, stacked stone fireplaces, four huge bedrooms with walk-in closets, a great/recreation room, and the private in-ground pool and sauna, this house has just about everything.private log cabin
Located in the gated Walden Cove subdivision, you are surrounded by nature at every turn of this property’s more than two acre layout! Sit out by the pond and listen to the fountain or by the creek that runs through the property year around!
With so much space throughout this private log cabin, the possibilities are endless! This is a very unique property with no detail spared! Come see this home for yourself and fall in love with your own private Smoky Mountain estate!
To learn more about this property, click here.

To schedule a visit to this private log cabin, contact me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

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An update on our changing market

Due to our low number of properties on the market, we have seen prices continually climb on what’s available over the last nine months.

Many of you who follow our monthly newsletter and keep up with the articles we write each month about buying and selling properties in the Great Smoky Mountains region either currently own, or have owned properties, here in the past. Many of you also are in the market for something else to own, either in addition to what you have now or as an “upgrade” to your current vacation/rental cabin. And you’ve probably been keeping up with our articles about how the market has changed. It’s a sellers’ market – not just here, but in a lot of places around the country. The number of homes for sale is down from where it was a year or two ago. So when something new comes on the market, it really doesn’t stick around that long.

It’s true. Many listings in our market have offers within a matter of days if they are priced correctly (especially when they are priced a little under) current market values. My agents and I have had listings that were “under contract” within as few as three days. We frequently tell clients at showings, “This won’t be on the market next week.” It’s just where our market is right now.

So what can you do? Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that the deals of changing marketlast year are gone. If you do stumble upon something that’s brand new to the market and it is priced low, the offers that come in are going to be above asking price. The winning buyer won’t be placing any sort of contingencies on the offer, and you can forget about negotiating back and forth through a series of offers and counter offers. While you’re trying to get a discount on the price, someone else is coming in with a full price – or above asking price – offer that’s going to win. It’s a tough place for a lot of buyers to be, especially ones who have bought in our market in the last few years after the downturn, but it’s important to know that going into any offer you want to submit. Those days are over, at least for the time being.

Secondly, as prices are going up on properties, rental rates are rising along with it at many of the rental companies in our area. Large cabins are not as readily available for purchase as they once were, and so smaller cabins have quickly become the focus. We’ve also seen a significant reduction in sales of cabins in our more popular resorts, such as Sherwood Forest and Legacy Mountain. Where once there were about a dozen or so cabins for sale in each those areas at any given time a year or two ago, today there is half or even less than that.  But the good news is that there are still strong investment properties to purchase that will cash flow positive every month.  We are also building again so new construction may be a really good option for you.  This market is not for the timid.

This year, about a third of the properties I’ve listed have sold at or above asking price. We’ve had some where we ended up with multiple offers, even in places that haven’t traditionally been high demand areas in the past.

When national investors have analyzed the entire United States, Sevier County comes up in the top ten places to invest for overnight rentals. It’s also one of the most beautiful and inexpensive places to retire.  So be a good student of what is available and don’t be shy about an offer on a good property. If you can accept that, you will have a solid investment for years to come, whether it is your personal residence or an overnight cabin or chalet.

In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about the current market and where we are probably headed – whether you are buying or selling – my staff and I are always here to answer questions.

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Finding a Profitable Cabin

profitable cabinAre you looking to own a profitable cabin in the Smokies? Then this article is for you.

When buyers contact me about buying a vacation rental cabin that is at least partially for investment purposes, the hottest question on their mind is how well a property will do as a rental!  They are focusing right where we need to: finding a property that will perform well on rentals is essential! Sometimes the next thing I hear from them is “I only want to look at cabins that have a great rental history.” I love their spirit!  However, as I share at this point in the conversation with them, just because a cabin isn’t currently earning a high dollar amount, doesn’t mean it won’t. As a matter of fact, I usually am most interested in finding them a cabin that someone is making a mistake on because my staff and I are able to analyze the mistake and correct it.

The ability of a cabin to be profitable is based on a variety of criteria. Perhaps the current owners prefer to use the cabin more often than a new owner will. Maybe the cabin doesn’t have the right décor to attract guests. Sometimes it’s not being marketed as competitively as it could be. Once we identify the exact causes of a low rental income report, we can determine whether or not it’s something that can be corrected before we decide if this is the right cabin for you. If you purchase a cabin that is already performing at the top of its potential, you are most likely going to pay the highest price possible. This is not usually how I like my buyers to spend their money. I love to find a cabin that we can purchase, say, for $300,000, then make about $10,000 worth of changes to make it worth $350,000. And where it was doing a gross rental revenue each year of $40,000 before, now with our changes it is going to reach $60,000. That is the win we are looking for to make it a profitable cabin!

Over the years, I have put together a list of resorts based on discussions with past clients, with rental companies we maintain great relationships with, and from reviewing listings based on how they tend to perform on the rental market. From those discussions and reviews, I am able to keep track of how the rental cabin market is doing overall and which ones are producing the highest levels of income overall for their clients. When it comes to resorts, the ones that generally perform the best on the rental market are located in places that are easily accessible, have great mountain views or pristine Smoky Mountain forest views, are close to shopping and/or tourist attractions, or some combination of the above. While this is not always true for every single cabin, it is a great rule of thumb for our area.  One to two bedroom cabins on rental with the strongest performing resorts will be routinely earning up to $45,000 in gross rental income, while 3 to 4 bedroom cabins in the same locations will be performing around $60,000 on up. Larger cabins will produce $100,000 and above with the right combination of amenities, marketing, and views of the mountains!

Average rental incomes in profitable cabins

The “medium range” resorts tend to do a little more than half what the top-end resorts collect in rental income based on cabin size, number of rooms, and amenities. Meanwhile, 1 to 2 bedroom cabins at the lower end of gross rental amounts will bring in between $18,000 and $30,000 and 3 to 4 bedroom cabins will generally produce between $25,000 and $38,000, on average. With that being said, I do tell prospective buyers not to discount a cabin based on rental history – even if it’s in a lower producing area – until we’ve had a chance to look at why that might be happening. For example, if the cabin is on a high point in the resort and has a great view into the Smokies, it could produce a great deal more than the average for that particular area. Or maybe it’s being used primarily as a vacation destination for the owner during peak season. In that case, the next owner looking at it strictly for investment purposes will do far better with rental income than the current owner has. So it’s an art and not a science, but the performance of cabins can be predicted.

The search for the “perfect” profitable cabin will be an analysis of a group of important characteristics. By the way, we do have a report that just targets those characteristics. It is called “What Makes a Profitable Cabin?” 

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Shagbark Cabin can be your vacation home

This 3 bedroom 3 and half bathroom Shagbark cabin located on a generous 2.3 acre lot is one of the most distinct properties in all of Sevier County! The gorgeous natural vertical garden with its roughly 20 feet of creek frontage creates the perfect serene atmosphere for you and your guests.
Shagbark cabinThe cabin’s handcrafted-custom carved wood posts adorn the overly generous more than 2,600 square feet of wraparound decks. This Shagbark cabin’s 2 car garage/workshop is a rare find among cabins in the Smokies. With its plentiful storage, you’ll still have space to park your vehicles in the cabin’s two-car carport, or the mini carport/covered shed.
Other features you’ll find at this Shagbark cabin include its handsome wood burning stove, tongue and groove, cathedral ceilings, an open loft, and custom painted glass ceiling feature. These are just some of the details that make this cabin so special. It also comes equipped with “dusk to dawn” automatic landscape lighting and grade 3 granite counters, taking this Smoky Mountain retreat to an even higher level.
Located just 15 minutes from all of the conveniences of Sevierville or Pigeon Forge, this home is located in the 24/7 gated and guarded mountain community of Shagbark. The road to the cabin offers a nice, simple drive with easy access. Best of all, additional internet choices coming to Shagbark over the course of the year. Be one of the first residents to enjoy the new technology options!

Click here to learn more about this Shagbark cabin.

If you’d like to schedule a visit to see this Shagbark cabin call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

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Buying property in a sellers’ market

We – like many communities around the country – are in a sellers’ market.
If you’ve discovered that finding the perfect vacation cabin or second home in the Smokies hasn’t been the dream you imagined this year, don’t fret – you aren’t alone.

We have had a shortage of properties for sale this year. Even now, there are only about 1,000 active market listings for sale in our local Great Smoky Mountains MLS association. At the same time, we have seen our number of buyers increase, but with less properties to consider, it’s definitely driven the demand, and the sales prices, up.

Winning the bid for the cabin in a seller's market isn't easy.However, if you’ve found a property your heart is set on, there’s hope. There are things you can do and ways you can approach the seller with an offer that will make them choose yours over everyone else’s. Here are few ways you can make the successful bid.

Be prepared to go above the asking price. This is just the reality in a sellers’ market. When supply isn’t keeping up with demand, the market value – what someone is willing to pay – inevitably goes up. We’ve seen a number of properties on the market sell for an amount above asking price, particularly when the property is in what agents will call a “multiple offer” situation. This is where the seller has received more than one offer, and instructed the agent to give all of the people making offers the chance to submit the very best offer they can within a set amount of time (usually a day or two). So if you had offered a little less than asking but someone else offered asking price or even just a couple of thousand dollars more, it’s more likely they will take that bid over yours.

Do anything you can to make your offer the most appealing. Going above asking price, particularly in a multiple offer situation, isn’t a guarantee you will win the bid. What matters the most is which offer looks to have the strongest chance of making it to closing. Can you buy the property with cash? If you can, that is usually the offer that will win. If not, then you will need to consider some other ways to make the offer more appealing. Get prequalified with a lender who will provide a letter. These days, lenders can get prequalification within five minutes, and most have an app where you can do it from the ease of your cell phone. Have a larger down payment or offer a higher escrow. Agree to take the property “as-is.” “As-is” is a real thing that happens frequently these days, but it doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the property if there’s something seriously wrong. You can still order a home inspection and go through the normal procedures, and if your inspector finds a problem that the two parties can’t resolve a way to fix, you can still will walk away from the purchase. Most sellers and their agents understand that if it is a serious issue with the property, it will have to be addressed if you decide not to buy the property after all. So that tends to make the seller a little more open to negotiating the repairs for those types of issues. And lastly…

Don’t wait to make the offer if it’s the one you really want. This is the hardest part of the home search for many buyers. Buying a home or cabin is a big decision and most people, understandably, want to take some time to think on the decision before they make an offer. Impulsive buying really goes against human nature, and rightly so. Unfortunately though, time is of the essence these days. While you’re sleeping on it, someone else is making an offer that could be accepted by the seller. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to miss out on the cabin or home they really want because they didn’t want to make an offer immediately.

The bottom line is, it’s a sellers’ market and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

Going into the home search with that understanding in mind will make the process of finding a home in a sellers’ market much less stressful for you and give you the edge in making the best, most attractive offer you can in order to win the bid for the home or cabin you really want.

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Gatlinburg investment property is fantastic opportunity!

Our featured “Cabin of the Month” for June is a great investment property in Gatlinburg!

Measuring nearly 3,000 square feet in all, this investment property’s 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and 2 half baths offer plenty of space for vacationing guests! Located right next to the National Park in Gatlinburg Falls Resort, this cabin is performing extremely well on the vacation rental program!Gatlinburg investment property
It’s open concept floor-plan is perfect for entertaining all of your guests. Equipped with multiple fireplaces, a home theater, and a game room offering a billiards table, air hockey, flat screen and arcade games, the guests at your investment property will never be bored! What’s more, all four bedrooms are set up as their own master suites with fireplaces and a television!
Outside, the cabin offers plenty of space for guests to relax and enjoy the outdoors on any of the three covered porches, either from the comfort of the hot tub on private back porch or while sitting by the fire pit in the back yard.
This investment property is nestled in a prime location with less than a 5 minute drive from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge and Dollywood!
If you have questions about or would like to visit this cabin, call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

You can learn more about this investment property here.

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4-bedroom Sevierville home offers serene views!

4-bedroom homeThe gorgeous views on the over sized lot of this 4-bedroom Sevierville home provides the perfect backdrop for entertaining family, friends, neighbors, and other guests.

Our featured “House of the Month” for June, this 4,000 square foot 4-bedroom home also includes 3.5 bathrooms, a 2 car attached garage and an additional detached garage for one more vehicle. Or you can make it the perfect place for extra storage! With nearly two acres of ground, you can enjoy both the front and back yard. Each offers ample outdoor space for entertaining. Out front you can relax on your covered attached gazebo or front porch swing. The back yard offers you a wonderful concrete patio and latticed deck perfect for hosting a cookout!
With the master suite on main floor you will love the open concept floor plan and upscale custom finishes throughout! The designer kitchen with granite counter tops, an eat in kitchen, formal dinning area, large great room with immense bay windows for natural light, gas fireplace and large front office accompanied by high ceilings and large windows are a sight to behold. Upstairs you will find another master suite with its own walk-in closet and jetted tub, two more large bedrooms, another over sized great room/media room, and your very own personal gym with mat flooring!
If you’d like to visit this 4-bedroom home, call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.

You can learn more about this 4-bedroom Sevierville home here.

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Enjoy the ‘Blue Smoke’ views of the Great Smoky Mountains

I am so excited! It’s that time of year when the Smoky Mountains show off that famous “Blue Smoke.”

Many of you are of Cherokee descent like me and it just seems right! The Cherokee called it “Land of the Blue Smoke.” Shaconage was their word for it.  You pronounce it “Sha-Kon-O-Heyblue smoke”!  Sounds so good, right?

When thinking about the best real estate investment ever, think about purchasing a cabin with a view of the Blue Smoke. The fact that it changes all day with the weather is superb.  Sometimes it disappears and then an hour later, mountains upon mountains appear like from nowhere.  It’s part of the joy that visitors have when they come. It is equivalent to buying beachfront property.  Of course, you may have to “wait” for the property to come along and sometimes there is a compromise on the fact the drive is a little “crazy”— but weigh it out. The drive can’t be too crazy. Maybe you should load up your grandmother and your two year old and see if any one throws up breakfast.  If so, no matter how amazing the view you need to pass. But if you can put it on your list of top wants in a property that would be good.

blue smoke

Just as a side note, where does all that blue smoke come from? Volatile organic compounds, or VOC, is fog from vegetation. The plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. The VOC’s refract light that results in gorgeous bluish tint.  They have a high vapor pressure, which means they can form vapors at room temperature. Millions of trees, bushes, and other plants create a concert of VOC’s and we have Shaconage. This is also shared with the Blue Ridge Mountain range. As I was born on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Galax, Virginia, perhaps it is in my blood. Some of you might know that Galax is an awesome mountain bush but also home of the Fiddler Festival known nationwide for great Bluegrass.

But back to great investments.  So what is a view worth in dollars and cents? An appraiser will often not give value for a “view,” but in reality a lot without a mountain view might be worth $40,000.  The same size lot on the top of that resort will be sold for $90,000.  And rental revenue from a cabin with no view will be $70,000 a year on a typical well outfitted 3-bedroom with a view. Add another $15,000 or more of gross revenue a year. It makes me love Shaconage even more!

However, do not despair if you cannot find the mountain top view of Blue Smoke. I have several alternatives for you that will get you very close to if not on the mountain top itself. I can help you find a cabin on a water amenity, such as a creek or waterfall, or perhaps a place on a small mountain with a lake of its own! Find a cabin with a pristine private view where your guests feel like they are Adam in Eve in the garden of Eden before they had kids! When you find the private setting, place a fire pit or a garden to meditate in, or a walking path to go exploring.  And last of all stack your cabin with fantastic amenities such as giant screens with a  home theater, crazy arcade games, driving games, shooting games, putt- putt courses, sauna’s, and gourmet kitchens to make our local chefs envious.

If you want to learn more about the science behind Blue Smoke, check out this article on the subject here.

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